La Tour de Fiefs (The Tower of Fiefs)

One of the most enjoyable aspects of cyclo-touring is coming across something special when you least expect it. This happened to us as we cycled around the very beautiful town of Sancerre in France. As frequently is the case, the town is situated on a hilltop and had an interesting looking tower at its summit.

The Tower from the base.

The Tower from the base.

It begged investigation and sure enough, we had a real treat in store.  It is possible to climb to the top of this tower and get the most magnificent views of the Loire River valley, the very picturesque town of Sancerre and the surrounding vineyards.

I took some photos from this spot, which have become favourites, as they epitomise (to me) the culture and soul of France.

A favourite photo: "La coeur de France" (the heart of France).

A favourite photo: “La coeur de France” (“The heart of France” – this was written on the large grey and white building).

Some information was found on a sign nearby, but Wikipedia reveals the following additional information about the history of this tower:

“A natural fortress 312 meters in height, Sancerre is a former feudal possession of the Counts of Champagne (1152) in the province of Berry. They built a chateau on the hill and ramparts to protect the city. The chateau had six towers including the Tower of the Strongholds (Tour des Fiefs) and the Tower of Saint George. In times of war, a fire was lit on the top of the Saint George tower that could be seen for 40 kilometres (25 mi) around.

Sancerre was also the site of the infamous Siege of Sancerre (1572–1573) during the Wars of Religion where the Huguenot population held out for nearly eight months against the Catholic forces of the king. The siege was one of the last times in European history where slings (trebuchet), the “Arquebuses of Sancerre”, were used in warfare. The siege was documented by a Protestant minister who survived the battle, Jean de Léry, in The Memorable History of the Siege of Sancerre. In 1621 much of the feudal chateau and city walls were destroyed by orders of the king to prevent further resistance.” Wikipedia.

(Mouseover the images below to see the captions).

The visit to the tower was not the only enjoyable part of the afternoon. The ride back down the hill was one of the steepest and consequently most exhilarating of our whole tour. So much fun 😆

The side of the hill where we had that exhilarating ride! The tower is to the top left.

The side of the hill where we had that exhilarating ride! The tower is to the top left.

(Follow this link for the itinerary and details for our Tour of France)

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