Southwest of Paris, on a stretch of road about 100km long, by the River Loire, are the sites of some of the best known chateaux of France. This area is the cradle of the French nation. The area is bounded by three major cathedrals – Chartres, Orleans and Tours.
Chartres cathedral is one of the early Gothic cathedral is known for its stained glass windows.
Orleans is the city of Joan of Arc, who is also referred to as the Maiden of Orleans. It was in Blois that she assembled an army to rescue the city of Orleans and therefore France, from the siege by the English in 1429.
The area is the sites of no less than 4 royal chateaux – Blois, Chambord, Amboise and Chanonceau.
In the mid-15C, France was ruled by powerful dukedoms. It is in Chateau of Blois, where the Francis I, the King of France re-asserted the absolute power of the French monarch and some time held his court there.
Chateau de Chambord was the equivalent of the palace of Versailles in the time of Francis I. The chateau was used as backdrop of a number of Hollywood movies.
Chateau d’Amboise was also a royal residence. It was here the Leonardo de Vinci came to spend his last years as guest of the King of France. He actually lived in a nearby house connected to the Chateau.
The prettiest and the most feminine of all chateau, the Chateau de Chenonceau is situated here. It was here that Queen Catherine de Medici lived and made it as her residence.
Lastly Tours, where the Tours cathedral is, was the city that saw the massacre of Catholic and Protestant, as they fought each others for power, in the religious wars. Today, it is an historical city full of beautiful old houses and nice cafes, with most tourist unaware of the blood that once flowed in streets.