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Indre-et-Loire is the name now used for the old region of Touraine in central France. Visit this focal point for Renaissance architecture in the country with a plethora of World Heritage-listed chateaus spread among the farmland and forests of the Loire.
Tour Indre-et-Loire’s many fine chateaus. Start with the stunning Château de Chenonceau. Admire the mystical gallery stretching across the Cher River in a series of gorgeous arches. Step inside to view medieval tapestries and paintings by Rubens, Murillo and Ribera.
The Château de Chinon is another highlight of the area. It stands imposingly atop a hill in front of the Vienne River. See rugged fortifications dating back to the 14th century and learn how Joan of Arc stopped here on her way to save French soldiers from the English.
One of the most spectacular chateaus in the Loire Valley is the Château de Chambord. Its construction was ordered by King François I, the chateau became one of the most ambitious pieces of architecture ever attempted by a French monarch. Pick up an audio guide at the entrance for help navigating your way around the building’s 440 rooms. Inside you will find 84 staircases, with one of the more elaborate efforts designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Explore the king and queen’s richly decorated quarters and notice the display of keys for every room in the chateau.
The nearby Château d’Ussé may have inspired the story of Sleeping Beauty. The grounds of Château Villandry feature exquisite water gardens and lime tree walks.
Between trips to the wealth of cultural attractions, stroll through the region’s idyllic woodland and try fishing on the rivers that have helped to shape the remarkable geography of this part of France.
Use your own transportation to get around Indre-et-Loire. Biking is a popular option, as the gentle terrain and pretty scenery allow you to travel at your own pace between pretty villages and splendid chateaus.