Tourist Attractions of Centre

Information on the main tourist attractions, places of interest and sights to see in Centre...

Châteaux of the Loire Valley

Both the Pays-de-la-Loire and Centre Val-de-Loire are famous for the Renaissance châteaux that line the river Loire and its tributaries. Many have been restored to their former regal glory and the gardens, some museums in themselves, have lent the area the name Garden of France. Centre is home to castles Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry and Loches among others.

History in the Loire Valley

The Centre Val-de-Loire region has a rich history. Orléans, once the intellectual capital of France, was also where heroine Jeanne d'arc (Joan of Arc) led the French army to defeat the English in the Battle of Orléans during the Hundred Years War. The city now has a museum dedicated to her memory; Maison Jeanne d'Arc was built on the site where she stayed in 1429.

The many châteaux have been put to numerous uses over the years, Chenonceau was used as a military hospital during the First World War and escape route from the Nazis in the Second World War when the River Cher formed the frontier between "free" Vichy France and Nazi occupied France. Amboise Château is the resting place of Leonardo da Vinci, in the Chapelle St-Hubert perched on the Ramparts while the Clos Lucé museum displays models of the inventions that were noted in his sketchbooks.

The towns of Amboise, Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Food and Drink

The fertile land of the region means fresh vegetables are plentiful and much is sold at local produce markets.

AOC accredited Crottin de Chavignol is a goats' cheese produced exclusively in the Loire area.

The Loire Valley is one of the most important wine regions in France. Many vineyards will sell directly to the public and allow "cellar door" tasting. Some even have wine museums and demonstrations of the wine-making process from the grape to the bottle. Some of the best-known wines include, Saumur, Anjou, Vouvray, Touraine, Chinon and Pouilly-fumé.

The Hotel Tatin in the town of Lamotte-Beuvron is the home of the well-known apple pie, Tarte Tatin; first created by accident, it soon became a culinary favourite.