Oizon in the Berry

The heart of France - a short guide

to the Loire
and Burgundy 

The heart of France - a short guide

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From Paris to the Loire and Burgundy
The heart of France in more detail Visiting Paris  The Centre region
The western Loire Burgundy guide 

A short guide to the area at the heart of the history of France

Small town
Small town in the heart of France
The area historically considered as the heart of France is generally taken to stretch from the Paris area in the north, the "Ile de France", to the
in the heart of France
other places to stay
in Paris
Hotels in Burgundy
Hotels in the Loire valley
Small hotels in central France
Gites in the Loire valley
Bed & Breakfast in central France
Loire basin and Burgundy in the south. It stretches from the lower reaches of the Loire, the historic area of Anjou (round the city of Angers) ,  almost to the Swiss border and includes four regions, Pays de la Loire, Centre–Val-de-Loire, Ile de France (Paris area) and Burgundy.

   The areas to the south and west of Paris, and notably the Loire valley chateaux area, which begins  a hundred miles south-west of the capital, are by far the most popular regions with American tourists, and generally speaking with visitors from Japan, China and other distant parts of the world. Paris, which is less than three hours by train from London, or two hours from Brussels, is also the most popular destination for visitors from the UK.

Small town
Versailles - the palace
 Just half an hour from Paris lies the Palace of Versailles, easily accessible for an afternoon trip or a day trip. And beyond Versailles, in the direction of the Loire, lies a region called the Beauce, France's breadbasket, an area where vast wheat fields stretch out towards the horizon . In the middle of the Beauce lies Chartres, home to one of the most magnificent of France's great medieval cathedrals and some of the finest medieval stained glass windows in the world.

    Chateau de ChenonceauxA large choice of day trips from Paris to the classic sights of central France, including Loire Chateaux (1 or 2-day trips), Chartres, Versailles and Champagne are available and can be booked online from Paris City vision .

    An hour's drive south from Chartres, the central Loire Valley area - between Orleans and Tours, is home to the most famous and most visited châteaux, such as Chenonceaux, built actually on the river Cher. While the most visited of the Loire châteaux attract a lot of visitors, not so many tourists venture to discover the byways of this attractive region. As well as its castles, this area, known as "the garden of France", is famous for its mild climate, its small towns like Blois or The mighty LoireBourges, and its vineyards. As the historic French heartland, the area is rich in history and culture. The countryside is gentle, with undulating hills and quietly flowing rivers - an ideal region for those who just want to be lazy, or to enjoy eating out, fishing or just exploring the countryside.
   The longest river entirely in France, the Loire is unsuitable for navigation, over most of its length,  on account of its erratic flow and its shifting sandbanks. However southwards from Briare, and connected to Paris, there is a canal that is popular for pleasure boating.
  The "Sologne" area, south of the Loire, contains the remaining parts of a once huge forest, rich with wildlife, that originally encouraged the kings and princes of France to build their castles in this region. For more information visit the guide to the Centre region of France.
   The Loire Valley is also well-known for its many vineyard area (see French wine guide); though less well-known than some other French wine-growing areas, the Loire valley produces a lot of good quality wines, including reds, whites and rosés, and even some very good sparkling wines.
Burgundy wine trail
There are plenty of wine routes to discover in Central France - in Burgundy, Champagne and the Loire valley

  In the eastern part of the heart of France is the Burgundy region, famous for its wines; but in fact the wine-growing region of Burgundy is quite small, lying mostly in a ribbon along the western edge of the Saone plain, south of Dijon. This part of Burgundy is rich in places to visit, including Dijon and Beaune (the wine capital). Closer to Paris, in the northern part of Burgundy, the Morvan hills are the last outcrop of the uplands of central France and the highest land within 200 km of Paris. The Morvan is hill country, and there are good hiking paths; but it is not mountain country. 
   The northern part of Burgundy also includes some small vineyard areas, the best-known of which is around Chablis.

Main cities:

Tours, Angers, Orléans, Dijon. Paris.

Going further: (more detailed information, including major tourist attractions)
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Chateau at Oizon, in the Berry area, right in the middle of France.
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Cheverny village
Cheverny, in the Loire valley

On the banks of the river Loire
Chartres cathedral

Map of France
Getting to Paris & central France :
By car:
There are direct motorway or trunk road connections from all the Channel ports.
By rail from the UK: Eurostar non-stop from London to Paris, or from Ashford (with parking facilities).
By air : from the UK there are flights to Paris and Tours; From the USA: flights from most major US airports to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport
For more details see the Travel to France page.

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