The Centre-Val de Loire region of France is home to one of the country's most iconic areas, the Loire Valley. Defined by the river that passes through it, the Loire Valley is known for its grand châteaux, sleepy one-shop villages, market towns and the sweeping agricultural flats which produce great wine and the country's best fruits and vegetables, thanks to the region's fertile soils.
Orléans is the capital of the Centre-Val de Loire region. It has some interesting landmarks and an interesting relationship with Joan of Arc – it was here that she defeated the English in 1429 at the Siege of Orléans and earned her name as the Maid of Orléans.
The Loire Valley's most appealing city however is Tours, which is situated further downstream from Orléans. Tours lies on the banks of the Loire River, with tree-lined boulevards, open squares and fragrant flower markets giving the city a pleasant and sophisticated edge. There are a number of landmarks worth visiting including the Cathédral St-Gatien, yet another French-gothic masterpiece, and a plethora of shaded terraces to enjoy a glass of one of the many world-class local wines.