Centre-Val de Loire, or simply Centre, is one of the 27 regions of France. It straddles the middle Loire Valley and the interior of the country, providing France with a physical beating heart right at its centre. The region has six departments namely Cher, Eure-et-Loir, Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Loir-et-Cher, and Loiret. The capital city of the area is Orleans, but the largest city is Tours. Many famous figures include St. Martin (de Tours), Joan of Arc, and others, have created their lives here.
What to see & do
Tours – hovering somewhere between the style of Paris and the conservative sturdiness of central France, Tours is one of those places with a life of its own in addition to being one of the hubs of castle country. It's a smart, medieval, and vivacious centre filled with parks, museums, and cathedrals, with a healthy 25,000-something student population. Visit sights such as the Basilique St-Martin, Musee du Compagnonnage, Cathedrale St-Gatien, Musee des Beaux-Arts, and others.
Cathedrale Notre Dame (Chartres) – one of the West's crowning architectural achievements, the 130-metre long Cathedral Notre Dame de Chartres is renowned for its brilliant blue stained-glass windows and sacred holy veil. It is one of France's best-preserved medieval cathedrals, created in 1194 through effective fundraising and donated labour that lasted for 30 years. It is built in the Gothic style during the first quarter of the 13th century to replace a Romanesque cathedral that has been devastated by fire, along with much of the town.
Wines and cheeses – Centre's Loire Valley boasts of its great agriculture which has served the region good and has kept it afloat through the years. The city of Blois, in particular, is the region's commercial and agricultural centre, but apart from the superior wheat and vegetables, the Val-de-Loire (Loire Valley) also boasts of twenty-two world-class wines and specialty cheeses. Some of the notable spirits include the Sancerre (white wine), Valencay, Montouis, Pouilly Fouisse, and the Vouvray. Tasteful cheeses, meanwhile, include the Crottin de Chavignol which comes from the raw milk of a breed of mountain goats with brown coats, and the Sainte-Maure de Touraine goat cheese.
Orleans – the capital of the department of the Loiret and the Centre region of France, Orleans is a city that has struggled to return to its former glory after being devastated during the Second World War, and even before that. A few buildings have survived though, which offer a glimpse of the city's glory during the times of Joan of Arc. When visiting, never miss the Ste-Croix cathedral, the Hotel Groslot (which was formerly called Hotel de Ville), and the re-creation of Joan of Arc's house on Place General de Gaulle.
Also, when visiting the region, do not miss out on exploring the many opulent chateaux located here. Check out the Chateaux de Amboise, de Angers, de Azlay-le-Rideau, de Blois, de Chambord, de Chenonceaux, de Cheverny, and de Villandry. Each of these chateaux, whether used as a private property or even by the government, is exceptional in their own rights.
How to get around
Buses, trains, and taxis are the main public transport modes in the area. Car rentals are also accessible within the city centres of Chartres, Orleans, and Tours.
How to get there
The Tours Val de Loire Airport is an airport in the French department of Indre-et-Loire, located 6 kilometres north-northeast of the city of Tours. It is the main airport serving the region, with domestic and international carrier services currently available via Ryanair. Other airports in the region include the Marcel Dassault Airport in Chateauroux, with services from HOP! and Skytaxi.