Posted March 10, 2010 by Kate Hamman
Situated in the shadow of the 12th-century royal fortress where Joan of Arc first met the future King Charles VII, the city of Chinon exudes history everywhere you turn. Come immerse yourself in its past without paying a high price. Learn all about the city's fascinating history, taste regional wines in a cave, and stay in a surprisingly charming chain hotel.
Royal Fortress of Chinon: Sitting high above the city, the Royal Fortress of Chinon stands as a reminder of the city's intriguing past. Today, visitors can immerse themselves in the area's history by learning about the lives of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who lived and died here; seeing the Royal Lodge where Joan of Arc met the future King Charles VII; and touring the apartments filled with the Flemish tapestries and furniture of the castle's heyday. There is also a Joan of Arc museum, which offers insight to the life and death of this heroic woman. Admission costs €3 (about $4 U.S.; check XE.com for current exchange rates).
Plouzeau Chateau de la Bonneliere: At Plouzeau Chateau de la Bonneliere's tasting cave, you won't have to dig too deep to unearth a wealth of wines. Built into the foundation of the fortress, the cellars are the perfect place to store and sample wines of the Chinon and Loire valleys. Open from April through September, the shop sells a variety of reds and whites.
Best Western Hotel de France: It may surprise you to learn that this Best Western is more like a charming historic inn than a basic chain hotel. Located in a 16th century building in the heart of the city, Hotel de France transports you back in time. Enjoy the view of the famous fortress or listen to the fountain below your room's balcony. Rooms start at about €75 per night.
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(Photo: iStockPhoto/Jowita Stachowiak)