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Chinon

Chinon is a town in La Vallée de la Vienne, France, with a population (2001) of approximately 10,000. It is situated on the banks of the river Vienne in the Indre-et-Loire département of France.

In recent years, its wines have come to be recognized as some of the best produced in France. Carved into the banks of the Vienne river, and open to public visits, are the caves, or wine cellars, for Chinon's famous Cabernet Franc-based red wines.

Sitting high on a plateau, a huge castle dominates the entire town. The Chateau Chinon was built on the site of a Gallo-Roman[?] castrum as a fortified stronghold by Theobald I[?], Count of Blois in the year 1154. In the 12th century, when that part of France was under English rule, Chinon was the residence of King Henry II of England. He is responsible for construction of most all of the massive chateau, built over 1,300 feet long and 250 feet wide with a clock tower rising 115 feet high. King Henry, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their son King Richard the Lionheart were all buried at nearby Fontevraud Abbey.

The chateau was the residence of Charles VII, the dauphin of France in the early 15th century. It is the place where the legendary Joan of Arc came on March 8, 1429 to recognize the dauphin and to urge him to declare himself king and raise an army to liberate France from the English.

Chinon is also the birthplace of Francois Rabelais, (c.1493-1553), a renowned Renaissance writer, famous for his Gargantua[?] series.

In 1562 the chateau came into the possession of the Huguenots and was turned into a State prison by Henri IV of France. After that it was abandoned until 1793 when, during the Reign of Terror, the castle was temporarily occupied by Vendeans. Soon though, it was left to decay until Emperor Napoleon III began a partial effort at restoration. Today, it is managed by the Town of Chinon and is a major tourist attraction.



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