The château at Blois, the handsome former seat of the dukes of Orléans, is magnificent; it’s the main reason for visiting the town. The château’s great facade rises above the modern town like an Italianate cliff, with the dramatic esplanade and courtyard behind and the rooms within steeped in (sometimes bloody) history. There are several stretches of woodland within striking distance including the Forêt de Blois to the west of the town on the north bank of the Loire, and the Parc de Chambord and Forêt de Boulogne, further upstream. To the south and east, the forested, watery, game-rich area known as the Sologne lies between the Loire and Cher, stretching beyond Orléans almost as far as Gien.

A good reason to use Blois as a base is its proximity to several châteaux. By car you could call at all of them in a couple of days, but they also make ideal cycling or walking targets if you arm yourself with a map and strike out along minor roads and woodland paths.

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