Château des Réaux

Published on 13 April 2017 - Updated 16 November 2018

A château of mediaeval origin in a flood-risk area

To the south of Port-Boulet station, you can just make out a magnificent brick and tuffeau stone château hidden away behind a screen of tall trees. Château des Réaux.
Dating back to the 15th century, it once belonged to Jean Briçonnet, Tours’ first mayor in 1462. 300 years later, the writer and poet Gédéon Tallemant des Réaux bestowed his name upon it, and wrote his “Historiettes” there, a series of caustic portraits of the great names of his day.
Like many other châteaux alongside the railway line, it bears witness to longstanding human occupation of the Loire’s banks.
Around 1160, Henry II Plantagenet decided to have a “grand levee” built, a great causeway that would replace all the primitive structures that had hitherto provided protection against floods, the wood and earth dikes known as turcies.
The aim was to gain cultivable land so that the nobility could profit further from their peasants’ work. These lordlings’ castles flourished alongside the grand levee, which was continually heightened over the centuries to contain the 100-year floods it had not been able to hold back. It stretches for 70 km from Langeais to Ponts-de-Cé, standing 8.20 metres above the low-water mark; these days, départemental road 952 and national road 152 run along it.