Situated in the Vienne valley, north of Châtellerault and at the gateway to Touraine, Les Ormes is steeped in history. The jewel in the crown of Grand Châtellerault's heritage, the commune of Les Ormes has stood the test of time with flair and philosophy. A number of prominent figures have walked the grounds of the commune: Antoine Martin Pussort, King's Councillor and Colbert's uncle, his brother Henri Pussort (also close to the King), Marc-Pierre d'Argenson, Voltaire and Rodolphe Salis, all of whom have helped to build its heritage and renown. The construction of the château in the 17th century marked the growth and development of the town. Economic activity and the number of inhabitants increased.
The Town Hall
This 19th-century residence is built of Chauvigny tufa and limestone. The architecture and layout of the estate reflect the wealth of the area at the time: outbuildings including the caretakers' cottage with a bread oven that is still in good condition, garages, a stable, a tack room and a kennel. The main building became the Les Ormes Town Hall in 1995.
An integral part of the estate at the time, this one-and-a-half hectare park is dotted with several species of tree, some of which are considered rare and remarkable. A cork oak and a medicinal lime tree stand alongside a recently planted araucaria and Gingko Biloba. There are educational panels to help you identify the trees, and even to recognise their leaves by touch, thanks to relief illustrations. THE FAIRFELD Opposite the municipal building is the fairground square. This used to be a lively place, and every month until 1950 it hosted a large fair where horses, oxen, donkeys, pigs, etc. were sold.
The washhouse is fed by a natural spring that gushes out constantly. In days gone by, it was a meeting place for ladies and their "cassettes" (small boxes used for kneeling to protect themselves from splashes), who came here to wash their clothes and exchange village news. Today, tables and benches line the landscape, ideal for a relaxing break overlooking the Vienne.
The church of Saint-Martin-et-Sainte-Marguerite des Ormes, as it stands today, was built in the 19th century after being rebuilt for safety reasons. Although recognisable for its neo-Byzantine style, which is much appreciated today, it was nonetheless disconcerting for its time.
Listed as a Historic Monument since 1934, the Halles used to be a place for women to sell their farmyard animals at fairs. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, petty offences punishable by fines or chores were also dealt with at these covered market halls, as the Pussort brothers had built this land into a Barony with rights to covered market halls and justice.
La Poste aux Chevaux
This stopover on the route to Spain was created by the Count of Argenson in 1764, to transport mail and travellers. In keeping with the typical plans of the time, the large courtyard features a vast pool for horses. Around the courtyard are the saddlery and postilion room (right), and the guesthouse, living quarters, one large stable and two smaller ones (left). The stud's horses were housed at the Poste aux chevaux, which explains the size of the building. The coaching inn was listed as a Historic Monument in 1994. Open: from 21 July to 27 August and from 2 to 19 September.
POI-> Horse mail
This vast barn dates back to the 18th century. Despite its name, it actually housed the harvest. The façade depicts Cybelle, the goddess of fertility, leaning on a lion, the same animal as on the d'Argenson coat of arms.
The Château des Ormes
In 1642, Antoine-Martin Pussort, King's Councillor and Colbert's uncle, acquired the estate and began construction of a vast building comprising seven pavilions with formal gardens. The château remained in the family until 1697. In 1729, the Count of Argenson (State Councillor, Chancellor to the Duke of Orléans and Louis XV's Minister of War) took possession of the Château. Over the years, it became one of the intellectual centres of the Age of Enlightenment. Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau were among the illustrious visitors to the Château.
More info -> Poi Château des Ormes