Taking a driving tour through Central France offers the chance to visit historical cities, enjoy stunning views of scenic countryside and discover a variety of special places of interest, including underground rivers, caves and national parks. Vacationers who fly into Paris or any other French airport can pick up a rental car and drop it off at a different airport location, making it easy to drive through central France in virtually any direction. Here are a few suggestions for places to visit and things to see on a north-south driving tour from Paris to Toulouse.
A journey of around 420 miles, the route meanders through some of the most beautiful terrain in central France. Along the way, Orleans is worth a visit. This is the regional capital of the Centre region and is located on the beautiful River Loire. The city has an interesting history – in the Middle Ages, it was besieged by the British and liberated in 1429 by Joan of Arc. The city also has fine museums, including Joan of Arc’s House, and beautiful parks with abundant floral displays.
Further south and approximately halfway between Paris and Toulouse, the department of Indre in central France has a wide variety of sights to offer and is a good place for a stopover. The department contains the city of Chateauroux, full of regal castles and handsome churches, as well as smaller historical medieval market villages, such as Argenton sur Creuse, where quaint and charming old houses line the banks of the Creuse River.
Indre is home to the Brenne National Park, which is an exceptional wildlife area, and the Eguzon Lake Park, a vast stretch of water surrounded by unspoiled scenery. There are beaches around the lake for relaxing as well as chances to try out a variety of great watersport activities, including boating, canoeing, fishing, paddle boats, rowing, swimming and waterskiing. Climbing to the hillside above the lake rewards visitors with a great view of the Eguzon dam.
From the Indre region, it is easy to get to Limoges and Toulouse, as well as Carcassonne and Perpignan. Limousin and Limoges have pretty countryside which is dotted with heathers, lakes and forests. The route between Limoges and Toulouse passes through Brive-la-Gaillarde and features the old Cistercian monastery of Obazine Abbey that now serves as the parish church.
Further south, in the Midi-Pyrenees, the ancient Celtic city of Cahors, famous for its “black” wine, has a range of interesting sights, including historic monuments and towers and a Roman amphitheatre. The town’s symbol, the Valentre Bridge, is associated with a wonderfully extravagant satanic legend, and a small sculpture of the devil adorns the top of one of the bridge’s towers. Just 33 miles north of Toulouse lies Montauban, the birthplace of celebrated painter Jean Ingres, and a museum in his name features sculptures and an impressive collection of antiquities.
Central France is well worth spending some time in to soak up the scenery, history and culture. Travelers will note that the Indre department is the midway point for most journeys across France, which is no doubt why the French named the region “Centre.”
We are 30 kilometres from the capital of the region Chateauroux and 8 kilometres from the historical medieval town Argenton-sur-Creuse with its ancient houses almost sliding into the river Creuse.
Argenton-sur-Creuse has a lovely town square where you can sit and drink coffee, it has many shops for you to spend time looking in, or visit the market on Saturdays which is supported heavily by the locals as most of the meats, fruit and vegetables are organic, or visit the museum based at the archaeological dig at Argentomagus, the former Roman town.
Poitiers is an hour and a half’s drive, it is a charming town which again, is well worth a visit, and famous for the fantastic cinematographically centre of Futuroscope, as is the new ‘Vallee de Singes‘, which houses over 15 species of primates and 200 animals without cages. Futuroscope is a serious days outing and the facilities are marvellous. Also see the department of the Vienne for days out
La Brenne Natural Park with its thousand lakes is a vast conservation area dotted with lakes and criss-crossed with bridle paths. There are organised hikes or you can simply set out on your own with a map.
At the Maison de la Brenne, there is an interpretive centre where visitors can learn about the region, its ancient traditions of fish farming and nature conservation.
La Chatre is famous for being the home town of George Sand, whose greatest claim to fame is that she had a relationship with Chopin, Gargilesse, where George Sand had a small home, is now home to an assortment of artists whose studios are open to the public.
Named “Centre” for its location in the heart of France, this remarkable region is dominated by the legendary Loire Valley. It is easily accessible fromParis, 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 Creuse, 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 chateaux have been the setting for romance, politics, and intrigue. Among the best-known chateaux areChambord, Chenonceau, Blois, and Villandry, but enchantment awaits in lesser-known examples also: Chaumont-sur-Loire, Talcy, Chateau de Beauregard, Chateau de Chamerolles. The Chateau d’ Usse was the inspiration for the castle of Sleeping Beauty.
Centre is also home to two of France’s great cathedrals, at Bourges andChartres. 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.
If you are looking for a fishing trip, why not try Ed and Sarah’s place just down the road from Appletons in Malicornay, Fox Pools their website is http://foxpoolfrance.com/
If you are looking for a week long stay we have the perfect Gite located overlooking the Creuse river, see Wilma and Vic’s renovated pad, with all you would want for a wonderful holiday just outside Argenton sur Creuse, L’eau Jolie, their website is http://www.frenchsleepovers.com.au/
The valley of the Loire
Gargilessse is one of the more beautiful villages of France, it is an Artists village and has a Harp festival each year.
For a day out shopping Chateauroux has all the major retail shops, and the airport is still used as a base for UN emergency and disaster relief..
The Region of Centre This link will take you to all the useful information about our area, someone else has so eloquently said all that needs to be said to entice you to stay in our area, don’t go down the A10 to Bordeaux come down the FREE A20 to Appletons Farmhouse!!!!
The main towns in Indre are Argenton-sur-Creuse, La Chatre, Le Blanc, Eguzon, Saint Benoit du Sault, Valencay, Issodun, Levreux, and Reuilly.
More information about the local area
Appletons is in a wonderful part of France, the Creuse Valley, we have many places for you to visit, Chateauroux is our capital, (30KM) which has a lovely church and old town, Argenton-sur Creuse, (8KM), is a mediaeval town which has links to its Roman past at Argentomagus.
Gargilesse, a village who’s most famous inhabitant was Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, later Baroness Dudevant, best known by her pseudonym George Sand, a French novelist and memoirist.
This village is now filled with artists homes and studios, there is a 12th century church where we have a music festival every year , The Harp festival, and a privately owned chateau on the banks of the Gargilesse river, a tributary of the Creuse river .http://www.gargilesse.fr/indexuk.php
A few kilometres further on, is Lac de Chambon which has several safe sandy beaches with life guards in summer, ideal for all the family, you can also sail, water ski or take an hour and a half boat trip, following past the ruins of Chateau Crozant and on to the barrage built in 1927 to generate hydro electricity.
The Brenne National park is …….http://www.parc-naturel-brenne.fr/en/