Not far west of Vendôme, Lavardin is an adorable medieval village in Loir-et-Cher. Nestling at the foot of the feudal castle ruins, its flowery streets are lined with pretty old houses with slate roofs. Its Romanesque Church of St. Genesius has splendid frescoes and murals dating from the 12th to 16th centuries. Continue your exploration of the village under the town hall, where there is a small museum charting the history of Lavardin and providing a look at the heritage linked to the castle. Then head towards the banks of the Loir, which are very scenic with their weeping willows, and offer a lovely view of the Gothic bridge.
Lavardin is also remarkable for its cave houses, which give it a unique charm. Some of them are still inhabited and every year at the end of September, the owners open their caves to the public during the Troglos Days. A picturesque visitor experience that is not to be missed under any circumstances!
We also recommend taking the Rotte aux Biques path, which will take you to a superb viewpoint over the village, castle and Loir Valley. Watch out, it's steep but it's well worth the effort!
Classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Lavardin is a commune of the Center-Loire Valley in the Loir-et-Cher department. The village takes place on the banks of the Loir, not far from Montoire-sur-Loir, and in the arrondissement of Vendôme.
Populated as early as Prehistory, Lavardin is strengthened as early as the tenth century. Over the centuries, the village was, like its castle, the place of many battles and other seats, especially during the struggle between leaguers and Protestants. It was at this time, in 1589, that the castle was dismantled on the orders of Henri IV. The commune of Lavardin has retained its medieval aspect and today plunges visitors into another era. Very touristy, it still has several buildings to discover during a walk in this magical place. Troglodytic houses mingle with the Renaissance dwellings for a unique effect.
Built at the end of the 11th century, Saint-Genest church is renowned for its frescoes and murals. In Romanesque style, it was originally the church of a priory. It has a square bell-tower opposite the ruins of the old castle, revealing two carved bas-reliefs. Inside, the decor is stunning; Everything is adorned, from the pillars of the choir to the windows of the aisle. Uncovered in the twentieth century, frescoes and murals were made between the 12th and the beginning of the 16th century. In the apse, one can admire the baptism of Christ or the tree of Jesse. More recent, the paintings of the southern absidiole represent Paradise, Hell or Purgatory. Vegetable motifs take place on the capitals, revealing rare examples of ancient paintings formerly associated with Romanesque sculptures.
The castle of Lavardin dates from the beginning of the eleventh century. Sold to the Comte de Vendomois later, it became the main fortress at the end of the 12th century. Remodeled in the 15th century, it was dismantled on the orders of King Henry IV at the end of the 16th century. Classified as Historical Monuments, it only has a few vestiges standing proudly on a rocky promontory. Several elements are always visible, such as the staircase of honor, the keep, the guards room or three enclosures that once protected the building.
The Grotto of the Virgins is a cave-dwelling troglodytic on two floors. One can find in particular a chimney, a grain silo or an oratory. Walking through the town, you can discover other troglodytic cellars, some of which are still inhabited.
To appreciate all the charm of Lavardin, there are several trails, including the roque aux biques. This old path with goats, the beginning of which is very steep, offers an unobstructed view of the village and its surroundings, and allows to pass in front of numerous troglodytic cellars. Do not miss the walk of the poet, who takes his name from Ronsard, born only a few kilometers away. This path runs along the Loir and allows to appreciate an old wash house.
Built at the end of the 12th century, the Gothic bridge is more than 56 meters long and consists of eight stone arches.
Under the town hall, in the heart of the village, a museum has opened. In a vaulted room, it presents various collections of objects and documents retracing the history of Lavardin and its castle.
Saint-Vincent is celebrated at the end of January, including a Mass and an induction ceremony at the Brotherhood of Puette and Franc Pinot. Before the traditional meal, different animations are also proposed.
Every first Sunday of March, the village welcomes the Chouine world championship. It is a card game dating back to the sixteenth century and very popular in the center-west of the country.
Every Monday of Easter, a hike offers several circuits between ten and more than twenty kilometers to discover the most beautiful sites of the surroundings.
As of July 13, the village proposes a popular ball or the burning of the castle.
In mid-August, an flea market is organized.
Painters' days take place at the end of September, offering local artists a chance to compete by painting some of the most beautiful landscapes of Lavardin.
A Christmas market is held each year on the first weekend of December.