Blois is ideal for walking, soaking up its rich and charming history. The pedestrian streets of the old town are lined with half-timbered houses and surprising perspectives. From Rue du Poids du Roi, a succession of delightful façades and rooftops leads you to the bell tower of the Gothic cathedral of Saint-Louis, overlooking the whole city.
Walking the streets
Built on the hillside, Blois is a city made for walking, with stairs, slopes and climbs everywhere. Forming a bank of the Loire, it offers a magnificent view of the Royal River and the Jacques Gabriel Bridge, built in the eighteenth century. Don't miss the Renaissance mansions of rue du Puits-Châtel, or the "Maison des acrobates" on Place Saint-Louis, one of the oldest buildings in Blois dating back to the reign of Louis XI. It was crowned "The most beautiful house in France" in 1960.
To allow you to discover the city at your own pace, four pedestrian circuits called "À nous les p’tits clous” are marked with bronze studs in the ground (the "petits clous" in question) which guide you around the different districts: the surroundings of the château and the royal gardens, Puits-Châtel, the surroundings of the old abbeys, and the left bank with its magnificent panorama.
From the Royal Château to the Maison de la Magie
One thing you'll notice fairly quickly is that all roads lead to the château, with its striking facade - a unique demonstration of the developments in of architecture between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries. Richly decorated and superbly restored in the 19th century, this royal residence saw no fewer than seven kings and ten queens of France. It also houses the Museum of Fine Arts, which include masterpieces by Ingres, Rubens and Boucher.
In a completely different key, don't miss the Maison de la Magie, located opposite the château. An outstanding building, this large bourgeois house from the middle of the 19th century takes you on a fantasy tour every half hour, when the six-headed mechanical dragon appears at the windows! A permanent collection dedicated to the magical arts, also paying tribute to the illusionist Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, one of the city's famous sons. The Maison de la Magie is also home to the fascinating exhibition "Secrets de Papier." From origami to the repertoire of illusionists and artists, the world of paper reveals itself in all its forms: suspended Japanese cranes, pop-up books, sculptures by Éric Joisel and Gérard Ty Sovann.
"Fluxus" - the Foundation of Doubt
It is also impossible to visit without taking a tour of the Foundation of Doubt: Its facade, covered with plaques by the artist Ben is a striking sight. Ben conjured up this palace of art dedicated to the Fluxus movement in contemporary art. Among the permanent collections are works, videos and interviews of major players in the movement, from the great John Cage to Joseph Beuys and Georg Brecht.
Your artistic journey around the city continues as you discover thirty enamelled plates made by Ben in 30 different places, each asking questions to challenge visitors. It's just one beautiful illustration of the character of Blois, a living and vibrant city where tradition and innovation work in harmony. Check out the "photocall" on the square in front of the château for another example!