Towns and Villages

Turquant

Between Montsoreau and Saumur, the tuffeau cliff overlooks the Loire and is pierced from one end to the other with a series of cellars, sometimes troglodyte dwellings, sometimes quarries…. The villages are born in the valleys that punctuate the hillside while vineyards and mills draw the line of the ridge. In Turquant more than elsewhere you can discover this Loire landscape so characteristic of the Côte Saumuroise. Today between tradition and modernity the troglodytes are discovered in all originality, particularly in the Village des Métiers d'Art.

History & Heritage

The origin of the name Turquant is made of uncertainty; from a Gallic root turcos meaning wild boar or from a Scandinavian male surname derived from the warrior god Thor, the etymology takes us back to well before the Middle Ages. However, it is only from 1125 that we find mention of the parish in the texts, a document quoting as prior a certain "G. de Turcham".

The Saint-Aubin church is built at the foot of the hill on unstable ground reclaimed from the bed of the river. Consequently, at the rate of the floods of the Loire, the building is regularly damaged. There remains only a door of the XIIth century, the construction today dating mainly from the XVth and XVIth centuries. Even quite recently, the town undertook restoration work, in particular with a series of stained glass windows signed by the master glassmaker Philippe Brissy.

The dense troglodyte habitat is illustrated here by the presence of remarkable seigneuries; La Grande Vignolle with its 1474th century flight and chapel and La Vignole, a XNUMXth century turreted manor house with its outbuildings dug into the rock. In XNUMX this manor is the property of Jean de La Vignolle appointed president of the Chamber of Accounts of Anjou by King René. Several properties belonging to Sieur de la Vignolle were made available to Marguerite d'Anjou, daughter of King René and Queen of England.

In Turquant there are also many dwellings and castles from the 1961th and XNUMXth centuries. La Chauvelière and La Herpinière belonged to the wine merchant Van Vorn who created the Dutch counter of Thoureil while La Mastinière was a dependency of the Abbey of Fontevraud. The Château de la Fessardière belonged to the Aubert du Petit-Thouars family and was the place of house arrest of Ahmed Ben Bella in XNUMX before he became the first president of the Algerian republic.

On the wine-growing plateau, the restored mills of Val Hulin and La Herpinière raise their wings to the wind. Among the oldest of Anjou they remind us that the millers were troglodytes and also a little winegrower. In the villages of the Côte Saumuroise perreyeux, coopers or boatmen all cultivated the vines and it was on the Loire boats that first white wines, and then reds, left for trade.

Activities and skills

The vineyard is a vector of economy with a dozen winegrowers installed in the town and practicing the direct sale of their wines in AOC Saumur. The tourist offers decline the world of troglodytes; exceptional accommodation or places to eat it is in the tuffeau that we stay in Turquant.

Traditional know-how can be discovered in the troglodyte site of the Pommes Tapées du Val de Loire, an unusual and flavorful place to visit. At the end of the 200th century, more than 500 ovens in the town were used to dry the fruit from the orchards of Vernantes and Noyant, while the English army bought XNUMX tonnes a year for the Royal Navy. This particular industry replaced for a time the cultivation of the vine at the time of the phylloxera crisis.

The Village Métiers d'Art welcomes professionals and artists whose workshops open into the rock, as well as a Boutique Métiers d'Art. The site combines tradition and heritage with a cultural and economic dynamism that forges a new image of the town.

Cycling stop on the Loire à Vélo circuit, horse-riding stop on a 20 km loop initiated by the Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Natural Park, motorhome service area, interpretive trail... the Little City of Character welcomes whatever your way of discovering the troglodytes of Saumur.

Public figures

 

Francois NAU (1646 – 1709) born in Turquant, son of a winegrower, he embarked from La Rochelle for New France in 1666. He was then in the service of Bertrand Chesnay de La Garenne. Married twice and father of 14 children, his descendants in North America (Nau, Nault, Neault, Naux) now number more than 18.000 people. In 1997, the Nau of America - association of Nau families Inc. - fixed a commemorative plaque in the Saint-Aubin church. Turquant then became "World Capital of the Nau" and the Nau of France set up their own association in 1999 (Nau, Naud, Neau… All cousins!).

Abel DUPETIT-THOUARS (1793 – 1864) French navigator and explorer born at the Château de la Fessardière in Turquant. He is a nephew of Aristide Aubert Du Petit-Thouars, hero of Aboukir. Under the Restoration, he participated in various hydrographic missions along the coasts of Newfoundland, France and Algeria. But its main field of activity is in the Pacific Ocean. He advised the government to annex the Marquesas Islands, a proposal approved by President François Guizot. Du Petit-Thouars annexed Tahiti in 1843. He was elected a free member of the Academy of Sciences on August 6, 1845. He became vice-admiral in 1846, then deputy for Maine-et-Loire in 1848. Died in Paris on March 16 1864, he rests in Père Lachaise.

Antoine CRISTAL (1837 – 1931) born in Turquant: his father, a traveling merchant of Auvergne origin, settled there. Very quickly introduced to the trade, he worked for a draper in Tours then became a traveling salesman in hosiery for the “Normand frères” company in Paris. For more than 20 years, he amassed a fortune, became the partner of his bosses before remaining the sole owner. His finesse of mind, his good nature, his enthusiasm and this budding fortune allow him to widen the circle of his relations. He thus binds to political personalities of the time: Alain Targé, Jules Ferry, Gambetta and especially Clémenceau but also artistic personalities such as the sculptor Jules Desbois. He became mayor of Turquant from 1884 to 1888. In 1887 he acquired the Château de Parnay and its vines. Henceforth the "Père Cristal", as he was then called, devoted himself entirely to viticulture. From his ingenious mind, a new conception of vine growing will soon come out: in the enclosure are built long tufa walls oriented from east to west. The vine is planted on the north side of the wall and the stock crosses it through an opening 50 cm high, to develop on the other side, facing south, foliage, flowers and grapes taking advantage of the sun as much as possible. The Clos d'entre les murs and the Clos Cristal initiated by Father Cristal have been registered since March 2011 as Historic Monuments.

 

For the XNUMXth century let us mention:

Guy Petitfils pupil of the Boulle school, creator of original drawings for the Daum crystal factory (Nancy) alongside César or Dali who renovated the Moulin de la Herpinière in the 70s. The writer Jean Vignaud who took Turquant as the setting for his Loire novels and renovated the Val Hulin mill which earned him the title of honorary miller of Anjou. Michel Debre who took the name of Turquant as a resistance fighter in 1941 and Lily Welcome concert performer and composer who made Turquant his haven of peace and his source of inspiration from 1970 to 1998.

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