Located in central France on the Loire River halfway between Orleans and Tours, the city of Blois is popular with tourists travelling through the Loire Valley. In addition to being an attraction in its own right, Blois provides a convenient base for exploring the surrounding areas.
There are many things to do in Blois for lovers of history and architecture in particular. Taking a stroll down the ancient streets of Blois is like taking a step back into the medieval era, as you are surrounded by half-timbered houses and facades dating back to the 17th century and beyond.
With a rich history dating back to the ancient times, Blois is best known for the Royal Chateau de Blois which was established in the 13th century as the residence of a long succession of French nobility, including Louis XII. The residence is also historically significant as the place where Joan of Arc was blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before leading her army to drive the English from Orleans in 1429. This beautiful monument provides a stunning combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Classic architecture. The property boasts 564 rooms all with fireplaces and a total of 75 staircases. While there is much to see in the Blois castle, the highlights are the Louis XII wing’s portrait and tapestry collection, the Francois I wing that houses an archaeological museum as well as the study of Henry II’s wife, Catherine de Medici.
Another place of interest is the House of the Magician Robert-Houdin, situated in front of the Blois Chateau. This is a unique museum displaying a collection of magic-related artefacts and is the only one of its kind in Europe. The museum offers guided tours conducted by professional illusionists.
Eateries are also plentiful throughout Blois, catering to a variety of tastes and budgets. The restaurants located between the Chateau de Blois and the river offer traditional cuisine, with some specializing in dishes of the Loire region. For a more informal dining experience, go to the town square on Vieux Blois to enjoy the food and drinks on offer from the array of surrounding restaurants, pizzerias, patisseries and creperies while you relax in the shade of the big, beautiful trees.
There is also a variety of accommodation available to suit all budgets, however it is recommended that you book in advance, particularly during the holiday months.