Blois in the Loire Valley is a charming royal city with an historic château that has been home to 7 French kings and 10 French queens.
Sitting on the banks of the river Loire, the city of Blois has seen its fair share of history as a resort for French royalty at the Château Royal de Blois - where the Archbishop of Reims blessed Joan of Arc in 1429 before the Battle of Orleans - and the city was also occupied by the Germans in 1940 and liberated by the Americans in 1944 where days of bombing at both events destroyed parts of the city.
The Renaissance château is a wonderful work of architecture incorporating many different styles, as each monarch added to the building, and is famous for its spiral staircase. It now houses 2 museums - the Musée des Beaux-Arts and a Lapidary Museum dedicated to the art and history of gem-cutting and gives a spectacular Son et Lumière show (sound and light show) in the courtyard at night.
Music, coloured lights and projected images turn the château's architecture into a theatre with voices (in French) recounting the tales of love, drama and mystery that have occured inside the château. The Blois cathedral (Cathédrale de St Louis) is also worth a visit to explore its Gothic architecture and contemporary stained-glass windows created by artist Jan Dibbets.
Blois has several wonderful churches in the Eglise St Nicholas, Eglise St Saturnin and Eglise St Vincent de Paul scattered throughout the city centre near the 18th century stone bridge, the Pont Jacques Gabriel. Do not miss a trip to the Maison de la Magique Robert-Houdin (Robert-Houdin's Magic House) opposite the château where you'll explore the history of magic and discover the art of magicians and illusionists from the past and present with an interactive room.
Other museums include a museum about the French resistance and a museum of religious art. If you feel like a stroll amongst serene surroundings then take a wander around the beautiful Jardins de l'Evèche behind the City Hall, the Hôtel de Ville.
Or why not get out and about on your bike? With 550km of signposted, safe cycle routes in the area weaving through the flats of the Loire Valley and its many châteaux and vineyards, and the Fôret de Blois and Fôret de Russay surrounding the city, you'll discover just how beautiful rural France can be. If you fancy exploring some of these châteaux then try a Châteaux Pass, available from the Tourist Office, which allows you to buy tickets for different groups of châteaux (from 3 to 10 châteaux) at a preferential rate.
Enjoy the fresh produce of the area at the local markets and spend some time window shopping on the main pedestranised street. Traditional cuisine of the region such as rillettes (a pâté style meat dish made from pork) and andouillettes (tripe sausage), and, of course, the spectacular Loire Valley wines are always on the menu in Blois!
Holidays in France
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GITES AND COTTAGES IN FRANCE
HOTEL HOLIDAYS & BREAKS IN FRANCE
FAMILY HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE AND SPAIN
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Getting to France
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