Fun things to do in Pays de la Loire

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    Chateau Serrant, St George sur Loire

    by gwened Written Feb 19, 2015

    a wonderful castle passing on my warrior roads of France this time in PAys de la Loire region on the D723 road.

    The castle is Worth another closer look but for now will leave you with a taste and I will be back ...

    Jewel of the Renaissance built by architect Jean de Lespine, this castle contains furniture from different eras, an imposing Library, rich of 12 000 rare volumes, some dating back to the 15C, and a large collection of artworks, paintings, sculptures and tapestries. The richness of its collections set the rank of the best furnished castles in France.

    Some info to be updated with the official site in contact,
    Low season open Saturday, March 1st to Sunday, June 29 and Monday September 1 to Sunday, Nov. 16: Wednesday to Sunday from 9:45 to 11:30 and 13:30 to 17:15.
    The departures of visit are: 10 h 30, 11 h 30, 14 h 15, 15 h 15, 4:15 and 5: 15 pm.
    The Castle visit only by guided tour.

    High season
    Monday, June 30 to Sunday 31 August: every day from 9:45 to 17:15.
    The departures of visit are: 10 h, 11 h, 12 h, 13 h, 14 h 15, 15 h 15, 4:15 and 5: 15 pm.
    The Castle visit only by guided tour.

    Chateau de Serrant quick passing D723
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    Cathedral Saint Louis, La Roche sur Yon

    by gwened Written Dec 28, 2014

    The biggest Church in the Vendée dept 85 (region of Pays de la Loire). The history I like the most
    When Napoleon I decided the Foundation of the present town of La Roche sur Yon in 1804, it is not intended to build new Church in the town. The construction of the Saint-Louis Church is finally decided by 1808. Construction began in 1817. Lack of credits, it ends in 1829 while the city is called "Bourbon-Vendée". The Church was consecrated under the name of Saint-Louis on November 3, 1830. The Church Saint-Louis is the major monument of the Napoleon square and represent a significant component of neoclassical architecture. The Church was renovated from 1999 to 2004.

    It is of the neo classic style with 6 columns in front and toscan chapters above,interior is neo Greek style with 29 bays of white glass, and the symbols of the France after 1870, such as Christ in gown blue white/red on all subsequent to the Nativity stained glass windows and prior to the crucifixion. French flag on the North Tower. Monument to the fallen and fresco painted on war 14/18. Deputies and Senators associated with members of the clergy on the stained glass window of the Sacred Heart and French flag on ceremonies of 1917, the stained glass done in 1925.

    We were passing by and on a Sunday there was a huge service, the Church was packed, people flocking in from all sides so we restraint from going Inside. I passed by here before and never Inside either ::)

    Cathedral Saint Louis back of Cathedral left side of Cathedral right side of Cathedral
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    chateau de Montreuil-Bellay

    by gwened Written Nov 13, 2014

    another wonderful castle in the Loire country or pays de la loire region of France, (not to be confused with the loire valley). dept no 49 or Maine-et-Loire.

    The webpage is in English much better tells you everything you need on the castle. I just will comment that is Worth coming here and beautiful history and décorations. I just found couple photos and time to showcase it.

    It is located in a grand area, I come by car, but there is plenty of public transport here. Near Saumur, and the abbey of Fontevraud, near Tours and other wonderful castles like Ussé.

    It is a very important travel road and one of the first ones in the region, radiating from the castle. The grand tower or donjon is enclosed by 3 ramparts until the first half of the 13C!. The exterior rampart in land, was kept by two small towers externe in elliptical shape that surrounded the fortress. You can see traces of this still today, and it is very intriguing for me anyway.

    In the Renaissance of the 15C the medieval fortress is double as a pleasure castle with nice decorations of windows and sculptures imitating the Italian palaces. It is the current new castle as we see today.

    A lovely place and a must to visit while in the area.

    entrance to Castle Montreuil Bellay arriving Chateau Montreuil Bellay from above the garden park of Castle
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    A walking tour of Saumur

    by Jefie Updated Aug 2, 2014

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    To begin with, I must say that I wasn't very impressed with Saumur. It's a mid-sized city, and only a small portion of it makes up the old quarter. Perhaps a good way to make the most of your time there would be to go on one of the guided walking tours offered by the Tourism Office (they offer tours in English every Tuesday afternooon in July and August), but we didn't get the chance to catch one so we made up our own little walking tour. As I said, Old Saumur is fairly small. It doesn't extend much beyond the portion between Castle Hill and the river. That's where you'll find Place St-Pierre and its church, which was unfortunately undergoing restoration work when we were there. We also made a quick visit to the castle, which is mostly famous for its light and sound show (there wasn't that much to see in the day time). However, we did enjoy walking up the quiet, winding little streets that lead to the castle and the view of the city we had from the top of the hill, which could only be beat by the one we had as we crossed the bridge into town. So all in all, I'd say Saumur can keep you busy for about half a day, but there are nicer places to see in the Loire Valley.

    View of the city from across the Loire River Saumur's oldest half-timbered houses View of the Loire from the castle of Saumur The castle of Saumur Fountain on Place St-Pierre
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    The setting of Dumas's La Dame de Monsoreau

    by Jefie Updated Aug 1, 2014

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    Montsoreau Castle was built in the 15th century on top of a hill overlooking the spot where the Vienne River meets with the Loire River. This location gave the castle a strategic advantage when it came to controlling water traffic between Chinon and Saumur, and a toll system was soon implanted to collect taxes from sea merchants. The castle thus grew prosperous and it also became famous with the publication of Alexandre Dumas's novel "La Dame de Monsoreau", in which a jealous husband persuades his wife to lure her lover to the castle where he is killed, a tale that is said to have been based on a true story.

    In 1804, the castle was sold to a group of 19 men who used the castle for storage, neglected its upkeep and practically left it in ruins. It was recently restored and opened to the public in 2001. Because of the period of decay, there isn't much left in the castle to remind us of the time when it served as an aristocratic residence. Some exhibits were created to give information about the castle's history, hightlight its link with the river and with Dumas's novel. I can't honestly say this was the most interesting of the castles we got to visit, but I did enjoy the view we had from the rooftop terrace and it make for a nice place to stop before tackling the hills of Saumur's wine country.

    The fully restored castle of Montsoreau View of the castle from the gardens
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    The royal abbey of Fontevraud

    by Jefie Updated Jul 31, 2014

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    The royal abbey of Fontevraud is one of the world’s largest religious complex ever built. The project was initiated in 1101 by an itinerant monk, Robert d’Abrissel, who had gathered quite a crowd of followers. The abbey was built as a double monastery; one for men and one for women. It also included a hospital for lepers and a sort of transition house for reformed prostitutes. Right from the start, the initiative was supported by members of the court, a fact that became even more evident when King Henri II and his son Richard the Lionheart were buried at the abbey. Visitors can see their recumbent statues in the abbey’s chuch, as well as visit the abbey’s dormitories, refectory, cloister, chapter house and Roman kitchens.
    The French Revolution put an end to the abbey’s religious vocation. It was then transformed into one of France’s toughest prisons under Napoleon, and would remain so until 1963. This no-so-glorious but no less fascinating part of the abbey’s history is also presented to visitors in the form of jail cells, information panels, artefacts, and prisoner testimonies. It’s truly worth the quick detour from Saumur!

    Fontevraud abbey's cloisters Statues of Richard the Lionheart and wife Isabel Royal abbey of Fontevraud Coat of arms of the royal family Roman kitchens of Fontevraud
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    Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, more than just the abbey!

    by Jefie Updated Jul 31, 2014

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    When the abbey was built, the small village of Fontevraud-l'Abbaye grew up around it to house its workers. With a population of about 1500 people, the village remains small even to this day, but when I saw the sign (see my pic) inviting visitors to take a look around the village, I decided to do just that! And that's how we discovered the 12th century St. Michel Church, City Hall Square, lovely country houses along Tilleul Alley, and some interesting shops (see my shopping tip) and restaurants along rue Robert d'Abrissel. It doesn't take very long to walk around the main part of the village, but it's a short break you're sure to enjoy!

    Country house in Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, France Place de la Marie (City Hall Square) Friendly invitation to walk around the village St. Michel Church in Fontevraud-l'Abbaye
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    Learn more about Rabelais at La Devinière

    by Jefie Written Jul 30, 2014

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    François Rabelais, author of the famous novels "Pantagruel" and "Gargantua", was born and grew up in this lovely country house at the end of the 15th century. Not much has changed since the the time Rabelais lived there. In fact, it's still possible to see the room he was most likely born in, although legend has it that he might have been born on the road between Chinon and La Devinière. Several early editions of his works, some of them beautifully illustrated, are on display inside the house. Gargantua, his second novel (he wrote a total of five), was largerly inspired by scenes from his childhood at La Devinière, a fact that the exhibit explains very well.

    The house is surrounded by a troglodyte farm made up of numerous caves that are open to visitors. I very much enjoyed having the opportunity to appreciate how far these caves extended and how they were used to house animals, store fruits and vegetables, and make wine. For this reason only, even if you're not familiar with Rabelais's works, I'd still say a visit to his house at La Devinière is still worth it. Another reason that made our visit very enjoyable was that we got to see a fantasic open-air exhibition called "Les Enfants du Monde" (Children of the World), a collection of 15 beautiful art pieces by French sculptor Rachid Khimoune. And who knows? Your curiosity might get the best of you and you might stop by the museum's gift shop and leave with a copy of one of Rabelais's novels!

    The room Rabelais was probably born in In the toglodyte farm of La Devini��re Children of the World by Rachid Khimoune Children of the World by Rachid Khimoune Children of the World by Rachid Khimoune
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    Discover the many treasures of Chinon

    by Jefie Updated Jul 28, 2014

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    Much of the history of Chinon goes back to Medieval times. The town's most important development dates back to the 12th century when King Henry II of England chose to settle at the royal fortress of Chinon. Another high point in its history was when Joan of Arc came to see Charles VII, the future king of France, to ask permission to fight in his name for the liberation of France. Legend has it that, guided by God, she was able to recognize Charles VII in a crowd of people even though he was dressed as a normal citizen. The Dauphin took this as an omen and gaver her his blessing to gather an army and go fight in Orléans.

    The old town of Chinon, located below the fortress, is pleasant and easy to walk around. I would suggest doing a loop by first walking up rue du Commerce, a bustling pedestrian street, full of shops and restaurants, which turns into rue Rabelais as you approach Place Jeanne d'Arc. You can then walk up Hoche Street and come back down Jean-Jacques Rousseau Street, which turns into Voltaire Street, where you will see some of Chinon's most interesing architecture. Doing this little loop should allow you to see the town's most interesting sites but if you want to make sure you're not missing any of it, just grab one of the city maps available for free (most hotels will offer them) and go on a fun, leisurely treasure hunt!

    La Maison Rouge on rue Voltaire, Chinon St. Etienne Church in Chinon Statue of Fran��ois Rabelais by the Vienne River City Hall of Chinon on Place du G��n��ral de Gaulle Statue of Joan of Arc in Chinon
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    The royal fortress of Chinon

    by Jefie Updated Jul 28, 2014

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    Like many other castles in the Loire Valley, the royal fortress of Chinon was built on top of the hill overlooking both the city and the Vienne River, giving it a strategic advantage over potential invaders. But what makes it different from other castles, and what I thought was the most interesting about it, is that its defensive system remains quite visible, unlike most castles whose protective walls were eventually pulled down. The castle of Chinon sits at the centre of this fortified complex made up of several towers, which you can climb up and down (and get a tremendous work out at the same time!). In fact, just to get to the fortress can actually be quite strenuous in itself unless you use the free elevator service available since 2008 (on rue de la Brèeche, near Place du Général de Gaulle), which we only noticed once we had reached the top of rue Jeanne d'Arc (!). Unfortunately, there isn't that much left in the castle itself to remind us of the time it was a royal residence. However, there is plenty of historic information available about its connexion with the Knights Templar and Joan of Arc's visit to the castle, among other things. Besides, just walking around the fortress's grounds and taking in the beautiful views it offers of the city, the river and the surrounding country was enough to make my visit to this royal fortress very enjoyable!

    View of the fortress from across the Vienne River The clock tower of the royal fortress of Chinon Approaching the royal fortress of Chinon The castle of Chinon One of the fortress's tower
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    Château d'Ussé, Sleeping Beauty's castle

    by Jefie Updated Jul 26, 2014

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    This lovely castle was built on the south shore of the Indre River in the 15th century, and its chapel was added roughly 100 years later. Although it has a rich history, I didn't really find out about it until after our visit for it is largely eclipsed by the fact that Charles Perreault, author of several fairy tales made popular throughout the world thanks to their Walt Disney adaptations, stayed there at the end of the 17th century and legend has it that Ussé castle was the main source of inspiration behind the story of "Sleeping Beauty". There is a special exhibit on the fairy tale included in the visit, which I thought was a bit (well, a lot actually) tacky. Also, every room in the castle had dummies in it, which I thought took a lot away from the beauty of the place. So I can't say this was my favorite castle to visit, although I did enjoy its setting, its lovely chapel, and the fact that we had access to the castle's caves and dungeon. I also thought it was interesting to know that the castle is still under the private ownership of the Blacas family.

    Sleeping Beauty castle in Uss��, France Our first look at the Ch��teau d'Uss�� Inside the chapel dedicated to St. Anne View of the gardens and the Indre River 16th century chapel of the castle
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    The historic castle of Langeais

    by Jefie Updated Jul 26, 2014

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    The castle of Langeais is one of the oldest castles in the Loire Valley. Originally built in the 10th century, it was the home of King Richard the Lion Heart at some point. But perhaps the most important historic event to have taken place at the castle was the wedding Anne de Bretagne and King Charles VIII on December 6, 1491, through which Brittany became part of France. Even though I lnew I was in the wrong country, visiting the castle of Langeais somehow made me feel like I was walking through the setting of the legend of King Arthur or, for those who've seen it, that of the French television show "Kaamelot" :o) Also, perhaps more than any other Loire Valley castle, I'd say this one is perfect when you're traveling with kids - there's a room in the attic where they can dress up in Medieval attires, and the castle's park also features many attractions for them, including the biggest tree house I'd ever seen!

    Ch��teau de Langeais, Loire Valley, France On the drawbridge of Langeais Castle Banquet room at Langeais Castle Wedding room of Anne de Bretagne and Charles VIII If it fits, I'm gonna wear it!
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    A lazy stroll through Azay-le-Rideau

    by Jefie Written Jul 26, 2014

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    We only spent one night in Azay-le-Rideau, but I could easily have spent one whole year! This lovely village of about 3,500 people turned out to be my favorite stop during my trip to the Loire Valley, not because there was so much to see and do (in fact, once you've been to the castle, you've pretty much seen all of its attractions!), but because of its slow, enjoyable pace of life. Every street is beyond charming and as it isn't very big, your chances of getting lost are pretty slim, so just go ahead and explore! But don't do it too fast or else you'll be done in no time at all and won't be able to truly appreciate everything this village has to offer to the lazy traveller :o)

    Stone bridge across the Indre River Enjoying the view from the bridge :o) The old Azay water mill So pretty it could be a painting by Monet! In the streets of Azay-le-Rideau
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    The castle of Azay-le-Rideau

    by Jefie Updated Jul 25, 2014

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    The castle of Azay-le-Rideau is one of the most popular castles in the Loire Valley. It is neither the biggest nor the prettiest, so I think it owes much of its popularity to its incredibly picturesque and romantic setting. This Renaissance castle was built on an island in the middle of the Indre River by Gilles Berthelot, mayor of Tours and treasurer of King François I, in the 16th century. His stay at Azay-le-Rideau turned out to be very short-lived and the castle suffered the same fate as that of the nearby castle of Villandry, namely a succession of owners that did not invest much in its upkeep, until it was bought in 1791 by the Marquis de Biencourt. He and his descendants would end up spending over a century at Azay-le-Rideau, restoring the castle and giving it much of the appearance it still has today. Unfortunately, the property was undergoing heavy restoration work when we were there, so we didn't get to enjoy all that the castle and its surrounding woods have to offer, but since that only gave us more time to explore the lovely village of Azay-le-Rideau, I can't say that I was too disappointed!

    Castle of Azay-le-Rideau on the Indre River In the Salon Biencourt
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    A visit to the castle and gardens of Villandry

    by Jefie Written Jul 25, 2014

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    Completed in 1536, Villandry Castle is the most recent of all the Loire Valley Renaissance castles. It was originally built for Jean le Breton, Minister of Finances under King François I, whose descendants stayed at the castle for a little over century. After that, the castle was sold to different private owners throughout the years, some of which invested very little in its upkeep; as a result, the castle was in pretty poor condition by the beginning of the 20th century, which is when Dr. Joachim Carvallo and his wife decided to purchase Villandry and dedicate themselves to its restoration. It took Dr. Carvallo several years to put both the castle and its sumptuous gardens back into shape. While the castle is very nicely decorated – Dr. Carvallo’s room overlooking the gardens seemed refreshingly modest and tasteful after all the luxurious royal bedchambers we had seen – it is mostly known for its magnificient French gardens that require the time and care of ten full-time gardeners. Even though I much prefer English gardens to French ones, I must admit that I was impressed by my visit to the world-reknown garden of love, whose pattern symbolizes tragic, adulterous, tender and passionate love, as well as the sun, water, flower and kitchen gardens. I also really enjoyed meeting the gardens' most famous resident, the black and white cat of Villandry :o)

    Villandry Castle seen from the gardens Reception room at Villandry Castle Room of Ann Coleman, Dr. Carvallo���s wife View of the gardens from the gardener's room The Villandry castle cat!
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