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.
Tours is the starting point for many of our trips. St. Pierre des Corps, the station on its outskirts, is the stopping point for the fast TGV train on its way down to Bordeaux; many clients coming to us from Paris use this station.
Tours itself 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".
Tours is well worth a visit and many clients stay the night at one of the hotels in the city centre or in chateau-hotels in the surrounding countryside.
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 Chnin Blanc and you can still see the monistry of St. Martin, who brought the grapes here in the 1st C. There are several good quality hotels.
Amboise is a bustling town on the river Loire with its ancient centre and royal castle. A popular stop for our clients who may stay a night or more in one of the many hotels, often historic buildings in their own right. Vineyards surround the town and it is also close to the Vouvray and Montlouis white wine regions.
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 Touriane vineyards.
We regularly visit Chinon as part of our Best Reds tour, both for wine tasting, the medieval streets and castle and for lunch. It is a pretty town on the banks of the river Vienne and the castle dominates 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.
During our tours we visit Bourgueil and it's little sister St Nicolas de Bourgueil where excellent red wines are produced. Bourgueil Abbey was founded in 990 and the organic Clos d'Abbey vineyards have been cultivated ever since.
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.
There are a number of hotels here and plenty of life in the evenings. Across the river is the Sologne region of woods and lakes, home to several chateaux 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.