The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

7 months ago


  • Text
  • Good life france
  • Loire valley
  • French food
  • Brittany
  • Normandy
  • Paris
  • Provence
  • France
  • Wines
  • Alsace
  • Vineyards
Brimming with fabulous features combined with stunning photographs – inspiring, entertaining and informative destination features - Provence, Loire Valley, Normandy, Lyon, Brittany, Alsace and more. Delicious recipes, culture and history, what's new, the best tours and much, much more...

Chinon Castle Chinon’s

Chinon Castle Chinon’s castle is powerful looking, built for defence, long before the days when the Loire Valley became the playground of the royals and castles were built for beauty and comfort. The castle is so high up that you can actually take a lift to the top. The history of this grand castle, though it is now a great sprawling ruin, is palpable even though all that remains of the great hall where Joan of Arc made her fiery speech is the fireplace. The rest of the room was dismantled alongside much of the castle by Cardinal Richelieu in the 17th century. He had the stone transported to create the town of Richelieu 20km away. The cobbled streets are lined with ancient houses. This is where the great monk, philosopher, physician, and writer Rabelais lived, born it is said on the road just outside Chinon. He wrote coarse, satirical novels, his most famous being about two giants with huge appetites Gargantua (from which we get the word gargantuan) and Pantagruel, whose character enjoys wine in Chinon’s former Roman stone quarries turned cellars. Place Jeanne d’Arc hosts a twice weekly market (Thursday/Sunday) and is one of the best in the region, with stalls brimming with local produce. It’s the perfect place to taste the local goat cheese Sainte-Maure de Touraine, made nearby in the village of the Chateau d'Usse © Jean-Christophe Coutand same name. Don’t miss Rue Voltaire which has the prettiest houses, and pop into the plentiful boutiques and gourmet shops to stock up on specialities like marmalade of Touraine, wine and red wine jam. Dine at: Les Années 30 in an old mansion house, 78 rue Haute-Saint-Maurice. Three must-see castles between Chinon and Loches Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau © Carmen Pippenger Château d’Ussé: A stone’s throw from the river Indre, sitting atop a ridge, this unbelievably pretty castle is part renaissance, part Gothic – totally fairy tale. Teeming with towers and turrets of white tufa stone, spanning architectural styles from the 1400s to the 1600s, view it from the bridge across the river and you’ll think you’ve dreamed yourself straight into a Sleeping Beauty scene. So it may come as no surprise to discover that Charles Perrault (1628-1703), the great French writer of fairy tales, used this castle as the setting for his tale la Belle au bois dormant – Sleeping Beauty. The 17th century Mansard staircase is stunning and the rooms are beautifully decorated including a ‘royal’ bedroom. Prepared for King Louis XVI it is dominated by a voluptuous 4-poster bed though alas – the King never arrived. Head up into the attic for a raft of rooms presenting a sleeping beauty scenario featuring the Wicked Queen, Aurora, her prince and a whole host of animated fairy tale favourites. From the top of the castle the views over the beautiful terraced gardens below are outstanding. The Château of Azay-le-Rideau is a little gem of a castle. I’ve been to a lot of castles, many are majestic and magnificent but cold and draughty, and you certainly wouldn’t want to be lumbered with heating them, but this is a castle you can imagine living in. Human-sized, charming and enchanting. Read more about Azay-le-Rideau here. A stone’s throw from Azay is the town of Saché, where the great French writer Balzac, who was born in Tours, lived in a chateau belonging to his mother’s lover which is now a museum. Several of his novels are set in the Loire Valley “I love it,” he wrote of Touraine, “not as one loves the cradle of his childhood, nor as one loves an oasis in the desert; I love it as an artist loves art.” Dine at: Follow in Balzac’s footsteps and have dinner at his favourite restaurant L’Auberge du 12ème Siècle. If only the walls could talk… 1 Rue du Château Stay at: The utterly charming Hotel de Biencourt in Azay-le-Rideau Chateau de Villandry 10 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 11