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Azay le Rideau France Azay le Rideau

Azay le Rideau France Azay le Rideau

On most of the tours that set out from the Tours area, and with good reason, is the lovely Chateau d'Azay le Rideau, and the eponymous village. The chateau stands on an island in the River Indre, a spot that was originally chosen for a fort that protected the Tours to Chinon route. In 1119 the lord Ridel d'Azay gave his name to the fort and surrounding village. In 1418 an event took place that changed the fort into the chateau we so admire today. Charles VII burned down the whole kaboodle after being insulted by the Burgundian guard and he also executed 350 men. Then a century later, Francois Ier's unscrupulous financial advisor Gilles Berthelot and his wife Philippa Lesbahy built an early Renaissance palace, complete with decorated turrets, on the site. When Gilles feared that Francois Ier would discover his dodgy dealings he fleed to Metz, leaving Philippa to finish the chateau, and he died a year later in 1529. Philippa was expelled in 1535 and the chateau given to the Raffin family, where it stayed until 1789. It was only in 1791 that the architectural work was completed by Charles de Biencourt.

Azay le Rideau

You can visit the chateau and the seven rooms open to the public inside for €5.50. The interior is a little disappointing compared to the magnificence on show outside, but the grand staircase is very impressive. Also, the village of Azay le Rideau is a pleasant spot to stop in its own right, with the church, mill and bridge all completing the serene aura. There is an sophisticated son et lumière display at the chateau in the evenings (after 9.30pm, later in high summer) and if you only attend one such event, Azay le Rideau has the best one for €9 (€12 including chateau).

Map of Azay le Rideau

This makes it worthwhile staying on for dinner in one of the village's celebrated restaurants. Les Grottes at 23 terr rue Pineau (02 47 45 21 04) is a trodlodyte cave which serves regional dishes on menus from €16, or at L'Aigle d'Or at 10 avenue Adélaide Riché (02 47 45 24 58) you can eat a refined meal in the garden during the summer months, with menus from €25 56. You might even catch the evening market that comes once every three weeks at which you can drink and eat delicious food until your heart's content. Ask the tourist office on place d'Europe for details (02 47 45 44 40).