Cities and Villages in the Loire Valley
Tours is classified among France’s “Cities of Art and History.” The city bears witness to a prestigious and prosperous past.
The capital of the kingdom of France in the 15th and 16th centuries, Tours has preserved many treasures.
Candes Saint Martin
Lovely Candes-Saint-Martin, a village ranked among the most beautiful in France, rests peaceably at the confluence of the Loire and the Vienne Rivers.
Before climbing to the village’s heights to discover its troglodyte cave dwellings carved into cliffs, linger a little on rue du Bas, a quaint street that the mariners of the Loire used to call home.
Candes was once a bustling fishing and inland shipping port, and is still home to a spectacular 12th and 13th century collegiate church.
Kings of France and England have stayed in Candes, where they paid visits to the archbishops of Tours.
When you finally make it up the narrow path of rocks leading up the hill that overlooks Candes-Saint-Martin, you’ll be charmed by a view that reflects the best of Douce France (Sweet France): the slate roofs of gorgeous homes leading down to the convergence of the region’s greatest rivers.
With more than 2000 years of history to share, the city of Orléans promises visitors many fascinating discoveries.
Explore the city’s museums, stroll through its old neighborhoods and visit its historic sites: Sainte-Croix Cathedral, the “Joan of Arc House,” the Charles Péguy Center, George V Bridge, The Pierre de Lys House, Saint Aignan Cloister, and more…
Situated on the historic Vallée des Rois (Valley of Kings) route, along France’s longest river, the city of Orléans is the ideal starting point for a journey to discover the chateaus of the Loire.
A strategic point thanks to its medieval bridge over the Loire, Beaugency was invaded by the British before being liberated by Joan of Arc.
The city, which figures among the “most beautiful detours in France,” welcomes visitors to discover its peaceful medieval streets.
Discover a village full of centuries-old fortifications and timbered homes – living relics of a rich past.
Only two hours from Paris, halfway between Burgundy and the Atlantic Ocean, Bourges sits atop a rocky outcropping surrounded by bayous. A religious, cultural, economic, and legal centre, the city has long been on the forefront of French history and politics. Today, Bourges reflects its prestigious past through its exceptional architectural heritage.
Thanks to significant restoration programs, renovation of older neighborhoods, and improvements to its tourism infrastructure, Bourges’ old heart beats to the rhythm of a vibrant and lively city. Half-timbered houses, palaces, and mansions are vivid testimony to Bourges’ rich past.
An exhibition tour called Les Nuits Lumière (Nights of Light) allows young and old, local and tourist alike to discover Bourges’ incredible heritage on an evening full of light, music and emotion.
Each year toward the end of April, Bourges welcomes France’s largest and most famous contemporary music festival: le Printemps de Bourges http://www.printemps-bourges.com/. The city is instantly imbued with a fantastic festival atmosphere.
Perched on a rocky peak 312 meters above sea level, Sancerre overlooks a spectacular panorama of the Loire Valley. From the Porte César Esplanade, take in views of distant Morvan mountain peaks colored with delicate pastel tones.
All around the city, proud winemakers nurture vineyards according to time-honored methods, and produce glorious wines bearing the name “Sancerre.”
Footpaths lead visitors through old bakers’ and winemakers’ neighborhoods, and also through areas dense with 15th century buildings, art galleries, and magically lit monuments.
La Tour des Fiefs, a tower that’s survived since the time of the feudal castle of the Counts of Sancerre, offers a wonderfully calm and charming view.
The wines of Sancerre, as well as crottin de Chavignol, a sumptuous goat cheese from the village of the same name, are just a few of the wonderful local products that honor tradition while meeting strict modern standards.
Blois has cultivated a rich community life: from its dynamic local economy to its vibrant student population, and with its fantastic art and sports cultures, the people of Blois embrace the concept of art de vivre.
Endowed with an exceptional natural and architectural environment along the shores of the Loire, the city looks to the river as its heart. For over ten years, Blois has been recognized by UNESCO’s World Heritage Organization as a “Cultural Landscape.”
Visitors can visit the Royal Castle all year round, and will be treated to special spectacles of sound and light during the summer season in particular.
Special sound effects and giant projections marry beautifully with the spectacular architecture of the castle’s courtyard. The voices of Robert Hossein, Pierre Arditi, Fabrice Lucchini, and a text written by Alain Decaux recount tales of love, drama and mystery from the chateau’s history – some of which have shaped the history of France. It’s a unique and unforgettable spectacle that you’re sure to love!
Montrichard, a lovely medieval city situated on the banks of the Cher River, is also an extremely lively and active community center that boasts some 100 shops!
A commanding 12th century keep overlooks the city of Montrichard. Follow the bridge over the Cher River to discover this impressive fortified tower. You will pass the Maison du Passeur (Ferryman’s House), built on an old strategic defense site. Be sure to attend the nighttime show: it’s fantastic!
Stroll along one of Montrichard’s pedestrian promenades, and with each turn discover a harmonious mix of 11th, 15th and 16th century homes, as well as churches, fountains, and the city’s former hospital/hospice, the hotel d’Effiat. You’ll also discover all kinds of shops and charming restaurants.
A colorful and lively market is open in downtown Montrichard every Monday and Friday in the summer.
The Peintres de Montrichard (Montrichard Painters) will greet you on weekends under the shade of plane trees at Barthélemy Gilbert Place, across from the Tourism Office.
Montrichard is also a central hub of the Touraine area. You can easily access major highlights in the area, including the most beautiful chateaus of the Loire. Montrichard is only 9 km from Chenonceau, 15 km from Amboise, 30 km from Cheverny, 34 km from Blois, and 48 km from Chambord.
It is also near troglodyte sites, remarkable caves, miles of underground limestone tunnels, glorious natural landscapes, vineyards, hiking and biking trails, and of course, the Loire River.
In summer, discover live shows, including nighttime spectacles of light and sound and daytime showdowns of good and evil at the Conte magique. The Magical Tale show features horsemen, knights, giants, elves, sorcerers, witches, druids and a mage…
Located between Paris and the chateaus of the Loire, Chartes enjoys an international reputation due to the majesty of its cathedral, which has been honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The masterpiece of art and architecture dates from the 12th century, and features 4000 sculpted figures and 5000 characters depicted in 2,600 square meters of stained glass.
The city of Chartres is a member of the international network of “cities of light,” and since 2003 has put particular efforts into developing events that will draw locals and visitors alike to discover its heritage.
A major event– Chartres en Lumière - offers participants a spectacular nighttime journey to discover 27 beautifully illuminated monuments and must-see sites, all set to music.