Also worth a look …
The capital of Touraine and traditionally the centre of any excursion into chateaux country has many attractions of its own. A stroll around the old town which survived the bombing in the Second World War, with it's fascinating ancient half-timbered houses, narrow streets, antique shops and unusual boutiques and restaurants; the Cathedrale St-Gatien (don’t miss La Psalette), the Musée des Beaux Arts and the covered market are also worth a look.
24.7 miles 43 minutes
One of ‘les plus belles villes de France’ with its Renaissance chateau and Gothic church, this interesting village is worth a detour. Travel a further 6 miles to the church in Nouans-les-Fontaines and the Chartreuse du Liget, with its private chapel in the woods, decorated with 10th century frescoes.
16.3 miles 32 minutes
Chateau de Montpoupon
From the road this small chateau is elegant in appearance and has much to offer inside, including an interesting Musee de la Venerie with everything to do with the history and traditions of foxhunting – be prepared for a tour in French! End your visit to the grounds with a forest walk.
7.4 miles 13 minutes
From the river bank or the bridge over the Cher enjoy the view of the medieval houses clustered around the church under the protection of the crumbling keep, one of the many fortresses built by the feared Foulke Nerra, the 'Black Falcon'. The Donjon still towers menacingly over the town, and is worth a détour to see floodlit at night. Beneath the Donjon is housed the small but fascinating museum of local history and archaeology. Also worth visiting in Montrichard is the Musée des Poids Lourds with its unique collection of vintage lorries, old fire engines and other historic vehicles.
A couple of kilometres down the road at Bourré you can enjoy underground tastings of excellent wines combined with a guided tour of the galleries where the stone for building the chateaux was quarried, or visit the neighbouring troglodyte site where mushrooms are still grown using traditional methods and view the unique underground 'village', the creation of which, in high relief occupied the sculptor for ten years.
3.7 miles 9 minutes
Valençay - 'The home of Talleyrand'
Geographically speaking in the Berry region rather than the Loire, Valencay resembles Chambord in size and in its period of construction. View the exterior of the chateau across a meadow of wild flowers before exploring an interior once inhabited by Talleyrand.
28.6 miles 51 minutes
Zooparc de Beauval
Situated just outside Saint-Aignan, this zoological park is a real treat – a combination of flowers, many in tropical greenhouses, and a mini safari park. Animals can be viewed at close quarters, many with little more than a ditch, low wall and electric fence separating you from them. Several times a day (April – November) there are special displays showcasing the underwater antics of the sea-lions and the grace and beauty of the birds of prey.
Beauval has always been well known for rare and unusual animals and now they have the added attraction of two giant pandas – Huan Huan and Yaun Zi – who arrived in late 2011 from Chengdu in China. Beauval is particularly dedicated to the preservation of rare and endangered species and has a very successful breeding programme. There are always many young animals to be seen, including in recent years rare white tiger cubs and a baby elephant.
17.5 miles 27 minutes
The Musée Maurice Dufresne
One man's vast lifetime collection of memorabilia of daily life in the early 20th century; from farm machinery and implements; to household objects and old cars. Often overlooked: Often overlooked; this museum, housed in a lovely situation in a disused papermill on the river Indre; is well worth a detour. Not far away, and also built on an island in the river Indre is the Chateau de l'Islette. Still privately owned, this pretty little chateau was the scene of the passionate love affair of the sculptor Rodin and his tragic mistress, the sculptress and graphic artist Camille Claudel who, perhaps wrongly, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and confined for the last 30 years of her life in a lunatic asylum.
35.3 miles 50 minutes
|For wine lovers …|
Vouvray and Rochecorbon
22.2 miles 40 minutes
18.6 miles 32 minutes
Still or sparkling wines; many producers have caves open to the public.
The Distillerie Fraise Or demonstrates traditional methods for making liqueurs and fruit brandies that are typical of the region.
3.2 miles 8 minutes
Ask John and Rosalind for suggestions of local Touraine vineyards to visit. St. Georges-sur-Cher alone has no less than 14 wine producers, and the recently-introduced Appellation Touraine-Chenonceau, with its strict rules for production of a distinctive wine of high quality is worthy of investigation. Rosalind, as a Chevalieer de la Confrerie des Vignerons du Coteaux du Cher is keen to promote the excellent local wine, which offers excellent value for money, and to introduce you to other members of her Guild, for special tastings.
For the more active …
A plethora of footpaths and cycle routes are waymarked to explore the Loire Valley, the Cher, and surrounding area. Maps and descriptive literature are available.
Hire a boat from Bléré or Montrichard and drift along the Val du Cher and glide beneath the Chateau of Chenonceau.
Hot-air balloon (Montgolfière) or micro-light flights to see the Chateaux from the air. Descriptive literature available on site.