This post is part of a series I am doing on our trip to the Loire valley in central France. Set on an island in the middle of the Indre river, the château of Azay-le-Rideau seems to rise straight out of the waters of the river, which reflect the castle's façades so that the château appears to float in its own image. The writer Balzac, who lived nearby and was occasionally a guest at the château, deeply admired the building; over lunch one day he described it as “a facetted diamond set in the Indre”. The striking setting has helped Azay-le-Rideau to become one of the most famous of the Loire's many châteaux. Just as Chenonceau and Cheverny were, Azay-le-Rideau was once again the work of a woman: Madame Berthelot, even though what she left behind still somewhat resembled a fortress. It was under the rule of Louix XIV that the castle of Azay-le-Rideau acquired all its present-day elegance and witnessed its most lavish period. Even though it was saved from destruction during the Revolution, it lost its medieval castle appearance, namely because of the demolition of its turret.
Saint Sulpice has 21 small chapels all around the exterior. Most are rudimentary but three stand out as exceptional. I have already presented the Lady Chapel at the end of the choir, but the Sacred Heart Chapel (Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur) from 1748, shown above is exceptional. The Baroque woodwork is original and the statue is by Émile Thomas (1817-1882), a student of Pradier. The Sacred Heart (also known as Most Sacred Heart of Jesus) is one of the most widely practiced and well-known devotions, taking Jesus' physical heart as the representation of his divine love for humanity. It is a particularly French devotion, the feast was first approved in France in 1765 and this chapel is one of the first if not the first devoted to Sacré-Cœur. The woodwork is exquisite and it has historical significance, a definite must see.