Chinon nestles in the heart of the Val de Loire resting by the banks of the majestic Vienne river in the Indre-et-Loire department.
The medieval town has a colourful past and is dominated by the Chateau de Chinon, an ancient fortress which is steeped in history.
Overlooking the River Vienne, the Royal Fortress of Chinon was built by the Count of Blois, Thibaut I, and serves as a reminder of the period when the history of France and that of England were intimately linked.
In this chateau Richard the Lionheart was born to the English King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry later died within its walls in 1189, and his remains and those of his wife are interred a few miles away in the Abbey of Fontevraud.
It was at Chinon in 1427, during the Hundred Years War, that the court of the French Dauphin Charles was first established. In March 1429, in the grand lodge room, the historic meeting took place between Joan of Arc and the future king Charles VII when the young maid sought to assure him of his legitimacy and to convince him to be crowned in Reims.
A six year long renovation programme has restored the glory of the past to this fabulous fortress. Climb the numerous towers that rise up from the 150-metre long restored ramparts. Follow the circuit through the royal lodges which have been restored to the style of the 15th Century and immerse yourself in the military and civil history of the chateau to get an insight into the lives of the great characters who have left their mark. Interactive and entertaining, the exhibitions bring this historic place to life and offer a remarkable view of the town and Vienne Valley.
The town of Chinon is like a living time warp; home to a warren of narrow cobbled stoned streets that wind their way round and up to the castle. A place of timber framed houses, tiny quirky shops, authentic looking inns and atmospheric cafés where you’ll be tempted to sit and watch the world go by.
Famous for the wine produced in the area the town is home to several famous caves.
The famous French author Francois Rabelais was born here in 1494.
This is a town where your camera will be on red alert as photo opportunities abound.
Climb the 14th Century Tour Coudray for stunning views over the landscape.
The Tour de l’Horloge (Clock Tower), another survivor from the 14th Century offers fabulous views over the town.
These gorgeous photographs are courtesy of: Jacquelline Beattie, Northern Ireland except for the bottom photo courtesy of Mike Vallance, UK
Video of Chinon and it’s chateau
How to get there: From Paris by train to Chinon station via Tours. Trains leave from Paris Montparnasse or Paris Austerlitz and take from 3.5 hours depending on time of day.