Clisson, the charm of Italy... In the Vendée Partly destroyed in the XVIII th century, the Medieval city of Clisson was impacted in the XIX th century by the arrival of nobles passionate about Italian architecture. Situated about thirty kilometres from Nantes at the confluence of three rivers, the Sèvre Nantaise, the Maine and the Moine, the town of Clisson is worth a visit.
The medieval city was partly destroyed in the wars of the Vendée but the town was reborn at the beginning of the XIX th century with the development of an Italian architectural style.
The ruins of the château, built on a rock, dominate the centre of the town. Constructed more than 8 centuries ago, it marks the strategic position of Clisson at the crossroads of three great provinces, Brittany, Anjou and Poitou.
The frescos in the church of Notre-Dame are full of religious references but also there are representations of local figures of the XIX th century such as the mayor of the time, several villagers, two priests… They were painted by George Lusseau, a painter from Clisson.
The Clisson viaduct soars above the River Moine to allow the major road linking Nantes to Poitiers to cross the valley. Consisting of 15 arches, it was constructed in 1840 by an architect from Nantes.
During the First Empire and the Restoration, nobles and industrialists were inspired by the work of Lemot in the construction of their homes and factories. The red bricks and numerous towers bring an atmosphere of Italy up to the centre of the town.
The castle of Clisson constitutes an interesting example of military architecture because it lets us see the evolution of defensive construction through the centuries. Note that an important owner was François II, father of Anne of Brittany.
A small lane leading from the centre of the town leads to this calm, riparian view on the banks of the Sèvre Nantaise. The Vallée bridge can be seen in the distance.
This view is of the château, the Sainte-Antoine quarter and the church of Notre-Dame.
The estate of Garrene Lemot is situated at the borders of the towns of Clisson and Gétigné and bears witness to the influence of the Italian influence in the area. In 1811 a sculptor who was passionate about Italy, called François-Frédéric Lemot, fell in love with this estate and started to model the 13 hectares exactly to his taste. The next slide shows the « Gardener’s House », the first building in the rustic Italian style which he built in the park to the design of Mathurin Crucy.
On the Garenne-Lemot estate, construction of this villa was started in 1824 by François-Frédéric Lemot but was only finished, after his death, by his son. The father conceived a neo-classical Palladian villa but his descendants constructed a park in the English style.
This small ornamental construction is called the temple of Vesta, after the one in Rome.
In addition to the Italian architectural influences, the estate was also inspired by many old myths. A quotation registered on this tomb refers to the pastoral poetry of Virgil.
Here, near the Moulin de Plessard, is the start of the Vendée pilgrim route to Compostela.
Clisson is twinned with Cowbridge. Join the Cowbridge Town Twinning Association and visit our fascinating medieval twin town.