Cité Médiévale

Historic Site in Chinon

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!