Loches, a stroll through medieval times
When you walk through the Royal gateway, you enter 1,000 years of history, firstly with the collegiate church of Saint-Ours where you’ll find the intricately carved tomb of the ‘Lady of Beauty’, Agnès Sorel, the favourite of King Charles VII, then the imposing 44 m high keep built in the 11th century by the fearsome Foulques Nerra.
For those brave enough to climb to the top, the reward is a unique view over the town. Towers, dungeons and their graffiti, underground rooms, passageways and staircases all guarantee a fantastic atmosphere and you’re half expecting to bump into a character from Game of Thrones down its dark corridors.
Nearby, the house of the painter Lansyer, a pupil of Courbet, and its romantic garden provide a delightful digression before you go back down towards the Royal apartments and their beautiful terraces, the Chancery façades, then the narrow streets great for getting lost in and the pretty public gardens at the edge of the River Indre. Caravaggio fans will be sure to visit the Saint-Antoine gallery where two paintings attributed to him are on display. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, you simply must not miss the pretty, picture-postcard market with its warm, friendly ambiance.
The beautiful countryside
The nights here in southern Touraine in the Loire Valley put on a magical show, so rare nowadays, of an exceptionally bright starry sky, with an infinity of stars of all sizes. There are some must-see places to visit – if you love roses, for example, you’ll love the streets in Chédigny where they grow quite happily and are perfectly in keeping, as well as the Presbytery garden. Chédigny is the only village in France to be listed as a ‘Remarkable Garden’. And for those keen on prehistory, there is the pretty village of Le Grand-Pressigny and its beautifully built museum.
Montrésor is a gem worthy of its name with its balconies over the River Indrois, a lovely, rejuvenating walk. Chemillé with its swimming area is a welcome place to stop and cool off in the summer heat, as are the banks of the River Creuse. Off the beaten track, you’ll find La Corroirie château-monastery, the Chartreuse du Liget, and the La Guerche and Bridoré châteaux, where you can spend some time in authentic, peaceful surroundings.