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Touraine (tōōrĕn´), region and former province (until the French Revolution), W central France, centering around Tours (the historic capital) and drained by the Loire, Cher, and Vienne rivers. Roughly coextensive with Indre-et-Loire dept., Touraine, with its fertile valleys, orchards, and vineyards, is known as the "garden of France." Its numerous châteaus (see Chinon, Azay-le-Rideau, Chambord, Amboise), built mainly in the 15th and 16th cent., are noted tourist attractions. Descartes, Rabelais, and Balzac were born in Touraine, and the latter two celebrated their birthplace in their writings. Originally the county of Tours, Touraine passed (10th cent.) to the counts of Blois, who ceded it (11th cent.) to the counts of Anjou. Touraine then passed (1152) under English domination and was retaken (1204) by Philip II of France and united with the French crown.

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