Situated between Orléans and Tours, Blois is a place you don’t want to miss in your Loire Valley itinerary. It’s a picturesque small city with medieval cobblestone streets, half-timbered burghers’ houses, a magnificent castle and an impressive Gothic cathedral!
The city reached its peak when it became the second capital of France under the reign of Louis XII in the 15th century. Actually, the royal château of Blois is considered a symbol of the French Renaissance and it’s one of the must-see castles in Loire Valley.
What to do in Blois in one day
Blois is a perfect destination for a day trip from Orléans or Tours. In fact, many tourists visit the city for its royal chateau. And while the castle is something not to be missed, I’d recommend you to dedicate at least one full day to this charming city. Moreover, thanks to its good public transport (trains and shuttle buses), Blois is an excellent base for exploring the chateaux in the central part of Loire Valley.
In this one day itinerary for Blois, you’ll find not only how to visit its royal castle (and skip the lines), but I’ll take you beyond the beaten path. This walking itinerary is suitable for all travellers without any modifications, no matter if you’re staying overnight or visiting the city on a day trip.
The itinerary starts with a visit to the royal castle, which is located on your way to the Old Town from Blois – Chambord train station. After that, you can dedicate as much time as you want (and have) exploring the Old Town.
Find a map of this Blois itinerary (with all attractions and restaurants’ websites) at the end of the blog post.
What to do in Blois in one day
- Breakfast at Boulangerie Simonnet
- Visit the Royal château of Blois
- Taste the crepes at Le Comptoir de Mamie Bigoude Blois
- Climb Escalier Denis Papin
- Admire the Cathedral of Saint-Louis
- Relax in Jardins de l’Évêché
- Taste regional specialities at Le Castelet
- Walking around the Old Town of Blois
- Visit Maison de la Magie
- Pont Jacques-Gabriel
- Admire Saint Nicolas Church
08:15 AM – 08:45 AM
Start your one day in Blois with breakfast at Boulangerie Simonnet or Boulangerie Lamargot. Both bakeries offer great sandwiches and delicious pastries.
Royal château of Blois
09:00 AM – 11:30 AM
The Royal château of Blois (Château Royal de Blois) was built between the 13th and 17th centuries. Once home to the powerful Counts of Blois, the castle became a royal residence under the reign of Louis XII in the 15th century. During the following centuries, 7 kings and 10 queens of France lived here, adding their own style to the architecture of the building.
Each of the four wings of the chateau has its own history and features a different architectural style – from medieval through Gothic and Italian Renaissance to Classical. You can truly appreciate the beauty of the castle from its inner courtyard, where you can see the four architectural styles represented.
Pay special attention to Francois I Renaissance wing and its richly decorated octagonal staircase. Also, don’t miss the spectacular view of the Loire from the castle’s gardens.
Note: horse-drawn carriage tours of the Old Town depart from the square at the chateau’s entrance.
Every evening from April to September, you can enjoy a Sound & Light Show in the courtyard of the chateau. The show recreates the most famous events in the castle’s history.
Lunch at Le Comptoir de Mamie Bigoude Blois
11:45 AM – 01:15 PM
It’s time for some crepes! Head to Le Comptoir de Mamie Bigoude Blois, a lovely crêperie, just opposite the royal chateau. They offer a wide variety of delicious crepes, ranging from salty to sweet (you can even customize with your favourite toppings).
Escalier Denis Papin
01:15 PM – 01:30 PM
The best way to reach the cathedral is via the stairway of Denis Papin. Since the 19th century, this iconic stairway has provided a link between the upper and the lower part of the town. At its top, you’ll find a statue of Denis Papin, the famous inventor from Blois. He is known for the invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the steam engine.
Every year the 120 steps of the staircase are covered in a giant artwork responding to what’s happening in town.
Cathedral of Saint-Louis
01:40 PM – 02:10 PM
The Cathedral of Saint-Louis (Cathédrale Saint-Louis), the seat of the bishop of Blois, was erected in 1697. It is built over a church from the 10th century, dedicated to Saint Solenne. You can still see the remains of the older church in the crypt. The cathedral is in Late Gothic style and it features stunning stained-glass windows by the artist Jan Dibbets.
Jardins de l’Évêché
02:10 PM – 03:00 PM
Right next to the cathedral, you’ll find a beautiful garden, Jardins de l’Ancien Évêché. Created in the 19th century, this terraced garden includes a rose garden (Roseraie) and a garden of the senses (Jardin des Cinq Sens).
Also, from the garden, you can enjoy spectacular views of the Loire Valley landscape.
Dinner at Le Castelet
Finish this one day in Blois with a dinner at Le Castelet or Food & Brew – Le FaB.
For some regional and traditional specialities head to Le Castelet. The restaurant is set in a 16th-century townhouse, on a street lined with half-timbered houses!
For a casual meal and some craft beer, Food & Brew – Le FaB is the place to go. Besides the excellent draught beer, you’ll find delicious share plates made with locally sourced and organic products.
More ideas for your one day in Blois
Walking around the Old Town
There are many picturesque alleys and tiny streets in Blois, but the most famous ones are Rue du Puits-Châtel and Rue Pierre. Walking on these cobblestone alleys, lined by tall stone and half-timbered houses, will take you back in time to the Middle Ages.
If you have additional time, I’d recommend you to follow some of the following scenic walks – Porcupine route, Fleur de Lys, Saint-Nicolas Steeples or Sailing Boat. They all are signposted with different bronze dials embedded in the pavements. More info about them (including maps) you can get from the Tourist Office Blois Chambord (Address: 5 Rue de la Voûte du Château).
House of Magic (Maison de la Magie)
Right across the Château Royal, you’ll find Maison de la Magie, a unique museum devoted entirely to magic. A large part of the exhibition is dedicated to the famous magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, born in Blois. He was so famous that Harry Houdini based his stage name on this Frenchman.
You’ll also find a variety of optical illusions and discover the history of the magical arts. Don’t miss the creative show every half hour – the windows of the building open and the six heads of a dragon monster show up.
Built in 1724, this is the oldest bridge in Blois. It is beautifully illuminated in the evenings, so if you’re staying overnight, don’t miss it!
Saint Nicolas Church
Saint Nicolas Church (Église Saint-Nicolas) is one of the oldest churches in Blois. Formerly a Benedictine abbey church, it dates back to the 12th century. The church combines Gothic elements with Romanesque style because it was rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries (due to damage during the Wars of Religion).
Château Royal de Blois – it’s one of the most popular castles in the Loire Valley, so book skip the line tickets in advance here.
Where to stay in Blois
If you’re planning an overnight stay, choose accommodation in the area between the royal chateau and Jardins de l’Évêché. All historic sights are located in that particular area, including many restaurants, so you’ll be just a short walk from everything.
Just a short walk from the Old Town, Mercure Blois Centre is a perfect base to explore not only the town but the castles in the Loire Valley as well (easy access to A10 motorway). The hotel also features an excellent restaurant, a modern bar and a wellness area with an indoor pool and a steam room.
Why book – 5min walk from the Old Town, indoor heated pool, secure parking on site
Set in a historic house at the bottom of the walls of the castle, this B&B is just a few steps from downtown and many restaurants. Spacious, beautifully decorated rooms overlooking the river.
Why book – near the castle, rich homemade breakfast, free parking nearby
Getting around in Blois
Find here a detailed map of this Blois walking itinerary.
Blois is a very compact and walkable city. All attractions are located just a few minutes away from each other.
How to get to Blois
Blois – Chambord station (Gare de Blois – Chambord) is the city’s main train station. It is located less than a 10min walk from the Old Town and the chateau. Check timetables and book train tickets online at SNCF official site.
Parking on the streets in the Old Town (red zone) is free on Sundays and from Monday to Saturday (between 12 PM – 2 PM and 6:30 PM – 9 AM). Outside these hours, you can park only for 2 hours. For a longer period, I would recommend you use the parking lots at the Château, Halle aux grains or Valin-de-La-Vaissière (more info here).
Day trips from Blois
Loire Valley Chateaux
Near Blois, you’ll find some of the most popular chateaux of Loire Valley. This makes the town a perfect base to discover this beautiful region of France. For more information check out my travel guide to the best Loire Valley castles to visit, which includes a map and how to reach each of the chateaux.
Here is a list of the most popular castles near Blois (all located less than an hour away by train or car).
- Château de Chaumont – a fairytale 10th-century castle, once home to the Counts of Blois, Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers
- Château de Chambord – with its 440 rooms and 282 chimneys, this royal 16th-century castle is one of the largest in France
- Château Royal d’Amboise – another gorgeous royal residence of King François I (here you’ll also find the tomb of Leonardo Da Vinci)
- Château de Beauregard – an elegant 15th-century manor famous for its Portraits Gallery, which features more than 300 portraits of kings and political figures
- Château de Cheverny – a magnificent manor, considered to be one of the most furnished castles in the valley
- Château de Meung-sur-Loire – a 12th century castle, once a private residence of the Bishops of Orléans
A 40min away by train lies the city of Tours, the birthplace of Balzac. The city is famous for its half-timbered houses from the 15th century and medieval atmosphere. Another highlight is the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien, where you’ll find a chapel dedicated to Joan of Arc.
Find out more in my travel guide on what to do in Tours, France.
How to get to Tours
Take a train from Gare de Blois – Chambord to Gare de Tours (40min journey). From the central train station, it’s just a short walk to the city centre.
How many days in Blois
Is one day in Blois enough?
One day in Blois is enough to see the city, including a visit to the chateau and explore the Old Town. If you’re short on time, start with the castle and then continue with its historic centre.
1 or 2 days in Blois?
You won’t need more than a day to see the city, but Blois is a great base to explore the castles of Loire Valley. I’d recommend you to use the city as a base, you’ll need 2-3 days to see the most popular chateaux in the area.
Best time to visit Blois
If you’re visiting Blois as a part of your Loire Valley trip, the months of May, June or September are the best choice. Crowds are fewer and the weather is not hot, but nice and warm.
Carnaval de Blois takes place every year in March. The parade marches through the city from Place du Royal Château all the way to the Place de la République.
Faqs about visiting Blois
Blois is a picturesque medieval city with cobblestone alleys and half-timbered houses. It is worth visiting not only for the Royal Château but also for its pretty Old Town. The city is also a great base to explore the chateaux of the Loire Valley.