Blois Tourist Attractions
Picturesquely situated on two hills above the right bank of the Loire, Blois, dominated by its famous Château and its cathedral, is the chief town of the département of Loir-et-Cher and the see of a bishop. It lies in the center of a rich agricultural area and is noted for its electrical and leatherworking industries. Denis Papin, inventor of the pressure cooker and the autoclave, was born in Blois in 1648. Blois was the Roman settlement of Blesum, and in the Middle Ages the chief town of the County of Blésois or Blaisois. In 1397 it passed to Louis of Orléans when it became a royal residence, and in the reigns of Louis XII and Francis I played a similar role to that of Versailles in the reign of Louis XIV.
Built between the 13th and 17th C, Blois Château displays a mix of architectural styles. Some of the highlights include the Louis XII Wing, Francis I Wing, and the Gaston d'Orleans Wing.
To the south of the Château in Blois is the former Benedictine church of St-Nicolas (12th and 13th C), which has fine capitals and a 15th C reredos.
Cathedral of St Louis
The Cathedral of St-Louis in Blois stands on high ground in the old town, northeast of the Château. There was a church on this site in early Christian times which was rebuilt and altered in the 12th, 15th and 16th centuries. The church was destroyed in the 17th C, apart from the apse, the tower and the west front, and was then rebuilt. The crypt dates from the 10th and 11th centuries.
Immediately east of the St Louis cathedral is the 18th century Ancien Evêché, the former Bishop's Palace, now the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall). There are fine views from the adjoining gardens.The old town of Blois, with a number of interesting old burghers' houses, lies to the south of the cathedral.
Notre Dame de la Trinité
Northeast of Blois town center is the modern church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Trinité, consecrated in 1949. It has a very fine interior, notable particularly for the stained glass and the Stations of the Cross. From the top of the tower there are fine panoramic views.
In the little town of Château-Renault, 34km/21mi west of Blois, are the ruins of a 14th century castle, with a keep which is even older. There is a small Leather Museum in the castle grounds.6km/4mi northeast of Blois on the right bank of the Loire is the village of Ménars. Amid beautiful terraced gardens stands a Château of the mid 17th century which was acquired by the Marquise de Pompadour in 1716 and enlarged by the court architect Gabriel. In the 18th century extensive changes were carried out. It is one of the few classical-style Châteaux in the Loire valley.
Before Versailles, there was Château de Chambord; a grand, no expenses spared, creation of Francis I. It was a residence used by many kings, including Louis XIV, who frequented the Château.
The village of Chaumont (pop. 1,000) lies above the Loire, with a fine view of the valley from its terrace. On higher ground stands the château with its four round towers, rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries on earlier foundations. On its south side extends the park with its tall old cedars. The original fortress-like aspect of the château was relieved by the later insertion of windows. It contains fine tapestries and works of art of the 15th and 16th centuries. Southwest of the Château are the stables (1877).
Chaumont sur Loire - Château de Chaumont
The Château de Chaumont offers beautiful views over the Loire Valley. It serves as a museum and features an English-style garden.
Opening hours: Apr 1 to Sep 30: 9:30am-6pm
Oct 1 to Mar 31: 10am-4:30pm
Oct 1 to Mar 31: 10am-4:30pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Remembrance Day / 1918 Armistice Day (Nov 11), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
In the village of Cour-Cheverny (pop. 2,606) is the Château of Cheverny, in the classical style of the 17th C which has preserved its original decoration and appointments. The château is in private ownership, but visitors can see the interior, which contains period furniture and a hunting museum.Southeast of Cheverny is the extensive Cheverny Forest, with many lakes.West of Cheverny, in the Forêt de Russy, is the Château of Beauregard, a hunting lodge built about 1550 and enlarged in the 18th C. It has a picture gallery containing 363 portraits.10km/6mi northeast is the Château of Villesavin, built in the 16th century by Francis I's minister of finance.Built in the 17th C for Henri Hurault, Governor of Blois, this fortified manor house is one of the great tourist draws of the Loire Valley. Featured within the halls of Château of Cheverny are an elaborately designed stairway and exquisite Louis XIII boiseries of the main rooms. An open air theater has been constructed, featuring cabinets made of greenery, rotundas and kiosks.This site was originally opened to the public by the Marquis de Vibraye upon the eve of World War I.
Vendôme (pop. 20,000), the Gallo-Roman Vindocinum, lies 30km/19mi northwest of Blois on the Loire, here divided into several arms. The central feature of the town is the Place St-Martin, on the west side of which is the Tour St-Martin (15th-16th C.), a relic of a Renaissance church which was pulled down in 1857. At the northeast corner of the square is the Rue du Change, in which is the Chapelle du Lycée (1452). To the west, at the end of Rue St-Jacques, is the church of the Madeleine (1474).A little way east of Place St-Martin is the church of La Trinité (12th-15th C.), with a richly decorated facade. In front of it is a free-standing tower (12th C.). The church has fine stained glass and 15th- 16th C. choir-stalls.The buildings of the former abbey now house the Municipal Museum (religious art of the medieval and Renaissance periods).Of the castle, originally founded in the ninth C., there survive a number of towers and extensive remains of walls (13th-15th C.).
Arboretum de la Fosse
Arboretum de la Fosse features a fine collection of ornamental trees and shrubs.
Northeast of Blois, near the north bank of the Loire, is Suèvres (pop. 1,400), an ancient little town with the two churches, originally Romanesque, of St-Lubin and St- Christophe.
Map of Blois Attractions