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Best things to do in Chinon

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Where in the world: Europe  /  France  /  Centre-Val de Loire  /  Indre-et-Loire  /  Chinon

Top 15 things to do in Chinon

1. Forteresse royale de Chinon

The only medieval fortress located in the Loire Valley, Forteresse royale de Chinon is a strategic site where you can explore several restored forts within the castle walls. Built in the 10th century, several 21st century restorations let you immerse yourself in the military and civil history of the fortress with 3-D models, interactive displays, and 150 m (492 ft) of restored ramparts.

Guided tours in English are available for an additional charge, but general admission includes a complimentary informational brochure with a map in English. Maps guide you through the interior complete with two rooms devoted to 16th to 20th century artistic works honoring Joan of Arc.

Two lower rooms present illustrations and archaeological finds from the site's excavations. Come to admire the restored royal quarters, including a 15th-century house, then be struck by the bird-eye view from the top of the castle overlooking Vienne Valley.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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3. Bioparc - Zoo de Doue la Fontaine, Doue-la-Fontaine

Out of the 55 species of animals at Bioparc - Zoo de Doue la Fontaine, more than 43 are listed as threatened species, with nine of those species considered to be critically endangered. Leap into Leopard Canyon for a look at rare leopards housed in an environment that largely mimics bamboo forests and snow of the Himalayas. Visit the only aviary in the world where Andean condors can fly, then visit the South American exhibit with spider monkeys, giant otters, spectacled bears, tamarins, and maned wolves. Head to the Asian continent to spot a Sumatran tiger and the white-handed gibbon primates. Your admission price helps ensure their long-term survival in captivity.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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4. Futuroscope, Chasseneuil-du-Poitou

If your idea of a great day with the family includes heart-pounding rides, jaw-dropping 3D flicks, and 4D effects that fly you over oceans and take you surfing on titanic waves, then Futuroscope is your perfect destination. Blast off into outer space or take flight with birds of the natural world and find out exactly why this theme park is the second most-visited attraction in France. Since the park updates its attractions every year, there's always something new to see and do. Your kids will love dancing with robots, pedaling a propeller-driven machine inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, and discovering the fascinating ecology of dinosaurs of the deep sea--projected on a 3,000 sq-m (9,700 sq-ft), hemispherical screen.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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5. La Vallee des Singes, Romagne

La Vallee des Singes houses over 400 different primates on its 16 hectares (40 acres) of land. The park was founded by Wim Mager, who created the first primate park in the world that allowed the animals to roam freely. Explore the site to see gorillas, chimpanzees, lemurs, and dwarf monkeys.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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6. Chateau de Breze, Breze

As if the pointed spires atop the carved windows weren’t romantic enough, the grounds at Chateau de Breze are also home to 29 hectares (74 acres) of vineyards. The château itself was built in the 11th century, but the only part of the structure still intact from its early days is the drawbridge. After your tour of the family home, ask to sample some of the house wines, but be careful not to drink too much before touring the fortress beneath your feet. That’s right, this castle rests on an intricate maze of tunnels that were an important component of its defense strategy in days gone by. With its steep walks and tight spaces, the underground is best toured with a clear head.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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7. Chateau de Villandry, Villandry

Considered by many people to be the most beautiful gardens anywhere, Chateau de Villandry owner, Henri Carvallo, proudly and jovially keeps the property maintained in immaculate condition for your enjoyment. Its famous Renaissance gardens, include a water garden, ornamental flower gardens, and vegetable gardens. The garden layout includes formal patterns created with low box hedges. You can learn more about the gardens and castle with a guided tour available in English. Take your sweetheart on a carriage ride, and then play tennis on the real grass court complete with free rule sheets for the classic game.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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8. Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau, Azay-le-Rideau

Set on an island in the middle of the Indre river, Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau is considered one of the foremost examples of early French Renaissance architecture. Built between 1518 and 1527, this picturesque château maintains the fashionable Italian renaissance style in its long proportions and ornate sculptural decorations.

Venture into the interior to view a significant collection of artwork, including "Dame au Bain" (possibly depicting Diane de Poitiers) by François Clouet and several portraits of French monarchs, including Francis I, Henry III, and Catherine de Médici. A climb into the attic provides an insight into the charpente, the handcrafted wooden frame supporting the roof, which was recently restored and available for your view.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale, Fontevraud-l'Abbaye

Founded in 1101, Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale remains the largest surviving monastic complex from the Middle Ages. The reclining effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and Richard the Lionheart offer a reminder of its close links with the Plantagenet kings. Converted into a prison between 1804 an 1963, it was then designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Loire Valley. Please see http://www.fontevraud.fr/ for more information.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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10. Chateau de Langeais, Langeais

Surrounded by cedars and majestic redwoods, Chateau de Langeais is a medieval castle built in 992 CE by Fulk Nerra. Come to celebrate the wedding of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany with realistic wax figures depicting their ceremony. Built on a promontory created by the small valley of the Roumer River at the opening to the Loire Valley, you will find a dungeon, playgrounds for your children, a gazebo with picnic areas, and a tree house. Audio commentary in English helps you relive the daily life of a medieval nobleman as well as learn about the furniture, tapestries, and works of art.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Cave Monplaisir

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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12. Chateau d'Usse, Rigny-Usse

An astounding array of glistening white sandstone, slate rooftops in blue, and whimsical towers fill your waking dreams as you approach Chateau d'Usse. "Sleeping Beauty" author, Charles Perrault, was so enamored with this castle that it inspired him to write his famous 17th century tale. This castle wasn't built for bloody battles, and it has always managed to evade the bedlam of war. The romantic and playful mood comes from its flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance architecture--authenticity that not even Walt Disney could outdo.

Costumed characters greet you on your tour through themed chambers warmed by the glow of wood-burning fireplaces. Each room is filled with the legend and the history of lavish 19th century fashions, fine bone china and real silverware on the dining room table, and bedchambers whisking you off to fairytale dreams. Be sure to climb the spiral staircases with your kids until you find the wax figure of Sleeping Beauty resting in her tower.

After your tour, stroll the gardens to take in the majestic cedars, the surrounding Chinon Forest, and the majestic views of the chateau from the walkway. Keep a lookout for small, but elusive details, such as intricate carvings on many outdoor installations and entryways. Let your inspiration flow with a fun-filled visit to the castle that created the very fabric of fairytale dreams.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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14. Maison du Souvenir, Maille

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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