• Photo: Alexander Demyanenko / Shutterstock


Chinon—the birthplace of author François Rabelais (1494–1553)—is dominated by a 12th-century castle, perched imposingly above the River Vienne. But its leading photo op is the medieval heart of town. Rue Haute St-Maurice, in particular, stretches for more than 15 wondrous, time-warped blocks, and it’s virtually impossible to stroll past the half-timber houses that line it without reaching for your camera. Little wonder that Jean Cocteau used Chinon's fairy-tale allure to effectively frame Josette Day when she appeared as Beauty in his classic 1949 film La Belle et la Bête.


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