From Chinon to Fontevraud

From the picturesque historic center of Chinon to the exceptional Abbey of Fontevraud, from the Fortress of Chinon to the Château de Montsoreau, from the Loire to the vines, the landscapes and historical heritage make this portion of the Loire Valley a must-see for any visitor. Blink, and you might miss something spectacular !

Chinon

Chinon (37500)

Chinon has a rich history that has been witness to 9 centuries of French kings. This is also where Joan of Arc met the future King Charles VII of France for the first time in 1429. From this time, the city then grew at the foot of the fortress.

From this prosperous period, the city left us beautiful monuments such as the fortress or the former Collegiate Church of Saint Mexme. Today, visitors can discover this exceptional heritage by walking through the streets lined with medieval half-timbered houses, Renaissance homes or stately buildings from the 19th century.


History

The indisputably strategic position of the site promoted the establishment of communities starting from the 7th century BC. In ancient times, an oppidum (fortified village) was located at the site of the present castle. In the 5th century, Saint Mexme founded a monastery, which quickly became a place of pilgrimage. The first castle was built on the site in the 10th century by the counts of Blois. From the 12th century onward, the city would prosper. Charles VII regularly resided in Chinon during the 15th century. This royal presence promoted economic prosperity for the city, still reflected in its architecture.


Tourist Office
1 Rue Rabelais, 37500 Chinon

Website - tel : 02 47 93 17 85.
Open all year :

May through September, daily : 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

October through April, Monday to Saturday : 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  / 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. ; Closed on Sundays.

From June through September, a Tourist Office information desk is set up near the fortress. Open daily : 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Accessible to those with disabilities. The Tourist Office offers guided city tours  (two of which are handicap
accessible, depending on the physical restrictions of each) and oenological discovery tours (wine).


Forteresse Royale de Chinon
37500 Chinon

Website - tel : 02 47 93 13 45.
Full price / reduced price: €8.50 / €6.50. Free for children under 7 years old.

Open daily :

January, February, November, December : 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ;
March, April, September, October : 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ;
May through August : 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Self-guided visit : interactive brochure in 4 languages ​
Visit with the free application to download on AppStore or GooglePlay: "Fortresse de Chinon". Otherwise, provision of iPad (3 €)
Guided tour in French and English included in the ticket price. Reservations are recommended. 1 hour.

For children: game booklet for children ages 7 to 12 in French and English : “The work of an archaeologist in a fortress”

Shop and tearoom. Access to the village via an elevator located near the clock tower.

History

Located on a rocky overhang, the Royal Fortress of Chinon has occupied a highly strategic location since Antiquity. A castle existed on the site starting from the 10th century, but it was during the 12th century that Henry II Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou and King of England, would give the castle the appearance we see today. In 1205 the King of France Philip Augustus made ​​himself master of the fortress and had several towers built. From the 17th century onward, the castle was gradually abandoned before being saved from destruction in the 19th century, becoming the property of the local government. It was then largely restored in the military and defensive spirit of the medieval era.


Tours

A fun and interactive visit with multimedia terminals, archaeological and iconographic collections.
Visit the ramparts, towers and royal residences. Also features exhibitions devoted to Joan of Arc in the royal houses ...


For children: game booklet: "The work of an archaeologist in a fortress"


Collégiale Saint Mexme
Place Saint Mexme, 37500 Chinon
Tel: 02 47 93 04 92.
Full price/ reduced price: €4.70/ €2.50. This price includes a guided tour. Free for children under 12 years old.

Opening times:

Only for guided tours organized by the tourist office on certain days from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

In the 5th century, Saint Mexme founded a monastery in this same location. It became a collegiate church around the 11th century, and the church was rebuilt and enlarged to accommodate the pilgrims who came in droves to gather at the tomb of the saint. But in 1817, the church collapsed partly because of a lack of maintenance, since the Revolution. This was previously the main religious building in the city. Renovation and partial reconstruction began in the 1980s and continues today.


The central aisle of the nave, built in the era of college church, is still visible today. The Romanesque facade, damaged during the Revolution, had richly decorated carved slabs. A few fragments of original paintings are also still visible today, like in the south chapel (15th century) or on the large arcades (14th century). The oldest paintings (11th century) are located among the high windows.


Chapelle Sainte Radegonde
Rue du coteau Sainte Radegonde, 37500 Chinon
Tel: 02 47 93 04 92.
Price: €3. Free for children under 12 years old.

Opening times
Only certain days from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
 

Outside the city, reachable on foot. Ancient cliff dwellings are visible from the hillside footpath. Allow 10 minutes from the Collegiate Church of Saint Mexme.



The Saint Radegonde Chapel as partly excavated and partly built, like the ever-present caves in the valley. A place of worship and pilgrimage, of note in particular is the painting of a royal hunt from the late 12th century.


Eglise Saint-Etienne
Rue Philippe de Commines, 37500 Chinon
The Saint Etienne Chuch was built in the 15th century in a Gothic style. Of note particular are the stained glass windows of the choir, including images of Joan of Arc with Charles VII.


Musée animé du Vin et de la Tonnellerie
12 rue Voltaire, 37500 Chinon
02 47 93 25 63.
Full price / reduced price: €4.50 / €3.50 . Free for children under 7 years old.

Open from mid-March to October : 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Visitors will learn about the winemaking process through animatronic presentations. Wine tastings possible.



Musée des Arts et d’Histoire
44 rue Haute Saint Maurice, 37500 Chinon
Tel: 02 47 93 18 12.
Price: €3. Free for children under 12 years old.
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Opening times:

March, April, October and November : Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

May through September : daily except on Tuesday: 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

Exhibitions. Guided tours possible.



The Museum of Arts and History is located in this magnificent house, the seat of the General Estates. This building was built between the 14th to 16th centuries. The museum is composed of art and artifact collections that retrace the history of the city and the region back to prehistoric times. The archaeological collection is particularly impressive.

The sacred art and ceramics collections are also well furnished and have many valuable pieces.


Accommodation
The selection of accommodation proposed below consists of establishments that offer quality services at competitive rates, they are considered as references in their respective categories. The prices shown are for the off season, on the basis of 2 people.

Chambres d’Hôtes « Logis Saint Mexme »
115 Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, 37500 Chinon
Website - tel : 02 47 95 56 14.
Price from €75.

Eating

The selection of restaurants proposed below consists of restaurants that offer a good price/quality value. “Formule” corresponds to a lunch special with a starter and a main course, or a main course and a dessert. The “menus” usually consist of a starter, a main course and a dessert, for lunch or dinner.

Les Années 30 – gourmet cuisine
78 Rue Haute Saint-Maurice, 37500 Chinon
Website - tel : 02 47 93 37 18
"Menu" from €27.

Au Chapeau Rouge – local cuisine
49 Place du Général de Gaulle, 37500 Chinon
Website - tel : 02 47 98 08 08
"Menu" from €29.

L'Océanic – Seafood
13 Rue Rabelais, 37500 Chinon
Website - Tel: 02 47 93 44 55
"Lunch formule" €18.50. "Menu" from €28.50.

Seuilly

Seuilly (37500)


Musée Rabelais
La Devinière, 37500 Seuilly

Website - tel : 02 47 95 91 18.
Full price / reduced price: €5.50 / €4.50. Free for children under 12 years old

Open daily :

April-June : 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

July and August : 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

September: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

October through March, closed Tuesday : 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Self-guided tour brochure in French and English.

Guided tours in French included in the ticket price. Duration : 1h15. Reservations are recommended.

For children: game booklet (in French) for children ages 7 to 12 : "Is Gargantua a child like the others?"

It was here, at the Devinière, this house in the fields, that the writer François Rabelais was born in the late 15th century. Inspired by the environment, part of his famous novel "Gargantua" refers to these surroundings.


This museum is devoted to presenting the Humanism of his era, the Renaissance. With a rich iconography and numerous publications, visitors will discover everything there is to know about the writer.


A visit to the museum also includes the discovery of the caves, gardens and the landscapes that so inspired the writer. A vine was even recreated in 2004 in tribute to the author of the "Dive Bouteille" (Divine Bottle). Tastings possible.

Montsoreau

Montsoreau (49730)

A small village of 500 inhabitants, Montsoreau is ranked among the most beautiful villages in France. Visiting the village is a permanent delight. From its pleasant, flowered streets to its castle, and from the cave dwellings to the old mills, the heritage of the village is rich and varied. Located in the heart of the Regional Nature Park of the Loire-Anjou-Touraine, it is also home to the Maison du Parc (park headquarters and information center).


Tourist Office
Maison du Parc
15 Avenue de la Loire, 49730 Montsoreau
Website - tel : 02 41 51 70 22.
Open from March to october
March, Saturday and Sunday : 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

April and October, Tuesday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ; Sunday : 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

May and June, Monday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ; Sunday : 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

July and August, Monday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ; Sunday : 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

September, Monday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ; Sunday : 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Accessible to those with disabilities.


The Tourist Office offers guided tours of the village.

The Heritage Tour (4 km) between Montsoreau and Candes-Saint-Martin, or the hiking trail of Montsoreau (10 km) begin near the Tourist Office.


Maison du Parc Naturel Loire-Anjou-Touraine

15 avenue de la Loire, 49730 Montsoreau

Website - tel : 02 41 38 38 88.
Open from March to october
March, Saturday and Sunday : 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

April, May and June : 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Mondays in April.
July and August , daily: 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

September, October : 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Mondays in October.

Accessible to those with disabilities.


Located in the same building as the Tourist Office, the Maison du Parc welcomes, informs and educates visitors about the Regional Nature Park. Visitors will find a permanent exhibition on landscapes, temporary exhibitions, workshops for children, a documentation center of the park and a boutique.


Château de Montsoreau
Passage de Geoffre, 49730 Montsoreau 

Website - tel : 02 41 67 12 60.
Full price / reduced price: €9.20 / €7.30 / 5 to 14 years old: €5.50. Free for children under 5 years old. Family package : €25

Opening times

March and October: Saturday and Sunday: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
April through June and September, every day except Tuesdays: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (from 12 p.m. in April).
July and August: every day: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tour guide document in 7 languages.
Boutique. Restaurant. The cellar at the castle offers free tasting and wine for purchase.

History

The Château de Montsoreau unfolds majestically between Vienna and Loire. The first castle was mentioned on this site as early as the 11th century, but the present castle was built by Jean II de Chambres in 1455. The building was then surrounded by a moat. Its strategic position allowed its owner to establish a toll on the Loire to tax goods in transit on the river. At that time the strong development of commerce on the Loire allowed the town to prosper. In the 19th century the Château de Montsoreau was made ​​famous by Alexandre Dumas, immortalized in his novel "The Lady of Monsoreau." In 1804, the castle was transformed into housing and warehouses, then fell into disrepair in the early 20th century before its renovation.



The architecture of the castle is marked by the technical evolution of the late Middle Ages, a time when feudal fortresses were transformed into Renaissance palaces. The medieval defensive architecture, still visible, gives it a rather austere appearance on its north facade : parapet, battlements, crenels, towers ... The south facade contrasts with the military appearance, and shows the beginning of the Renaissance style, a search for aesthetics and comfort : the windows multiply to bring light into the main building, the grand staircase from the 16th century presents the elegance of the Renaissance and ornamentation of the rooms becomes systematic.


Fontevraud

Fontevraud (49590)

The village of Fontevreau is worth a visit for its many artistic craftsmen, but also for its notable monuments such as Saint Catherine's Funeral Chapel from 1225 or the parish church of Saint Michel. In the vicinity of the abbey there is also a beautiful tithe barn from the 12th century (on the Mestré Estate) and the remains of a mill from the 15th century.


Tourist Office
Place Saint Michel, 49590 Fontevraud l’Abbaye
Website - tel : 02 41 51 79 45.
Open from April through September:

April, May, and September, Tuesday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday : 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

June, Tuesday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ; Sunday : 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

July and August, Monday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ; Sunday : 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.



Abbaye de Fontevraud
49590  Fontevraud l'Abbaye
Website - tel : 02 41 51 73 52.
Full price / reduced: €11 / €7.50/ Free for children under 8 years old. Guided tour: + €4.50. Audio Tour + €4.50. Family ticket: €28.
Open daily. Closed in January:
November through March: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
April through October: 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Many activities for the whole family are available on site: visual arts and activities, exhibitions, historical walks, music and entertainment.

Organized tours


Family tours (1h30).

A scavenger hunt in the abbey in the footsteps of the Plantagenêt family. Children reconstruct the family tree of the family. 6 years old and up.


Nighttime tour (during the summer)

The Nighttime tour is preceded by a dinner. Then a guide accompanies visitors with his lantern for a unique evening tour. Reservations are recommended, tel : 02 41 40 40 18 


Extra-ordinary tour
This extraordinary visit allows you to discover secret places in the abbey. The site's history is told from a unique historical perspective. Every Sunday.


Audio tour (1h15)

Discover the Abbey at your own pace on a circuit dotted with 17 stations. In 5 languages ​​for adults and in 4 languages for children​​.

Visit with iPad
Game track with iPad + €4.50

History

Fontevraud Abbey was founded in 1101 by Robert Arbrissel, an itinerant preacher. Since its foundation it has hosted several communities (men, women, lepers ...) distributed in distinctive convents in four priories : the monastery of Santa Maria (known as the Grand Moutier) was for nuns, the priory of Saint Jean de Habit was for monks, the priory of Saint Mary Magdalene was the refuge of "penitent girls", and finally Saint Lazare was intended for the reception of lepers. The abbey quickly prospered thanks to the support of Pope Urban II and became one of the largest in the region. The monastic city was managed by a woman, unique for this period. In total 36 abbesses succeeded in Fontevraud, 15 of which were of royal blood.



At its creation in the 12th century, the abbey church was built in two stages. In the first half of the 12th century the choir and transept were built. Very slender and bare, they are typical of Loire architecture during this era. The nave was erected during the second half of the 12th century.



Upon completion of its construction, the church became the burial place for the Plantagenêt kings. In the center of the nave, effigies of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, their son Richard the Lion Heart and their daughter Isabella of Angoulême are still visible today.



In the 16th century, the majority of the convent buildings were rebuilt. Today you can visit the cloister, the chapter house and the refectory from this period. In 1804 Napoleon transformed the abbey into a prison, which saved it from destruction. It would remain so for 150 years. Meanwhile, major restoration work was undertaken, including the abbey church during the second half of the 19th century. At the closure of the prison in 1963, restorations began once again.



Restaurant on site

Le Restaurant – Gourmet cuisine
Website - Tel: 02 46 46 10 20
"Menu" from €58.

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