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Châteauneuf-sur-Loire (Municipality, Loiret, France)

Last modified: 2022-03-05 by ivan sache
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Flag of Châteauneuf-sur-Loire - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 13 November 2020

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Presentation of Châteauneuf-sur-Loire

The municipality of Châteauneuf-sur-Loire (8,176 inhabitants in 2018; 4,001 ha; municipal website) is located on the right (northern) bank of Loire, 30 km east of Orléans.
Châteauneuf has developed since at least the early Middle Ages, as a place of exchange and stopover on the river route of the Loire. The village was included in the royal domain from the first decades of the Capetians; King Henry I founded a fortress there in the middle of the 11th century, which explains the name of the town (New Castle).

Olivier Touzeau, 13 November 2020

Flag of Châteauneuf-sur-Loire

The flag of Châteauneuf-sur-Loire (photo) is white with the municipal emblem. The lizards are taken from the municipal arms, "Argent three lizards vert".

The animals featured on the arms are sometimes said to be salamanders, which their are not. In French heraldry, the salamander, as featured on the arms of King Francis I, is represented surrounded by flames, as a symbol of immortality (salamanders were believed by ancient scholars to be immune to fire).
The arms "Argent three lizards vert" were adopted by the town at the turn of the 20th century; they are featured on the facade of the new market hall inaugurated in 1903. The arms are a tribute to the Phélypeaux de la Vrillière family, owners of the castle from 1653 to 1770, "Quarterly, 1. and 4. Azure semy of quintefoils or a canton ermine (Phélypeaux), 2. and 3. Argent three lizards vert (Cottereau)".
[Le Castelneuvien, September 2018]

From 1610 to 1781, the Phélypeaux lineage and its derived branches supplied to the King of France 11 State Secretaries, without interruption, as well as one Chancellor, one State Minister and several Commanders of Royal Orders. They are considered as the Ancient Regime's biggest ministerial lineage.
Louis I Phélypeaux de la Vrillière (1599-1681) was the son of Raymond Phélypeaux d'Herbault (1560-1629), State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and for the Religion Prétendue Réformée (that is, for the relations with Protestants). Louis XIII and Richelieu split the father's office in two parts, assigning the main office, the Foreign Affairs, to Claude Bouthillier. Phélypeaux de la Vrillière kept the relations with the Protestants until his death, that is, for 52 years, a longevity record for a State Secretary. La Vrillière's power, however, was mostly nominal. The critical religious issues were in fact addressed directly by Richelieu, Mazarin and then Louis XIV himself. Accordingly, he was not directly involved in the increasing religious intolerance that culminated with the revocation of the Edict of Tolerance, decided by Louis XIV in 1685, a few years after the minister's death.
In 1635, La Vrillière married Marie Particelli d'Émery, the daughter of Michel Particelli d'Émery, a banker who would be appointed Superintendent of the Finance in 1647. Of Italian origin, the superintendent faced the same accusations as Mazarin, being nicknamed "the boldest thief ever seen in France". Using Marie's huge dowry, La Vrillière commissioned the royal architects François Mansart and Louis Le Vau to design his hôtel particulier in Paris. Fond of art, he kept his collections in a gallery of 40 m in length modeled on the Apollo Gallery in the Louvre. The ceiling was decorated by frescoes designed by François Perrier. The census made after La Vrillière's death yielded 230 paintings, including masterpieces by Italian (Guido Reni, Guercino, Raphael, Carrachi, Titian, Tintoretto, Parmigianino, Caravaggio, Giorgione, Leonardo da Vinci, Domenichino, Veronese) and French (Philippe de Champaigne, Poussin, Boullogne, Mignard) painters. This was the second most important collection of Italian paintings in Paris after Mazarin's. La Vrillière also owned sculptures copied from antique models, a huge library filled with rare books, and a noted collection of orange-trees.
Subsequently acquired by the Count of Toulouse, Louis XIV's legitimized son, the hôtel particulier is now the central seat of the Banque de France.
Elevated to Marquess of Châteauneuf, Louis I Phélypeaux de la Vrillière is interred in a baroque tomb, erected in the town's parish church by his son and successor Baltazar.
[Ombres de mes livres]

The logo of Châteauneuf was adopted in 2009 "to modernize the image of the town". The four quarters of the logo emphasize the town's emblematic themes:
- river Loire;
- action and tradition;
- the architectural heritage;
- the environmental heritage.
Each theme is highlighted by a dynamic color.
[Le Castelneuvien, September 2018]

Located between the canals of Briare and Orléans, the port of Châteauneuf played a key role in the resupplying of Paris. Bargee's rolls from the 18th century indicates it was then the 5th busiest port on river Loire. The modern port was designed in 1789 by Benoît Lebrun "contractor of the king's works", commissioned by the Duke of Penthièvre.
In the middle of the 19th century, the inauguration of the railway station of Orléans (1843) and the subsequent increase of the railway to Nantes caused a quick decline of river navigation. Unemployed bargees moved to new activities: professional fishing on the Loire barrage, exploitation of a ferry to cross the river, sand dredging...

The Museum of Loire Navigation (website) was established on 16 October 1951 by the Municipal Council and inaugurated on 10 June 1962 in a room of the Town Hall. Association des Amis du musée de la marine de Loire managed it until 1984, when transferred to the municipality.
The Museum was transferred in 1995 to the former horse stables of the castle, designed in the late 17th century on the model of Versailles and registered as an historical monument in 1927. The architect Philippe Prost designed a brand new scenography.
The main pusher and first patron of the museum was the writer Maurice Genevoix (1890-1980), who spent most of his youth in Châteauneuf. River Loire and people who earned their income from the river were the main characters of several of his novels (Le jardin dans l'île, Rémi des Rauches, Routes de l'aventure, Jeux de glaces, La boîte à pêche, Agnès, la Loire et les garçons) and are magnified in his late autobiography (Trente mille jours). Genevoix was recognized as a talented and prolific "regionalist" writer (an epithet he disliked) and even as France's "first ecologic writer"; he served as the secrétaire perpétuel of the Académie française from 1958 to 1973 and was very present in the media of the time, as an exquisite grand father telling animal stories in a rich language. His most significant work, however, Ceux de Quatorze (Those of 1914), based on his gloomy experience of soldier during the First World War, was concealed by his popularity.
Genevoix was recently recognized as a main "War writer"; his remains entered the Panthéon in Paris on 11 November 2020 (video). The event "honored all those of 1914, from the simple soldier to the officer, including the women who 'kept' the country as the wardens behind the front line".
[ Circuit Maurice Genevoix; Presidency of the Republic, 11 November 2020]

The castle of Châteauneuf was erected in the 11th century as a royal residence. Subsequently owned by the Dukes of Orléans, abandoned and ruined, the castle was rebuilt from scratch in the second half of the 17th century by the Phélypeaux de la Vrillière, on the model of Versailles.
The castle was acquired in 1783 by the Duke of Penthièvre, Louis XIV's grand son, who increased it. Sold as a national good in 1793, the castle was mostly demolished, leaving only the rotunda, the entrance pavilions, the horse stables and the orangery.
The fourth quarter must represent the landscaped garden designed from 1821 to 1832 by the botanist René-Charles Huillard d'Hérou for the castle's owner, Eulalie Ladureau-Lebrun. Huillard planted a path of 800 m in length lined by giant rhododendrons and 1,648 varieties of 266 species. The present-day's garden keeps 350 plants, included some hundred emblematic trees.
[Jardins de France]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 15 November 2020