Welcome to La Devinière, with the “Maison des illustres” and “Musée de France” labels for a museum devoted to François Rabelais, author of Gargantua, Pantagruel, the Third Book, Fourth Book and Fifth Book (where Pantagruel, Panurge and their companions reach the “Dive Bouteille”, the Divine Bottle). Without necessarily having read them, many people still know the names of these books. They are seen as the earliest forms of the modern novel, combining the worlds of the tale, the epic and satire.
François Rabelais was first a Franciscan and then a Benedictine monk. He was given “fast-track” training at the medicine faculty in Montpellier, took a great interest in anatomy and medicinal plants, and then qualifed as a doctor in Lyon in 1532. He stayed in Rome, in 1534 and 1535, accompanying Jean du Bellay, a cardinal and diplomat. Pantagruel and Gargantua were printed at this period. In his books, there is a combination of enthusiasm for popular culture and criticism of the excesses of the ruling class, as well as a quest for knowledge, making the author a representative of Renaissance Humanism.