The Chateau de Cheverny and its Secret Role in an Anti-Nazi Cartoon

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The Chateau de Cheverny and its Secret Role in an Anti-Nazi Cartoon
Strolling through the palatial grounds of the Loire Valley’s Chateau de Cheverny, I spot a group of snoozing dogs, languidly lazing in their kennels – or so it seems. I approach, extending my hand in greeting, only for half a dozen of the chateau’s 120-strong gang of hounds to throw themselves with full force against the netting of their enclosure, barking with enough boisterous enthusiasm to wake the dead. Then my eyes dart to a sign that was previously above my line of vision: “Priere de Ne Pas Exciter Les Chiens.” Perhaps, then, it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie… Hounds. (C) CC BY SA 3.0 These magnificent Franglais hunting hounds – a cross between the English foxhound and the French poitevin – have been a main attraction here for years, with the daily feeding spectacle, the Soupe de Chiens, drawing in animal lovers from miles around. When not chasing the dozens of roe deer and hundreds of wild boars on the vast estate, the dogs are helping themselves to piles of the raw chicken carcasses handed out each day, devouring them with ravenous enthusiasm. Hounds. (C) CC BY SA 3.0 An encounter with the pack of formidable chiens of the hunt is not for the faint-hearted and yet their keeper has mastered training techniques down to every last detail, even knowing how to prevent one hound from swiping another’s dinner. There’s more canine mayhem elsewhere at the chateau as part of its permanent exhibition on the Hergé cartoon The Adventures of Tintin. I have barely entered the building before I spot an illustration of the cartoon detective’s lovable little chien blanc, Snowy, toppling a table. Copious amounts of wine pour to the floor and he sends bottles and flustered humans alike flying in the process. Modest in size, yet abundant in quirks, the exhibition is full of fun. The Feeding of The Hounds at Cheverny by Greg O’Beirne (C) CC BY-SA 3.0 Yet why had a French chateau dedicated an entire building in its grounds to the creations of a Belgian cartoonist? Quite simply, Chateau de Cheverny was Hergé’s muse. By name, Moulinsart – or, in English, Marlinspike Hall – pays homage to the small Belgian village of Sart-Moulin, but visually the grand country home is an intentional, almost exact replica of the chateau. The only difference is that the two outer towers are missing, as Hergé wished not to portray the home’s owners as unrealistically wealthy.
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Lead photo credit : Chateau Cheverny Exterior by Krzysztof Golik (C) CC BY-SA 4.0

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Chloe Govan is an award-winning writer and channel-hopping Francophile with a penchant for Parisian life. After achieving degrees in Psychology and Magazine Journalism and working as a travel editor and columnist, she developed her freelance career, during which she authored 11 books. Whether she is sleeping in a bubble under the stars in the forests around Marseille or horse-back riding with the chateaux of the Loire Valley as a backdrop, her heart can often be found somewhere in France.

Comments

  • Patricia Daly-Lipe
    2021-05-08 07:22:05
    Patricia Daly-Lipe
    When I was a student at the Univeriste Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, I was invited to "assister" at the hunt by the Marquis de Vibraye. He was a great friend of my mother's and my mother's family, especially my great uncle, Msgr. William A. Hemmick. I thought "assister" meant I could join the hunt, so I bought the proper riding attire. However, once at the Chateau de Cheverny, I was told it meant I was to follow on foot! So I drove back to where I was staying and quickly changed clothes. After the hunt, I observed the ceremony followed by a meal served outside the Chateau and I was placed next to the Marquis. It was day and time I will never forget and I cherish this memory of the last real hunt in France!

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