Living in the Loire Valley

Loches

Loches is only 20 minutes' drive from us. It's a very popular town with the tourists. The principal reason for this is the fact that it has been designated one of the most important towns in France for its outstanding History and Art.

Recently, the Tourist Office of Loches organised a visit to the highlights of the town accompanied by an historian of the medieval period. I was fortunate enough to be invited. The visit was fascinating. We explored the 12th century ramparts, the castle and its dungeons. Loches' dungeons are claimed to be the largest and most complete in Europe. However, the thoughts of all of those who had suffered within its walls, made the visit a little eerie for me. I was more interested in the Renaissance architecture of the château and the temporary exhibition of theatrical costumes displayed in some of the castle's rooms.

Part of Loches Chateau and ramparts

Part of Loches Chateau and Ramparts

Clock Tower

Clock Tower in centre of Loches

Of course, I'd been there many times before, but hearing the story of the 'Cité Royale' from an expert, whilst walking the town's cobbled streets, made it that much more interesting. One of my favourite places inside the 'Cité' walls is the museum of Emmanuel Lansyer. The museum is housed in the artist's former home. The works of art include paintings of the chateau and the town of Loches, but also wonderful seascapes of the French coast. He was much admired by his contemporary artists (mid to late 19th century) for his ability to capture natural light on his landscape canvases. Entrance to the house to see the art works is free. For those interested in the arts, it's definitely worth a visit.

View of the chateau from the river

The start of my exploration of Loches - 2014

Lansyer painting of Loches chateau

Lansyer's painting "Chateau de Loches" - 1891

Gastronomy of Loches

The town of Loches is also well known for its twice weekly market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There you are able to find a wonderful display of local produce. The stalls are crowded throughout the year, and in summer you may have to wait a few minutes to get served. Amongst the gastronomic delights you can buy there are Ewes' and Goats' cheese of the region, Géline de Touraine (a black chicken reared near Loches which is renowned for its delicate taste), delicious macaroons from Cormery and sweets and nougat actually made in the town of Loches.

 

Selection of cheeses from the Loches area

Selection of cheeses from the Loches area

Last, but definitely not least, there are several restaurants in Loches that are worth a mention. There are enough restaurants and cafés to cater for every taste and pocket. One restaurant that I have eaten at many times is 'Le Gerbe d'Or' (the golden wheat ear). I've even done a cookery course there as well. Like many buildings in the centre of Loches, the restaurant is housed in an old limestone house, so the building is quite traditional and pleasant. I suppose their menu could be described in the same way. Their menu is traditionally French and their food is reliably good. At lunch time it is also very good value. If you are lucky enough to dine there in the summer, they have a large, shaded terrace outside the restaurant which is extremely pleasant. In winter, the dining room is heated with a large log fire.

On the walk from the river up to the château, via La Grande Rue, you will find the' salon de thé - Isabeau de Touraine'. In the summer it's an ideal place to sit outside in the old quarter of Loches and have tea and a cake or a light lunch or even a very early dinner- I think they close at 19.00. The cakes, desserts and quiches are all home-made and are really delicious. In winter, I really like the cosy feel of the shop's interior and the mix of contemporary and traditional furniture. For those that like tea or infusions, it's a wonderful place to go as there are so many to choose from. I have even swopped books there, from those on the book shelves; with the owner's consent of course.

Links

Loches Tourist Office

Museum of Emmanuel Lansyer

Le Gerbe d'Or

Isabeau de Touraine