The town of Richelieu takes its name from its founder, Cardinal Richelieu. This powerful cleric was the chief minister and after the king, (Louis XIII) was the most powerful person in France.
The Cardinal decided to build himself a great mansion on his estate and in 1625 he commissioned the famous architect (Jacques Lemercier) to design his palace.
Work started in 1631 after he received permission from the king for his venture.
Not content with a grand palace he also built a walled town, and he took as his model the Bastide towns built in the south west of France during the hundred years war during the 12th century.
The Bastide towns were built on a grid with straight streets leading from the four gates to the central square where you normally would find the church and market.
This form of town planning was the basis of American town planning.
Two thousand labourers worked on the site for more than a decade, and much of the stone was brought from the Chateau of Chinon some miles away.
The town was original moated, but today most of this area alongside the moats is now used by the householders, as gardens.
The main church "Eglise Notre Dame" remains in much the same condition as when it was first built, and the timber framed market hall is still used for the weekly market.
Richelieu's beautiful mansion was damaged during the French Revolution and was later demolished. Today only the gardens remain, although the town still reflects the glory of a bygone age.
The town's railway station is the centre of a preserved steam railway, and although the railway only operates to Chinon during summer months, much of the stock can be found in the station area.

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