On February 13, 1429, Joan of Arc passed through the “Porte de France” in Vaucouleurs and set out for the ancient fortified castle of the Plantagenets at Chinon where the dauphin had his court. Chinon is southwest of Tours and perhaps 200 kilometers southwest of Paris. From Vaucouleurs it was a journey of around 500 kilometers, through territories controlled by the English and their Burgundian allies and in a difficult winter of cold and rainy weather and rivers at high water.
It took three attempts to persuade Robert de Boudricourt, the King’s representative or “Captain” in Vaucouleurs just north of Domremy. Ultimately she persuaded him of her mission and he provided a military escort and support for the journey.
Joan leaving Vaucouleurs, painting by Scherrer
At this time, Domremy was a small isolated pocket in the north-east of what is now France. It was still in French hands, separated by a long distance from the rest of the French territories as can be seen on the map below. The journey through enemy territory had to be undertaken discreetly, off the main roads and often at night. They slept “rough” when they could and travelled 55 to 60 kilometers per day, often during the night. Only when they left Gien on the Loire were they back into French territory.
The “Porte de France,” on 25 October 2012
Today this journey is still surprisingly longish if one tries to follow her route even by car mainly because one travels along country roads with numerous pauses for villages. However, the regions we passed through are interesting, ranging from prairie-like open rolling land to the calcium stony vineyards of Chablis that go on forever. 0ne also passes through small villages with ancient churches dating back to the era of Charlemagne and larger towns such as Auxerre. We also paused at some locks and a port of the Paris to Dijon Canal.
“Joan of Arch” at the “Porte de France”
Jeanne at Vaucouleurs
Chablis Vineyards October 25 2012
At a set of locks and a port on the Paris to Dijon Canal