Chinon Guide (Loire Valley)

Travel Guide to the castles of the Loire Valley: how to get there, reviews,  tours from Paris with a guide in English.

Chinon castle at Loire Valley,: Coudray and Milieu Chateau

Chinon castle (Loire Valley). West riverside Coudray and Milieu Chateau Ruins, Saint Maurice quarter, la Vienne

The photo of the beginning of the 20th century shows the castle of Chinon on the Loire with a brief caption about its foundation, about the king of England, Joan of Arc and Louis XIII (author’s collection)

City of Chinon, the history and the sights.
Old city, the center is the Hall Square (place de l’Hotel de Ville). On its southern side is the Vienne embankment, which leads to Jeanne d’Arc Square (pl. Jeanne d’Arc) with an equestrian monument to the Virgin of Orleans.
Further, the road along Osh Street (rue Hoche) leads to the ancient church of Saint-Maxime (Collegiale St-Maxime). You can return back along the street Jean-Jacques Rousseau (rue J.J. Rousseau), where the church of Saint-Etienne (Eglise St-Etienne, 1477-1483, in the style of “flaming Gothic”) is located.
At the crossroads with Rue du Puy-des-Bancs, beautiful houses of the 15th-16th centuries have been preserved.
If from pl. l’Hotel de Ville, walk along Voltaire Street, you will see many houses of the 15th century and find yourself near the old urban center of Grand Carrois. Here is a beautiful and typical Maison Rouge house (Maison Rouge, XV, “red house”). Nearby is the former home of the Estates General. If you go further along Voltaire, you will see the former manager’s mansion (XVII century), the church of Saint-Maurice (Eglise St-Maurice, XII) and the mansion of the XV century.
Along the Charles VII embankment (quai Charles VII) you can reach the bridge, which offers a magnificent view of the city and the castle. From the bridge, rue Carnot leads back to the Grand Carro, and then a tour of rue Jeanne d’Arc leads to the castle. An old well has been preserved on the corner, on which, according to legend, Jeanne d’Arc, who arrived from Vaucouleurs in Chinon, leaned on, dismounting from her horse.
What else is interesting:
Every August, Chinon hosts a “medieval market” – a theatrical performance where all the merchants dressed in medieval costumes sell handicrafts and folklore groups perform.

Wine Museum (Musee Anime du Vin)
Located at rue Voltaire, 12, opening hours 10.00-12.30 and 14.00-19.00
In the museum, anthropomorphic mechanical dolls show the process of making wine and wine barrels. The program of the tour also includes a tasting of wine and grape jam.
Tasting room (Maison du Vin de Chinon) is open from 10.00 to 17.00
House-Museum of Rabelais (Maison Rabelais)
Located 5 km. southeast of Chinon. Open daily 10.00-17.00
There is a small museum in the house where the author of Gargantua and Pantagruel was born.

Museum of Atomic Energy (Musee de l’Atome)
8 kilometers to the west of Chinon. Open May-September, entry upon presentation of a passport, advance reservation required.
In 1963, the first nuclear power plant in France was opened near Chinon. Now it is available for a guided tour (duration 1 hour 30 minutes). You can see two museum fields and four operating reactors.

Guided tour of the Chinon Castle
To get to the castle, you need to climb the steps of Jeanne d’Arc Street to Fort St. George (Fort St-George, XII), which protects the eastern approaches to Chinon. From the fort there is a suspension bridge across the moat to the chapel of the Tour de l’Horloge tower, through the gates of which we get into the middle castle (Chateau du Milieu). There is a small Museum of Joan of Arc in the tower. Continuing along the fortress wall, we come to the place of the Throne Hall (Salle du Trone), from which the western and southern walls have been preserved. The treasury (Tour du Tresor) adjoins the south, and the royal apartments (Grand Logis Royal) – several buildings of the XII-XV centuries adjoin the west. They contain:
– Armory (Depot d’Armes)
– Kitchen (Cuisines)
– assembly hall (Salle du Commun)
– bedroom (Sommellerie)
Behind the moat to the west is the castle of Coudray

Chinon Castle, practical tourist information
Opening hours: from mid-March to September 9.00-18.00, in July-August 9.00-19.00, in October 9.00-17.00, from November to mid-March at 9.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.00.
Ticket price: 8.50 (6.50) euros.

How to visit Castle and city from Paris.
Public transport. From Paris you need to get to the cities of Tours or Poitiers. Further by bus or train SNCF from Tours 47 km. southwest or from Poitiers 80 km. to North. Or:

WW1-WW2 battlefield tours: add to your program a visit to military museums and French Defense sites on the Loire in 1940