The Centre Region of France, France's eastern Loire Valley, was the epicenter of French royalty. It features amazing chateaux and cathedrals, including Notre Dame de Chartres (in the village known as the Stained Glass Capital of the World).

While it does - just - include the point which is the geometric "centre" of continental France, the region of France known as "le Centre" does not generally coincide with the middle of the country. It could more aptly be described as being the centre section of northern France.

Its regional capital is the city of Orléans.

Centre is also a wonderful destination to experience fine cuisine, wine and art.




The region is composed of six departments.


Eure et Loir (28). Capital: Chartres.

More than half of the département’s area is composed of the Beauce plain, one of the most productive plateaus in France. It is a treeless area of isolated grain farms and large villages. The Thimerais region, to the northwest, encompasses wooded areas and grasslands. To the southwest is the hilly Perche; the rolling hills of the Hurepoix are to the northeast.
The Eure and Loir rivers give their names to the département. The Eure flows northward through the capital, Chartres. The Loir flows southward through Châteaudun.

Chartres, famous for its world famous High Gothic cathedral (see below), was consecrated in 1260.




Loiret (45). Capital: Orléans.

Loiret’s agriculture consists of barley, corn and wheat cultivation on the Beauce Plateau and beekeeping and mixed farming in the Gâtinais. Loiret’s Loire Valley cultivation of vineyards for vinegar nearly equals that of all the other areas of France.

Loiret’s industry is centralized around Orléans, with pottery at Gien and tire manufacturing at Montargis. The département’s tourism is centered about Orléans and the ancient châteaux of Beaugency and Sully. Another popular tourist attraction is the unique 9th century Byzantine mosaic at the abbey church of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire (see below).




Loir et Cher (41). Capital: Blois.

Loire-et-Cher is known for its 15th and 16th century châteaux. Thousands of tourists are attracted annually by the charming châteaux at Beaugency, Blois, Chambord and Chaumont.

The Loire Valley itself is known for its viniculture, fruit and vegetables.


Cher (18). Capital: Bourges.

The Allier and Loire rivers flow to the département’s east and the département’s surface consists primarily of agricultural and wooded land. Just to the west of Bourges, which is located just south of the middle of the département, the Cher River flows in a northwesterly direction.

Logging takes place in the département’s north and west and there is beekeeping, cattle raising, viticulture and wheat farming elsewhere. The vineyards, overlooking the Loire River, near the ancient village of Sancerre, are world renown.

Bourges boasts a beautiful gothic cathedral (see below).



Indre et Loire (37) . Capital: Tours

The Département of Indre-et-Loire is known as the ‘Garden of France’

There are four navigable rivers: The Cher, the Creuse, the Loire and the Vienne. Its tourism is centered about the chateaux such as Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceaux, Chinon, Langeais and Loches.


Indre (36). Capital: Châteauroux

The Brenne, in the west, is an area covered with marshlands and called the land of the 1000 lakes. It is renowned for its birds. The département’s north and center are wooded. To the northeast, the land becomes agricultural. The Boischaut, a wooded, hilly area in the south, follows the course of the Creuse River Valley. The river has been dammed for the hydroelectric power plant near Éguzon.

The Châteaux of the Loire attract many tourist in the north and the Creuse River is frequented by tourist in the south. The magnificent Renaissance Château of Valencay (see below), that once belonged to Talleyrand, is in Indre. There is also an 11th century circular church at Neuvy-Saint-Sépulchre. To the département’s center, and to its west, other medieval churches abound. The village of Nohant is the location of George Sand’s much frequented Château, which is now a museum.




"Chateaux de la Loire"

They are Chambord, Azay-le-Rideau, Blois, Chambord, or Chenonceaux, Cheverny and Villandry.

Between Orleans, Blois and Vierzon lies a vast area of forest and heathland known as La Sologne, once the favoured hunting grounds of the nobility, and today popular with hunters, nature-lovers and hikers.

The Loire valley is also characterised by a number of vineyards, producing mainly white wines, including the sparkling whites of Touraine and Vouvray.


Amboise is located in the departement of Indre-et Loire. This is a grand fortress perched on a cliff overlooking the Loire River on one side and the arched gateway and cobble stone streets of the village on its other side. Only twenty-five percent of the Chateaux remain, and of those, Amboise is quite extraordinary.

Amboise was originally known for its many festive gatherings and happenings. The festive association was changed by the Amboise Conspiracy, in 1560, and the Wars of Religion. These were sinister times for the chateau, due to the slaughter of hundreds of Protestants that took place there. Today, Amboise is a site that is used for the many festive events that act as a beacon for tourists.




Azay-le-Rideau (Indre-et-Loire) is a smaller castle of exceptional architectural beauty, robust turrets and luxurious furnished rooms. It is also considered to be one of the more beautiful chateaux in the Valley. Named after one of it’s lords, Rideau d’Azay, it sits on the Indre river.

Azay has its horrific past as well. In 1418, while passing through Azay, Charles the VII was insulted by the Burgundy guard. The King retaliated immediately and the town was taken over and burned; all the guards were executed.

The chateau was rebuilt by financier Filles Berthelot, and his wife Phillippa, in the early 16th Century. Phillippa oversaw the reconstruction of this lovely chateau. When the monarchy’s financier fell into disfavor with the King, he fled the country and died in exile.



Blois (Loir et Cher). The history of Blois is interesting. It seems that the Count of Blois married the daughter of William the Conquerer, and Stephen, their son, became the King of England, in 1135, while Blois was still in its prime.

The Chateau de Blois’s exterior is one of the most beautiful of all the chateaux in the region. The Francois I staircase is a most noted architectural masterpiece.



Chambord (Loir et Cher)

It is, of course, the most glorious of the chateaux de la Loire. King Francois I already owned Amboise, Blois and Chenonceaux Castles, but felt the need for a more elegant hunting lodge than the one that originally occupied the setting. Thus the King acquired over 10,000 more acres to build this architectural jewel.

Chambord was constructed with 440 rooms and just about as many fireplaces. It was constructed with its magnificent, Italian style double staircase that is believed to have been designed by Leonardo de Vinci. A person going up or down one staircase would not meet another going the opposite direction on the other staircase. The staircase was designed to allow the simultaneous up and down passage, of both soldiers and horses, in times of siege.

Chambord was quite an undertaking; the treasury was broke, and there was no money to pay the ransom demanded for the release of Francois’ two sons being held hostage in Spain. But, the construction continued. Only Francois’ imprisonment, after losing the battle of Pavia, halted the activity for about a year.

The King was so enthusiastic about his project that he wanted to change the course of the Loire river to run by Chambord. But, even the King agreed that the cost was prohibitive. Instead, he had the Cosson river redirected to flow past the castle.

The park, which is enclosed by a wall, has been a national hunting reserve since 1948. The barrier is reportedly the longest in France. Chambord is an absolute must to visit.




Chenonceaux (Indre et Loire)

It is a smaller and privately owned chateau, generally considered to be the most beautiful in the Loire Valley. Chenonceaux spans the Cher River in magnificent grandeur. This is the Chateau that was designed, and added to, by several women. It has come to be known as ‘The Castle Designed, Built, and Added To by the Women of Chenonceaux’. The several women, during the course of some 400 years, were: Catherine Briconnet, Diane de Potiers, and Catherine de Medicis, among others.

The chateau was originally built in 1521 by Thomas Bohier. He was a tax collector under Charles VII, Louis XII and Francois I. Bohier had originally bought the Chenonceaux estate that consisted of a manor and mill. Out of a property dispute, with a heiress to Chenonceaux, Bohier finally acquired all the adjoining fiefs. Bohier then raised the old buildings with the exception of the manor. Since he could not personally supervise the construction of his new chateau, due to his duties with the army near Milan, his wife Catherine Briconnet, took charge and creatively designed and oversaw the chateau’s construction.

The Bohiers only enjoyed the chateau a few years before their deaths. Their son, Antoine, ceded the chateau to Francois I in payment of his father’s large debt to the Treasury. Francois I used it as a hunting lodge.

Francois I bequeathed Chenonceaux to his successor, Henri II, who in turn gave it to his mistress Diane de Poitiers (his senior by some 20 years). Diane turned Chenonceaux into a profitable estate through development of its agriculture, the sale of its wine and its tax income. Diane also had the bridge constructed that spans the Cher, and enlarged the chateau. However, when Henri II was killed in a tournament, in 1599, his wife Catherine de Medici forced Diane to exhange Chenonceaux for Chaumont. She then added the two-story bridge gallery, where magnificent galas were held, and a park that she created because of her love for the arts.



Cheverny (Loir et Cher)

Cheverny is located in a clearing in the Sologne Forest. Its design is supposedly a to be a reproduction of a Luxembourg Castle in the true French style favored by both Henri IV and Louis XIII.

Cheverny’s construction, by Count Hurault de Cheverny, began in 1604 and was completed in 1634. The chateau, and its beautiful furnishings, is still owned by Count Hurault’s descendents.



Villandry (Indre et Loire)

Villandry was known as a beautiful Renaissance Chateau (only the keep remains). It is renowned for its marvelous gardens, one of the most highly acclaimed in France.



More info and pictures on:


http://gofrance.about.com/od/loirevalley/a/loirevalley.htm (gardens and chateaux)



Traditional Events


St. Valentin is a tiny village in Indres, France, which celebrates St. Valentine's Day annually with a Festival, marriages, renewals of vows and more

France is a country associated with romance, so it’s not surprising that the little village of St. Valentin in Indre, the central Val de Loire region, has declared itself the ‘Village of Love’. The village began the idea in the 1960s, then an enterprising mayor in the 1980s created a Lovers Garden (Jardin des Amoureux) and an annual festival around St. Valentine’s Day.

During the St. Valentin Festival, the whole place is decked out with flowers (red roses being the favorite) and the Garden is open for business. You can get married in the garden gazebo, pin your love notes on the Tree of Vows, plant a tree that will hopefully flourish or commemorate your love on the Tree of Eternal Hearts.

Three days are given over to the festival: from February 12th to 14th when the population of 285 swells as the village fills up to celebrate. Apart from getting married, you can get your letters stamped from the St. Valentin post office, watch chocolate makers in full heart depiction mode, buy postcards and special gifts, and of course, this being France, have a very good meal and whirl your partner around the dance floor. There’s also a market and a special church service.

St. Valentin is 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) west of Issoudon, and 161 miles (260 kilometers) south of Paris. It’s an extra place to visit if you are driving around the Loire valley and particularly if you’re visiting Bourges.


Le Printemps de Bourges is an annual music festival that is held in Bourges, France, during five days.

The festival was created in 1977. With its span of 35 years, it is a high reflect of music tendencies and evolution. Every springtime, thousands of spectators come from all parts of France and foreign countries to see some concerts of the eclectic list. 60 shows, over 200 artists on 13 stages in a week offering the most diverse genres, the best-known artists side along with young musical talents. Over 200,000 people attend the festival each year. Music professionals (over 600 each years) are present to recruit new talents. The festival also attract media professionals (press, tv, radio); they are over 500 each year. A parallel festival is host in the city and is called Les découvertes du Printemps de Bourges and has for aim to present new artists, talents to perform.





Bourges Illuminated Nights (from 1 May to 30 september 2010)

At nightfall, the Cathedral Saint Etienne will stand immersed in a fantastic display of light, its audacious two-tiered buttresses and magnificent stained-glass windows illuminating the sky.





La foire aux potirons in Tranzault / Tranzault Pumpkin Fair (2nd Sunday of October).

Pumpkins and unusual vegetables, tastings, local produce, food and drink.




International Garden Festival, Chaumont sur Loire (from 29/04 to 17/10/2010)

Each year since 1992, in the grounds of Château de Chaumont, the greatest landscape designers in the whole world create 30 exceptional gardens.






Market Days


Boulevard de la Poste, every Saturday, all day.

Place Billard, every Saturday

Place du Cygne, every Saturday.



• Les Halles-Châtelet
Covered market, 35 stalls.
Tuesday to Saturdays, 7.30am to 7pm, and on Sundays from 7.30am to 12.30pm

• Marché quai du Roi
- Saturday Morning: food market

• Marché aux fleurs/flowers
place de la République : Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays all day, and sunday morning.

• Marché aux livres et aux vieux papiers/old books
place de la République, Fridays

• Marché des producteurs de pays/local products
place de la République : every 3rd Wednesday of the month, 3.30 to 7.30pm.



Professional Brocante , every 2nd Sunday of the month, 8am to 5pm, mail Pierre Sudreau

Marché Coty
Wednesdays 7am to 12.30pm - rue Pierre et Marie Curie

Marché du centre-ville
Saturdays 7am to 12.30pm - place Louis XII

Marché Lorjou
Sundays 8.30am to 12.45pm - place Bernard Lorjou



The Wine
Val-de-Loire boasts twenty-two world-class wines. Loire wines are known, near and far, for their light, fruity flavor and bouquet. Some of the more noted are: Sancerre, Valencay, Montlouis, Pouilly Fouisse and of course, one of our favorites, Vouvray.

The Cheese
The area is also well known for its specialty cheese which include:

Crottin de Chavignol
The real Crottin de Chavignal comes from the raw milk of a breed of mountain goats with brown coats. Freshly made Crottin de Chavignal is usually served coated in fine herbs. As the cheese matures and hardens the flavor becomes more intense. It goes well with Sancerre de Chavignal.

Sainte-Maure de Touraine
This is considered to be the masterpiece of Touraine goat cheese. The stark white cheese is rolled in a black wood ash that has a misty, citrusy flavor that ages well and has a walnut aroma and a light salty taste that goes towards a nutty flavor. It goes well with Chinon Vouvray.

Table linen:

Toile de Jouy, sometimes abbreviated to simply "toile", is the fabric and table linen style of Ile de France. On a plain background, a repeated pattern depicts a fairly complex scene, generally of a pastoral theme such as a couple having a picnic by a lake or an arrangement of flowers. The pattern portion consists of a single colour, most often black, dark red, or blue.

Toile de Jouy originated in France in the late 1700s. In the French language, the phrase literally means "cloth from Jouy-en-Josas", a town not far from Paris. Although it has been continuously produced since then, it experienced a surge in popularity in recent years.

Toile de Jouy cotton fabric for tablecloths, curtains and upholstery in our collection: http://www.lepinparasol.com/toile_de_jouy_tablecloths.htm
green toile de jouy tablecloth blue ecru toile de jouy tablecloth toile de jouy with red flowers on beige background
Green and brown toile de Jouy tablecloth

Blue and white toile de Jouy tablecloth

Red and beige toile de Jouy tablecloth
toile de jouy red white tablecloth beige flowers toile de jouy fabric
Red and ecru toile de Jouy tablecloth Brown and beige toile de Jouy tablecloth

Green and brown toile de Jouy tablecloth

You can see our entire collection on this page of our website:

To get a price for any other size or place an order:

Contact & Order

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Recommended by Celia - http://www.frenchcottages.com/


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Catherine Castelain
Date Last Modified: 4/3/15
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