180km (112 miles) SW of Paris; 60km (37 miles) NE of Tours

This town of 55,000 receives half a million visitors yearly, primarily to visit the Château de Blois. If time remains after a visit to the château, you may want to walk around the town. It's a piece of living history, with cobblestone streets and restored white houses with slate roofs and red-brick chimneys. Blois (pronounce it "Blwah") hugs a hillside overlooking the Loire. Some of its "streets" are mere alleyways originally laid out in the Middle Ages, or lanes linked by a series of stairs. Allow 1 1/2 hours to see Blois.