The elevated limestone promentory in Loches has been occupied since ancient times because of its superb strategic position. The Royal Apartments (Logis Royal) occupy the northern part of the great spur of rock. Loches is and was the most important town in the southern Touraine, so in medieval times the court came here frequently.
The central part of the Logis is a defensive tower built in the 14th century by Charles V as part of the fortifications associated with the Hundred Years War. Later kings enlarged the building in the Renaissance style, turning it from a fort to a hunting lodge. Sadly, during the Wars of Religion and the Revolution the Logis served more as a prison. By the time of the Empire, it was reduced to being the government offices for the sous-préfecture. In 1948 the functionaries moved out and the building was opened to the public as an historic monument.
And this certainly is one of the most historic places in France, with its strong connection to Joan of Arc. As the plaque above says, 'In this room on the 3rd and 5th of June 1429 Joan of Arc came to press Charles VII to go to Reims and be crowned King of France'.
The rooms of the Logis are themed to present various characters from history. Charles VII is first, then Jeanne d'Arc, followed by Agnès Sorel. All these characters have a genuine association with this place and the display about the lovely Agnès is particularly good. Today, la dame de beauté, as she became known, is probably a more fashionable subject for the romantically inclined than Joan.
Agnès was the daughter of a comfortably off family from Picardy. As a young woman she joined the household of the Duchess of Lorraine, the Queen's sister. At some time around 1443 she met the King, and the rest, as they say, is history. Charles VII was so smitten that he took the unusually assertive step of publically acknowledging Agnès as his mistress. At this time, marriages were political and economic unions, and although Charles and his wife Marie of Anjou got on well enough to produce 14 children, they spent very little time together. It was considered entirely appropriate for people to seek not just sexual satisfaction elsewhere, but also true love and companionship. It was clear that Agnès was Charles' soul-mate, and she became very influential.
Tragically, only 7 years after they met, and after producing 3 daughters, Agnès, heavily pregnant with a fourth child, died suddenly and mysteriously (the infant lingered for some months before also succumbing). Immediately, poison and murder were suspected. Part of the display includes a video showing the research undertaken in the early 21st century when her tomb was moved and her bones exhumed. It seems very likely she was poisoned, and although the scientists do not offer an opinion as to the identity of the murderer, the obvious candidate is Charles and Marie's son, the future Louis XI.
If you are interested in some of the key players in medieval France, or just love true romance, the Logis Royale should definitely be on your list of places to visit.