On arriving in the town of Loches there is an immediate air of vitality and interest. Your visit will be centred in the citadel of Loches whcih is surrounded by 2km of remparts and contains an old town which is full of interesting monuments.
These include the Tour St Antoine, 52 metres high and built in 1534 which is an excellent example of Renaissance architecture. Other impressive renaissance monuments include the nearby Town Hall and the Hotel Nau, a 16th century building with 3 storeys of Italian Renaissance loggias.
The ‘Maison du peintre Emmanuel Lansyer’ is a lovely house and contains over 100 of his paintings as well as works by Gustave Doré, Hugo and Corot, and sketches by Delacroix. There is also a collection of Japanese Art. You can even relax in the garden which has been reproduced according to a painting of the time. Lansyer is considered as one of the best landscape painters of his time.
The Renaissance Collegiale Saint Ours whose spires dominate many views of Loches contains a recumbent statue of Agnes Sorrel the official mistress of King Charles VII. She was the ‘official’ mistress because even the pope admired her and she therefore became the first officially recognised mistress of a king. The entrance porch of the church is carved in great detail with images of weird beasts.
The northern end of the citadel of Loches houses the lovely Logis Royal, the Royal Lodgings’ of Charles VII. It was here that Joan of Arc came to persuade Charles to go to Reims to be crowned King of France. The tomb of Agnes Sorrel is in a wing of the palace and there is a portrait of her in the room as well as a portrait of the Virgin in her likeness. Agnes was renowned for setting a trend of semi-nudity in the Court of Charles VII.
The donjon is approached by a long alley planted on both sides with trees and bushes, giving a charming approach to a destination with a grim history. Inside the donjon you can see a reconstitution of the wood and iron cage which imprisoned Cardinal La Balue for 11 years!
The 15th century torture chamber was largely destroyed in the Revolution but the guides fill in the gory details for you! The donjon acted as a prison in Loches as recently as 1926.
The Place du Marché just outside the old town has a couple of restaurants where you can sit and eat and watch the world go by, although you might prefer to wait and visit either the Auberge Medievale which looks charming, or the ancient Presbyterre at the top of the medieval village where you can eat looking out on the views (though the views are not fantastic I must admit).
Not to be missed while you are at Loches is the pretty village of Beaulieu-les-Loches, just across the Loire River.