Blois is a town in the Loir-et-Cher department of central France, almost equidistant between Tours and Orléans. It is an ideal base to visit the Châteaux of the Loire Valley thanks to its central position in the World Heritage zone.
- There are regular trains from Paris Austerlitz, the journey takes around two hours.
- The Blois is 30-40 minutes away by train from Tours (£11.20 as at Nov 15) or Orléans.
- The toll road A10 takes you there in about 30 minutes from Tours or Orléans.
- The "Levée de la Loire", the road following the river from Tours is particularly enjoyable between Tours and Blois. With spectacular views of the Chaumont-sur-Loire and Amboise castles if you drive on the right bank of the Loire.
The city centre has large pedestrian areas. Such as the Rue du Commerce and Place Louis XII in the evening. The city can easily be explored by foot.
Asalys , the bus company operating in the area is reliable and safe.
- The Château de Blois is in the centre of the town, it was once occupied by Louis XII and Francis the first. It is of high historical interest since the shifting point of France's war of religion took place there with the assassination of the Duc of Guise, leader of ultra catholic league. The Estates General have taken place in the castle several times.
- The Evêché gardens next the town hall is an ideal place to relax and enjoy a picnic. The roses garden is also very nice for a walk.
- Enjoy a café with a great view of the city at the top of the Marches Denis Papin, in the café "Le Denis Papin".
- Place Louis XII, with its fountain dating from the XIII century (the modern version was rebuilt in 1511) and centuries old trees. The market held there every Saturday morning is a major attraction for locals. You can find all sorts of fresh food there.
- The Pont Jacques Gabriel, historic passage point from one bank of the Loire to another. On each side you will find lively areas to enjoy a drink or do some shopping. Referred to by the Blésois as "le vieux pont", the old bridge, its construction began in 1716.
- Forêt de Russy.
- Facing the Château stands the Maison de la magie, the only public museum in Europe which incorporates in one place collections of magic and a site for permanent performing arts. Inside you can find different kinds of attraction and magic shows.
- La fondation du doute is dedicated to the Artist "Ben" and the Fluxus movement. It presents a large collection of contemporary art.
The view of the Loire from the place du château is just spectacular. From there you could see the two largest churches and a sea of houses in the colour scheme of the region (bluish gray, brick and cream). As spectacular as the chateau itself.
There are 4 Waymarked pedestrian circuits in Blois. For more informations and maps, go to the Tourist information centre next to the Château.
Kayak : during the summer, you can go to the Kayak club to rent canoes. Levée des Tuileries 41260 La chaussée saint victor Tel : 02 54 78 65 90
Cinema : Les Lobis is in front of the Library. It often offers films in english with subtitles and arty films. To check the programme : http://www.cap-cine.fr/blois-les-lobis/films-a-l-affiche/
The bigger cinema complex is Cap'ciné.
- All that Jazz (A concert venue with prestigious guests), 12 Avenue du Maréchal Maunoury, .
Some of the local delicacies you can bring home :
- La rillette, a pork preparation that should be spread over a baguette. The local traiteur Picot makes an excellent one, his shop is located next to the Place Louis XII, 10 rue des orfèvres.
- Les rillons, confit slices of pork belly, to be enjoyed with Dijon mustard, or if you want to buy local, Orléans mustard.
- The Chambord liqueur, an award winning local alcoholic beverage.
For the Sweet tooth
- Les pavés de Blois, local sweets prepared by 4 different shops across the city. Pop in one of the beautiful sweet shops in the rue du commerce to find them.
- L'aristocrate is a biscuit that was invented in Blois during the XIX century for Napoléaon III's court. Made of eggs, flour, almonds and honey. It will go along well with a tea.
- The Macarons from the two Feuillette shops are delicious. One of them is located on the rue Nationale, La Chaussée St Victor. The other one is in St-Gervais.
- Au rendez-vous des pêcheurs, . You will be able to enjoy a high quality, traditional French cuisine from 24 euros (3 courses meal plus a glass of wine or a coffee), and 16 euros for kids. The chef works with local products and wines. An ideal way to discover the local terroir.
- L'orangerie du Chateau, . A high quality restaurant that offers traditional French cuisine in a picturesque building
- Douce Heure offers fresh, simple, affordable, and tasty food. It is well located on the place Louis XII. It's not as easy to spot as the Duc de Guise but do make the effort to look for it, you won't be disappointed by the quality of the food. The menu isn't huge but everything is homemade.
- L'embarcadère is located outside the city centre, following the Loire in direction of Tours, directly next to the Loire. The food is good and the staff helpful. More relaxed atmosphere than the first two restaurants listed. http://www.lembarcadere.fr/
Side note : The Tarte Tatin, an upisde down apple pie created in the nearby town of Lamotte-Beuvron is a must try ; so is the friture de Loire, small fried fish. For an authentic experience, do try these dish if you see them on the menu. As for sparkling wines, a Vouvray or a Montlouis are made in the closeby Touraine and a favourite of the locals. Vouvray being more fruity and Montlouis more earthy and closer to Champagne in taste.
- La Scala offers traditional Italian cuisine in an agreeably decorated establishment in the city centre http://www.la-scala.org/nos-etablissements/la-scala-blois/
- Le Duc de Guise serves a predominantly Italian menu, the location of the restaurant is one of the best in town as you can enjoy looking at passer-bys on the Place Louis XII while eating your meal.
- Via Vietnam is a family owned restaurant who has been serving Vietnamese and Chinese food for more than three decades. They make some of the best Nems in town.
- M (an Irish style pub where you can enjoy a pint in a friendly atmosphere. Do try their Grimbergen Abbey brew. Their mojito is also very nice.), 4 rue des Juifs.
- Ben's Blues Bar (one of the city's most lively places where you can enjoy drinks while listening to local bands or watching art performances of all kinds), 41 rue St Lubin, .
There are three main places where locals like to enjoy drinks in the evening :
- Place Louis XII, where you can find several bars with terraces under the majestic trees that make up for a large part of the Place's charm.
- Place Ave Maria has a more intimate atmosphere. You can find a more diverse range of establishments, such as Vinomania, the Hendrix café and so on.
- Rue du Bourg Neuf also has several bars where you can enjoy drinks. It is on the upper part of the city centre.
Hotel du Bellay has inexpensive, basic rooms and is close to the chateau.
Hotel Tour-Hotel , has budget accommodation with free WiFi.
Tourist information Office,
Languages spoken : French - English - Spanish
23 place du Château
Tel : 02 54 90 41 41