Sitting astride the Loire Valley in inland France, the Centre region encompasses a variety of landscapes, from the well-known, chateaux-rich valley to the Sologne forests and undulating countryside of the Berry region.
Given its proximity to Paris, the area has long been popular among visitors, including the kings of the middle ages and Renaissance, who left their mark in the form of the opulent and elegant chateaux lining the Loire Valley.
Equally celebrated as its chateaux are the wines of the Loire Valley, originating from the regions of Muscadet, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Anjou, Saumur, Bourgueil, Chinon and Vouvray. One of the many pleasures during a holiday in Centre-Val de Loire is indulging in a tasting or two.
The north of the region is characterised by its mile upon mile of agricultural land, with Chartres being the main city, famed for its impressive Gothic cathedral. The Loire Valley dominates the heart of the region, where notable chateaux include Chambord, Bois and Chenonceaux to name but a handful.
La Sologne, an expansive area of forest and heathland, is a popular spot for walkers and nature-lovers, as well as hunters who head there in pursuit of boar, deer and pheasants, not to mention the numerous species of fish populating the several hundred ponds. There are also signposted cycle trails along quiet roads.
Moving South, encompassing the departments of Cher and Indre is the area known as the Berry. Here there are yet more chateaux, beautiful gardens and scenic rivers and wetlands. To the west is the natural park of La Brenne which is home to a huge number of different species of bird, butterfly, mammals, insects and reptiles, making it a top choice for animal enthusiasts.
Bourges is the capital of the Berry, a medieval city whose old town will have you feeling like you’ve tuned back the clock several hundred years as you wander past timber framed houses and fascinating buildings, several of which house museums.
The regional capital of Centre-Val de Loire is Orléans; it’s a pleasant place to visit and has fantastic transport links.