La Touraine

This area is one of my favourite in France. As we will see in this article, the Touraine is full of castles, French-style gardens and medieval towns. All this on the banks of the Loire River and surrounded by beautiful nature. It is this mixture of countryside and majesty that gives this area its charm and makes it unique.

Why do I say “majestic”? Because the area between Bourges and Angers ( around the river Loire ) is known as the “Valley of the Kings” in France.

Between these two cities lies the province of Touraine, the capital of which is Tours. It is very easy to visit as it is less than an hour’s drive from Paris. Did you know that the Loire River is a Unesco World Heritage Site? its beauty deserves nothing less!

If I start with Tours, this is a city where I have been several times, but just for passing through. In the centre there are squares with a lot of movement during the day and at night, and among its monuments, I recommend visiting the “Prieuré de St Cosme” which was the residence of the French poet, Pierre de Ronsard.

Château de Chenonceau

If you head East out of the city, a stop at the “Château de Chenonceau” is a must. I fell in love with it when I visited it because it is a jewel of architectural heritage. It is known as the “Château of Women” because it has been successively demolished, rebuilt, protected and restored by several women.

Château de Chenonceau

Another unforgettable place is the “Château Royal d’Amboise”, which has been a royal residence since 1434. Strolling through its streets without even having to visit the castle is a pleasure for the eyes.


There are troglodyte houses embedded in the rocks and you can also visit the “Château du Clos Lucé”.

Leonardo Da Vinci lived in this castle, which fascinated me, because it shows very well the life of the Renaissance genius during that time and his very special bond with the King of France François I. It is a reunion with the artist, through his personal objects, his works, his bedroom & the place where he used to paint and create…

Château du Clos Lucé

The “Royal City of Loches”, where Joan of Arc, after hearing the “voices of God”, was able to meet Charles VII and take him to the cathedral of Reims to celebrate his coronation as King of France.

We will now take a look at three castles that I have already mentioned in the last article on “Saumur and Chinon”.

I mention them again as they are very close to Tours and are beautiful, so you won’t miss them.

The “Château d’Azay-le-Rideau” is dreamlike. It was built by François I on an island in one of the tributaries of the river Loire called “Indra” as shown in the picture below. The architecture has Italian Renaissance influences and is an icon of the new French Art of the 16th century characteristic of the Loire Valley.

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau

Not far away is the Renaissance castle “Château de Villandry” of which the gardens and the wonderful smells that can be felt in it are particularly noteworthy.

And we end with the “Château de Riveau” or “castle of pumpkins” through which Joan of Arches passed on her way to Chinon to present herself disguised as a man to Charles VII.

Château de Riveau

History of Touraine

Heirs of the “civitas turonensis”, the name of Touraine comes from the tribe of the Turonians who were Gauls. Touraine has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic period and Amboise was probably the capital before the Roman invasion instead of Tours.

During the Gallo-Roman period, the city of Tours was called “Caesarodunum”. These peoples were under the rule of Crassus under the orders of Julius Caesar.


Touraine passed into the hands of the Anjou family in 1044, through the Plantagenet branch of which I spoke in the articles on the Sarthe and Angers. This Royal Family became kings of England around 1154.

King Philippe Augustus conquered the region in 1205 and made it a royal duchy after he had prevailed over the Plantagenet in 1216. Since then the Touraine has been under the reign of the French Royal Family and that is why so many castles have been built and why it is so majestic as I mentioned at the beginning.

Gastronomy of Touraine

  1. Gastronomic Restaurant “La Deuvalière” in Tours.
  2. Terraza Restaurant into the Castle “Château de Riveau“.

Some dishes are typical in this area such as “les rillons de touraine”, “le nougat de tours” or “la beuchelle” but I have to say that I have never tried them. What I do love is the goat’s cheese known as “Sainte-maure-de-touraine” which has a controlled designation of origin. You can recognise it by its grey rind and you can enjoy it with good country bread and a glass of red wine. There are also vineyards in Touraine which are also recognised as AOC and produce all kinds of wine: red, rosé, white and sparkling.

Terraza Restaurant Château de Riveau

Here is a link to a video about Touraine in French and its gastronomy:

Other addresses

  1. I think it was the first castle I ever slept in France and it is called “Château d’Hodebert”. The owners were very welcoming and even gave me the best room as I was the only guest that night. The breakfast was like royalty and the surroundings were so beautiful that you wanted to get lost in them.

2. A village right next door is “Vaudésir”.


3. I am in love with pandas so I couldn’t miss visiting the baby panda when he was one year old! His name is Yuan Meng and he lives in the Beauval Zoo not far from Tours.

Yuan Meng

4. The “Pont de Rouen” is not far from the “Maison de Balzac” I spoke about in the article on Saumur and Chinon.

Pont de Ruan

5. Finally, I would like to remind you that south of Tours is the Spa Hotel and castle of the perfumer Coty, which I have already mentioned in the article and it is called “Château d’Artigny”.

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