Cité Médiévale


François Rabelais (c 1494–1553), whose works include the Gargantua and Pantagruel series, spent part of his childhood in Chinon; you’ll see Rabelais-related names dotted all around the old town, whose narrow cobblestone streets and alleys present a fine cross-section of medieval architecture, best seen along rue Voltaire and its western continuation, rue Haute St-Maurice.

Structures to look out for include the 17th-century Hôtel du Gouverneur, whose double-horseshoe staircase can be seen from the street through a carved gateway, and the Gothic Palais du Bailliage, the former residence of Chinon’s bailiwick.

The tourist office has a free walking-tour leaflet and, from May to September, offers French-language tours (adult/child €4.70/2.50); some guides speak English – one is a New Yorker!

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Touraine attractions

1. Musée Le Carroi

0.03 MILES

Refurbished in 2018, this museum features exhibits on the art and archaeology of Chinon and its environs as well as contemporary art, displayed in the…

2. Hôtel du Gouverneur

0.05 MILES

This impressive, 17th-century town house has a double-horseshoe staircase you can see from the street through a carved gateway.

3. Palais du Bailliage

0.06 MILES

The Gothic Palais du Bailliage was once the residence of Chinon’s bailiwick. Now houses a seasonal hotel.

4. Forteresse Royale de Chinon


Surrounded by massive walls, this hilltop castle – offering fabulous views across town, river and countryside – is split into three sections separated by…

5. Chapelle Ste-Radegonde

0.79 MILES

Built into a cave above and 500m east of town, this half-ruined Romanesque chapel – constructed around the tomb of a 6th-century hermit – is noteworthy…

6. Musée Rabelais

3.31 MILES

La Devinière, the prosperous farm where François Rabelais (1483 or 1494–1553) – doctor, Franciscan friar, theoretician, author and all-around Renaissance…

7. Château d’Ussé

6.29 MILES

The creamy white towers and slate roofs of the Château d’Ussé offer sweeping views across the flat Loire countryside, the flood-prone Indre River and…

8. Collégiale St-Martin

8.28 MILES

This soaring, crenellated village church, built in the Gothic style from 1175 to 1240, venerates the spot where St Martin died in 397 and was buried for a…