From the picturesque historic center of Chinon to the exceptional Abbey of Fontevraud, from the Fortress of Chinon to the Château de Montsoreau, from the Loire to the vines, the landscapes and historical heritage make this portion of the Loire Valley a must-see for any visitor. Blink, and you might miss something spectacular !
Chinon has a rich history that has been witness to 9 centuries of French kings. This is also where Joan of Arc met the future King Charles VII of France for the first time in 1429. From this time, the city then grew at the foot of the fortress.
From this prosperous period, the city left us beautiful monuments such as the fortress or the former Collegiate Church of Saint Mexme. Today, visitors can discover this exceptional heritage by walking through the streets lined with medieval half-timbered houses, Renaissance homes or stately buildings from the 19th century.
History of Chinon
The indisputably strategic position of the site promoted the establishment of communities starting from the 7th century BC. In ancient times, an oppidum (fortified village) was located at the site of the present castle. In the 5th century, Saint Mexme founded a monastery, which quickly became a place of pilgrimage. The first castle was built on the site in the 10th century by the counts of Blois. From the 12th century onward, the city would prosper. Charles VII regularly resided in Chinon during the 15th century. This royal presence promoted economic prosperity for the city, still reflected in its architecture.
1 Rue Rabelais, 37500 Chinon
Website - tel : 02 47 45 44 00.
May, June and September, every day: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 6 p.m..
July and August: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
October to April, Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Closed on Sundays.
From mid-June to mid-September, a branch of the Tourist Office is located near the fortress. Open every day: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., until 5 p.m. and June and September.
Accessible to those with disabilities. The Tourist Office offers guided city tours and oenological discovery tours (wine).
Forteresse Royale de Chinon
Website - tel : 02 47 93 13 45.
Full price / reduced price: €9 / €7. Free for children under 7 years old.
Open daily :
January, February, November, December : 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ;
March, April, September, October : 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ;
May through August : 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Self-guided visit : interactive brochure in 4 languages
Visit with Histopad included in the price (7 languages).
Visit with the free application to download on Apple Store: "Fortresse de Chinon".
Guided tour in French and English included in the ticket price. Reservations are recommended. 1 hour.
For children: numerous workshops and activities throughout the year.
Shop and tearoom. Access to the village via an elevator located near the clock tower.
History of the Royal Fortress of Chinon
Located on a rocky overhang, the Royal Fortress of Chinon has occupied a highly strategic location since Antiquity. A castle existed on the site starting from the 10th century, but it was during the 12th century that Henry II Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou and King of England, would give the castle the appearance we see today. In 1205 the King of France Philip Augustus made himself master of the fortress and had several towers built. From the 17th century onward, the castle was gradually abandoned before being saved from destruction in the 19th century, becoming the property of the local government. It was then largely restored in the military and defensive spirit of the medieval era.
A fun and interactive visit with multimedia terminals, archaeological and iconographic collections. Visit the ramparts, towers and royal residences. Also features exhibitions devoted to Joan of Arc in the royal houses ...
For children: game booklet: "The work of an archaeologist in a fortress"
Collégiale Saint Mexme
Place Saint Mexme, 37500 Chinon
Tel: 02 47 45 44 00.
For the price, please contact the tourist office
Only for guided tours organized by the tourist office on Friday at 11 a.m. from mid-July to mid-August.
In the 5th century, Saint Mexme founded a monastery in this same location. It became a collegiate church around the 11th century, and the church was rebuilt and enlarged to accommodate the pilgrims who came in droves to gather at the tomb of the saint. But in 1817, the church collapsed partly because of a lack of maintenance, since the Revolution. This was previously the main religious building in the city. Renovation and partial reconstruction began in the 1980s and continues today.
The central aisle of the nave, built in the era of college church, is still visible today. The Romanesque facade, damaged during the Revolution, had richly decorated carved slabs. A few fragments of original paintings are also still visible today, like in the south chapel (15th century) or on the large arcades (14th century). The oldest paintings (11th century) are located among the high windows.
Chapelle Sainte Radegonde
Rue du coteau Sainte Radegonde, 37500 Chinon
Tel: 02 47 45 44 00.
For the price, please contact the tourist office
Only certain days from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In July and August, every day except Tuesday;
May, June and September, Saturday and Sunday.
Outside the city, reachable on foot. Ancient cliff dwellings are visible from the hillside footpath. Allow 10 minutes from the Collegiate Church of Saint Mexme.
The Saint Radegonde Chapel as partly excavated and partly built, like the ever-present caves in the valley. A place of worship and pilgrimage, of note in particular is the painting of a royal hunt from the late 12th century.
Rue Philippe de Commines, 37500 Chinon
The Saint Etienne Chuch was built in the 15th century in a Gothic style. Of note particular are the stained glass windows of the choir, including images of Joan of Arc with Charles VII.
Musée animé du Vin et de la Tonnellerie
12 rue Voltaire, 37500 Chinon
02 47 93 25 63.
Full price / reduced price: €4.50 / €3.50 . Free for children under 7 years old.
Open from mid-March to October : 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Visitors will learn about the winemaking process through animatronic presentations. Wine tastings possible.
Musée des Arts et d’Histoire
44 rue Haute Saint Maurice, 37500 Chinon
Tel: 02 47 93 18 12.
Price: €3. Free for children under 12 years old. .
March, April, October and November : Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
May through September : daily except on Tuesday: 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Exhibitions. Guided tours possible.
The Museum of Arts and History is located in this magnificent house, the seat of the General Estates. This building was built between the 14th to 16th centuries. The museum is composed of art and artifact collections that retrace the history of the city and the region back to prehistoric times. The archaeological collection is particularly impressive.
The sacred art and ceramics collections are also well furnished and have many valuable pieces.
Restaurants in Chinon
The selection of restaurants proposed below consists of restaurants that offer a good price/quality value. “Formule” corresponds to a lunch special with a starter and a main course, or a main course and a dessert. The “menus” usually consist of a starter, a main course and a dessert, for lunch or dinner.
Les Années 30 – gourmet cuisine
78 Rue Haute Saint-Maurice, 37500 Chinon
Website - tel : 02 47 93 37 18
"Lunch menu" €19.50. "Menu" from €28.
Au Chapeau Rouge – local cuisine
49 Place du Général de Gaulle, 37500 Chinon
Website - tel : 02 47 98 08 08
"Menu" from €29.
L'Océanic – Seafood
13 Rue Rabelais, 37500 Chinon
Website - Tel: 02 47 93 44 55
"Lunch formule" €18.50. "Menu" from €28.50.