The last time we came to Chinon was in 2006 and of course I sat and sketched the chateau from our plot on the campsite. As you can see it looked a complete ruin at the time and although we toured the castle and found some of the rooms complete most of it was pretty derelict.
Imagine our surprise to come here 8 years later to find a beautiful renovation had taken place. All the buildings in the central part have been rebuilt and roofed over and look fantastic. The town council has also installed a lift to take visitors to the top of the cliff as the walk up is quite difficult along sloping cobbled paths and old worn steps. However we did walk back down to see the views and back gardens as we always like to get a feel for a town by strolling around.
This is the western end of the castle with the 'Moulin tower' at the end of the walls watching over the approaches from the top of the cliff down to the River Vienne which is a tributary of the Loire.
The eastern end has the belfry which is called 'Le tour de l'Horloge' and dates from the 14th century. In fact the bell has been ringing the hours since 1399! It also houses an interesting museum devoted to Joan of Arc. I climbed to the top and walked around the balcony you can see around the outside when we came in 2006 and was rewarded with fabulous views over the countryside.
The campsite at Chinon is run by the town council and has plenty of open space right down to the river although we were advised not to park too close to the water as it was rather damp and we could have got bogged down. We chose a sunny spot next to a small sycamore tree, just beginning to open it's gold and green leaves which looked fabulous against the clear blue sky.
We stayed here for 3 days revisiting the town and relaxing in the sun as well as cycling along the lovely quiet lanes along the river. On the Sunday we had a delicious meal out in a simple restaurant with a pretty terrace where the home cooked food was delicious. The friendly proprietor was happy to give me his recipes and let me photograph the dishes unlike some celebrity chefs we've heard about recently!