Centre-Val-de-Loire City Guides

Best Things to Do in Châteauroux, France

26/02/2024

Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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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. 

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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.

Porte Saint-Martin

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

Chateau de Chenonceau

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 impressive Château de Chambord is located 98 km north of Châteauroux, and you can reach Château de Chambord with a one-hour and 30-minute drive.

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!

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