Centre-Val de Loire, France

Centre-Val de Loire is a region in central France made up of the Cher, Eure-et-Loir, Indre-et-Loire, Loir-et-Cher, Indre and Loiret departments. It has an area of 39,151 km² and 2,574,863 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2020). The capital of the region is Orléans.

Until January 16, 2015, the region was just called Centre.



Nogent le Rotrou


Other destinations

Château de Chinon
Château de Chenonceau



Mostly only French is spoken, little English. As an individual traveler you should have at least basic knowledge of the French language.


Getting here

By plane
There is no major international airport in the region itself. There is only one regional airport in Tours that is served by Ryanair, but not from German-speaking countries. However, Paris-Orly Airport can be used for arrival, from which z. B. 80 km to Chartres, to Orléans 115 km. Thanks to the direct TGV connection from the airport train station (several times a day), you can also get from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport to Saint-Pierre-de-Corps near Tours in around 1:45 hours.

By train
There is a TGV stop in Saint-Pierre-de-Corps, a suburb of Tours. TGVs between Paris-Montparnasse and Poitiers or Bordeaux stop there approximately every hour, taking about an hour from Paris. The TGV also stops directly in Tours several times a day.

Vierzon and Châteauroux are on the Paris–Limoges Intercité line (approximately every hour); from Paris Gare d'Austerlitz it takes about two hours to reach Châteauroux. Also from Paris-Austerlitz, IC trains run every two hours to Orléans; they take a little over an hour.

Épernon, Maintenon, Chartres, Courville, Nogent-le-Rotrou can be reached every hour with a regional express (TER) from Paris-Montparnasse (Paris-Chartres in just over an hour).

From the German-speaking area, the vast majority of train connections go via Paris, where the train station has to be changed (from Gare de l'Est or Nord to Gare d'Austerlitz or Montparnasse). For example, the fastest connection from Cologne to Orléans takes 5:20 hours, from Stuttgart 5:40 hours, and from Frankfurt six hours. If the destination is in the southeast of the region, you can also drive from Switzerland via Dijon; For example from Basel to Bourges with one change in 4 hours 40 minutes.

By bus
Eurolines offer bus connections from various cities in Germany with a change in Paris to Tours or Orléans. From Cologne to Tours, for example, it takes 10:45 hours and pays €70.

On the street
From the north via Paris (Boulevard Périphérique), A 11 towards Le Mans and Bordeaux, A 10 towards Orléans. However, if you are coming from central and southern Germany or Switzerland, it is advisable to bypass the greater Paris area and drive from the east on the A 5 or A 6 and A 19 to Orleáns.

By bicycle
The Loire cycle route leads through the region (passing Orléans, Blois, Amboise and Tours), which is also part of the European long-distance cycle route EuroVelo 6 (Atlantic - Black Sea), on which you can even travel from Germany or Switzerland (Lake Constance, Basel) can drive here. From the Paris area, you can take the French cycle path V41 to Chartres, Châteaudun and Tours.


Get around

Very good roads connecting all places of interest. Easy to find with the Michelin maps. Also recommended by bike, as there are cycle paths almost everywhere along the Loire.



A special attraction comes from the numerous castle hotels, often in heavenly, relaxing peace in the midst of large domains and mostly lovingly, exquisitely and of course antique furnished, whose cold and drafty halls, halls and rooms of that time offer every imaginable comfort today. For those who don't have to save, the personal reception at the foot of the platform, the romantic candlelight dinner and a night in a four-poster bed is the ideal, stylish start to exploring the great historic castles, the less well-off will also have brunch or dinner - that you can reserve in the old walls even if you are not a hotel guest - in the right mood and for a few hours in the illusion of dining like a lord of the castle of bygone times.

Castle hotels in Centre-Val de Loire

Château de Chissay-en-Touraine, 41400 Montrichard. Tel: +33 (0)1 54323201. A 12th-century former royal castle which since 1986 has housed a luxury hotel fully furnished in 18th-century style. Surrounded by a ten-hectare park, the château preserves not only an impressive former armory room, a room with Gothic vaults that was used as the dining room of the La Table du Roy restaurant, and many very beautiful old fireplaces. Among the 36 rooms and suites, choose one with the nicer view of the park, while the others face either the Renaissance facades of the large courtyard or the heated pool. The ideal geographical location, the grandiose setting and the pool make the Château de Chissay one of the most interesting stops in the area.
Château de Pray, 37530 Chargé-Amboise. Tel.: +33 (0)2 47572367. Just off the Loire between Amboise and Chaumont on the D 751. Like many of the Loire châteaux, this one arose from a fortification (13th century) that was converted into a summer residence during the Renaissance became. It is embedded in a park facing a large terrace in front of the castle, where breakfast and dinner are served when the weather is nice. There are only 16 rooms here, all antique-furnished, most relatively spacious, and often occupied by regular guests who appreciate a family atmosphere and the option of half-board.
Château de la Menaudière, 41400 Montrichard-Chissay-en-Touraine (144 route d'Amboise). Tel.: +33 (0)2 54320244. La Menaudière, whose origin (15th century) is attributed to Catherine Briçonnet or Brissonnet, one of the six damsels of Chenonceau, is located in the clearing of a forest with centuries-old oak trees and offers 23 rooms including one with a four-poster bed on the ground floor of the castle tower (№ 23), another, which is identified as the former bedchamber of the marquis (№ 8). The fireplaces preserved in most of the rooms add to the refined ambience, as does the bar with its terrace in a beautiful setting, two small but nicely decorated dining rooms and the heated pool, a soothing after a long day of sightseeing. There is also a tennis court and even a heliport, from which you can take to the skies if necessary to see the châteaux of the Loire from above (information on helicopter tours is available from the Tourist Office in Blois).



The region is located south of Paris, in the central northern half of France, bordering the regions of Île-de-France and Normandy to the north, Pays de la Loire to the west, Nouvelle-Aquitaine to the southwest and Auvergne-Rhône to the south -Alpes and to the east on Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The capital Orléans is located in the northeast of the region. Other important cities are Tours, Amboise and Blois. The region is traversed by the Loire, which, coming from the south, changes direction at Orléans and continues to flow west through Tours.


Geology of the Centre-Val de Loire: an overview

The Centre-Val de Loire has a multitude of natural regions of which the Loire Valley constitutes the structuring axis. Geologically, this region, mostly plain, covers the southern part of the Paris Basin (Beauce, Berry, Brenne, Drouais, Gâtinais, Orléanais, Pays-Fort, Perche, Puisaye, Sancerrois, Sologne, Thimerais, Touraine) and a small part of north of the Massif Central (Boischaut, Marche). The terrains date from the Paleozoic (Variscan chain) to the Quaternary, passing through the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic.

The most recent geological formations are the Quaternary fluvial alluvia of the Loire and its tributaries (Beuvron, Cher, Cosson, Indre, Sauldre) as well as other rivers (Anglin, Arnon, Claise, Creuse, Sauldre, Yèvre) . There are also loess deposits in the Beauce, synonymous with fertile soils suitable for intensive grain farming.

The Cenozoic formations present a variety of sedimentary rocks of marine and continental origin (lacustrine, fluvial, alterites) mainly occupying the natural regions of Beauce, Sologne, Brenne and Gâtines.

The Mesozoic formations also include sedimentary rocks of marine and continental origin whose ages evolve from south to north, from the oldest rocks of the Triassic (Boischaut, Marche, Val de Germigny) to the most recent of the Cretaceous (Drouais, Gâtinais , Pays-Fort, Perche, Touraine) through those of the Jurassic (Berry, Blancois, Richelais, Sancerrois).

Finally, the Paleozoic formations are composed of magmatic and metamorphic rocks (Boischaut, Marche) belonging to the Massif Central and formed during the Variscan orogeny.

The geodiversity of the Centre-Val de Loire region has greatly influenced the different landscapes, the latter having been developed by man over the centuries. For example, the clayey-sandy subsoil of Sologne has favored the establishment of thousands of artificial ponds, just like in Brenne. Man has also been able to take advantage of the mineral resources of the regional subsoil with the famous tufa stone, the faluns of Touraine, the limestone of Beauce, the flints of Grand-Pressigny or the "gun flints" of the valley. Cher (Meusnes, Couffy). Oil is still exploited in the Loiret within Cretaceous sands at a depth of around 600 m.

Like all French regions, the Centre-Val de Loire benefits from a continuous inventory of geological sites of heritage interest, as part of the National Inventory of Geological Heritage (INPG). Geodiversity coupled with biodiversity constitute the natural heritage. To date, 127 geological sites of heritage interest have been listed by the Regional Commission for the Geological Heritage of Centre-Val de Loire (CRPG). The list of sites can be consulted on the National Inventory of Natural Heritage (INPN) website.


Topography and hydrography

The relief that emerges on either side of its bed is made up of plains and plateaus with different geographical characteristics. The slightly undulating limestone plateau of Champagne Berry in the south-east is followed by the Brenne (land of “a thousand ponds”), and the clay plateaus of Touraine in the south-west.

To the south and east are cuestas with limestone plateaus and clay depressions on the edge of the Massif Central (Motte d'Humbligny (Sancerrois hills), 429 m). To the north and in the center extend the plateaus of Beauce, Sologne and the forest of Orléans. In Sologne, the nature of the soil has favored the establishment of thousands of artificial ponds, as well as moors and copses. It is a paradise for birds and game.

The Centre-Val de Loire is crossed by the longest river in France (the Loire, 1,006 km) which experiences the most irregular flows. In addition, many and various tributaries are added to it.

The Centre-Val de Loire is subject to three types of floods, some of which have marked the history of the region (e.g. 1856, 1866):

floods of oceanic origin characterized by a slow rise in water from depressions coming from the west;
floods of Cévennes origin characterized by intense and long rainfall occurring in the upper basins of the Loire and the Allier;
the so-called “mixed” floods mixing the two origins.



Beyond the images of large cereal expanses, the Centre-Val de Loire has a great diversity of landscapes and natural environments: forests, ponds, dry limestone grasslands, moors, peat bogs, and the Loire and its sandbanks and alluvial forests.

The region is home to the largest national forest in France, the Orléans forest, which extends over more than 35,000 ha north of the Loire and Orléans.

23% of the regional territory, i.e. 900,000 hectares, is covered by forests and other wooded areas, mainly the forest of Orléans, Sologne and the east of the forest of Perche. Forests are overwhelmingly private (85%).

In addition, the region hosts more than 5% of known wetlands in the national territory, concentrated mainly in Brenne with its 1,300 ponds and in Sologne with its 3,000 ponds. Over the past ten years, more than 10% of marsh or peatland areas have nevertheless disappeared.

The juxtaposition of closed and open environments favors a great biological diversity, from large mammals such as red deer, roe deer, wild boar, woodland birds such as the European nightjar, the black woodpecker and the gray woodpecker. The forest has been home to osprey nesting since the 1980s, marking the return of the raptor to France after decades of decline. Disappeared from mainland France during the 19th century, the raptor had found a last refuge in Corsica where only three pairs remained in 1974.

The regional wetlands contain a great diversity of insects and are an important resource for the many species of the five classes of vertebrates.

Although still incomplete depending on the department, the floristic inventories of the Centre-Val de Loire show a great diversity of environments, from large forest areas such as Sologne to large plains such as Beauce. The Loiret department, for example, is home to almost a third of French flora with over 1,450 species.

Protected areas
The regional territory is home to three regional natural parks: Brenne, Loire-Anjou-Touraine and Perche.


Impacts on natural environments

Fragmentation of environments
The region is ecologically very fragmented. In 2010, the DREAL and the Region launched the development of the Regional Ecological Coherence Scheme (SRCE), aimed at restoring a more functional ecological network in the region. In 2001, an initial mapping of the green and blue belt and natural environments was carried out which will make it possible to prepare the SRCE, the administrative translation of the European green and blue belt project (pan-European, national and regional ecological network for the six departments of this region, under the Grenelle II law and the new national strategy for biodiversity (2010-2011).

Facilities and operation
River developments disrupt river dynamics with the eventual disappearance of wetlands and alluvial valleys. For example, aggregate extraction areas have increased by 30% in ten years (16% nationally). This disappearance leads to the reduction of the biodiversity of the region. Fish populations reflect the degradation of the aquatic environment and remain mostly (61%) disturbed or degraded.

In 2023, Greenpeace lists 103 factory farms in the regional territory, concentrating alone 6.8 poultry, more than 117,000 pigs, 550 dairy cows and 2,050 calves and other cattle.


Axes of communication and transport

Many motorways cross the Centre-Val de Loire and connect - Paris to Lyon (A6) - to Bordeaux (A10) - to Clermont-Ferrand (A71) - to Rennes and Nantes (A11) - to Nevers (A77) - to Toulouse (A20). Three transverse motorways, Orléans-Sens (A19), Vierzon-Tours-Angers (A85) and Tours-Le Mans-Rouen (A28), complete the network.

On the rail transport side, the regional council finances the TER Centre-Val de Loire network, the management of which it delegates to the SNCF.

On the air transport side, a small airport project is underway in Châteaudun. Moreover, Grand Châteaudun has scheduled three public meetings in May on the theme of the future of the Châteaudun aerodrome (Eure-et-Loir).

After the first three meetings which had been organized in Cloyes-les-Trois-Rivières, Brou and Châteaudun, in October 2021, Grand Châteaudun wishes to meet its inhabitants again in order to report on the progress of the conversion project of the civil aerodrome of Châteaudun (ICAO: LFOC).



Chartres Cathedral is one of the major attractions in the region, and can be seen from a distance by hikers due to the very flat terrain. It is visible from the Vélorail du Pays Chartrain, a 12.5 km round trip on an old railway line in the Centre-Val de Loire, the Paris-Chartres axis via Gallardon. The Vélorail du Pays Chartrain has participated in the craze for “original and fun means of transport” which has the “wind in its sails”. The town of Châteaudun has tourist assets with its castle, its caves, its museum of fine arts and natural history and its flea markets. In addition, the region is known throughout the world for the castles of the Loire, most of which are world heritage sites, among the best known we can mention the castle of Chambord, the castle of Chenonceau, the castle of Blois, the castle of Cheverny, the castle de Loche, Chateau de Chaumont, Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, Chateau du Clos Lucé, Chateau d'Ussé. The region is also home to the Beauval zoo.


Coat of arms

Blazon: In blue, three (2;1) golden lilies under a white full-length tournament collar surrounded by a twelve-fold white-red border.



Historically, the departments of the Centre-Val de Loire were made up globally from three historical provinces:
Orleans (Loiret, Eure-et-Loir, Loir-et-Cher);
Berry (Cher and Indre);
Touraine (Indre-et-Loire).

These very early entered the royal domain (Orléans having, with Paris, constituted the original nucleus of this domain), to the formation of which they contributed very largely: the castles of the Loire - from Gien to Chinon, in passing through Chambord, Blois, Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau, La Ferté-Saint-Aubin… testify to a common heritage.

The fire of Sunday June 20, 1723 in Châteaudun had a big role in the history of Châteaudun, because it destroyed a large half of the city. The fire broke out in the Faubourg Saint-Valérien around 2 p.m. in the house of a winemaker known as Pierre Clément dit le Beau, during a period of dry and hot weather. If several causes were evoked during the history concerning the triggering element of the disaster, Arnaud Carobbi showed that these hypotheses were only rumors which had never been supported by facts. A shifting wind blowing that day appears to have fanned the flames and spread the fire in several different directions in the city. The fire took on a large scale because most of the materials used for the construction of the dwellings were combustible such as thatch or wood. In addition, the town of Châteaudun being located on a rocky outcrop, there was no obstacle to protect against the wind. Eventually, the disaster destroyed a thousand buildings and left more than 80% of the population homeless.

The extent of the damage made it possible to obtain royal aid to rebuild the city. In total more than 900,000 books will be released by royal funds. The architect Jules Hardouin was commissioned to draw the plans for the new town and endowed it with an important central square (now known as the Place du 18-Octobre) and wide streets. The city center is also rebuilt in stone to prevent the risk of fires. The reconstruction work began the following spring and officially ended in 1733. In fact, many buildings were still to be built in 1773, like the town hall which was not completed until 1779.

When the fire broke out most of the emergency services, that is to say the officers of cavalry companies, were attending a party at Droué and in order not to spoil the festivities, no one warned them. The fire slows as it reaches the city gate towers.

The terrible fire of 1723 marked the history of the town of Châteaudun. This is why Fabien Verdier, Mayor of Châteaudun, has decided to celebrate the 300th anniversary, which will be commemorated from June 17 to 30, an opportunity to remember that this fire has transformed the architecture of the city of Dunes.

The region has seen the birth or hosted many literary celebrities: Honoré de Balzac, René Descartes, François Rabelais, Pierre de Ronsard, George Sand, Charles Péguy, Marcel Proust, Jules Romains, Anatole France, Max Jacob, Maurice Genevoix, Gaston Couté , François Villon, Alain-Fournier, Étienne Dolet, Guillaume de Lorris, Alfred de Vigny, Voltaire, Beaumarchais, etc.


Controversial Identity

The history of the Centre-Val de Loire region is marked by a problematic identity that stems from the different historical provinces (Berry - Orléanais - Touraine). First, differences arose over the choice of capital, then over the choice of name.

Orléans was chosen as the capital in 1964, although Tours was more populous. The background was the rivalry between Jean Royer, mayor of Tours, and Michel Debré, mayor of Amboise; the last-named campaigned for Orléans. This incident created tensions between these two cities.

In 1956 the name Région Center was chosen by the Ministry of the Interior, which caused debate as this name did not allow identification. Even if Center preferred neither the one nor the other historical province, the reason for the naming was rather obscure, as the region is not in the center of France. In 1990, the regional council attempted to find a name that was more meaningful for the country and abroad. Four proposals were made: Val de France ('Valley of France'), Val de Loire ('Loire Valley'), Cœur de France ('Heart of France') and Centre-Val-de-Loire ('Centre Loire Valley'). In the autumn of 1994, MEPs voted for Centre-Val-de-Loire. However, if one region changed its name, the law required the consent of all other regions. The president of the Région Pays de la Loire refused this because of the use of the name of the Loire, which meant that the name change did not materialize. Only with the reform of the regions in 2015 was the region officially renamed Centre-Val de Loire.