Chateau Chinon, Loire Valley

Photo of Chateau Chinon in Indre-et-Loire

Discover Chateau Chinon

MAP & PLACES TO VISIT

Chateau Chinon is a huge castle that dominates the entire town of Chinon, and extends along a raised plateau above the river Vienne, in France's Loire Valley. The castle at Chinon is rich in history, and dates back more than 1000 years, at which time the original castle was built on the site of an even earlier Gallo-Roman fort.

History of Chateau Chinon

The English King Henry II built much of Chinon castle in the 12th century to serve as an important regional control centre - he was also the Count of Anjou. It is a very extensive building, almost 500 metres long and 100 metres wide, with the interior divided into three parts: the Fort Saint-Georges, the Chateau de Milieu and the Fort du Coudray.

The Fort de Coudray was further enhanced in the 13th century with the addition of a cylindrical keep after a long siege by French King Philippe Auguste had regained the territory for the French.

Other key events in the history of Chinon castle include Richard the Lionheart dying here (probably), and Joan of Arc coming here on March 8, 1429 to persuade Charles VII that it was possible to change the fortunes in favour of the French during the Hundred Years War.

These were dark times and in 1429 Charles only controlled a small part of France, with the remainder in the hands of the English and the Burgundians - the meeting with Joan of Arc at the castle can be considered to be the turning point in the fortunes of France in medieval times. The meeting resulted in the King retaking Orléans and subsequently removing the English from France.

Later, in the 16th century, the castle was used as a prison but then fell into abandon - a state that was to last for two hundred years. The revival in the fortunes of Chateau Chinon started with Napoleon III, who renovated part of the castle, and its recognition as a French historic monument in 1840.

The transformation continued in the 20th century as the importance of the castle was recognised - it is now in the control of Chinon town and a major regional visitor attraction, although we can only try to imagine what the castle was like at in its heyday, since a great deal of the original castle buildings are no longer standing.

View of chateau de Chinon in the Loire valley

Visiting the Chateau de Chinon

The castle is entered by the Fort of Saint-Georges, the easternmost of the three parts to the castle. This fort is largely in ruins. Next is the clocktower, and access to the main castle and where the most important towers can be visited, and the rooms that were once the royal accommodation which now show presentations about the people that shaped the history of castle over the centuries.

This building also holds the Joan of Arc Museum, dedicated to explaining the actions taken by Joan of Arc.

Beyond the central part of the castle we reach the Coudray Fort. The tower here was used as a prison and in the tower you can see the graffiti that was carved in the stone walls by Templar knights awaiting their executions, after the templars were suppressed in the early 14th century.

See more Loire Valley castles.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Indre-et-Loire guide and the Loire Valley guide.

See also:

Map of Chateau Chinon and places to visit

Visit near Chateau Chinon with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Indre-et-Loire

Address: Chinon, Indre-et-Loire, Loire Valley, 37500, France || GPS: latitude 47.16806, longitude 0.2361

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Chinon: secteur sauvegarde
  • Les jardins du château du Rivau: remarkable garden (12km)
  • Collegiale Church (Candes-Saint-Martin): religious monument (13km)
  • Candes-Saint-Martin: most beautiful village (13km)
  • Fontevraud Abbey: national monument (14km)
  • Abbaye Notre Dame de Fontevraud (Fontevraud Abbey): religious monument (14km)
  • Montsoreau: most beautiful village (14km)
  • Loire-Anjou-Touraine: regional natural parc (15km)
  • Richelieu: secteur sauvegarde (18km)
  • Crissay-sur-Manse: most beautiful village (19km)