Named "Centre" for its location in the heart of France, this
remarkable region is dominated by the legendary Loire Valley.
It is easily accessible from Paris, thanks to numerous autoroutes
and the TGV high-speed train, which makes its Paris-to-Tours run
in only 55 minutes. From early spring to late autumn, natural
splendors abound in the valleys of the Loire and its eastern
tributaries, the rivers Indre, Cher, Beuvron, Sauldre, and Allier.
The history of the Loire Valley is written in its architecture.
For centuries the halls, turrets, and gardens of a thousand
châteaux have been the setting for romance, politics,
and intrigue. Among the best-known châteaux are Chambord,
Chenonceau, Blois, and Villandry, but enchantment awaits in
lesser-known examples also: Chaumont-sur-Loire, Talcy,
Château de Beauregard, Château de Chamerolles.
In Ussé you can find the inspiration for the castle
of Sleeping Beauty.
Centre is also home to two of France's great cathedrals,
at Bourges and Chartres. The latter contains some of the
best examples of stained glass in France, fashioned by the
same master-craftsmen who later constructed the magnificent
windows of King Louis IX's Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.
The valley of the Loire produces 22 fine wines, including
Bourgueil, Sancerre, Valençay, Vouvray, Montlouis,
and Menetou-Salon. Among the region's excellent cheeses
are Crottin de Chavignol, Selles-sur-Cher, and Sainte-Maure