Friday, 24 August 2018

A Day in Clisson

Living in France means there are plenty of charming historic towns to explore. As a writer of mystery and suspense, these towns often have what it takes to inspire a ripper of a tale. Clisson is one that I'd been intending to visit for quite some time, and it was as interesting as I'd hoped. There's the River  Sèvre which weaves its way through a lush, forested valley, and there's Italianate architecture thanks to François-Frédéric Lemot. There are a number of Italian restaurants in the old town, one of them proudly displaying Il Tricolore along with the Gwenn-ha-du (Italian and Breton flags), but I ate at Le Restaurant de la Vallée (pictured below), which offered views of the castle, and I didn't regret it. The service was impeccable and the dishes excellent, a fusion of local and oriental ingredients. The castle? I hear you ask. An impressive ruin, said to be haunted by Jeanne de Clisson "The Lioness of Brittany". After her husband was summarily executed by the French king, she became a pirate, and along with her sons sailed the Channel killing the crews of any French ships they encountered. One son, Guillaume, died after they found themselves shipwrecked and adrift, the other, Olivier, was brought up in the court of the English king. He began his military career with the English, allies of the Duchy of Brittany, and earned the nickname of The Butcher, but he later changed sides, despite having sworn to avenge his father's death, and joined the French, becoming the constable. In doing so, he became an enemy of the Breton duke. Turbulent times to say the least. I promise you, Clisson is a quiet town these days... well, except during Hellfest! Will I write a story set here? I really should! Don't you agree?

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