Prince Albert II frequently travels to locations which are historically linked to his family. The Prince visited Romans-sur-Isère on 12 September before heading to Valmont and Rouen on 13 September.
On 12 September in the afternoon, Prince Albert II was welcomed to Romans-sur-Isère. This city is part of the former Duchy of Valentinois that King Louis XIII granted in 1642 to Prince Honoré II in application of the Treaty of Péronne, signed on 14 September 1641.
The Sovereign first made a private visit to the International Shoe Museum. The collection, housed in the former convent of the Visitation, is a testimony to the history of the Roman tannery and of luxury shoes. At the end of His visit, the Sovereign offered a pair of shoes that were worn during one of his polar explorations. This pair will join the Museum’s collections, which already include shoes that belonged to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.
A commemorative plaque was unveiled by Prince Albert II, after a warm welcome, on the court of the Collegiate Church of St. Barnard, which was constructed in the eleventh century. Princess Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont, wife of Prince Louis I, had been welcomed by the Romans in October 1661, before the collegiate. One of the old registers of the city mentions this visit. Prince Albert then visited the historic heart of the city, including the Place Jacquemart and the kiosk of Place Jules Nadi, in front of the town hall.
The next day, 13 September, HSH Prince Albert II travelled to Valmont in Seine-Maritime. He visited the Notre-Dame du Pré Benedictine abbey, founded in 1169 by Nicolas d’Estouteville, lord of Valmont, which houses the tombs of the family of Estouteville, ancestors of the Sovereign. The visit was hosted by Sister Thérèse, Mother Abbess, the Mayor of Valmont, Jean-Louis Navarre and Antoine Dubuc, Intendant of the Abbey.
The territory of Valmont is linked to the Grimaldi family by Jacques IV Matignon (1689-1751), descendant of the Estouteville family, who married Louise-Hippolyte Grimaldi in 1715. In 1731, Jacques IV Matignon acceded to the throne and became Prince of Monaco under the name of Jacques I.
After visiting the abbey, the Cour d’Honneur and the cloister, Prince Albert unveiled a plaque celebrating the 850th anniversary of the abbey.
HSH the Prince then visited the Grace de Monaco kindergarten, where he was welcomed by students from the Georges Cuvier elementary school, who performed the Monegasque national anthem. Before meeting the kindergarten students, Prince Albert and the school principal unveiled a photograph of Princess Grace at the entrance of the school.
HSH the Prince then visited the Valmont castle, which was once home to the lords of Estouteville. Now a private domain, the castle has been fully restored in the last twenty years and retains visual evidence related to the Grimaldi family, including the Chartrier room. This castle welcomed the future Prince Honoré V during the first years of the French Revolution.
After a walk from the castle to the centre of the village, HSH the Prince inaugurated the ‘street of the Princes of Monaco’ before addressing the people who came to welcome him.
In the afternoon, HSH Prince Albert II travelled to Rouen to inaugurate ‘The Princes of Monaco in Normandy exhibition: From Estouteville to Grimaldi’ which is taking place at the Pôle culturel Grammont until 14 December 2019. This exhibition was organized by the Departmental Archives of Seine-Maritime, under the curation of Vincent Maroteaux and Michäel Bloche (Heritage Curators) in collaboration with the Archives of the Palace of Monaco. Historical documents, paintings and precious objects tracing the history of the family, the Duchy of Estouteville and the village of Valmont are on display; showcasing links that unite Haute-Normandie to the Grimaldi family.