Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
A wonderful (yet under-the-tourist-radar) town in the Centre-Val de Loire region, in the Indre department, Châteauroux is a destination that should be on your France bucket list. Founded in the Middle Ages, Châteauroux boasts not one but two châteaux, other stunning and important monuments, and an incredible amount of green space.
Easy to reach from Paris by train (2 hours one way) and perfect to visit all year round, Châteauroux is particularly beautiful when the sun shines, and the temperature is pleasant so that you can explore its many parks and cycle along the Indre River.
In July and August 2024, Châteauroux will host shooting competitions during the Summer Olympics 2024, which makes a great opportunity to explore this lesser-known city. Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Châteauroux, France.
Are you planning a trip to Châteauroux last minute?
Below are some of the best Châteauroux tours, hotels, and more!
- Check out this Châteauroux transportation guide
- Book your train tickets to Châteauroux
Looking to travel around Châteauroux independently? Click here for the best rental car rates in Châteauroux.
Top Experiences and Tours in Châteauroux
- Kayak Tour along the Indre River (departure from the Belle Isle in Châteauroux)
- Official Site L’Indre à Vélo (Indre River bike route)
- Loire Valley Châteaux Pass to visit the Loire Valley Castles near Châteauroux
Top Châteauroux Accommodation and Lodging
- Best Western Plus Hotel Colbert (a former 19th-century tobacco factory turned into a lovely hotel)
- Elysée Hotel (charming 3-star hotel in the heart of the Old Town)
- Logis Hotel Continental (budget, dog-friendly hotel in the Old Town)
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What to Do in Châteauroux, France
Ideal for enjoying nature, heritage, and the French “art de vivre,” but without the tourist crowds, here’s what to do in Châteauroux, France.
1. Château Raoul
The town is named after the Château Raoul, the 10th-century fortress built by Raoul le Large, the Lord of Déols. The Château’s location on a steep hill on the left bank of the Indre River makes it beautiful to admire from a distance.
Although from Medieval times, the Château Raoul has been renowned throughout the centuries, so it now displays a mix and match of architectural styles.
The castle is registered as a Historical Monument and is open to the public only during special events such as Heritage Days (in September). Even if you don’t have the chance to visit inside, it is the perfect Château for taking postcard-perfect pictures.
2. Old Town
Châteauroux’s Old Town is incredibly charming with its cobblestone narrow streets, churches, and little buildings.
Unmissable is Porte Saint-Martin, which is part of a tower that was once used as a prison. The road leading to Saint-Martin’s Gate is pretty steep, allowing guards to slow down access to Château Raoul. Today, Porte Saint-Martin is the entrance point to the Old Town.
Strolling around the town’s center, you will also pass by the former Town Hall, built in 1828 and boasting a neoclassical façade, and the Church of Saint-André, built in Neo-Gothic style in the 19th century.
3. Couvent des Cordeliers
Once a Franciscan convent, the Couvent des Cordeliers dates back to the 13th century, and it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Châteauroux.
The Convent follows the standard layout of houses of the Franciscan Order, with a large central church surrounded by smaller buildings and an enclosed cloister courtyard. What’s streaking about the Couvent des Cordeliers is its gardens arranged in terraces and featuring regular French-style flower beds.
Today, the Couvent des Cordeliers hosts modern art exhibitions, which are free to visit, and the International Biennial of Modern Ceramics (every other summer).
4. Hotel Bertrand
This elegant 18th-century mansion belonged to General Bertrand, one of Napoleon Bonaparte‘s most trusted military companions, who accompanied the former Emperor during his exile on the island of Sainte-Helene.
Listed as a Historical Monument, Hotel Bertrand boasts 26 rooms where you will see the general’s possessions. In particular, the ground floor displays artifacts of Napoléon and his time, while the upper floor features the general’s cabinet of curiosities and historical artifacts from different periods.
The mansion also has a lovely backyard garden with independent and free access from the street. Today, Hotel Bertrand is a museum, and it is free to visit. It opens from Tuesday to Saturday from 2 pm to 6 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
5. US Museum – Châteauroux c’était l’Amérique!
The US Museum is one of our favorite things to do in Châteauroux. This small museum is managed by an association that preserves the history of the “American period” of Châteauroux. In 1951, a US Air Force base was opened in town. Since then, Châteauroux became a pivot of the American military forces in Western Europe.
The museum depicts the history of the American military people living in Châteauroux with their families by displaying personal objects, movies, and photos from the 1951-1967 period.
Imagine this small provincial city, after many years of war, which sees the arrival of 7,000 soldiers from the US Air Force in their beautiful uniforms, big cars, cigars, and dollars in hand. There were up to 10,000 military people to work on the air base.
Châteauroux was completely transformed. At the end of the day, Cabriolets, Buicks, and other Cadillacs invaded the streets of the city center. The bars were filling up. Jazz, rock,… the nocturnal atmosphere enchanted the locals. They also discovered hamburgers. It is certainly in Châteauroux that the first hamburger was cooked on French soil!
The US Museum is a Châteauroux must-see, and it has free entrance. It opens on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday from 2 pm to 5.30 pm.
6. Marché de Châteauroux
French markets are the ideal place to get a glimpse of local life in France, and Châteauroux’s Market is no exception. The Marché de Châteauroux takes place every Saturday at Place de la République (in front of the Hotel de Ville and the Tourism Office) from 7 am to 1 pm, and it looked very lively.
The Market offers all kinds of products from the Berry region and around, flowers, and some quick eats for busy people. We particularly enjoyed the stands with cheeses, yum!
7. Parcs & Gardens
Châteauroux has an outstanding record: it is France’s city with more square meters of green per inhabitant! The town’s parks perfectly blend with the urban space.
One of the best spots to visit is Parc de Balsan, right next to the Indre River, where you will even find two châteaux (only opened on special occasions).
Châteauroux also boasts the Jardin Publique, which is divided into different areas, including the Mediterranean Garden, the Sensory Garden, and the Bamboo Garden.
Another fantastic green space is the Parc De Jeu Jardin Des Capucins, with a French-style layout featuring flowerbeds and lovely shaded pathways.
8. Déols Abbey
One of the unmissable things to do in Châteauroux, France, is crossing the bridge that connects it with the small town of Déols, where you will find an imposing Abbey.
The Abbaye Notre-Dame-du-Bourg-Dieu, also known as Abbey of Our Lady in Déols, was among France’s most important Benedictine abbeys during the Middle Ages.
Founded in the Xth century and built in Romanesque style, the Abbey is mostly in ruins today, but its main features are still visible, particularly the tall bell tower, the main nave, and the crypt.
The Abbey’s bell tower and the surviving walls are classified as Historical Monuments, and strolling around them will give you peace and awe. Most of the remains are free to wander. Visit the Abbey’s small museum, which features interesting artifacts and gives access to the cloister and some other parts of the Abbey underground.
9. L’ Indre à Vélo (Indre by Bike)
Whether you are a professional or an amateur cyclist, you will love spending time in Châteauroux. The area around the town has a very popular cycling path known as L’ Indre à Vélo, which follows the Indre River course.
The Indre à Vélo is a national cycle route (V49) that stretches for over 300 kilometers and connects with other major cycle paths, like La Loire à Vélo and the Tour de la Creuse à Vélo. While pedaling, you will get the chance to pass by the Château Raoul, the Vallée d’Ebbes, and the Forêt Domaniale de Châteauroux, which is France’s biggest beech forest.
If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one for the day at the Tourist Office in the Hotel de Ville building. A caution will be necessary: a French check for us, but they also accept credit cards.
10. Belle Isle
Located on the banks of the Indre River, you will find the lovely Belle Isle, a vast green space the locals frequent during the good weather seasons.
The park at Belle Isle boasts an 8-hectare lake perfect for having fun swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, or stand-up paddle boarding. The lake is immersed in 12 hectares of parkland, with fitness trails and a playground for kids.
Belle Isle also boasts a popular open-air café, “La Guinguette,” where locals meet to share drinks and have casual dinners. The café features a dance floor, and hosts live music events on summer weekends. We had lunch in the sun and dinner with a live DJ, and it was great.
11. Châteaux de la Loire
Châteauroux is relatively close to some of the most famous Loire Valley Castles, which you can reach with an easy day trip by car or – if you are fit – by bike.
The Château de Chenonceau is 85 km north of Châteauroux, and you will need to drive for 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to it.
The Château de Blois is located 102 km north of Châteauroux, and the driving time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
TIP: If you plan on visiting more than one château, consider this Loire Valley Châteaux Pass by Tiqets, which will save you time and money!