Anyone who associates France with rolling vineyards, picturesque towns and villages, romantic castles and wonderful restaurants, will see this reflected in Indre-et-Loire. The number of castles worth seeing is unbeatable and a kilometer-long wine route winds through the region, La Route des vins de Touraine. Part of the larger route along the vineyards of the Loire Valley, between Saumur (Maine-et-Loire) and Chenonceaux.
The wine culture of Touraine goes back to the 4th century. The story goes that Saint Martin, the patron saint of Tours, planted a first vine here in those days. He would not have had a clue about the famous vineyards of Touraine. The red Chinon, Bourgueil and Touraine-Amboise, the white Vouvray and Touraine Sauvignon and the various rosés are among the best wines in France.
The tomb of Saint Martin can be found in the Basilica of Tours, the capital of Indre-et-Loire. One of the most beautiful buildings in Tours is the cathedral. Its construction began in the 12th century and did not end until the 16th century, making architecture a ratatouille of styles. The 87-meter high towers protrude high above the city. Tours is a city with a lot of history, but also with modern and pleasant shopping streets, and is known for its numerous markets. The largest is the one in the Hallen, every Wednesday.
The entire region also offers many markets. In Amboise is a nice Sunday market; in medieval Chinon, the market day falls on Thursday. Amboise is worth a visit for the remains of what must once have been one of the most beautiful castles in France. Large parts were destroyed during the French Revolution. Despite the many initiatives and ambitions, Amboise has not yet managed to restore the castle to its former glory. Chinon also has a beautiful castle. Jeanne d'Arc once slept a few nights there. A statue in the medieval center is a reminder of this. There are also interesting castles in Villandry and Chenonceau.
Close to Loire-et-Cher department, in the village of Chargé, is a castle that is interesting for a very different reason: Château de Pray. A hotel / restaurant with a Michelin star is located here. The kitchen is run by Frédéric Brisset who has a great love for products from the region. Other renowned restaurants are La Roche le Roy in Tours, La Promenade in Le Petit Pressigny and Domaine des Hautes Roches in Rochecorbon. A tip for everyone who likes a piece of cheese after the meal: try the local goat cheese, the Sainte-Maure de Touraine, cheese on a stick, in an ash jacket.
In Indre-et-Loire, people did not only live 'on a stand'. The cave houses from this region are well-known. Many of these troglodytes are used as a hotel or chambre d’hôtes. An absolute must for an adventurous family is La Vallée troglodyte des Goupillières. Here are three authentic cave farms with wells, ovens, stables and tools. People lived and worked here from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Animals were kept, vegetable gardens were laid and splattered, while the residents of the castle let the local wine flow richly.