4 historic French feminist sites to visit

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If you like your trips with a side order of history, France is the place for you. More specifically the Loire Valley is a hotspot for iconic women in history. Here are four places you can visit…

While history trips might take you back to your school days of long coaches, extra homework and museums, there was often lots to be desired when it came to women’s history.

And with France at the forefront of many key feminist moments throughout history, it’s the perfect place to get learning.

Case in point is places like the Loire Valley, which not only has the picturesque towns and sites we all want when we go away but also reams of history and a legacy of important women. 

For that reason it’s at the top of our lists when it comes to our next break, and with the joy of places like Expedia meaning you can book everything from accommodation, flights, activities and car hire in one place, it’s a hassle-free trip.

Here are five French feminist sites you can visit while you’re there.

1. Chinon

Joan of Arc is arguably France’s best-known feminist figure and her remarkable history is woven into the landscape of the Loire Valley.

Start your trip with a visit to Chateau de Chinon in the medieval town of Chinon. The castle is made up of three parts, with the heroine staying in the Tour de Coudray for two nights before asking Charles VII to grant her an army.

While you’re there check in at the 15th century Hotel Diderot, which is a ten-minute walk from the chateau. 

And if you need some time out from the history trail the hotel is also famous for its jam-making, so make sure you check out the breakfast.

2. Chateau de Chenonceau

The Loire Valley’s Chateau de Chenonceau also goes by the name Chateau des Dames or ‘ladies chateau’ because of its history of strong women.

The castle spans the River Cher and is also the most visited and photographed chateau of the region, which is saying a lot since the Loire Valley has 42 of them.

It all started with the castle’s construction in the early 1500s when noblewoman Katherine Briconnet made important architectural decisions and oversaw the design of the chateau while her husband Thomas Bohier was away at war.

After it was handed over to the monarchy Henry II gave Chateau de Chenonceau to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers who added the bridge. After Henry’s death his widow Queen Catherine de Medici ordered for it to be returned and again added to the castle.

Then there was Louise Dupin, who hosted salons at the chateau and invited prominent philosophers and scholars along for discussions and drafted a code of women’s rights. A big deal for 18th century France.

3. Amboise

As well as being the ideal base from which to explore everything that the Loire Valley has to offer, the medieval town of Amboise is steeped in history with its connections to the French royal family and Leonardo da Vinci.

One of the most ill-fated queens in history, Mary Queen of Scots, grew up in the Chateau d’Amboise after being lined up to marry the future Francis II.

Stay in one of Amboise’s many luxury hotels, such as 17th century converted house Le Clos d’Amboise, which is a five minute walk from the chateau. As well as its preserved character features the boutique hotel also fulfils your thirst for luxury with an outdoor pool and sauna.

4. Orleans

It will come as no surprise that France’s oldest town is one of the best when it comes to soaking up some history.

Orleans is famous for its part in the Hundred Years’ War (1337 - 1453), during which it was besieged by the English army and then liberated by a teenage Joan of Arc dressed in ‘men’s’ clothing.

Explore the historical town and organise a stay at the 4-star Empreinte Hotel in the heart of Orleans and enjoy the views of the Loire River from the hotel terrace.

Book your trip to the Loire Valley with Expedia now.