I wont be tired of telling you the best way to see the towns of France is get there by car and then walk the streets of the town. Up close and personal doing it for 10 years straight living here, and its just the beginning
walking brings out the color flavor and customs of the local people and since France has several regions like pays de la loire its an adventure each time./ Saint NAzaire is no difference, this is a beach front port city full of shopping areas and cruise ships. You will love it. WE will be back.
Fondest memory: walking the inner city on the pedestrian square from ave de la republique , rue anjou, etc. wonderful shopping and eating and even saw a butchery with a party of cider, cold cuts with the local neighbors wonderful this is walking at its best.
Louis I, Duke of Anjou (living in Angers) and Jean, Duke of Berry (living in Bourges) were the younger brothers of King Charles VI. All three were rich and avid collectors of Art, a taste acquired from their father. Charles helped Louis with his commissioning of th Apocalypse Tapestries and their creation. Jean acquired tapestries too but he is most famous in Art History for the sponsorship of a prayer book illustrated with masterpiece miniature paintings. ("The Book of Hours of the Duke of Berry"). The illustrations were mostly by the Limbourg brothers (between 1400-10). The book is in the Library of the Chateau of Chantilly. (See our Tips of that place in the Picardie Region and on the Chateau). The book is intriguing for its accurate depictions of landscapes, castles, activities in 1400, in sum medieval life of the time. We keep a fine copy on our coffee table. Saumur is in the picture for the month of September, seen here. Another is of Jean at table at Bourges in a room with tapestries on the wall. Only a page at a time of the original is on view at Chantilly (for limited hours). Compare the picture here with photographic views in the Tips.
Fondest memory: Although seeing the Chateau resembling the picture is a memory, the finest ones we have are spending nights in a Chateau in Jaille-Yvon with gourmet dinners and wines as a fitting end to a day of sightseeing in the Pays. We have done this on 2 occasions for several nights.
Until now , over 85% of the Tips under Pays de la Loire have been about places and things not in this Region. The name was adopted by the 5 departments: Maine-et-Loire(#49)(with Angers, 143K pop.), Loire-Atlantique(#44) (with Nantes, 265K pop.), Sarthe (#72) (with Le Mans, 155K pop.) plus Vendee (#85)(with the Alantic coast) and Mayenne (#53). The duchy of Anjou, the ancient English Plantagenet royal home overlies Angers and the Maine-et-Loire department and beyond. There are great ancient castles (chateaux) in Nantes, Angers and Saumur and a nice "newer" one at Serrant 17 km from Angers (1 km from St. Georges); all are "must see". The lower Loire river runs through the Pays to the Atlantic. Completely different is the Le Mans Cathedral of St. Julian which is both Romanesque and Gothic, built 11-13C, with a famous flying buttressed apse and a South porch with statues contemporary with the earliest ones at Chartres. We saw our first dolmen in the Pays (see Warning Tip).
Fondest memory: Our three night stay (later repeated) at the Chateau de Plessis (see our Hotels Tip) in La Jaille-Yvon just North of Angers. Here we first experienced true French life and hospitality plus gourmet cooking and accompanying wines.
The Loire Valley has so much to offer: vinyards, the beautiful river, mansions and chateaux in all different styles and ages! Some are beautiful from the outside, others fascinate you when visiting the inside - what a fantastic furniture, paintings and exhibitions of all sorts! And yet other ones are the most wonderful ones because of their gardens and surrounding landscape!
For a lovely overview have a look here
Absolutely worthwhile visiting!
Loches, a city South East of Tours has a Medieval center upon a rock, enclosed by remparts. It's here where it all happens...
If you don't have a lot of time to spend, certainly visit the Dungeon.
The "Logis royal" (the castle) is remarkable, but not that special if you've seen other chateaux in the region.
Free parking on the square under the remparts (follow the indicators to "chateau").
Great castles and medieval towns ! Choose the smaller and less known castels and you will have a surprise. Loches or Chaumont-sur-Loire are so rewarding with their tranquille atmosphere, small rooms and fairy-tale atmosphere !
Some of the castles, like Cheverny are still inhabited so the turists can even admire the photos of the owners shown on the desks
Tours is a colorful and lively town and it is considered one of the best towns on the Loire River to use as a base for castle exploring. Tours was built on the site of a Roman town and in 1461 Louis XI made Tours the French capital. Tours suffered extensive damage in WWI and it became a slum, now it is beautifully restored and filled with cafes and boutiques.
Fondest memory: In the evenings we enjoyed strolling the medieval streets, dining in the cafes and drinking the excellent local wines.
The chateax in the region are exceptional, but the historic medieval towns located in this area should be visited also. Besides Tours, where we made our base; Amboise, Blois and Saumur have much to offer, they too have chateaux. These sleepy hamets boast lovelyl Romanesque churches decorated with fescoes, historic bridges and spectacular scenery along the Loire Rive and its tributaries.
Payes de la Loire also includes magnificient Chartres Cathedral and the home of the great heroine of France, Joan of Arc.
Fondest memory: When I think of "Loire Valley" it brings back great memories to the the gorgeous chateaux and the beautiful countryside.
The Loire Valley is studded with lovely chateaux. Each has it's own distinctive architecture with expansive and lovely grounds. To visit them is to remind you of the luxurious lifestyle that people enjoyed during the Renaissance. So many artisians gathered here to enrich France with a heritage that can be enjoyed today.
Fondest memory: So many gorgeous chateaux in such a small area where you can visit several in a day. To pick a favorite is difficult, maybe Chenonceau is my favorite - the "ladies chateau".
Favorite thing: visit the tombs of Richard Lionheart and Eleanor Aquitaine in the Abbey Royale de Fontvraud. While I don't believe their bodies are encased in the casks, I do believe they were buried below the floor where the casks currently reside.
The Roman church in the Medieval City. Take a view inside on your way between the Logis and the Dungeon. It's free. Not very special, if you want my opinion.
But the outside is worth a photo!
It's a little 5 minutes walk from the main castle of Amboise to the the Clos-Lucé.
Don't miss the houses built in the rock on your left. Some are quite nice to see.
In case you didn't know, Blois is pronounced like Blwah.
Now you will sound like one of the locals!