• Photo: Igor Plotnikov / Shutterstock

Blois

Perched on a steep hillside overlooking the Loire, the bustling big town of Blois is a convenient base, well served by train and highway. A signposted route leads you on a walking tour of the Vieille Ville (Old Town)—a romantic honeycomb of twisting alleys, cobblestone streets, and half-timber houses. Its historic highlights include Place St-Louis, where you can find the Maison des Acrobats (note the timbers carved with jongleurs, or jugglers), Cathédrale St-Louis, and unexpected Renaissance galleries and staircases lurking in tucked-away courtyards; most visitors, however, are understandably distracted by Blois's superlative, era-bridging château.

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