Located in the historic heart of the village and described as a faceted diamond by Balzac, the Castle of Azay-le-Rideau invites you to experience the Renaissance. Completely restored, this masterpiece built on an island shows prestigious historical decoration, a large English-style park, and a must-see view from the water mirror. You will be charmed by the visit of the namesake city where decoration shops and delicatessen ideally coexist with food shops and gourmet tables.
Taking the direction to the small river port of Bréhémont by the cycle route «L'Indre à vélo», let yourself be carried away by the romantic charm of the Castle of l'Islette. This Renaissance jewel, enclosed in the arms of the Indre, housed the tumultuous loves of Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin during the 1890s. The owners still inhabit the different rooms half the year thus combining history and modernity. It is also called «The little brother» of the Castle of Azay-le-Rideau by its similar architectural appearance.
Along the way, do not miss the unusual visit of the Maurice Dufresne Museum. In this former paper mill, whose mechanisms are still in operation, explore the work of an enthusiastic man who dedicated more than sixty years of his life to collect more than three thousand exceptional pieces. Travel back in time through a retro-mechanical collection unique in Europe.
Not far away, surrounded by many orchards and vineyards, Lignières-de-Touraine is an outstanding village with the Saint-Martin Church and its impressive medieval frescoes. On the road to Villandry, near the tuffeau stone hillside of Vallères, a wall rounds the Castle of Fontenay. This 14th and 15th-century seigneurial residence has experienced many restorations by its multiple owners.
Arriving to Bréhémont, embark with one of the last fishermen of the Loire and live an informative and unusual trip on this long royal river. Treat yourself with a delicious “made in Loire” fish frying from the Cabane à Matelot accompanied by a good glass of Touraine Azay-le-Rideau wine!
Nature lovers can have fun while canoeing and paddleboarding and enjoy the cycle route «Les Bardeaux de l'Indre» linking the former port of sailors of La Chapelle-aux-Naux to the Castle of the Sleeping Beauty in Rigny-Ussé. Overlooking with its high white silhouette, Charles Perrault has been inspired by this enchanted place to write the fabulous fairy tale.
A few kilometres away, let yourself be told the authentic and gourmet history of the Poire Tapée of Rivarennes. As a true local specialty, these delicious little pears are dehydrated to guarantee a long shelf life. They were mainly consumed by sailors sailing on the Loire.
In Cheillé, the hillside is positive to the vineyard and tree cultivation from the Vieux Bourg to La Chapelle-St-Blaise. The St Didier Church (patron saint of the harvesters) is surprising by its mysterious centenary oak tree that grows on a facade and its hairless Christ made of polychrome wood inside.
Go to the troglodyte village of Villaines-les-Rochers, capital of basketworks. Basket craftsmen let you discover their workshop and teach you all the secrets of ancestral know-how: from the wicker culture to the design. In the centre of the village, the Osier Vannerie Cultural Centre shows you the origins. The Coopérative de la Vannerie, founded in 1849, brings together about forty basket craftsmen and wicker farmers, including three Best Craftsmen of France. The colourful wicker fields are mainly located around the village of Saché.
Continue your journey in the footsteps of Honoré de Balzac at the Castle-Museum of Saché. The Indre and Touraine Valley inspired the famous writer to write many works such as “Le Lys dans la Vallée, “Le Père Goriot”, “Le médecin de Campagne”, “La Pucelle de Thilouze” … For the more curious, different hikes show you the places described in his novels. In the surroundings, you will find the Castle of Valesne (Frapesles) in Saché, the Manoir of Vonnes (Castle of Clochegourde), the Mill Lambert of Pont-de-Ruan, the Rue du Bol de Lait along the Manoir of L'Alouette in Artannes-sur-Indre and the village of Thilouze…
Reaching Azay-le-Rideau, relive the hard-working peasant life in the Troglodytic Valley of Goupillières. Troglodytic farms, typical of the old Touraine are available to you. Discover with torch the underground refuge of the Middle Ages where tuffeau stones were extracted to be used for the construction of the magnificent Castles of the Loire.
The Troglodytic Valley of Goupillières
For the whole family, children love the tree houses in the forest and hiding in the underground.
If you visit the route of mills and beautiful houses, do not forget to stop in Saché! Here you will immerse yourself into the universe of one of the famous French writers "Honoré de Balzac".
Born in Tours, he often stayed in the Castle of the village and liked observing the peaceful landscape from the window of his room to write... Besides, he was inspired by the Indre valley to write "Le Lys dans la Vallée"! Lovers of literature, knock yourself out…
Stroll through the streets of Villaines-les-Rochers, admire the troglodytic tuffeau stone habitats and take a break in the shade of willows in the salicetum.