Univ. Paris-Diderot LLB Univ. Tours



Local Attractions

"Villa Bellagio" is just outside Amboise, and a few kilometers away from the the city of Tours at the Loire Valley.

The region is celebrated by its many castles, forteresses and abbeys dating from the early medieval to the late French renaissance periods; its abundance of vineyards producing the great wines of Chinon, Saumur, Sancerre, and Bourgueil among others; and its wonderful gastronomy.

The Loire is the longest French river and it is one of the last untamed European rivers, yet with an easy access for hiking and biking at its banks. One can also hire canoes for (partially) discovering the Loire from inside.

More information on the heritage and current events in the Loire valley can be obtained from this site. Another useful site is the Amboise Tourism Office.

The short cuts below lead to more complete information about local attractions.

Castles and more...

There are a few hundred castles dating from the early medieval to the late French renaissance periods along the Loire river. The following link is a comprehensive liste of the main castles in the Loire valley. Also take a look at this other list of Loire castles. Below we give a few suggestions around Amboise and further away (click on the images for a larger view).

Close to the LEES 14 site

The Amboise Castle (if not built, at least finished by Fraçois I) and "Le Clos Lucé" are within walking distance (3 km). The castle was taken as a royal residence by François I, who invited Leonardo da Vinci to Amboise and provided him Clos Lucé to stay and work. Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life in Amboise and died at the Clos Lucé in 1519.

The Château de Chenonceau, at a 12 km, has a unique architecture as it is built over the Cher river. It is the most visited private monument of France. The castle building sits on the line that separeted the free and occupied France during World War II and was used as a thoroughfare for the resistance.

A bit further away

The Château de Blois (renovated by François I) is at a distance of 40 km from the LEES site. Coming from Paris, this is the first large castle of the Loire valley. Its "Tour du Foix" held an astronomical observatory in the 16th century.

50 km away, the Château de Chambord, is the largest castle in the Loire valley. It is located in a vast park with a large population of deer and wild boar. It was built as hunting lodge by François I. The castle has over 400 rooms and an amazing number of towers. Rumor says that Leonardo da Vinci is behind the design of its spiral staircases.

The Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, located at a distance of 60 km, is yet another castle built by (guess who) François I in the 16th century. Set on an island in the Indre river it is one of the most popular castles in the Loire valley.

Château de Villandry is 60 km away from Villa Bellagio. In addition to the building itself, the reputation of Château de Villandry comes from its magnificent gardens on four different terraces, including a vegetable garden.

An 80 km trip takes you to the Forteresse Royale de Chinon, dating from the 10th century. It represented a turning point in the Hundred Years War, when Joan of Arc met Charles VII, whose legitimacy as the next king of France was questioned, and convinced him to get crowned in Reims.

Abbaye de Fontevraud, 100 km away from Domaine Saint Hilaire, is a monastery dating from the 12th century. It houses the grave of Richard I (the Lionheart) of England. Just after the French revolution, Napoleon saves the abbey from destruction by transforming it into a prison. It remained so till the mid of the 20th century when the abbey was given to the French Ministry of Culture.

Located at about 110 km from Villa Bellagio, Château de Brézé, from the outside, is "just" yet another of the large castles in the Loire Valley. Little do we know that it is a troglodyte monument with over 2000 m2 of labyrinths.

In the city of Saumur, 110 km from the LEES site, you can find the Château de Saumur. It was initialy built as a fortress in the 10th, it was destroyed in the mid of the 11th century and rebuilt as a castle about a century later by Henry II of England. It sits on a hill overlooking the Loire.

The Château d'Angers (distance 150 km) is a vast medieval fortress. It dates from the 13th century and it is surrounded by seventeen towers. Its builds house one of the largest medieval tapestry collections in the world.

Wineries & Gastronomy

The Loire valley wines are amongst the greatest of France. The diversity of soil produces a large variety of white, red, sparkling and desert wines. The most common grape varieties in the region are Cabernet, Gamay, Sauvignon and Pinot noir.

List of wineries.

Typical Loire valley cheese is made from goat milk, such as Crottin de Chavignol, Sainte Maure, and Selles-sur-cher. An exception is the Olivet cendré, made from cow milk.

List of restaurants.


You can discover the Loire river from the inside. To get more information on hiring a canoe or a kayak check the page from the Office du Tourisme.

The Loire valley is a great place to discover by bycicle. You can arrange for bycicle rent at the reception of Domaine Saint Hilaire.

If you like to walk there are several marked trails at the Loire valley. You can check this (French) site for more info.