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Tourist attractions Châteaux of the Loire

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  • 1 Musée de Compagnonnage Recommended Recommended

    Museums and art

    8 rue Nationale

    Occupying the guest quarters (11C) and monks' dormitory (16C) above the chapter house of the abbey of St Julien, this museum traces the history, customs and practices of the town guilds' journeymen. It explains trades (some extinct, some not), tools ..

  • 2 Château du Clos-Lucé Recommended Recommended

    Museums and art

    2 rue du Clos-Lucé

    This summer residence was selected by Charles VIII for his wife, Anne of Brittany. Leonardo da Vinci took up residence here in 1516. On the ground floor are some magnificent frescoes from the master's workshop (to which a protective coating was added..

  • 3 Château de Villandry Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    3 rue Principale

    Built at the end of the Renaissance, the Château de Villandry has retained the keep of an earlier fortress. Heralding the emergence of Classical architecture, its interior decor is particularly impressive. The chamber with the 13C Mudejar ceiling fro..

  • 4 Fortresse Royale de Chinon Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Rue du Château

    Built in the 12C, abandoned by the court in the 15C, purchased by Cardinal Richelieu in the 17C, before being progressively abandoned, this fortress was rescued by Mérimée. Sited on a rocky outcrop, it is made up of the fort de Coudray with a 13C kee..

  • 5 Château of Ussé Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Situated on the edge of the forest of Chinon, overlooking the Indre, the château of Ussé inspired Charles Perrault's tale of Sleeping Beauty. It was built on the foundations of an 11C fortress in the 15 and 16C. The interior contains Flemish tapestri..

  • 6 Château de Langeais Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Place Pierre-de-Brosse

    The feudal stronghold of Langeais, with its high walls, round towers, crenellated sentryway and drawbridge, has survived intact through the centuries. Built between 1465 and 1470 by Jean Bourré, Louis XI's treasurer (1423-1483), the castle houses unt..

  • 7 Donjon de Loches Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    7 mail du Donjon

    The keep was built in the 11C by Fulk Nerra to defend the fortified town from the vulnerable south side. It is a solid square construction with two towers, the Ronde and the Martelet. Inside the keep, the floors of the three storeys have vanished, bu..

  • 8 Cathedral of Ste Croix Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    Place Ste-Croix

    Built from the 13C to the early 16C, the cathedral was partly destroyed in 1586 by the Protestants. In recognition of the town's support, Henry IV undertook its reconstruction in a composite Gothic style. There is a lovely three-porch façade with ros..

  • 9 Briare Canal Bridge Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Built at the same time as the Eiffel Tower, this 1890 bridge allows a canal running lateral to the Loire to cross it and join the Briare canal. The metallic structure containing the canal is made up of plates held together by millions of rivets. It i..

  • 10 Basilica of Saint Benoît sur Loire Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    1 avenue de l’Abbaye

    Built between 1067 and 1107 in pale Nivernais stone (although the nave was only finished in the late 12C) this site was at the forefront of western intellectual life. The belfry-porch is a particularly fine example of Romanesque art. Note the carved ..

  • 11 Jardins du Grand Courtoiseau Recommended Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    Planted in 1991, these gardens have now reached full maturity. Designed by landscape gardener Alain Richert and occupying 6ha, they include an orchard, a vegetable garden and ornamental garden. The ornamental gardens marry French, English and Italian..

  • 12 Château de Saumur Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Esplanade du Château

    With its towers and sloping roofs, this château has a proud air to it, dominating the Loire from its pedestal. King René rebuilt this château as a "love mansion" in the 14C, adorning it with a well thought out decorative design in the Gothi..

  • 13 Château de Brézé Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    2 rue du Château

    With Europe's deepest dry moat, this place has an amazing secret. Don't miss the entrance recessed between two walls in the heart of the village. This elegant Renaisssance château remodelled in 1824 by Anjou architect Hodé has residential lodgings, a..

  • 14 Doué-la-Fontaine Zoo Recommended Recommended

    Industrial tourism and theme park

    103 rue de Cholet

    This zoo offers over 500 animals the chance to live in semi-liberty in an exceptional and most unusual troglodyte setting. Waterfalls, acacias and bamboo enhance the environment of the species that live here, most of which are endangered. Don't miss ..

  • 15 Château de Valmer Gardens Interesting

    Nature and gardens

    Valmer's 80ha-park and gardens are in a remarkable spot overlooking the Brenne Valley. The château was destroyed in a fire in 1948, but its grounds retain terracing and the layout of fine italianate gardens. The terraces head down to a historic kitch..

  • 16 Sologne Museum Interesting

    Museums and art

    Moulin du Chapître

    On the river, this museum is located in the old Romorantin-Lanthenay quarter. The collection is housed in three buildings. The moulin du Chapitre, which retains its 19C flour mill exterior, focuses on the natural world, the region's fauna and history..

  • 17 Château de Villesavin Interesting

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Built between 1527 and 1537 for Jean Le Breton, lord of Villandry and superintendent of works at Chambord, this Renaissance château heralds the return of classicism: italianate dormer windows embellish a façade which is simple yet exudes grace and ha..

  • 18 Château de Talcy Interesting

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    18 rue du Château

    This Renaissance residence near the valleys of the Loire and the Beauce is redolent of the poetry of Ronsard, who was inspired by Cassandre, a former chatelaine of Talcy. Visitors are charmed on entering the first galleried courtyard with its rose-de..

  • 19 Collegiate Church of St Liphard Interesting

    Religious buildings

    Built between the 11C and the 13C, this sober building has an imposing stone steeple, a semi-circular chevet and its original transept with rounded trefoil ends. From behind the chevet, there is a good view of the church and the castle, an extraordin..

  • 20 La Sologne Interesting

    Nature and gardens

    Renowned for its many pools, this region is bordered to the east by the Sancerrois hills and to the west by a line linking Selles-sur-Cher to Cheverny via Chémery, Thenay and Sambin. Its heathlands, ponds and melancholy woodlands are ideal for hunter..

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