The Region of Centre
Has six Départements: Cher , Eure-et-Loir , Indre ,
Indre-et-Loire , Loir-et-Cher  & Loiret 
Introduction to the Region of
Centre - the Loire Valley
The Location of Centre 
The administrative Region of Centre lies in the
Paris Basin and covers much of north central and central France, including the central part of the
Loire Valley. It is boardered by the regions of
Ile-de-France to the north,
Bourgogne to the east,
Auvergne to the southeast,
Limousin to the south,
Poitou-Charentes to the southwest,
Pays de la Loire [Western Loire] to the west and
Basse-Normandie [Lower Normandy] to the northwest.
The Centre Region is composed of six départements:
Eure-et-Loire is its most northern département;
Loiret is in the northeast corner of the region;
Cher is positioned in the region’s southeast corner;
Indre is in the south;
Indre-et-Loire is in the southwest and
Loir-et-Cher is in the northwest, between Loiret and Indre-et-Loire. The region’s capital is
Orléans, which is about 75 miles south of
The History of Centre
A powerful people, known as the
Cenomanni, inhabited the Loire Valley during the Iron Age. Their decendents, the Carnutes, vigorously opposed the Roman Conquest in 52 BC. Subsequently, they and the Druids unsuccessfully revolted against
Emperor Augustus finally brought about peace and stability that encouraged such towns as Angers, Le Mans,
Tours to organize along the Roman model with baths, forums, theaters and other public buildings.
During the early part of the Christian era, the first Bishop of
Tours, Saint-Gatien, was introducing Christianity to the area. By the 4th century, Saint-Martin, the greatest of all Gallic bishops, had assured complete acceptance of Christianity in the region.
In the middle of the 5th century the Huns had invaded as far west as
Orléans on the Loire. In 451, the invaders were stalemated by Bishop Aignan who held them, at Orléans, until help arrived. In 507, the Frankish king
Clovis conquered the area. The Saracens pushed north from Spain into the Loire in 732. They were defeated by the Caroligian king, Charles Martel.
In the middle of the 9th century, the Vikings raided the area bordering the Loire River. They were repulsed by Robert, the Count of
Tours. However, their raids continued as late as 911, when the Duchy of Normandy was created by the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte.
By the time of the 11th and 12th centuries, the age of the powerful Loire barons, the Loire Valley was doted by imposing chateaux. Only Orléans was firmly in the hands of the French crown. However, in 1202, John of England’s French lands were seized by
Philippe-Auguste and the entire Loire became French again.
Capet kings, the 11th and 12th centuries were also the period when feudalism flourished in the Loire Valley. A hierarchical pyramid descended from the king to the nobility, and from them to the knights. The fief was a grant of land to the nobles that was then subdivided by a lord and, in turn, granted to a knight, or to another. The grant’s recipient then became the grantor’s vassal who owed his grantor certain economic and military obligations.
From 1337 to 1459, during the
Hundred Years' War, the English reconquered most of the Loire and besieged Orléans. In 1429, Joan of Arc rallied the people of the Loire to drive the English out of France. She, and her army, attacked the English at Orléans and freed the city.
The Renaissance, which shed its light over the
Loire Valley during the 16th century, was highly dependant upon the availability of printing presses. The first Loire press was set up in 1477 at Angers.
Louis XII and
François I became driving forces of the Loire Renaissance. This Renaissance expressed a new way of thinking about beauty in poetry, music, religion and architecture; the latter being manifest in the chateaux at
Chenonceau and the graceful mansions that were erected in the towns.
During the Renaissance, the power of the Catholic Church diminished along the Loire Valley. But, by 1540, the Roman Catholic Church lashed out at the Renaissance inspired Reformation with uncompromising repression. In turn, Protestant Huguenots rose up against the Catholics in 1560. Thus, the brilliant period of the Loire finished in tragedy.
The 17th and 18th centuries saw the Catholic Church re-established. There was an increase in the number of convents and seminaries and a decline in the Protestant movement in the Loire. The Edict of Nantes’ revocation, in 1685, became the death- blow to Protestantism in the Loire.
The economy of the Loire accelerated dramatically during the 17th century, with a growth in agriculture and textile production. But, the textile industry, together with other sectors of the economy, fell into decline during the 18th century. The French Revolution contributed to this decline by pitting one part of the Loire against the other. On the one hand, the inhabitants of the towns quickly saw the benefits of the Revolution whereas the rural peasants were opposed to it. Furthermore, the areas of Maine and Anjou rose up against the Revolution, while the people of Orléanais and Touraine supported it. In the end, the Revolution left entrenched bitterness and widespread ruin in its wake.
1870 was a bad year for France. The Empire had already fallen when the
Franco-Prussian War exploded upon France. Within a short period, of the beginning of hostilities, the Bavarians had quickly captured
Orléans. The army of the Loire was then formed under General d’Aurelle de Paladines. Part of this army routed the Bavarians at Orléans while the other part tried, unsuccessfully, to check the advance of the Prussians at Le Mans. The government was consequently evacuated to
Bordeaux. A second Army of the Loire was formed, under General Chanzy, and engaged the Prussians east of Le Mans. It was forced to retreat. On January 28, 1871, the armistice was signed.
During the first World War,
Tours served as the headquarters for the American Expeditionary Force. Shortly after the commencement of the Second World War, the French Government moved to Tours and then subsequently to
Bordeaux. On October 24, 1940,
Marshal Pétan went to Montoire, in the Loire, where he met Hitler and agreed to his terms for an Armistice. Control of the Loire was retaken by the Resistance and Allied forces in September, 1944.
The Region of Centre was created in the 1970’s to be coextensive with the former historic provinces of Berry, Orléanais and Touraine.
The Geography of Centre
The center part of the Loire forms a part of the
Paris Basin. During the earliest geologic periods, this area was partly enclosed by the ancient crystalline masses known as the Armorican and Morvan Massifs. During a secondary era, the area was covered by the sea and limestone formed. In a latter era, the folding of the Alpine mountain zone formed the Massif Central, that completed the encirclement, and the sea retreated for good.
Centre is bisected by the east-west flowing Loire River. The region’s highest point is the 1653 foot Mount Saint-Marien which is located in the Département of
The Culture of Centre
The cultural heart of the Centre Region is the
Châteaux de la Loire, which it shares with the adjacent region, to the west, the
Pays de la Loire [Western Loire]. This vast and rich cultural area is known for its imposing cathedrals, such as at
Chatres, and its many Renaissance châteaux that were built by ambitious kings [and queens] in remarkable locations along the Erdre, Eure, Layon, Loire, Saribe, Sèvre and Sologne river valleys. Some of the more impressive castles, that they built, are
The Introduction to the Loire Valley
- The Gastronomy of Centre
- The Wine
- The Cheese
- The Cuisine
- The Economic Activity of Centre
Centre is known for its Cabernet, Pinot and Sauvignon grapes, and is a leading producer of barley, corn and wheat. It also produces rapeseed, sugar beets and sunflowers.
The tourism industry, in centre, is centered about the region’s
Loire Valley châteaux and the area’s impressive cathedrals at
The region’s manufacturing has grown since 1945, in part because of the region’s three nuclear powerplants, located at Avoine-Chinon, Dampierre-en-Burly and Saint-Laurent-des Eaux. Automotive parts, ball bearings, tires and plastics are among its production.