Chateau de Chambord
Discover the length and breadth of the Loire Valley, from the beautiful Atlantic coastline, to magnificent chateaux near Orleans and Tours, to the grand canal near Briare, and to its source surprisingly close to the Cevennes and the Mediterranean.
Atlantic coastline near Saint Nazaire
Saumur Castle with its Museum of the Horse
Surrounded by forests, Blois was named after the celtic name for wolf, but now between the white stone and the slate rooves, the town is known for corn, wine, strawberries, asparagus, and chocolate (The Poulain chocolate factory). Discover the grandeur of the Chateau, with Fine Arts Museum, archaeology museum, and the grand staircase leading to Queen's apartments with Catherine de Medici's renaissance furniture and tapestries. Visit too the Saint Louis Cathedral, rebuilt in Gothic style after the hurricane of 1678, and walk in the pretty gardens of what was once the Bishop's gardens (18c, Hotel de Ville).
Orleans, is best seen from the river. It was here that Joan of Arc, that made her triumphant entry, after she had routed out the English. The town has been greatly rebuilt, after much damage during WW2 - with pretty streets full of grand mansions such as Rue d'Escures. In 1560 Frances II died in the renaissance Hotel de Ville. Visit too the grand Saint Croix Cathedral, with primative sanctuaries in the crypt (4th and 10th century). Go to nearby Orleans La Source with very pretty Parc Florale de la Source - where flowers abound close to the source of the Loiret.
Situated on a bend of the river Loire, the town is known for its Faience, and had belonged to the Dukes of Burgundy, until Francis I had made it and the Nivernais an independant Duchy. Visit the Ducal Palace a mixture of Medieval strength and Renaissance delicacy; and the Municipal museum with its collection of Faience. Take a trip to St Gildard Convent where Bernadette Soubirous (Lourdes) lived as a nun, and where her embalmed body lies in a glass casket.
Canal bridge across the Loire at Briare, near Nevers