Loches, Loire Valley: tourism & sightseeing
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Loches is in the Indre-et-Loire department of the Centre region, at 50 kilometres south-east of Tours.
France This Way comment: on arriving in the town of Loches there is an immediate air of vitality and there are several monuments of interest to see, so an excursion here from the Loire Valley is recommended.
Your visit will be centred in the citadel of Loches which is still surrounded by two kilometres of 12th century ramparts and contains an old town which is full of interesting monuments, and the lower town with its renaissance period buildings. The citadel is entered through the Porte Royale, an imposing stone entrance through the city walls with round towers to each side.
The northern end of the citadel of Loches houses the lovely Logis Royal, the Royal Lodgings’ of Charles VII. It was here that Joan of Arc came to persuade Charles to go to Reims to be crowned King of France. The tomb of Agnes Sorrel is in a wing of the palace and there is a portrait of her in the room as well as a portrait of the Virgin in her likeness. Agnes was renowned for setting a trend of semi-nudity in the Court of Charles VII.
The donjon that dominates the citadel is approached by a long alley planted on both sides with trees and bushes, giving a charming approach to a destination with a grim history. From the top of the donjon there are lovely views across the town.
Built in the 10th century and one of the oldest donjons in France, it was used acted as a prison in Loches as recently as 1926. Inside the donjon you can see a reconstitution of the wood and iron cage which imprisoned Cardinal La Balue for 11 years! The 15th century torture chamber was largely destroyed in the Revolution but the guides fill in the gory details for you!
Note: you can walk around the citadel but there is a charge (around 9 euros) to enter the Royal Logis and the Donjon. While here you can also enjoy a stroll around the medieval garden.
The Renaissance Collegiale Saint Ours whose spires dominate many views of Loches contains a recumbent statue of Agnes Sorrel the official mistress of King Charles VII. She was the ‘official’ mistress because even the pope admired her and she therefore became the first officially recognised mistress of a king. The entrance porch of the church is carved in great detail with images of weird beasts.
You can finish your tour of the citadel with a walk around the ramparts which gives lovely views across Loches.
Highlights in the lower town include the Tour Saint-Antoine, an excellent example of Renaissance architecture built in 1534 that is 52 metres high. Other impressive renaissance monuments include the nearby Town Hall and the Hotel Nau, a 16th century building with 3 storeys of Italian Renaissance loggias.
The ‘Maison du peintre Emmanuel Lansyer’ is a lovely house and contains over 100 of his paintings as well as works by Gustave Doré, Hugo and Corot, and sketches by Delacroix. There is also a collection of Japanese Art. You can even relax in the garden which has been reproduced according to a painting of the time. Lansyer is considered as one of the best landscape painters of his time.
The Place du Marché just outside the old town has a couple of restaurants where you can sit and eat and watch the world go by, although you might prefer to wait and visit either the Auberge Medievale which looks charming, or the ancient Presbyterre at the top of the medieval village where you can eat looking out on the views (though the views are not fantastic I must admit).
Not to be missed while you are at Loches is the pretty village of Beaulieu-les-Loches, just across the Loire River, and the village at Montresor, a few kilometres to the east, is one of the prettiest villages in the region.
Photos of Loches
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Map of Loches and places to visit
Visit near Loches with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Indre-et-Loire
Loches has received the following tourist classifications: recommended detour town (plus beau detour); historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); listed town of Art and History
Address: Loches, Indre-et-Loire, Loire Valley, 37600, France || GPS: latitude 47.11, longitude 0.9975
Plan your visit to Loches, Loire Valley
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Montresor: most beautiful village (16km)
- Parc et jardins du château de Chenonceau: remarkable garden (24km)
- ZooParc de Beauval: zoo or wildlife park (31km)
Market days in Loches, France
Regular market(s) are held in Loches each Wednesday all day & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Loches (Francais)