Loir-et-Cher travel guide

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Visit Loir-et-Cher (Centre-Loire Valley, France)

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With the chateaux at Chambord and Blois (among almost 25 other castles), part of the protected Loire Valley world heritage site, and numerous other attractions, the Loir-et-Cher department of France is an important destination for anyone exploring the much loved highlights of the Loire Valley

Loir-et-Cher tourism

The Loir-et-Cher department of France is in the centre of the Val de Loire (the section of the Loire Valley and river listed as a UNESCO world heritage site), centred around Blois and situated between Tours and Orleans.

Although it is the centre of the department that attracts the most visitors, we suggest you also allow time to explore the north and south of the Eure-et-Loir...

Central Eure-et-Loir: famous castles and the Loire river

The most popular attractions in the heart of the department are the splendid castles such as Chateau de Blois, Chateau de Chambord (the most visited of all), the Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire and the Chateau de Cheverny.

Chateau de BloisChateau de ChambordChateau de cheverny

Castles at Blois, Chambord and Cheverny

Although these are among the most impressive and most visited of the Loire Valley castles, there are many others that are less well known and also open to the public in Loir-et-Cher including:

  • the Chateau de Talcy, a listed French National Monument to the north-east of Blois
  • the medieval-renaissance Chateau de Fougeres-sur-Bievre to the south-west of Cheverny
  • the Chateau de Beauregard, a more understated castle to the south of Blois with attractive gardens to explore
  • the Chateau de Villesavin, which is very small compared with the other castles but has a lovely renaissance style facade

Chateau de TalcyChateau de Fougeres-sur-BievreChateau de Beauregard

Castles at Talcy, Fougeres-de-Bievre and Beauregard

The towns and villages around the castles such as Blois and Chaumont-sur-Loire are also pleasant to explore.

The gentle pretty countryside and rivers of the region means it is also very popular for outdoor activities such as walking and cycling - we suggest you try and include the pretty village of Saint-Dyé-su-Loire (north-east of Blois) which still has parts of its ancient fortifications as well as medieval houses in the village centre.


Loir Valley and the north

The Loir Valley (not to be confused with the more famous Loire that crosses the department further south) is a popular route to follow as it flows east to west through the northern part of Loir-et-Cher. Among the highlights you will discover along the route of the river include:

  • VendomeVendome with its gothic style abbey and ruined castle is classified as a 'town of art and history'
  • The small picturesque village of Lavardin to the west of Vendome is a popular destination with visitors to Loir-et-Cher.
  • The Nature trails through the Saint-Ouen Valley north of Vendome
  • The Bonaventure Manor House and the Echoiseau Mill at Mazange
  • the village of Montoire-sur-le-Loire has an early chapel with some impressive frescoes
  • the troglodyte dwellings at Roches-l'Eveque and at the village of Troo (both a short distance north of Lavardin)
  • The gardens of La Possonniere Manor, at Couture-sur-Loir

You will discover other small villages, and plenty of river-based activities as you follow the Loir downstream through Eure-et-Loire.

Sologne, the Cher river and the southern Eure-et-Loir

Saint-Aignan castleTo the south of the department the most visited town is Saint-Aignan. The town is overlooked by an imposing renaissance style castle (unfortunately closed to the public but you can stroll around the terraces and courtyard) and has an interesting old town.

Montrichard, a short distance north-west of Saint-Aignan, also has a medieval centre to explore, and the Chateau du Moulin is a small but attractive 15th century red-brick castle surrounded by a moat (near Lassay-sur-Croisne).


Beauval ZooPark

Also at Saint-Aignan is the very popular Beauval ZooPark, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the department and rated by Forbes as one of the best 15 zoos-animal parks in the world.


village of Fontaines-sur-Sologne in the Sologne regionThe marshy-forested area of the Sologne falls largely in the south-east of this department, and is popular with hikers wanting to explore the natural landscape.

The Sologne features many small ponds and lakes, and a chance to discover some of the towns and villages of the region such as Romorantin-Lanthenay, a pleasant town for a riverside stroll along the Cher and also the principal information centre for the Sologne.

Places we recommend you visit include Mennetou-sur-Cher and its historic village centre; Chaumont-sur-Tharonne, dominated by its red-brick church; and Souvigny-en-Sologne to the far south-east of the department and with a very picturesque village centre to explore. Sologne photo was taken in Fontaines-sur-Sologne.

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