The Loire is a feminine river, which wends its way through green valleys and pleasant orchards, where vineyards are also arranged in terraces: this is the garden of France. The favourite place of kings, it owes its glory to its numerous chateaux. Here are some of them... Chateau de Saumur

Angers, a fine city of the arts with its great gardens of flowers; this town of king Rene has a heritage of major importance.

Its feudal-style chateau has 17 towers which rise to a height of 40 metres. Inside, you will find an extraordinary collection of Tapestries, including the fabulous tapestry of the Apocalypse. Ascend the hill of St. Maurice, and you will discover the cathedral and its stained glass windows.

L'Anjou owes its fame to its wines and splendid roses which flourish in gardens everywhere, filling the air with a delicious fragrance, and giving such colour to the region. This is also a historical town, with its fine romanesque churches and its abbeys, the most prestigious of which is that of Fontevraud where you will find the tomb of the Plantagenets.

Saumur, the "pearl of Anjou" is famous for its school for mounted troops. You reach the tower via a very old bridge. Its chateau is remarkable and on the illuminated manuscript the "Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry" you can see it in all its elegance. Taste the wines in the cellars carved into the limestone...

The Vallee de la Vienne is notable for its imposing fortress, the Chateau of Chinon. Having witnessed the relentless wars of the Middle Ages, it is comprised of a fort and two chateaux built on a cliff. The grandeur of the medieval bridge whose 13 arches will take you across the Vienne. Roads winding between the river and the cliffs, small alleyways opening out into inner courtyards. Rabelais was born here and, not far away Richelieu had a town built which bears his name; it is a very fine example of 17th century urbanisation. Chateau de Chenonceau

The Loire and Its Tributaries, the Indre and the Cher

Well irrigated, this is a beautiful region of woodlands steeped in history. As soon as you notice the pinnacles and the numerous towers of the Chateau d'Usse, you recognise that of Sleeping Beauty... Towering above the waters of the Indre, a picture of elegance, the Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau; within this jewel of refinement lies the spirit of the Rcnaissance period. Not far away, Sache welcomed Balzac.. Set off to the Chateau de Villandry; it has the finest example of 16th century formal gardens, excellent symmetry and borders of box trees trimmed so as to form subtle arabesques.

The chateaux of the Loire and of the Cher

You can make Tours the centre for your excursions to the chateaux. This capital, watered by the Loire, is a haven of pleasure with its gardens, its large cafes in the place du Palais, and its cathedral.

See the royal palace of Amboise and its charming towvn with its old district. The fortresses which are overshadowed by the audacious elegance of the Renaissance chateaux. Chenonceau!

Chinon This harmonious masterpiece was created entirely by women.. Diane of Poitiers received it from her lover King Henry II. She linked the chateau to the other rivrer bank by the bridge; Catherine de Medicis, on the death of her husband, took it back and had a balcony built on two levels on this Same bridge. There were grand celebrations in its grounds.

Do not miss the Loches, the sloping roads leading to the medieval city. The chateau is warlike yet, at the same time, charming. Take a walk to the top of the ramparts... Chaumont-sur-Loire, overlooking the river with its massive fortress, still lowers and raises its drawbridge.

Dazzling Blois, with its thousand windows, a rich city with a town within the town: the chateau. Its renaissance buildings are magnificent, and the octagonal stairway built by Francois I, is a truly wonderful example of architecture. Chambord, also constructed by Francois I, is a grandiose creation.. 440 rooms, immense. It has seen some great historical and cultural changes. Chateaubriand saw in it "a woman, a gentle breeeze blowing through her hair".. Here there reigns perfect harmony; roofs adorned by towers, turrets, domes. Chambord's architecture is complete.

Chateau de Chambord Cheverny is quite different.. the majesty of the facade; this is a stately home: built all at the same time in a classical style. You will be enchanted by its ambiance: its original furniture and decoration remains unchanged. Don't forget to visit Beaugency; very evocative of the Middle Ages, its monuments arranged in a pleasing fashion, it blends beautifully into a landscape of water and greenery. Enter Orleans. This town, freed by Joan of Arc, still pays hommage to her during the month of May. See the abbey of St Benoit-sur-Luire, onc of the most important Roman buildings in France, and, to complete your tour of the chateaux, visit Gien, with its 14th century building of pink bricks and gray slate.. take the bridge adorned by so many arches in order to cross, once more, this river which will have left you with a lasting impression of its very essence, its majesty...

And So Many Other Routes...

From Gien, take the historical route of Jacques Coeur. Here a rich heritage awaits you. Bourges, of course, and its cathedral with its outstanding stained glass windows, listed as a buiiding of world heritage, its Palace of Jacques Coeur, a masterpiece of the Middle Ages. Do not miss the abbey of Noirlac, nearby - a great achievement of cistecian art, also the chateau de Chulan where Chopin and George Sand were welcomed (in order the discover the world of the latter writer, visit also the Chateau de Nohant). Take a trip to Sancerre whose famous wines will win your heart. Travel through the Sologne, with its immense territory of forests abounding in game, and its lakes.

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