Vendome is located 35 km northwest Blois in the department of Loir et Cher. It is a picturesque town made more so by the effect of the river Loir (without the 'e') which divides it into islands connected by waterways. We visited the town in November yet it still felt welcoming from the moment we passed the the gate 'St George', the last remaining of the four gates that once controlled access to the town.
The 'watergate' on the Loir was used in the Middle Ages to regulate the supply of water supplying power to the town's watermills. A dam was then built by the monks from Holy Trinity Abbey to ensure that the water flowed at the required rate through their own mill. During July and August you can take a boat trip down the river for € 5.
The town is overlooked by the remains of the ruined 12th century castle, it was already derelict by the time of the Wars of Religion. There is now an ornamental park around the castle and gives lovely panoramic views over the town and
Although not always visible the main feature of the town is the 11th century Holy trinity Abbey, it has a fine facade in a Gothic style. The 12th century belfry, which is topped by a stone steeple, stands in front of the church and although at first glance seems isolated and out of scale is still a terrific example of 12 th century architecture. At its prime the abbey was home to 100 monks and because of its direct links with Rome retained its independence until the French Revolution.There is a museum within the abbey grounds.
The town's tourist office is welcoming and informative and you can follow two marked out walking routes that are easy on the feet and eyes from a leaflet you can pick up from here. You can also pick up your free parking disc for 'blue' spaces here. You can also get details of a local tourist train which runs during high season.
The town lost over one-quarter of its town centre in a fire after an air raid on the 15th June 1940 but has recovered to be the fine municipality it is today.
You can also visit the Chapelle-St-Jacques which sheltered 'Compostela' pilgrims in the town. Notable names connected with Vendôme include the 16th century poet Ronsard and the writer Honoré de Balzac who was an unhappy pupil at the high school (now the town hall) for seven years. Maréchal Rochambeau was born in the city and fought at the side of George Washington at the battle of Yorktown in 1781.
Take the Vendôme-Paris TGV (gare Montparnasse) and be here in only 42 minutes.