Continuing our way northwards from Montguyon in the Charente Maritime, we opted to pay the motorway toll in order to bypasss Poitiers and Châtellerault, as the national road can be very slow and frustrating with too many traffic lights and roundabouts, and reached our destination at reliable Les Bordes de Vienne campsite at L’Île Bouchard shortly after midday, where we spent 3 very relaxing days. We were very lucky with the weather and were able to sit outdoors most of the day, enjoying lunch and evening meals al fresco. This was a rest break so, other than walking Beano and a bit of cycling, we didn’t do much else, as we have been here several times, including twice last year.
Every time we come here, we look across the river and wonder what the lovely little château at the far end of town across the river is, so curious, on Easter Sunday morning, I took off on a cycle ride to find out whilst Adonis went on his longer, more serious ride.
It didn’t take me long to get there and I soon found out that the château is called Château du Temple. Doing some research online, I also learned that it was built in 1886 for Jacques Lhuillier, Credit Director of the Egyptian Real Estate. It counts among its illustrious owners the singer Nana Mouskouri (Europe’s answer to Barbra Streisand), who owned this gorgeous château from 1980-1986. It is still a private property today, so I don’t think it can be visited.
Nevertheless, the big surprise wasn’t the château, but the remains of a priory on the road below the hill where the château itself stands, St Leonard Priory. The moment I saw it, it triggered memories of our first visit here back in 2010, our first year motorhoming, but in subsequent visits, we have stayed mainly around the campsite to enjoy swims in the river and generally chilling out and I had forgotten all about it.
I was, therefore, very pleased to find myself here by chance and, being early in the morning, I was on my own, which gave me a chance to have a good look around and get close to the various features I wanted to photograph. Luckily, there is a little information panel with a scheme of what the various sculptures on the pillars represent and, very fittingly, most of them were about the Easter story. They are all exquisite stone carvings which reminded me of those in Moissac’s Cloister and they too date from the 11th century. The Priory is open everyday. Here are some images for you to enjoy.