A Guide to the Loire Valley
Towns and Villages of the Loire Valley
its towns and villages
Towns and Villages of the Loire Valley
Centre-Val de Loire is one of the 18 administrative regions of France. It straddles the middle Loire Valley in the interior of the country. The administrative capital is Orléans, but the largest city is Tours. Like many contemporary regions of France, the region of Centre was created from parts of three historical provinces: Touraine, Orléanais, and Berry. On 17 January 2015, as part of the reorganization of French regions, the region's official name was changed to Centre-Val de Loire.
The region is composed of six departments, the Eure et Loir * (28), the Loiret (45), the Loir et Cher (41), the Cher (18), the Indre et Loire (37) and the Indre (36). Our tours are based within the last four of these departments, particularly in a wide area around the city of Tours in the Indre-et-Loire.
Chabris is a friendly village of some 2,300 souls, on the banks of the river Cher. Just a short walk from your cottage takes you to the centre, with its ancient church and market square. The market runs every Saturday morning.
The village offers an amazing selection of shops: three bakers, three butchers, banks, a florist, the post office, hairdressers and more. On the outskirts there is a large supermarket and petrol station and across the river, Romorantin offers a huge range of shopping options.
For clients who prefer not to do their own cooking there are bars and resteraunts to choose from in the village itself, while fine dining is available just a few miles away.
A visit to the Loire Valley is not complete without visiting one of the famous chateaux and we have several close to us. The chateau at Valancay is well known but we also have the Chateau du Moulin, the Chateau de Selles sur Cher and Chémery nearby.
Montrichard on the river Cher, with its romantically ruined castle, is a popular lunch stop and is conveniently close to the chateau of Chenonceau and the Touriane vineyards. Montrichard has a bussling market on Fridays, while the largest in the area is at Selles sur Cher each Thursday. Amboise Sunday market, on the banks of the Loire, is another popular venue.
Tours is well worth a visit. It is a cathedral city on the river Loire and was already an important town and river crossing point in the 1st century BC. As part of the Roman Empire during the 1st century AD the city was named "Caesarodunum" - "hill of Caesar".
The remains of the medieval city can be easily explored on foot and the cathedral, founded 2000 years ago and extended or rebuilt several times, is one of the major attractions. It is also a modern university city with good shopping and dining opportunities.
Vouvray is just a few miles up the Loire from Tours, but with an entirely different feeling. This is a wine town with buildings - some of them very impressive - down by the river and the vineyards up above. This is the home of Chenin Blanc and you can still see the monastery of St. Martin, who brought the grapes here in the 1stC.
Amboise is a bustling town on the river Loire with its ancient centre and royal castle. Vineyards surround the town and it is also close to the Vouvray and Montlouis white wine regions. It offers three chateaux to visitors: the Royal Castle, Clos Lucé, for a short while the home of Leonardo de Vinci, and chateau Gaillard.
Montrichard on the river Cher, with its romantically ruined castle, is a regular lunch stop on our tours. It is conveniently close to the chateau of Chenonceau and the Touraine vineyards. The beach on the river is a popular venue with families.
Chinon is in the heart of red wine country, a maze of medieval streets, a fine old castle and great for lunch. It is a pretty town on the banks of the river Vienne with the castle dominating on a cliff high above the town.
The town benifits from a particular microclimate which encourages grape ripening. It is at the heart of Cabernet Franc country and part of the St. Maure goats cheese area.
Bourgueil and its little sister St Nicolas de Bourgueil also produce excellent red wines. Bourgueil Abbey was founded in 990 and the organic Clos d'Abbey vineyards have been cultivated ever since.
Fontevraud Abbey, the final resting place of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son Richard the Lion Heart, is a magical place south of Chinon.
Blois, a hillside city on the Loire River, is the capital of the Loir-et-Cher region in central France. The late Gothic Blois Cathedral towers over its cobbled city center. Nearby is the Château Royal de Blois, a former palace with ornate royal chambers, plus paintings and sculptures from the 16th–19th centuries. Opposite, La Maison de la Magie Robert-Houdin explores the history of magic and holds live performances.
Across the river is the Sologne region of woods and lakes, home to several chateaux, including Chambord and a large number of vineyards.
Cheverny is an attractive small town, supporting the chateau de Cheverny and the surrounding countryside. The Sologne was a very poor agricultural area so there are mostly villages rather than towns, although the chateaux can be very grand because of the hunting, which is still important here.
Viezon is a medium-sized town by the banks of the Cher River and the Canal de Berry and a major railway hub. Its abbey was constructed in the year 926. It has been an important industrial area specialising in steel and ceramics but suffered greatly in World War II.
Vierzon is situated on the old Roman Tours / Bourges road. Bourges is the capital of the department of Cher and the former province of Berry and an important town for more than 2000 years. The Gothic Cathedral of Saint Etienne, begun at the end of the twelfth century, ranks as a World Heritage Site. It is considered as one of the earliest examples of the High Gothic style of the thirteenth century.
Romorantin-Lanthenay calls itself the capital of the Sologne region and is an ideal base for visiting the surrounding countryside and vineyards.
Valençay is a small town, proud of its fine chateau, a remarkable auto museum and its wine and cheese production.
The Loire Valley produces wine in a wide range of colours and styles. Our tours give you a unique opportunity to taste these wines, look at the production facilities and often meet the owners. As enthusiasts ourselves, we make a point of seeking out the best.