The small town of Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher attracts a lot of visitors for one big reason: the nearby Zoo de Beauval. The zoo is one of the biggest in France, and attracts locals and tourists from all over Europe.
And when those visitors arrive in Saint-Aignan, they are swept away by the town’s charm all on its own. This idyllic town located on the river Cher in the Loire Valley is full of character and beautiful landscapes. It is near the cities of Amboise and Tours, about 1h30 hours from Orléans.
So let’s have a look at what there is to see and do in Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher, shall we? Allons-y!
Things to do in Saint-Aignan
1. Château de Saint-Aignan
Towering over the town is the Château de Saint-Aignan. It is a large medieval fortress dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries.
The chateau became the seat of the De Beauvilliers family when Saint-Aignan became a county in 1537. Later in 1663, Claude I of Beauvilliers was elevated to the rank of duke.
The Duke of St-Aignan Paul-Marie-Victoire de Beauvilliers was guillotined during the 1789 French revolution, a day before Robespierre.
The château is currently privately owned and the inside is not available to visit. But you can visit the ramparts and the park surrounding the castle for views all around.
2. Collégiale Saint-Aignan de Saint-Aignan
The church of Saint-Aignan may have a name that is repetitive, but this 11th century church is definitely one worth visiting.
It is a listed historic monument that is known for its wall paintings in red and gold of Christ and other biblical figures.
3. Zoo de Beauval
The ZooParc de Beauval is located about 2 miles (3km) from the center of Saint-Aignan. Opened in 1980, it has more than 35,000 animals on 40 hectares making it is one of the largest animal collections in France.
The current star of the zoo is the polar bear exhibit that has been lent from China. There are also separate sections for an Africa exhibit and an Australasia exhibit with large animals like lions, tigers, elephants and giraffes.
There are also 4 large greenhouses with small animals like sloths, monkeys, snakes and more.
On site is an apartment hotel called Les Hameaux de Beauval, and two 3-star hotels called Les Jardins de Beauval (Balinese-style) and Les Pagodes de Beauval (Chinese style).
How to get to Saint-Aignan?
Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher is quite accessible from Paris by car. It takes approximately 2h20 to drive from Paris depending on traffic.
By train, it becomes more complicated but you can take a TGV high speed train from Paris’s Montparnasse station to Tours and then change trains to Saint-Aignan-Noyers. From here, you will have to take a bus or taxi to Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher The trip is approximately 4 hours.
How many days should you spend?
It takes about a day to explore Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher, so you can easily visit the town as a day trip from one of the larger cities nearby like Orléans, Tours, Amboise, or Blois. From here you can also visit the nearby towns of Montrichard and Montrésor.
Where should you stay?
Both Amboise and Blois are larger towns with plenty of restaurants and shops open in the evening and makes an excellent base to visit all the châteaux of the Loire Valley.
- €€€ – ibis Blois Centre Château
- €€€€ – Hotel Mercure Blois Centre (with pool)
- €€€€€ – Fleur de Loire (on the quai across from the old city center of Blois)
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about traveling around the Loire Valley. A bientôt!