History of a Construction Site
Six years of excavations and six years of restoration.
The Departmental Council of Indre-et-Loire, owner of the fortress as well as nine other sites, took on an important project designed to showcase the Royal Fortress of Chinon and its exceptional architectural heritage.
The fortress was built in a remarkable area, standing on a defended spur overlooking the Vienne River and guarding the borders of Anjou and Poitou. Its remarkable fortifications are over 500 meters long and made up of three structures separated by moats: Fort Saint Georges to the east, Fort Coudray to the west and the Château du Milieu containing the royal living quarters in the center.
The region’s goal is to protect and highlight this exceptional piece of heritage and also to increase the number of visitors to 200,000 per year.
Six years of excavations and six years of restoration
- the Coudray keep restored, with its original entry stairway,
- the royal lodgings restored, giving them back the appearance of a 15th-century Touraine home,
- construction of a new building for the reception area, gift shop, ticket office and exhibition room,
- an ephemeral garden,
- a new scenographic project focusing on the great names that have marked the fortress’s history, from the Plantagenets to Joan of Arc,
- modern 21st-century museographical display and scenic design.
The restructuring program and major restoration stages
Work/Renovation Schedule- 2003: start of archaeological digs over almost 4000 m2. The entire of Fort Saint-Georges was explored, uncovering a palace built by King Henry II around 1160, several towers and a chapel.
- 2005 - 2007: restoration of the southern ramparts of Fort Saint-Georges
- 2006 - 2008: restoration of the eastern ramparts of Château du Milieu
- 2007 - 2008: restoration of the Coudray keep
The goal was rediscover the narrow shape and the defensive system of the Coudray keep in order to better understand the entire castle and its defensive system.
- 2007-2009: restoration of the royal lodgings
The underlying principle of the restoration work was to refashion the lodgings’ appearance in order to give them the air of a 15th-century Touraine home without, however, striving to produce an exact replica of the original. On the "grands combles" and "petits combles", the gables were completed in order to restore the original slope of the slate-covered roofs, thus uncovering yhe medieval contour of the royal lodgings, with alcoves and different kinds of rooftops – gabled, hipped and pepperpot – decorated with dormer windows, chimney stacks and finials.
- 2009 - 2010: museographical display and scenic design for the exterior and the royal lodgings
- 2009 - 2010: construction of the new building on Saint-Georges fort
Overall budget: 17 million euros
Departmental Council of Indre-et-Loire