Blois is a small, picturesque city that lies along the lower banks of the Loire river.
Dating back to the 6th century, Blois was home to numerous counts and kings throughout its history, including Louis XII and Francois I, and was the setting of various political dramas, most notably the rather nasty assassination of Henri, Duc of Guise. While the city is often eclipsed by bigger cities in the Loire Valley, such as Orleans and Tours, Blois holds its own in charm. It’s hard not to become enchanted with its steep, twisty cobblestone streets, lovely river view, and scattering of architectural remnants from the Middle Ages. In addition to the city itself being so enjoyable, Blois is deep in the heart of the Loire’s “châteaux country.” This makes it an excellent starting point for visiting many of the magnificent châteaux in the region.
1. Château Royal de Blois.
Visitors who adore visiting châteaux can start their exploration right in the center of the city. In its earliest beginnings, the château was a rather gloomy fortress, but from the 13th century onward was developed into one of the most fascinating castles in the region. Be sure to pay special attention to the four wings of the building, each of which was built in a different architectural style: Gothic, Flamboyant Gothic, Early Renaissance, and Classical. Also, if you’re into grisly details, take particular note of the lavishly decorated royal bedroom: it’s where the Duc of Guise was stabbed to death in 1588.
Château Royal de Blois
Tel. : + 33 (0)2 54 90 33 33
2. Maison de la Magie.
This house of magic is a popular attraction in Blois. Largely dedicated to French conjuror (and Blois native) Robert-Houdin, the small museum contains a number of artifacts, curios and instruments relating to the history and practice of magic. It also provides many interactive illusions for your amusement, as well as short magic shows four times daily.
Maison de la Magie
1, Place du Château
Tel : +33 (0)2 54 55 26 26
3. Musée de l’Objet.
Founded in 1996, this contemporary art museum is rapidly becoming one of Blois’s star attractions. Over 100 French and foreign artists are featured here, including Armand, Ben, César, and object-wrapping legend, Christo. The works primarily consist of conceptual sculptures made from everyday objects (think mobiles made of wooden coat hangers, or hammers that morph into handbags). Fans of the Dada, Fluxus and New Realism movements will have a special appreciation for this museum.
Musée de l’Objet
6, rue Franciade
Tel: +33 (0) 2 54 55 37 45.
4. Château Beauregard.
Blois is a virtual stone’s throw from numerous chateaux, and it’s only natural that some of them get overlooked. But the stunning Chateau Beauregard shouldn’t be. This chateau was used as hunting lodge by King Francois I, and, unlike most chateaux of the region, has been inhabited continuously since the 15th century. Smaller than most castles you’ll find in the Loire, there are only a few rooms open to the public, including, an old stone kitchen crammed with copper pots, and a beautifully decorated portrait gallery. Even while the interior of the castle is remarkable, the best part of the chateau is its grounds. When you visit, bring along a baguette, some fresh cheese and a bottle of wine so that you can dine on the grass near the duck pond, while gazing at the beauty around you.
Château de Beauregard
Tel: +33 (0) 2 54 70 36 74
Top 5 Popular Hotels in Blois on Venere.com
- Hotel France et Guise – 2-star hotel – double room: €55
- Hotel Holiday Inn Blois – 3-star hotel – double room: €97
- Hotel Saint-Jacques – 2-star hotel – double room: €48
- Hotel Tourhotel – 2-star hotel – double room: €55
- Hotel Le Savoie – 2-star hotel – double room: €49
Photo of Blois Old Town, Loire Valley, France by Gogoninja