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Report 2029: France 2012 Part 1 - The Loire Valley

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2012

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Page 9 of 33: Loches

photo by MAW

Looking down to Porte des Cordeliers

Loches was a walled citadel and there are excellent views of the Donjon and Logis Royale perched on a rocky promontory high above the Indre, from the D943 on the way into Loches from the south. Between the two is St Ours Church with its twin towers with tall spires. The other notable structure on the skyline is Tour St-Antoine across the road from the Tourism Office. This was a belfry tower built between 1529-1575 for the old church of St Ours which no longer exists.

In the 6thC, St Ours founded a priory here. In the Middle Ages it was a stronghold of the Counts of Anjou (who later became the Kings of England) who turned it into an impregnable fortified town. Later the town was captured by the French and, until the Revolution, was a royal town administered by Governors appointed by the King. Many Kings stayed here in the Logis. As the town grew additional walls were built.

Traffic is always busy in Loches. We missed the Tourism Office (a large modern building with limited parking just after Beaulieu-lès-Loches turn and the road to station) and had to turn round. This is worth visiting as it sells reduced entry tickets for several of the châteaux in the area.

We decided to park in the station car park which is easy to find with plenty of free parking and not too far to walk to center of town.

Loches is an attractive town. The old town is perched on a rocky promontory above the River Indre, with the newer town straggling round its base. There are remains of the three defensive walls built in the 11th, 12th and 13thC. Two gateways remain, Porte des Cordeliers and 15thC Port Picois next to the impressive Hôtel de Ville. Many of the houses are 16thC and were large, splendid buildings. Narrow streets with shops lead up to the old town.

The innermost wall was built in the 11thC and protects the core of the old town. This consists of the Donjon, Logis Royale, Église St-Ours and a few large and well spaced out stone houses. Originally there was just one gateway, 13thC Porte Royale, a massive structure with machicolations and round towers on either side. Now there are additional smaller gates through the wall. The best views of Loches are from the parapet walk along the front of the Logis Royale.

We spent our time in the old town. This was very rewarding. The church was an interesting building and the Logis Royale and Donjon were well worth the €7 entry.

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