Of all the Loire châteaux, the Château of Montsoreau is the most modern and contemporary and is the only one built on the riverbed. It is the oldest Renaissance château in France and testifies to the development of new artistic and architectural styles. Today, the Château of Montsoreau is a contemporary art museum presenting unique works that reflect the lively spirit of current artistic creation.
Montsoreau rock stands on the riverbed at the confluence of the Vienne and the Loire rivers and is a legendary site that is often described as magical. It has been home to a succession of major buildings, from a Gallo-Roman villa to a fortress and a Loire château. It is a cultural laboratory and a place of innovation and diffusion.
In the Gallo-Roman period, Montsoreau rock saw the construction of the villa of Rest-sous-Montsoreau, a lavish building that was home to the canons of Saint-Martin-de-Tours. According to legend, Emperor Louis le Débonnaire, the son of Charlemagne, sought refuge in the “Château of Rest” during the harsh winter of 832.
In the 10th century, Odo of France built a military fortress on the rock. The renown of this second building was to reach far beyond Anjou, as the fortress of Montsoreau played an important role in the power struggle between Henry Plantagenet and Stephen of Blois, King of England. As a political gesture, the enemies of the king of England built an exact copy of the fortress of Montsoreau on the other side of the Channel, naming it Mountsorrel.
The fortress of Montsoreau was later bought by Jean II de Chambes who demolished it to make way for a third building: a Loire château with a unique destiny. At the height of his career, Jean II de Chambes was the Private Adviser to King Charles VII and chose Montsoreau rock on which to build the first Renaissance-style château in France. In the 19th century, the international renown of Montsoreau was sealed by artists in search of inspiration. The aesthetics of the majestic architecture fascinated Romantics travelling through the Loire Valley on a Grand Tour that led them from Orléans along the river to Saint-Nazaire. Alexandre Dumas and artists William Turner, Auguste Rodin and Gustave Flaubert all contributed to the renown of the château.
In 2015, the Château of Montsoreau came into the possession of Philippe Méaille, a passionate collector, under a 25-year emphyteutic lease. He founded the Château of Montsoreau - Museum of Contemporary Art in which he presented his Conceptual Art collection. Today, this thousand-year-old site is a laboratory for modernity and creation, illustrating cosmopolitanism, cultural exchange and the rise of Humanism, and never ceases to surprise! Exhibitions, concerts, conferences and performances are held inside and in the gardens, breathing new life into the château and its monumental rooms. The roofs of the château offer a breath-taking view of the Loire, the radiant river in which the giant Gargantua learned to swim, right at the foot of the château, while the terraces afford a stunning view of the gardens. The outbuildings host the museum restaurant with its roof terrace that is perfect for relaxing and listening to the sound of the Loire terns singing nearby, while the château bookshop offers a wide range of books and art objects.
The internationally-renowned Philippe Méaille collection is composed of unique works by the Art & Language collective, which played a major role in the emergence of Conceptual Art. The monumental decor of this Loire château converted into a contemporary art museum is now the stunning backdrop to masterpieces including installations, videos and sculptures.
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CHATEAU DE MONTSOREAU - MUSEE D'ART CONTEMPORAIN