There are so many lovely châteaux to visit
in the region that it is
difficult to pick out a few to list here. Perhaps the
best thing to do is
decide which direction to head in and then discover
the chateaux en route!
Alternatively, you can choose to follow La Route Richard
Coeur de Lion, and
visit the chateaux dotted along its path. The chateaux
marked with an
asterisk are on the route, although not all have been
Most are open all day, every day in the summer, but
please note, some are
closed half day or all day on Sundays, and religious
holidays. Some have
activities for children, and there are medieval festivals
in the summer that
are fun to see.
Many of the chateaux in the area were built in the 11th
century and then
fortified or altered in the name of fashion. It is common
to have parts of
the same chateau dating from several different periods.
between the Dukes of Aquitaine and their struggle for
the thrones of England
and France, meant that when it came to castle building
a statement about
power and wealth had to be made.
There are also hundreds of churches and abbeys of note;
many are very
ancient and beautiful with that almost mysterious air
of calm one finds in
old places of worship.
Chalus is famous for being the final resting place of
Richard the Lionheart.
The story goes that Richard got word that some fabulous
treasure had been
discovered (denoted in the coat of arms) and was being
kept here, so
naturally he wanted his share. When he was refused, this
led to the siege in
1199, where he was wounded by a prototype of the crossbow
(then a medieval
secret weapon). He refused treatment, the wound reportedly
went black and he
died at the age of 42, one of the most powerful and influential
men of the
time. Naturally very unpleasant things happened to the
despite getting a deathbed pardon from the slain hero.
The castle is surrounded by the imposing granite blocks
the area, and has several parts dating from different
periods, including a
There is hiking and pony trekking on parts of La Route
Richard Coeur de
Lion. The Tourist board has suggested itineraries for
This château really is a fairytale castle (it
has been used in Hollywood
films). It is very impressive and set above the village,
on a huge hill. The
formal gardens are lovely and transport you back in
time, and are best
viewed from the courtyards above, although there is
also a nice woodland
walk, if you prefer dappled shade, rather than sun-court
There have been fortifications here since Roman times,
and the current
building was rebuilt in 1400.
Valençay is in Berry, but because it is so
easy to get to because of its
proximity to the A20, and because it is so grand,
it is worth a visit. Built
in 1540 by Jacque d'Estampes, who married money (his
wife's dowry paid for
the chateau's construction) and thought his new fortune
should be shown off
There are formal gardens with peacocks, black swans
and ducks. More
unusually there are also deer, llamas, kangaroos
and camels! The Musée
l'Automobile du Centre is within the grounds, and
has over 60 vintage cars.
This 15th century chateau is especially intriguing
since it is built
alongside the 20km crater of an ancient (200 million
years ago) meteorite
strike. It is also the home of a collection of 16th
century frescoes as well
as a collection of contemporary art.
The Marshal Blaise de Montluc distinguished himself
during the Wars of
Religion for his relentless pursuit of Protestants.
This 16th century chateau is moated and has massive
11th and 13th century
towers. The chateau has many relics form the Napoleonic
Perched on a hilltop above the wide valley, the old
church is an example of
Romanesque architecture, while the rest of the town
is charmingly medieval.
It is known for its porcelain and cattle (the rather
shaggy brown cows were
first bred in these valleys).
Saint Léonard was a 6th century hermit who
made his home in nearby woods,
and became the patron saint of prisoners. In November
the Quintaine is
celebrated here by a reenactment of a medieval style
The town is also famous for Guy-Lussac, the scientist,
and there is a museum
in his honour here.
St Leonard is a stunning medieval town with so many charming touches reminiscent of the age, that it is hard not to keep going back there. The church is famous for its Romanesque architecture, and once you have completed the walking tour of the town there are several great restaurants and patisseries in which to refuel. There is a tiny cinema with huge velvet plush seats (very Cinema Paradiso) called the Rex and several bars. The Tourist Office in town is very good, and it is always worth popping in.
There is also a mill nearby that is a paper mini museum, and is interesting for children.
The drive to St Leonard is very beautiful and takes in several panoramic views.
Ambazac is our local town, and has a very good restaurant, several bars, bakeries, gift shops and a tourist office. It also has a mineral Museum.
Aubusson is in the upper valley of the Creuse is
famous for tapestries,
which have been made there since the 14th century.
In the 1930s a new style
of tapestry was created by Jean Lurçat and
won such great popularity that a
museum and cultural centre has now been devoted to
Nexon has a famous garden for the senses, and is really spectacular, and there is also a chateau to visit nearby, Chateau de Lastours, which has medieval festivals in Easter, the second weekend in August and the third weekend in September. There is also a hands-on museum where you can see tile making and other activities in July and August.
This is a lovely place to visit nearby, known for its glove making and paper industry, but with lovely medieval churches, abbeys, and bridges.
Well-know for its beautiful houses, littered with turrets, bell-towers, and encircled by the River Vézère this is a charming town with an interesting history that is worth investigating.
There is a centre here devoted to the memory of those
who perished at the
hands of a German Panzer division on the 10 June
1944. Oradour was chosen,
it is thought, because of its very insignificance,
as an example to
terrorise the French. The entire population of
the village, 642 people was
It is a powerful symbol in a region with a proud
history of resistance during World War II.
Bourges is one of the loveliest towns in the area,
and its history stretches
back to 52BC in the Gallic wars, and it resisted
Roman occupation. Recent
excavations have uncovered a 2BC fountain and gateway.
The cathedral is a world heritage site, and the
charming medieval centre has
an atmosphere that evokes an old world nostalgia.