Place of passage between the Aunis plainle Poitevin marsh et Sea, Usseau derives from Ussena meaning a mound planted with vines. Attached to the canton of Mauze-sur-le-Mignon, the municipality is made up of five hamlets locally nicknamed differences : AntignyThe Grand BreuilOlbreuseLe Pénisseau et Ussolière. Located at the crossroads of an ancient Roman road leading from Saintes to Nantes, the village tells 2000 years of local history. Remains of several ancient sites have been revealed during trenching, gardening or plowing. Former Huguenot center, Usseau is the birthplace of Eléonore Desmier born in 1639 in Olbreuse. Through marriages, his descendants are present in seventeen European dynasties, hence his nickname of grandmother of EuropeEvery two yearsa summer show is organised in the courtyard of his castle to honor his memory. In 2019, Usseau joined forces with Priaries et Thorigny-sur-le-Mignon to form the new commune of Val du Mignon and becomes its capital.

What to see in Usseau?

01. Éléonore Desmier d'Olbreuse (Olbreuse, 1639-Lüneburg, 1722)
and his royal descendants

She is the wife of Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg-Zell, elector of Hanover. In 1685, she welcomed into her duchy the entire Poitevine Protestant nobility worried. Through the game of marriages, the blood of the d'Olbreuse is present in 17 European dynasties, hence his nickname grandmother of Europe. There is a genealogical relationship with the Mitterrand family.

02. The castle of Olbreuse

Rebuilt in the 1760th or 1967th century, the castle is made up of a quadrilateral flanked by four corner towers with four floors of loopholes to protect against bands of prowlers during wars. One of the walls was removed in 1973 to allow the construction of a wing perpendicular to the central dwelling, the enlargement of the windows and the raising of the first floor of the main body. At the end of the XNUMXth century, the floor of the wing was raised, its roof was replaced by a frame covered with zinc and the tower at the back, which was ruined, was demolished. After slow deterioration due to lack of financial resources, the castle was renovated in XNUMX by Christiane Desmier d'Olbreuse and her husband Félix Maingueneau. It was registered in XNUMX.

Private property. Free guided tour of the exteriors from July to mid-August.

For more information, contact Geneviève de Réals

9 A rue du Château, 79210 Usseau

[email protected]

03. Saint-Pierre church

At the end of the 10th century, Guillaume, lord of Usseau, gives the Benedictine priory of Saint-Pierre à Saint-Florent Abbey located in Saumur. The 12th century church was enlarged in the 14th century. It was devastated during the Wars of Religion. The upper parts were subsequently reworked. Her western facade is flanked by buttresses crowned with circular overhanging elements corresponding to the stumps of watchtowers recalling that the building was fortified.

To have : medieval sarcophagi from archaeological excavations, an incomplete sarcophagus decorated with crosses on a staff at the head and bottom, tombstones from the 17th and 18th centuries.

04. The Pierre-Henri Mitard cultural center

This place bears this name in memory of the historian who largely contributed to historical and archaeological research in the town. On display are the sarcophagi of the medieval cemetery excavated from 1980 to 1982 and those of Merovingian cemetery further north discovered in 2001. The first floor presents a permanent exhibition on the genealogy of the Desmier d'Olbreuse.

Opening days and times: Tuesday-Wednesday-Friday, 15 p.m. to 16:30 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Other curiosities to see:

  • St. Peter's Church
  • The Pierre-Henri Mitard cultural center
  • The ruined mills
  • In Ussolière, Beaulieu Castle (private – two 16th century towers) and the large chimney of the old horsehair factory standing in the middle of a field

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