A plessis is a house or a castle surrounds by plesses. What’s that?? Plesses are fences planted in the moats, to protect the place. Lots of French castles had those plesses, so they were named after their owners: Plessis-Macé (lord Macé’s Plessis), Plessis-Bourré (lord Bourré’s Plessis)...
The French historian Bourdigné wrote in his Chroniques d'Anjou: ″Jean Bourré raised in Anjou a nice and strong castle, called the Plessis-Bourré, which is the most comfortable castle in France.″ But who was this Jean Bourré? Treasurer in 1474, governor of king Charles VIII, this one put him in charge of re-raising the castle of Langeais. Thanks to his great fortune, he raised his own castle of Jarzé and Vaux, in Anjou.
The story of the Plessis began when Jean Bourré owned the estate of ″Plessis-le-Vent″ in 1462. In 1468, the building works began, and ended 4 years later. Jean finally could settle in. And he had lots of clutter to stock! He collected art objects: paintings, precious books, crockery… But among all those things, there was a real treasure: the gorgeous ceiling of the Guards’ Room, that we still can see today!
Yes, Jean fitted out this amazing room, with its painted ceiling, in ″grisaille″. Grisaille with pretty weird scenes! Full of fabulous animals, proverbs, bawdy stories… Very curious, with lots of references to alchemy! The tradition says that Jean Bourré himself painted those 80 scenes… And next to those alchemical scenes, we have… oh! What’s this? Paintings dealing with the legend of Chicheface (″Mean Face″).
Chicheface? A starving monster, so thin because she only ate… faithful wives! She only found one in 200 years, em! You know, there’s the counterpart of the Chicheface in the castle of Villeneuve-Lembron (Puy-de-Dôme): the Bigorne. This monster only ate men submissive to their wives: so she was very, very fat! Villeneuve and Plessis’ paintings date back to the same century.
Kings of France really loved that castle, when they sojourned here! Louis XI turned up one day of summer 1472. Charles VIII emerged in 1487, followed by Hungarian ambassadors the same years… Bouré made wonderful parties, where people ate entire beef and sheep, with ″good white wine from Vaux″ and ″Bon-Chrétien pears″. But Jean raised other castles in the area, so he abandoned the Plessis...