The architectural heritage in the Loire Valley's historic towns is notable, especially its châteaux, such as the Château d'Amboise, Château de Chambord, Château de Chinon, Château du Rivau, Château d'Ussé, Château de Villandry and Chenonceau. The châteaux, numbering more than three hundred, represent a nation of builders starting with the necessary castle fortifications in the 10th century to the splendor of those built half a millennium later. When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux here, the nobility, not wanting or even daring to be far from the seat of power, followed suit. Their presence in the lush, fertile valley began attracting the very best landscape designers and architects. The Loire Valley is an area steeped in history and because of its riches, one that has been fought over and influenced by a variety of adversaries from the Romans to Atila the Hun. The formation of the region as we know it today began after its conquest by Julius Caesar in 52 BC. It is however, Emperor Augustus who is credited with bringing peace and stability to the Loire Valley. This stability saw the growth of towns such as Orleans (Genabum), Tours (Caesarodunum), Le Mans (Noviodunum), Angers (Juliomagus), Bourges (Avaricum) and Chartres (Autricum). The Roman's greatest influence however might be considered to be the introduction of the first grape vines to the region, as shown in the wine AOC map shown above.
The Hall of Battles is longer than the Hall of Mirrors, 394 feet, and is lined with huge paintings of French victories through the ages, including oils by Delacroix and Fragonard. Its creation was the idea of Louis-Philippe I, King of the French and it replaced apartments which had been occupied in the 17th and 18th centuries. There are literally hundreds of busts and 39 paintings, I will not present them all.
Once the feared base of pirates (corsairs), heavily fortified against Norman (or English) attack, today's Saint-Malo is one of the top tourist draws in Brittany. The citadel, also known as the Old Town or intramuros (“within the walls”), was originally built on a rocky island at the mouth of the Rance estuary. This strategic position allowed control of both the sea and any trade heading into the interior of Brittany, helping to shape the stormy and often dark history of the city.
The star of the show is the walled city (intramuros), largely destroyed in the second world war it has been painstakingly reconstructed. The modern towns of Parame and Saint-Servan lie outside the walls. During the day everyone hits the beaches and at night they come to the intramuros to eat and party until late in the night. They have free concerts every night just to the right of the picture, artists doing sketches and lots of little stores, restaurants and bars.