Archæological excavations, which have been conducted for several decades, demonstrate that a small Gallo-Roman settlement existed on the right bank of the Loire. The Merovingian period saw a fortress and a small workshop making coins. The town took off during the Carolingian period to become the capital of a county that extended outward to Blésois and Dunois. By the 11th century, Blois had become the most important town in its region of the Loire Valley.
Located about midway between Orléans and Tours, Blois was the birthplace of Stephen (1096-1154), King of England from 1135 to 1154. Sainte Joan of Arc stopped there in 1429 on her way to lift the siege of Orléans. Seventy years later, the small town became a royal town and the capital of the Kingdom of France for about 25 years, during which time it grew considerably in order to support the Court. http://www.pdc-blois.dk/blois.htm In 1814 Blois was for a short time the seat of the regency of Marie Louise, wife of Napoleon I.
La cathédrale Saint-Louis, l'église Saint-Vincent and l'église Saint-Nicolas are three of the most famous religious structures (bâtiments religieux) in the town that remain today. L'église Saint-Nicolas fut construite en 1138 et le début du XIIe siècle. Elle appartenait à l'ancienne abbaye bénédictine Saint-Laumer dont les sobres bâtiments de style classique, s'étendent jusqu'à la Loire. Les proportions de la nef sont inspirées de la cathédrale de Chartres. A l'intérieur, découvrez un curieux retable d'autel de Sainte Marie l'Egyptienne datant du XVe siècle. http://www.linternaute.com/voyage/france/centre/blois/monument/l-eglise-saint-nicolas/
Château de Blois (a world heritage site) was first constructed by Thibault le Tricheur, the first count of Blois (10th Century), but also an indefatigable enemy of the king of France. It was originally constructed in the 13th century by the Châtillon-family. A descendant of this family, Charles d'Orléans, was a poet and soldier. After the disastrous Battle of Agincourt, he was taken prisoner and kept captive in England for twenty-five years. His letters to the wife Bonne, which he would never see again, have inspired the Valentine's Day celebrations each year. During his absence his half-brother, who was a companion-in-arms to Ste. Jeanne d'Arc, became the master of Blois. Charles d'Orléans was 71 years old when his third wife, Marie de Clèves, bore him a son, who would later be the sovereign of France as Louis XII.
King Henri III, driven from Paris during the French Wars of Religion, lived at Blois. He held the Estates-General conventions there in 1576 and 1588. During the second such a convention, the king had his arch-enemy, Henri, duc de Guise, assassinated, when the Duke came to the Chateau for a meeting with the King. He also executed the Cardinal of Guise the following day in the dungeon. From 1617 to 1619 Marie de' Médici, wife of King Henri IV, exiled from the court, lived at the château. The de Guise and Médici families were instrumental in the slaughter of innocents on August 24, 1572. The château afterwards was given by King Louis XIII to his brother Gaston, Duke of Orleans, who lived there till his death in 1660. By the time of the French Revolution the immense castle had been neglected. It was ransacked during the révolution. In 1841, under the direction of King Louis-Philippe, the Château de Blois was classified as a historic monument and restored under the direction of the architect Felix Duban. see also http://www.ville-blois.fr/
Like Orléans and Paris, the city was liberated by American soldiers during August, 1944, but it was also heavily damaged through bombing by both sides. Much of the area between the river and Châteu was rebuilt and views opened up as a consequence. Today, the town has some picturesque streets with their share of Gothic- and Renaissance-style structures, some original some rebuilt. Blois, a major tourist center for the nearby resources, such as the Châteaux de la Loire, is also a production center for corn (maize -- the modern Congress Center is called la Halle aux Grains), asparagus and of course, wine produced in the nearby countryside.
The Touraine Amboise vineyards totalling 236 hectares are situated between Tours and Blois extending along both banks of the Loire. Cour-Cheverny is a village, south of Blois (and the River) whose specialty (cuvée) is wine made from the local white grape variety, Romorantin. Chocolate (Poulain chocolate firm (1848)) and footwear are also produced. Don't miss the cheese and mushroom caves. The policy of decentralizing industry in the Paris area has promoted recent growth in Blois. So the town is something like a suburb, in that respect like Chartres.