Baugé, René d'Anjou's little heaven on earth
René I was the son of Louis of Anjou and Yolande of Aragon... he was called the "nice king René"! He was duke of Bar when he married the heiress of the Lorraine's duchy; he was also duke of Anjou and Provence and inherited the throne of Sicily in 1438... But René was tired of political life: he decided to raise a castle on the ruins of an old fortress put up by Foulques Nerra in the 11th century: Baugé! A place of delight and relaxation where our man hunted, collected wild beasts, painted and wrote some poetry. This ruined castle already attracted René's mother, Yolande, in 1430. She decided to build a nice house here. The building works began, surrounding walls were restored but... the English burnt everything 5 years later... René inherited the lands in 1442. He rebuilt the ruins with architect Guillaume Robin. René spend 15 000 crowns to raise the chapel, luxurious rooms and huge steam room. The most incredible thing? The staircase (the most beautiful of the area) with its palm-tree vault flanked by Anjou and Aragon blazons. At the same time, René added 4 gardens, with a maze and some exotic birds. When he died, Baugé fell to Alençon family, Luynes family, La Rochefoucauld family, then king Louis XVI's brother, future Louis XVIII, bought the castle... just before the French Revolution! In the 19th and 20th century, architects (Binet, Lacer and Enguelade circa 1940) and restorations succeeded one another. The castle nowadays houses the city hall.