St-Aignan lends itself to aimless wandering, with the terrace and Renaissance courtyard of the Château accessible to the public and some pleasant walks down by the river or a swim if you feel inclined. The Maison du Vin, on place Wilson, is open for tastings and sales of Côteaux du Cher wines (July & Aug). Boat trips on the Cher have been suspended until at least 2004, due to works on the channel, but you can windsurf, canoe and sail at the lake a couple of kilometres upstream, in Seigy.
For a good break from ancient history, head for the excellent Zoo Parc Beauval (daily: mid-March to Oct 9amdusk; Nov to mid-March 10amdusk; €13; www.zoobeauval.com), 2km to the south of town on the D675. The space given to the animals is ample, and it's part of the European programme for breeding threatened species in captivity. Sumptuous flower beds give way to little streams and lakes where islands provide natural enclosures for some of the monkeys. Two hothouses with tropical flowers and greenery are home to an extraordinary collection of birds as well as a large group of chimpanzees and two families of orang-utans. But the creature most children will want to take home with them is the rare white tiger.
Pages in section ‘St-Aignan’: Practicalities.
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