13 must-do things to do in Indre

INDRE

If you’re heading off to visit Indre, find out what the best things to do and see are for a stay in this département!

A visit to the Indre will appeal to lovers of nature and historical heritage. In the heart of the Berry region, the département boasts well-preserved châteaux, listed monuments, remarkable gardens and towns known as « Plus beaux Villages de France ».

Add to this a marvellous natural park and a number of museums and historic residences, and you’ve got enough to make your stay a very pleasant one. Want to visit the Indre? Here are 13 must-see places to put on your itinerary.

1. Châteauroux

Chateauroux

Aerial view of Chateauroux and the Notre-Dame de Chateauroux church .
Photo credit: Shutterstock – Iakov Filimonov

Prefecture of the Indre département, the capital of the Bas-Berry region is a major city in this agricultural region. Châteauroux has been awarded the « 4 Fleurs » and « Grand prix national du fleurissement » labels, and also boasts a rich cultural and architectural heritage. The Couvent des Cordeliers is a must-see. This former 13th-century Franciscan convent houses contemporary art exhibitions. Its garden is well worth a visit.

Châteauroux’s other outstanding site is the Musée Bertrand. Its collections include Gallo-Roman works, Napoleonic memorabilia and Flemish and Dutch paintings. Other places of interest include Château Raoul and Château Balsan. Last but not least, don’t leave without sampling some of the region’s specialties, such as Brenne stuffed carp or Chârost croquet.

2. Châteauroux forest

Forêt Chateauroux

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Mairie du Poinçonnet

To the south, head for the Châteauroux state forest for a family outing. Known for its oak trees and a walker’s paradise, the forest covers 5,207 hectares and is dotted with signposted footpaths. Its history is linked to that of the princes of Déols and the seigneury of Châteauroux.

3. Brenne Regional Nature Park

La Brenne

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Rudmer Zwerver

If you’re a nature lover, you can’t visit the Indre without spending a day in the Parc Naturel de la Brenne! On the borders of Berry, Touraine, Poitou and Limousin, this vast natural area covers some 183,000 hectares of wild, unspoilt countryside.

Its ponds, forests, moorland and valleys can all be explored on marked trails. Thousands of insects and animals, 3,000 ponds, 267 bird species, 100,000 Cistude tortoises and 1,600 plant species are waiting to be discovered.

A word of advice: drop by the park house for a full explanation of how these man-made ponds came into being, and how they have become a conservation area for animal species.

4. Valençay Castle

Chateau Valencay

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Joaquin Ossorio Castillo

A visit to the Château de Valençay, the jewel in the crown of the Indre region, is a must! The building incorporates several architectural styles, from Renaissance to classical. It overlooks the Nahon valley, giving it an undeniable charm.

Built in the Middle Ages, the château was remarkably embellished in the 19th century. In 1803, Prince de Talleyrand, the new master of the castle, acquired it. He then decorated it lavishly, turning it into a reception area in the service of his diplomacy.

Inside, the Château de Valençay is fully furnished and adorned with a thousand precious objects. Outside, beautiful formal gardens and a forest cover 53 hectares. Educational panels provide information on the 25 species of trees found here. You can explore this natural area on foot or by electric buggy along a 4 km trail.

5. Issoudun

Issoudun

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Daniel Jolivet

The town of Issoudun offers the best of what there is to see and do in Indre: museums, riverside walks, historic old streets, gourmet restaurants… Start with the Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roch: built in the 12th century, then enlarged from the 15th to the 18th century, the building was erected on the site of the former Hôtel-Dieu dedicated to Saint Roch, patron saint of the plague-stricken. Its collections include archaeological finds, sculptures, works from five continents and contemporary art.

Once you’ve completed this cultural tour, head for the Tour Blanche to get a bird’s eye view of the city (note that it’s only open from April to September). In summer, take a canoe trip along the river.

Tip: go to the Tourist Office and ask for « Les clés de la ville », a free document describing a historical tour of the old town.

6. Bouges Castle

Chateau de Bouges

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Peyot

Set in the middle of the countryside, Château de Bouges is an Italianate building dating from 1759. Featuring a splendid trompe-l’oeil entrance hall, the elegant Louis XV residence boasts precious furnishings and an important collection of objets d’art.

Its 80-hectare English park, formal gardens, bouquetier garden and large exotic greenhouse richly deserve the  » Jardin Remarquable » label. The site is reminiscent of the Petit Trianon at Versailles. Guided tours of the château and its exterior allow you to take full advantage of this not-to-be-missed site in the Indre region.

7. Vic frescoes

Fresque Saint Martin de Vic

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Jochen Jahnke

The church of Saint-Martin, in the village of Nohant-Vic, is decorated with exceptional frescoes. Dating back to the 12th century and long hidden by plaster, they were rediscovered in 1849 and brought to the attention of Prosper Mérimée by George Sand. Thanks to Mérimée, the church was listed as a Monument Historique in 1850.

Representative of the flowering of Romanesque art in Berry, the frescoes are part of the jewel in the crown of France’s religious heritage. Among the scenes depicted, the Redemption is the main theme, from the birth to the death of Christ.

Please note: guided tours help you understand the iconography and richness of the decor.

8. Creuse Valley

Vallée de la Creuse

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Floppy36

In the 19th century, many painters, such as Claude Monet, were inspired by the colors and wonderful nature of the Creuse Valley. Between the 1850s and 1920s, artists gradually gave birth to Impressionism, painting outdoor motifs.

This border area between the Paris Basin and the Massif Central boasts wild landscapes surrounding the river Creuse. Hills and rocks, deep valleys: aesthetes and contemplative visitors to the Indre will be delighted.

Enthusiasts beware: the best view for painting or photographing is undoubtedly the loop of the Pin River opposite Ceaulmont’s Romanesque church.

9. Automobile Museum

visiter Indre - Musée automobile

Photo credit: Flickr – Daniel Jolivet

Located in Valençay, the 1,600 m² Musée de l’Automobile is dedicated to this revolutionary invention. In addition to some sixty classic cars dating back to 1898, you’ll find garage signs, spare parts and vintage posters.

An area devoted to vehicle drawings and a video game zone complete the visit. Enthusiasts can even get behind the wheel of a 1926 model!

10. Argenton-sur-Creuse

visiter Indre - Argenton-sur-Creuse

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Serge Goujon

Argenton is certainly the ideal village for couples visiting India. Set to the rhythm of the Creuse River, the village reveals itself as you stroll along its ancient streets, past mills and half-timbered houses overlooking the river.

From the esplanade de la Bonne Dame, the view dominates the green hills of the Creuse valley. The Musée de la Chemiserie et de l’élégance masculine (Chemistry and Men’s Elegance Museum) recalls the laundry tradition that contributed to the town’s growth in the 19th century.

11. George Sand’s house

visiter Indre - Maison de George Sand

Photo credit: Wikipedia – ManuD

Located in Nohant, the house of novelist George Sand is a must-see in the Indre region. This 18th-century residence boasts an old-fashioned charm and a garden classified as a Jardin Remarquable, as well as an English-style park. Many souvenirs of Georges Sand and her guests are still visible. Chopin, Liszt, Balzac and Flaubert all stayed at their friend’s house, and you can still feel the artistic and romantic atmosphere.

Some rooms in the house have remained unchanged since the 19th century. Next door, George Sand is buried in a small private cemetery, under a huge yew tree. The best way to explore the grounds is with the help of a guide, who will tell you many anecdotes about the life of the writer and her friends.

12. Saint-Benoît-du-Sault

visiter Indre - Saint Benoit Du Sault

Photo credit: Wikipedia – lago17

Here’s one of the best villages to visit in Indre! Proudly perched on its rocky outcrop overlooking the river, Saint-Benoît-du-Sault is a medieval town once inhabited by Benedictine monks and located 47 km from Châteauroux. You can visit the town on foot, starting at the fortified gate in the ramparts, near the belfry.

On this stroll, you’ll wander through the old streets and alleys, discovering half-timbered houses from the 15th and 16th centuries. The Placette Fleurie restaurant is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat, before exploring the surrounding area.

13. La Haute-touche Zoological Reserve

Zoo Haute-touche

Photo Credit: Facebook – Réserve Zoologique de la Haute-Touche

Would you like to visit the Indre with your family? Head for the Haute-Touche Zoological Reserve! Built in the 15th century, the Haute-Touche estate was originally an outbuilding of the Château d’Azay-le-Ferron, before becoming a reserve for animals from the Paris Zoological Parks and the Jardin des Plantes Menagerie in 1959.

Since it was opened to the public in 1980, the reserve has continued to integrate new animal species. Covering 436 hectares of forest, the reserve is home to herbivores, carnivores, primates and birds. Just 1 hour from Tours and Châteauroux, it is open from April to November.

How to get to Indre

You can visit Indre by train, car or plane. Located in the center of France, in the Centre-Val de Loire region, the department is easily accessible. Below, we describe the different modes of transport available. You can also consult an online comparator such as Skyscanner to find interesting offers for flights, car rentals or hotels.

By car

The car is the most practical mode of transport if you’re coming from another part of France, or if you want to be free with your schedule. For sustainable travel, don’t hesitate to carpool! It takes around 2h30 from Paris on the A20 freeway via Orléans, and 3h30 from Bordeaux. Lille is 4h30 away, Montpellier less than 5h. The RN151 trunk road and a number of departmental roads criss-cross Berry.

By train

Although you can visit the Indre region from a number of stations, you’re sure to arrive in Châteauroux. A direct train from Paris-Austerlitz takes you there in just over 2 hours. Lille, Bordeaux, Montpellier and Strasbourg are also within easy reach of the Indre prefecture, but require a connecting train.

Once there, the TER train takes you from town to town, on a north-south axis, while numerous bus routes circle Châteauroux.

By bus

Several bus companies operate to and from Châteauroux. There’s also a vast network of public transport services throughout the département. Most places of interest are therefore accessible by public transport at modest cost.

By plane

Although Châteauroux airport is best known for its cargo service, there are a few charter flights in season. If you have to fly, it’s more likely that you’ll arrive in Tours (with a few connections from Marseille in particular) or Paris. To find the best flight at the best price, don’t hesitate to use a flight comparator like Skyscanner.

Where to stay in Indre?

The Indre region offers a wide range of accommodation: hotels, campsites, bed & breakfasts, vacation villages, youth hostels and unusual lodgings to suit all tastes and budgets. In terms of location, the only major town is Châteauroux. It’s an excellent starting point if you don’t have a car.

Alternatively, staying in one of the department’s small villages can prove charming, especially for a romantic getaway. Although Indre doesn’t have a tourist peak, we recommend that you visit an online hotel comparator to find the best deals for your dates of stay.

Now that you know what to do in this bucolic region, pack your bags and set off on an adventure!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Centre-Val de Loire