Centre-Val de Loire is a large inland region of central France located to the south-west of the French capital Paris. The name reflects the fact that much of this region embraces the renowned valley of the river Loire. The region is known for its fine historical towns, its vineyards and agricultural produce and its many beautiful castles (châteaux).
- 1 Orléans. The regional capital has been crazy about Joan of Arc since the French heroine's successes against the English in the siege of 1428-29. Orleans' fine cathedral and grand streets are also worth the trip.
- 2 Amboise. A small town overlooking the Loire home to two completely different châteaux - the town's castle is an impressive riverside defensive fortress, while Le Clos Lucé is a renaissance-era château where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years.
- 3 Blois. Capital of the Loir-et-Cher, known for its royal château and cathedral overlooking the Loire.
- 4 Bourges. Home of the famous St Etienne cathedral
- 5 Chartres. home of the famous cathedral of stained-glass
- 6 Chinon. Known for its red wine, and its defensive château, on the river Vienne.
- 7 Issoudun. A small city known for its defensive white tower and, like many parts of the region, its association with 19th century novelist Honoré de Balzac.
- 8 Maintenon. Home to a small, but fancy, château with fabulous gardens
- 9 Nançay. delighful small village, home of the delicious "Sablés de Nançay" biscuits, as well as a radio astronomy facility, Le Pôle des étoiles, which offers guided tours of the facility, sky theatre shows as well as interesting science exhibits.
- 10 Nogent le Rotrou. Dominated by heavily-fortified walls from the 12th / 13th centuries and château Saint-Jean, which offer wide views over five valleys.
- 11 Saint-Benoît-du-Sault. One of the most beautiful villages in France offers a tangle of narrow Medieval streets, ramparts and a belfry.
- 12 Tours. The largest city in the region, located between the rivers Loire and Cher. Home to an extensive old town, two stunning cathedrals, decent museums and fine cuisine. Tours offers the biggest selection of hotels in the Loire Valley and is well-connected by road and rail, so makes an excellent home base for exploring the area as a whole.
- 13 Vendôme. is a town on the Loir River in central France and is a subprefecture of the department of Loir-et-Cher. It is also the department's third biggest town.
Visit the Pôle des étoiles and discover the Universe! Located in Nançay, a delightful Sologne village, Pôle des étoiles is a learning center. It offers guided tours of the radioastronomy facility, sky thearter shows, as well as iteresting science exhibits. Official website
The Centre-Val de Loire is among France's safest regions. Certain neighbourhoods in and around cities like Tours, Orléans, and Vierzon might require extra caution at night, but the rest of the region is safe.
Travellers wishing to see more of the Loire Valley can continue further west into the adjoining Pays de la Loire region, studded with additional historical cities and chateaux at sites such as Angers and Saumur.