Richelieu (Indre-et-Loire)

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Richelieu coat of arms
Richelieu (France)
region Center-Val de Loire
Department Indre-et-Loire
Arrondissement Quinone
Canton Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine
Community association Touraine Val de Vienne
Coordinates 47 ° 1 ′  N , 0 ° 19 ′  E Coordinates: 47 ° 1 ′  N , 0 ° 19 ′  E
height 47-77 m
surface 5.09 km 2
Residents 1,716 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 337 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 37120
INSEE code

Richelieu is a French town with 1,716 inhabitants (at January 1, 2017) in the department of Indre-et-Loire in the region of Center-Val de Loire . It is located on the little river Mable .


Richelieu is located on the border between the Touraine and the Poitou , about 60 km south of Tours and 20 km each from Chinon and Loudun . The city was laid out in what was originally a swampy, wide valley. The temperate climate already lets you feel the influences of the Atlantic , which is only 180 km away . The municipality is part of the Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Nature Park .


The city of Richelieu was built from 1631 by order of Cardinal Richelieu in place of the village of the same name. In the immediate vicinity, the cardinal had a castle built according to the plans of the architect Jacques Le Mercier , which was demolished from 1835. Speculators bought the castle, which was not a listed building, for a small amount and, to everyone's amazement, sold it brick by brick as building material. Today only the 500 hectare castle park, which is surrounded by a high wall and belongs to the University of Paris , remains .

City structure

Richelieu monument in front of the castle park
Entrance to the castle park

The rectangular, absolutely symmetrical floor plan of the original city can still be seen within the city walls. This floor plan was also created by Jacques Lemercier ; his brothers Pierre and Nicolas supervised the construction. In order to encourage people to settle in his city, the cardinal made the building land available to interested parties free of charge and exempted them from all taxes. In order to guarantee the desired uniform cityscape, only the builders Thiriot or Barbet, selected by the cardinal, were allowed to carry out the construction. With the cardinal's death in 1642, the systematic work was given up; Nevertheless, the urban layout that had been started was completed within the specified rectangular street grid. Today the entire cityscape is a listed building . The fabulous poet Jean de La Fontaine called Richelieu “the most beautiful village in the universe” .

There are city gates each in the north, south and west. The gate in the east is "blind" because the palace park is behind it; for reasons of symmetry it has nevertheless been indicated in the city wall. Two more entrances to the city were later added to accommodate the growing car traffic. However, the construction of city gates has been omitted. The city is surrounded by a system of ditches that are fed by the Mable river.

Space for extensions was only available outside the 682 m long and 487 m wide rectangle of the city walls. The train station, new residential and small commercial areas can be found mainly in the northeast and southwest of the city.

Economy and Infrastructure

Population structure

Like many small towns in France, Richelieu and the surrounding area are suffering from depopulation. This is in large part due to the centralistic structure of France with the still strong dominance of the greater Paris area. Since the high-speed train connects TGV Tours with Paris in around an hour , many residents of the smaller cities have also been moving near the TGV stations in order to commute to Paris every day.

The decline in population is accompanied by a gradual deterioration in infrastructure. Closed shops and inns are a common sight. The high proportion of old people is also striking.


Richelieu is a bit away from the main traffic flows. The north-south axis Paris - Bordeaux runs by road ( Autoroute A10 ) and rail (TGV) about 20 km east of Richelieu. In Richelieu, subordinate streets intersect in north-south and east-west directions, which connect the city to the main road network.

Richelieu is at the end of a railway branch line that branches off from the Tours - Thouars line in Chinon . Passenger traffic on this route has been suspended for several decades; the sparse freight traffic is operated by the private company "Régie Ferroviaire Richelaise" (RFR). Richelieu station is the seat of a museum railroad association that runs steam train trips to Chinon on summer weekends.


The economic structure in southern Touraine is predominantly agricultural, which is favored by the mild climate. Mainly grain, corn, melons and of course wine are grown. In contrast to the surrounding growing areas, where red wine predominates, a lot of white wine is grown around Richelieu. In addition to agriculture, the breeding of dairy cows and goats plays a major role. The tasty goat cheeses are mainly marketed by the farmers themselves.

In addition to agriculture, tourism is the most important economic factor, which is favored by the proximity to the Loire Valley with its famous castles.

The manufacturing industry is hardly worth mentioning and suffers from constant difficulties, some of which are due to the unfavorable location in a rather sparsely populated region.

Culture and sights

Southern city gate with extensions
Place des Halles et de l'Eglise: on the right the old town hall, on the left the Notre Dame de Richelieu church
Grande Rue, view from Place Cardinale to the northern city gate

Grande Rue

The main street (Grande Rue) runs exactly in north-south direction between the northern (Porte de Chinon) and the southern city gate (Porte de Chatellerault) and crosses the two city squares. It is lined on both sides by 14 beautiful and large town houses, which were built in a uniform style. Despite various renovations, the houses have retained their original character over the years.


In the north and south of the city, near the city gates, there is a rectangular square, each of which is intersected by streets in their central axes. In north-south direction this is the Grande Rue, which thus also connects the squares with one another.

The northern square (Place Royale, today: Place des Religieuses) is a tree-lined sand area and is mostly used as a parking lot. The larger square in the south (Place Cardinale, today: Place des Halles et de l'Eglise) marks the actual center of the city. The church stands on it to the west of the Grande Rue and the market hall to the east, where general and food markets are still held today. The town hall and the tourist office are also located in this square.



Notre Dame Church was built by Pierre Le Mercier in 1635.

City gates

The three city gates are imposing slate-roofed structures with high rooms for the wooden portcullis above the actual gate. The passages are quite narrow and only passable in one lane. All gates are flanked by side buildings; The city wall at the northern gate is also well preserved. Immediately behind the gates, on the side facing away from the city, there are bridges over the moat, some of which is still traversed by the Mable.

Market hall

The market hall also dates back to the time the city of Richelieu was founded. It impresses with a mighty wooden framework that supports the roof of the open hall. Behind the hall is a smaller square that was previously used as a cattle market.

Town twinning

City partnerships exist with the Canadian city of Richelieu , the German municipality of Schaafheim and with Luçon in the Vendée department .

sons and daughters of the town


  • Le Patrimoine des Communes d'Indre-et-Loire. Flohic Editions, Volume 2, Paris 2001, ISBN 2-84234-115-5 , pp. 1161-1173.

Web links

Commons : Richelieu (Indre-et-Loire)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence