It is easy to see why Loches, set on a rocky spur overlooking the Indre valley, became the 11th-century fief of Foulques Nerra, the warrior Comte d'Anjou. A "Cité Royale," Loche came to be adorned with a bevy of gorgeously picturesque medieval and Renaissance-era structures—none more imposing than its famous Citadelle, one of the most complete medieval fortifications extant, bristling with portcullises, posterns, keeps, and crenellated ramparts. Sections of these defensive walls are well preserved and function as part of the town.
By the 15th century Loches had become a pleasure dome. Charles VII and his famous amour, Agnés Sorel, set up shop in the town château, the Logis Royal, located on the north end of the citadel, and proceeded to set the style for much of courtly France with unmatched opulence, Italianate art, and the country's top painter, Jean Fouquet. Great hostess that she was, Agnés might have cottoned to the château's son-et-lumière show, presented during
July and August and featuring a goodly chunk of Loches's population in chivalric tableaux.
Elsewhere in town are other historic sights (some with separate admissions): the Donjon of Fouques Nerra; the Tour Ronde of Louis XI (with its horrifying dungeons and their fillettes, or cages); a medieval-style garden; the massive Romanesque church of Collegiale St-Ours (on Rue Thomas-Pactius); a magnificent Renaissance-period Hôtel de Ville, built for François I; and the Maison Lansyer, beautifully set into the town ramparts and fitted out with 19th-century salons filled with the works of painter Emmanuel Lansyer (1835–93). There's also a lively night market during July and August.
More than a dozen daily buses and a few trains link Loches to Tours. Upon arrival, be sure to get a map of the town from the tourist office—nearly every street will lead you to medieval drawbridges, ancient houses (the Maison d'Agnés Sorel is at 19 rue du Château), and towering ramparts.