Chinon, Loire Valley: tourism & sightseeing
Visit Chinon (Loire Valley, France)
Chinon is a town located between Angers and Tours, on the Vienne river and in the Loire Valley. Although best known for its castle the town also has an interesting historical centre to visit while you are here.
France This Way comment: the river scenery, an interesting historic town centre and an imposing castle combine to make Chinon one of our favourite small towns of the Loire valley region and we recommend that you visit during your stay in the region, or stay here and use Chinon as a base for exploring...
Start your visit on the bridge across the river, for nice views of the town and castle: the best panoramic view of Chinon is from Quai Danton on the other side of the bridge, although the trees rather obstruct the view of the houses unless you visit in winter!
Near the end of the bridge on the Chinon side of the Vienne river you can see a statue of Rabelais: Rabelais is a famous French author believed to have been born in Chinon at the end of the 15th century, best knwon for his work 'Gargantua and Pantagruel'.
This is also a good place to enter the town: from here the Rue de l'Hotel de Ville takes you straight into the Place du Général de Gaulle, the centre of the more recent part of Chinon. This part of the town, along with the Rue du Commerce and the Rue Rabelais that leave from the sides of the square, is where you will find most of the shops and cafes in Chinon, and is partly pedestrianised.
The main part of Chinon old town is to the west of here, below the walls of the castle which can often be glimpsed above the houses. Leave Place du Général de Gaulle from the top left (north-west) corner and enter Rue Voltaire: this street, and Rue Saint Maurice as it becomes further west, is the loveliest street in Chinon.
Here in the heart of the old town there are numerous medieval houses, some in colombage but most in stone and often with interesting architectural features such as small towers or ornate window surrounds.
Churches in Chinon
You will see several churches as you explore: the 12th century Church of Saint-Maurice is in the heart of the old town centre and the other main churches are further east, on the other side of the Place du Général de Gaulle:
- the most important religious monument in Chinon is the remaining part of the 12th century Collegiale Saint-Mexme. Although only the facade with its two towers and a part of the church now remain (the other parts having fallen into neglect and being destroyed after the revolution), that is sufficient to get an idea of how imposing the original complex would have been. Inside the church there are some very early frescoes, and various exhibitions are held here during the summer.
- at the 15th century gothic style Church of Saint-Etienne you will notice the unusual, almost Italianate, clocktower.
You can also visit the ancient troglodyte chapel of Saint-Radegonde in Chinon, half the building being built into the cliff and containing some medieval frescoes, although the chapel has limited opening hours and is outside the centre, so we recommend you ask in the Chinon tourist office before visiting.
After exploring the old town you will want to visit Chateau de Chinon. You can follow the cobbled street up the hill to the entrance or use the lift, depending on your energy and enthusiasm!
The castle is not the most beautiful in the Loire Valley region, but retains most of its medieval fortress character (most castles in the region were transformed in the renaissance style) and has various towers and buildings to explore, as well as some exhibits and recreations of medieval weapons, and has exceptional views across Chinon town and the river.
See separate feature for information about Chateau Chinon.
Museums in Chinon
The Clock Tower (at the castle entrance) now houses the Joan of Arc Museum. This Museum brings together many articles from the Hundred Years War period linking Joan of Arc to the town, and also many paintings and sculptures of the young Saint Joan.
The Museum of Old Chinon in the old town is a good place to learn more about the history of the town.
In the countryside around Chinon there is a great deal to discover. Among are personal favourites are Fontevraud Abbey, the Azay-le-Rideau Chateau and the picturesque village of Candes-Saint-Martin, classified as one of the 'most beautiful villages in France'.
Map of Chinon and places to visit
Visit near Chinon with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Indre-et-Loire
Chinon has received the following tourist classifications: historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); listed town of Art and History
Address: Chinon, Indre-et-Loire, Loire Valley, 37500, France || GPS: latitude 47.19, longitude 0.24
Plan your visit to Chinon, Loire Valley
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Collegiale Church (Candes-Saint-Martin): religious monument (13km)
- Candes-Saint-Martin: most beautiful village (13km)
- Les jardins du château du Rivau: remarkable garden (14km)
- Montsoreau: most beautiful village (14km)
- Fontevraud Abbey: national monument (14km)
- Abbaye Notre Dame de Fontevraud (Fontevraud Abbey): religious monument (14km)
- Loire-Anjou-Touraine: regional natural parc (15km)
- Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau: national monument (19km)
- Les jardins de la Chatonnière: remarkable garden (19km)
- Crissay-sur-Manse: most beautiful village (19km)
Market days in Chinon, France
Regular market(s) are held in Chinon each Thursday all day & Sunday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Chinon (Francais)