Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Centre-Val de Loire
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Located to the northwest of the centre of France, the Centre region features the Loire Valley and the numerous, extravagant châteaux situated along the course of this river. The city of Orléans is perhaps most famous for having being liberated by Joan of Arc. The departments in Centre are: Cher, Eure-et-Loire, Indre, Indre-et-loire, Loir-et-Cher and Loiret.

Archaeology & History Sites in Centre-Val de Loire


Around 50 BC the Romans took over what had been an Iron Age town of the Bituriges Celtic tribe for a few centuries. The Romans named the new town Argentomagus. Today the archaeological remains can be visited at a number of locations in the town of Saint-Marcel. A museum, constructed over the remnants of a crypt from the Roman period and around which are most of the better preserved Roman features, provides the archaeological background from the Palaeolithic to the medieval.

Chartres Cathedral

The cathedral in Chartres is said to be the finest Gothic cathedral in France. This well preserved cathedral, the last of five erected on the same location since the 4th century AD, is particularly well known for its original, spectacular stained-glass windows, created between 1200 and 1235. By good fortune, the Cathedral was spared destruction during the French Revolution and by the actions of an American Army Officer during World War II.

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau

The picturesque island-like setting of the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau on the Indre River makes this one of the most popular castles of the Loire Valley. Built in the early 16th century, it is now widely recognised as one of the finest examples of early French Renaissance architecture. The style of both the exterior and the interior show a striking influence in the then fashionable Italian Renaissance. In 1905 the castle was purchased by the state, and in 1939/40 it housed the Ministry of Education when the French government left Paris.

Château de Maintenon

Construction of the castle began sometime in the 12th century. But the Château de Maintenon is better known as the private residence of Madame de Maintenon, Louis XIV’s his second wife. In 1675 the king purchased the castle for his then mistress Madame de Maintenon, and had staff from Versailles renovate the building and gardens. It is said Madame de Maintenon loved the castle’s beauty and solitude. A tour of the castle takes in both the 17th century and 19th century apartments, a walk in the French gardens leading to the ruins of the unfinished aqueduct, intended to supply water to the fountains of Versailles.

Museums & Art Galleries in Centre-Val de Loire

Museum of History and Archaeology, Orléans

One of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in the city of Orléans, Hôtel Cabu is home to the Musée historique et archéologique de l’Orléanais. As is to be expected of a regional museum much of what is on display is the history of the Orléans area. One of the highlights is the trésor de Neuvy-en-Sullias, a collection of 30 bronze Gallic and Gallo-Roman objects that were found Neuvy-en-Sullias commune about 30 kms from Orlèans.