Azay-le-Rideau and Chinon, two symbols of their time
Chinon and Azay le Rideau are two emblems of their time, the first dominated by its impressive medieval fortress and the second a typical image of the Renaissance which gazes at its reflection in its mirror of water… both must-see attractions in the Loire Valley.
The best way to visit Chinon is on foot: from its fortress which towers over the town you can reach the town centre either by taking the venerable flights of paved steps or the much more contemporary glass lift. Many houses full of character, churches and a collegiate churche line the streets where the pedestrians rule and can make their way to the banks of the River Vienne, the beach and the guinguette for a delightful spot of lazing around. As for shopping, head to the Plouzeau, Couly Dutheil wine estates or the Monplaisir winery. Another way to discover this high place in the history of France? A carriage ride, to the sound of hooves hitting the cobblestones!
Azay-le-Rideau retains the aura of its iconic Renaissance château, elegantly built on the banks of the Indre like its little brother the Château de l’Islette, a picture of rural beauty, the backdrop to Rodin and Camille Claudel’s tumultuous love affair.
Visit Chinon and Azay-le-Rideau: an art of living
Everywhere in these wine-growing lands of the Loire Valley you sense a warmth, a desire to share the abundance of local products on the restaurant terraces, in the cellars and the markets, such as a glass of Chinon and its faithful sainte-maure-de-touraine goat cheese, the fouaces and fouées that Rabelais loved so much, Richelais truffles, rillettes made from fish from the Loire, and the tarte vigneronne. These earthly delights like the harmonious, feminine landscapes were a great inspiration to two natives of the region – the colourful Rabelais and his Gargantua and Balzac the workaholic bon vivant in his stylish “The Lily of the Valley”.
Take your time
Take your time and savour every single moment when you explore unique places such as the troglodyte valley of Les Goupillières, the lively atmosphere of the trades of the Middle Ages at the Montbazon Fortress or the chic inter-war style of the Domaine de Candé.
Take a bike ride and discover the beautiful villages of Crissay-sur-Manse or Candes-Saint-Martin, the watermills on the banks of the River Indre, the beaches alongside the River Vienne, the expertise of the Villaines les Rochers basketweavers, and the pretty churches in Tavant and L’Île-Bouchard, finishing at the towers of the Château d’Ussé for a delightful morning. Finally, at Le Rivau, you’ll be captivated by the poetic gardens, their delicate array of colours and the humorous pieces of contemporary art.