France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Vendôme, Loire Valley, France
A lovely small town with a long history and home to a famous old carillon song!

  St Martin Tower, Vendôme, France
St. Martin's Tower, with its carillon.



Vendôme is a very old town, with habitation dating back to prehistoric times. The oldest written record dates to 587 CE. Gallic and Roman hillforts gave way to a medieval castle, and fortified walls were built in the 13th century. Churches were important too, with Holy Trinity Abbey, founded in 1032, and the 16th century St. Martin's Church in the city center.

Located on the Loir (not the Loire) river, Vendôme was somewhat protected by the river, which splits here and surrounds the town center. About 50 kilometers north of Amboise, and 35 kilometers northwest of Blois (map), Vendôme is easily accessible if you are visiting the châteaux of the Loire.

It is wonderful to drive into the town from the south, via the St. George's gate, the only surviving gate of the original four. The Vendôme Town Council has met in the gate building since 1467—over 500 years!

Vendôme, France
St. George's Gate, a wonderful way to drive into Vendôme.

We wanted to visit Vendôme as part of researching the towns mentioned in the children's song, "Orléans, Beaugency, Notre-Dame de Cléry, Vendôme, Vendôme." Written in 1420 during the Hundred Years' War, it describes the small area that was left to the Dauphin Charles, the future King Charles VII, after the Treaty of Troyes, which turned over most of France to the English King Henry V. It is one of the oldest French children's songs. More...

The center of town is the Place Saint-Martin, where only the tower remains of the 16th century church of Saint-Martin. The carillon of the St-Martin tower plays the song on the hour, and we loved hearing it. Today, the Place Saint-Martin is also home to a number of restaurants and cafés and is a general gathering place in this town of 17,000. You can sit and enjoy coffee or lunch and hear the wonderful bells each hour.

At the opposite end of the Place Saint-Martin is the Holy Trinity Church, with its beautiful Gothic facade. The church was part of the Benedictine Abbey. Originally a Romanesque building, the monks rebuilt it in the late 13th/early 14th centuries. Be sure to walk around it to enjoy the gardens and the changing views. The Holy Trinity Abbey today houses a museum that provides information on Vendôme and the surrounding area, with an emphsis on geology and archaeology. It also has a fine arts collection which includes Marie-Antoinette's harp.

Vendôme, France
Church of the Holy Trinity, Vendôme.

From the center of town, you can walk across the Loir and then climb the hill to see the ruins of the medieval castle and a 17th century castle of the Counts of Vendôme. This strategic location above the town played important roles in Vendôme's history. Today, there are lovely views of the town from the top, and nice gardens for a stroll.

Like many French towns, Vendôme suffered during World War II, in particular from an air raid on June 15, 1940. There were many deaths and injuries, and large sections of the town were destroyed by the bombing.

If the name Vendôme sounds familiar, you may be thinking of the Place Vendôme in Paris. This fashionable square, just north of the Tuileries Gardens, was originally built for Louis XIV, who envisioned a setting of power. It is a lovely octagonal square with elegant townhouses and a column at the center. Originally there was a statue of the king, but Napoleon replaced it with a bronze column made from enemy cannons. Over time the Place Vendôme evolved from a political center to a center of luxury, lined with expensive jewelry shops and other similar items. More...

It's quite a contrast to the lovely town of Vendôme, with its historic homes and churches and the serene Loir River surrounding the town. Walking from the parking area to the center of town, you cross over branches of the river, with lovely willow trees and other plantings to provide a sense of serenity.

The Tourist Information Office is in the Hôtel du Saillant, 47 and 49 rue Poterie, not far from the town hall. The office can provide maps and other information. There are two self-guided walking tours that will take you by the town's historic buildings.

About Orléans

Orléans Hotels

Orléans, Beaugency...


Tourist Information

Loire Valley



Châteaux of the Loire

Loire Valley Transport




  Vendome, France

Above, The St. Martin's tower and rooftops of Vendôme, as seen from the hilltop castle.

Below, Some of the ruins of the castle.

Vendôme, France

Vendôme, France
Above, A floral welcome, with the date changed each day, in front of the town hall of Vendôme.


FTP on Facebook    
Pinterest    Twitter