Surrounding Towns & region Parçay Les Pins
The Loire Valley exemplifies the good things in life; a leisurely pace of life, a mild climate, fine wines and a gentle people. The region is one of rolling countryside; the rich river valley and its vineyards, the fertile arable land, the orchards and the forests. Timeless villages hidden off the beaten track, or lively local towns. There are themed tours to follow, marked walks, wine discovery and ‘degustation’ routes and national park areas. Named after the river that runs through its heart, the Loire is one of the most famous places in western France. At 1020km in length from its source in the Massif Central to its destination in the Atlantic Ocean, the Loire is France’s longest river. Formerly the playground of kings, princes and the nobility, the Pays du Loire is still the wealthiest are of France. Entering it is like stepping back in time. Originally built as fortress in the Middle Ages, its castles, hunting lodges and manor houses were gradually converted into lavish pleasure palaces during the Renaissance period.
An impressive town overlooked by the splendid 14th century château with its black slate turrets and white tuffeau walls. Narrow streets wind their way down from the château to the Place Saint Pierre where there are half-timbered houses and a medieval church. As well as the château, Saumur has several churches, a Decorative Arts Museum, Tank Museum, Mushroom Museum (deep down in limestone caves), a 5,000-year-old ‘dolmen’ – a Neolithic burial chamber. There is the famous Cadre Noir – the National Riding School and Cavalry, founded in 1814. There are also caves where local sparkling wines are made and can be tasted. At night the town is a beautiful sight, with lights and buildings reflected in the waters of the river. There are bars and pubs, cafes and a great choice of restaurants.
This cathedral city has a mixture of the new and old. At the heart of the city is the medieval town ‘Le Vieux Tours’ which shows evidence of Roman ancestors and Renaissance architecture. At its heart is the Place Plumereau, a lively square surrounded by tall, half-timbered buildings dating from the 15th century. A few minutes away by foot sees you on the main street of Tours. Here you’ll find chic fashion boutiques and large department stores, craft shops, bookshops, picture galleries and shops for stylish kitchen equipment. As well as all this, Tours hosts a multitude of other beautiful buildings and things to see. There is the Cathédrale St-Gatien, the Hôtel Goüin, home to the city’s archaeological museum, the Wine Museum of Touraine, and Place Pierre-le-Puellier, an evacuated Gallo-Roman and medieval cemetery which once formed part of a Renaissance cloister.
Angers, the capital of the Anjou region, is situated on the river Maine, a few kilometers before the Maine joins the Loire. It is a thriving university town with wide boulevards, modern shops, beautiful public gardens and narrow older streets evocative of its long history. It is a town of two faces, with a wealth of cultural and natural heritage. There are museums, the chateau (home to the Apocalypse Tapestries), cathedral and churches and more than 45 timber framed houses – there are modern hi-tech industries such as Bosch, Scania, Yves Saint-Laurent and the headquarters of the famous Remy-Cointreau Distillery – a nice end to the day perhaps!! Old and new combine perfectly in Angers – it is a thriving, alive town with something for everyone.
The Château of Chinon, a medieval fortress, was built high above the River Vienne to protect the valley. History tells that it was here, in the Great Hall, that Joan of Arc recognised the Dauphin. It was also here that Richard the Lion-heart came when fatally wounded. The château has three different forts or keeps, waterless moats, underground passages and dungeons. Chinon is a lovely old fortified town with cobbled streets and alleys which wind their way up and down and along the hillside. In the town are also the Musée du Vieux-Chinon (a local history museum), an Animated Wine Museum, Musée de la Deviniere, the Maison Rouge and the Église St-Maurice. There is a wealth of eating houses and small shops. The town and region are famous for the ‘Chinon’ vineyards where superb red wines are produced.
The Abbey of Fontevraud is the ancient burial place of the Plantagenet’s who were the Counts of Anjou, Ducs of Normandie and Aquitaine and then for over three hundred years Kings of England. Robert d’ Arbrissel founded the Abbey at the end of the eleventh century. In 1150 at the rise of power of the Plantagenet’s the Abbey supervised nearly 5000 people in priories and convents in France, Spain and England. The French revolution put an end to the existence of the Fontevraud. In 1804 during the First Empire, Napoleon converted the Abbey into a prison for common criminals. It remained this way until 1963. Since then it has profited from extensive restoration and is now one of the most visited monuments in the Loire Valley.