Dominated by its towering medieval castle, Chinon is etched into France’s collective memory both as the favourite fortress of Henry II (1133–89), king of England, and as the venue for Joan of Arc's first meeting with Charles VII, in 1429. Below the château is an appealing medieval quarter, a warren of narrow lanes whose white tufa houses are topped with black slate roofs, giving the town its characteristic high-contrast aspect.

Surrounding the town is one of the Loire’s main wine-producing areas, and Chinon AOC ( cabernet-franc vineyards stretch along both banks of the Vienne River. Chinon makes a good base for wine-cellar visits.