How To Go to The Finest Of The Loire Valley: Chateaus, Cities & Extra

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Nestled within the coronary heart of France, the Loire Valley is a treasure trove of beautiful châteaus, picturesque landscapes, and delectable wines.

It’s a grand and fascinating area that is likely one of the greatest UNESCO world heritage websites on the earth, composed of 800 sq. km.

boat near castle over the river
Château de Chenonceau

It’s simple to go to from Paris, and stuffed with fascinating experiences from canoeing below castles to bike driving alongside the Loire River, the longest river in France.

The Loire Valley France was the final cease on our 4-week European journey. We’d simply come off an unbelievable 8 Day Danube River Cruise with Avalon Waterways and had been all wishing we had simply gone straight house from there.

The Loire Valley was going to must work arduous to spice up our morale. We didn’t have an incredible begin, because of Parisian site visitors (extra on that beneath) BUT as quickly as I jumped in that canoe to paddle below a fairy story fort, I used to be glad we went to that additional effort to go to it.

There are memorable moments ready for you within the Loire Valley, and that can assist you out, now we have ready an entire information to visiting Loire Valley so you possibly can expertise memorable moments exploring the perfect chateaus within the area!

How To Get To The Loire Valley

girls walking on path next to castle

Earlier than we get into what to see and so, let’s go over the easiest way to get to Loire Valley. We make the errors so you possibly can keep away from them!

Picking up a rental car from Charles de Gaulle Airport and driving to the Loire Valley was one of many greatest errors on our European journey. 

It made complete sense after we booked it. As a substitute of flying to Munich, Berlin, or Amsterdam from Hungary after our river cruise, we determined to scale back our flight prices and time spent in a number of airports and simply fly again to Paris (the place our return flight again to Raleigh was).

caslte walls

We figured we may then simply drive all the way down to the Loire Valley from Charles de Gaulle, Paris, for the reason that distance is barely 213.3 km and is predicted to take 2 hours (in response to Google Maps). We deliberate to remain for 3 nights after which drive again to the airport when it was time to fly house. 

It in all probability would have been faster and cheaper to drive from Munich, as a result of the site visitors in Paris is an absolute NIGHTMARE! It took us two hours simply to get by means of the ring street in Paris and there’s no various route. 

It additionally meant we needed to return again to Paris sooner than we had deliberate to permit for the site visitors chaos (it ended up being a straight run by means of however we didn’t need to danger lacking our flight house).

Options to driving from Paris

paddle boarders on moat next to palace gardens

You do want a automotive to get round Loire Valley, and a Loire Valley street journey is likely one of the most scenic methods to see the vineyards and tapestries of fields as you get from A to B, so it would be best to rent a automotive and drive, however you simply need to keep away from driving in Paris.

So we suggest you go from Charles de Galle, get the prepare all the way down to Montparnasse and rent a car from there.

You’ll skip the insane Paris site visitors because it’s beneath the ring street and will get out of town fairly simply. You may get a rental automotive from any location south of the ring street. 

You might additionally get a prepare all the way down to Excursions after which lease a automotive from there. Use Trainline to book train tickets and Discover Cars to hire a car. A automotive is essentially the most versatile possibility for exploring the castles of the Loire Valley.

How lengthy must you go to the Loire Valley for?

cottage covered in bushes

It’s price spending at the very least 2-3 days within the Loire Valley area. I’d have preferred to have executed some bike riding and wine tasting experiences (however we drank lots on our European river cruise and had been all wined out!) and probably seen a couple of extra castles. 

We loved visiting three of the perfect castles within the Loire Valley so we didn’t get overwhelmed. It felt like a really stress-free two days within the Loire Valley. 

We targeted our journey on one area of the Loire Valley – Excursions, which is sort of central, and near most of the chateaus.

castle turrent
Château de Chenonceau

Some folks go to the Loire Valley only for the day on tours leaving from Paris. That is an possibility should you simply need to go to a couple of castles, though it will be a giant day and I’d be frightened about site visitors consuming loads of it. However, if that’s all you will have time for, listed below are a couple of excursions to select from. 

Finest Time to Go to Loire Valley

girls looking at loire river from banks in amboise
The Loire River from Amboise

The very best time to go to could be in Spring time. The climate in April and Could is heat however not too sizzling, and also you additionally beat the summer time crowds.

The climate can be fairly good in September and October, however simply ensure you go to after the faculties have returned in September so you possibly can keep away from the push of vacationers from Europe.

Issues To Add To Your Loire Valley Itinerary

Now you understand how to get there and the way a lot time to spend, it’s time to map out your Loire Valley itinerary. Make certain to take a look at the next points of interest and highlights!

1. Go to Three of the Finest Chateaus within the Loire Valley

savannah walking in front of chateau de chambord

I do know you need to take advantage of your time and go to each single fort within the Loire Valley. Nicely, there are over 300 of them in order that’s an train in burnout.

You’ll have a much better time, should you concentrate on just some of essentially the most stunning and discover them at a slower tempo whereas doing attention-grabbing issues like wine tasting, horse-riding, and kayaking!

We don’t assume you may get any higher than these French chateaux within the Valley of the Kings.

Château de Chambord: UNESCO Grandeur

people walking in front of huge castle

I used to be involved that since we had spent a complete day on the Palace of Versailles – some would argue the perfect chateaux in France – I used to be frightened, I’d be ho-hum about these smaller castles within the Loire Valley.

However, no, I used to be fairly impressed by the magnificence of Château de Chambord, which is famend for its beautiful mix of French medieval and Italian Renaissance types.

There are various causes, Chambord is taken into account probably the greatest chateaus within the Loire Valley. 

savannah looking over terrace and garden views
Cherished this terrace

It’s the most important of the castles, has UNESCO World Heritage Website standing, its park is as huge as internal Paris, and is the most important enclosed park in Europe, and you’ll go to 60 of its 426 rooms! 

With its fairy tale-like turrets, grand facades, and beautiful landscapes it’s a photographer’s dream, so go away sufficient time to seize it from all of the angles! 

A lot of the fort’s Renaissance-style design has been attributed to the innovation and creativeness of Leonardo da Vinci. Probably the most fascinating of which is the long-lasting double helix staircase within the middle of the fort, which was impressed by nature’s spiraling types. 

double helix staircase in middle of hall
That staircase!
dog sculptures inside palace

The within of the fort is sort of sparse with furnishings and decor which is supposed to precisely signify the way it was through the time it was occupied by the French Kings. It served as a royal resilience and searching lodge, notably for King Francois I.

I additionally beloved strolling across the rooftop terrace with its fairytale-like turrets, sky home windows, and towering chimneys, and panoramic vista of the park and gardens. 

turrets on roof of Château de Chambord
savannah looking at chambord gardens from rooftop

There are various actions to take pleasure in on the fort’s grounds together with renting boats on the lake, driving bikes across the property, or strolling alongside the various trails.

Château de Chambord surrounded by gardens

We grabbed a fast take-out lunch from a bakery (boulangerie) within the small city close to the Chateau earlier than arriving. Had I recognized, there was a tiny village, Place Saint-Louis, below the fort that had a couple of eateries, and an ice cream store. I’d have eaten right here to additional take in the regal power. They weren’t too badly priced.

For those who’re trying to do some wine tasting within the Loire Valley, permit room in your itinerary to do it right here at Maison des Vins on the Place Saint-Louis in Chambord. 

As we had been wined out, we skipped it, which I remorse. Chambord wines are pure, produced utilizing natural eco-certified strategies, with no added sulfites or synthetic yeast. They’re harvested by hand. I did decide up a bottle of white to take house as a present for our pet sitter! 

You can also stay at Relais de Chambord, a small luxurious lodge, proper close to this fort.

Château de Chenonceau

kalyra and caroline paddling a canoe in front of Château de Chenonceau

Okay, that is the stuff fairytale fort goals are made from. If there’s one factor within the Loire Valley you will need to not miss it, a scenic canoe trip beneath the arches of Château de Chenonceau, a fairytale fort straddling the Cher River.

It’s a fascinating and unforgettable expertise that means that you can recognize the château’s magnificence from a singular vantage level. It’s probably the greatest chateaux within the Loire Valley for {couples} searching for romance!

The château’s elegant façade and luxurious gardens create a picture-perfect scene, and the reflection within the water provides to its appeal.

caz and girls smiling in front of Château de Chenonceau in canoe

It was very tough for me to seek out data on how to do that, so contemplate studying this submit as part of your fortunate France journey planning day!

There are numerous canoe journeys obtainable starting from half-day paddles down the river to quick paddles departing from the rental location. 

We suggest doing this primary earlier than exploring the fort. You’ll beat the crowds and the warmth and also you couldn’t ask for a greater first impression.

We rented a 4-person Canadian canoe and opted for the quick paddle, which generally takes round 1-2 hours to return (4km) 

caz paddling Cher river in canoe
The serene Cher River

It’s a straightforward paddle and begins with solely views of the river banks. Quickly you’ll flip the nook and see the elegant facade of the “floating” chateau because it spans the Cher River. 

Then you possibly can paddle up and below the bridge and across the fort’s moat having fun with the views from each doable angle. 

caz paddling up to Château de Chenonceau

The one operator I discovered was Canoe Company. Situated 2 km down the river from the fort. Their web site was complicated and I didn’t know what tour or expertise to e-book. I believe it’s a translation subject on the web site, it looks like they name the canoe path a Stroll!!

So we simply confirmed up, arriving after breakfast, and hoped for the perfect. They’d loads of canoes obtainable for lease and a gaggle guided tour was about to exit. I nonetheless don’t know what time they run and the way lengthy they go for. You can even lease bikes and kayaks from right here.

They’ve a terrine bar Bistrot Quai overlooking the Cher with tables within the backyard below our willow. It could be a pleasant spot for a chew to eat after your canoe journey. 

We stopped at a creperie within the small village of Chenonceaux simply exterior the doorway to the fort, which we had been exploring subsequent!

two girls walking up to Château de Chenonceau

Whereas Chambord was grand and spectacular, Chenonceau was heat, inviting, and chic. You might inform that this Loire Valley fort had a female contact. 

It’s sometimes called the “Women’ Château” resulting from its affiliation with outstanding girls all through historical past together with Catherine de’ Medici and Diane de Poitiers, who added their very own touches to the château’s design and gardens.

The château’s picturesque setting, with its reflection within the river and charming gardens, creates a romantic ambiance that captivates.

As quickly as you stroll down the lengthy avenue of timber, you’re feeling the magic of this place. Forest and gardens stuffed with mazes and flowers, and secret walled gardens with draping willows line both aspect of the avenue. 

Your timed entry ticket to tour the palace will decide whether or not you discover these earlier than or after. 

Tour the lavishly adorned rooms, together with the Inexperienced Research, the chapel, the Catherine de’ Medici Gallery, the underground kitchens, and the Royal Chamber. Every room is a testomony to the château’s wealthy historical past and opulence.

A lot of the rooms supply nice views of the river and gardens and all of the boaters, kayakers, and canoeists paddling down the river. 

I notably preferred strolling by means of the Gallery which is throughout the arched bridge river that we canoed below.

You may stroll out to the forested banks on the opposite aspect for extra nice views of the fort. It’s superb how completely different this fort appears to be like from all of the completely different viewpoints.

Château de Chenonceau with gardens in front
woman walking along a hedged pathway
people sitting at tables in the village

Spend so long as you want strolling by means of the fantastically landscaped gardens, having fun with the flowers, fountains, and tranquil pathways. I preferred the gardens much more right here than at Chambord (like Versailles, I discovered them underwhelming)

We did try and do some wine tasting within the Domes Wine Cellar, however one was already in progress, and there was nobody attending the desk to offer us data on how we may be a part of the following one or when it was. We ended up leaving as the women had been drained.

Château du Clos Lucé: The Home of Innovation  

girls walking up to red brick Château du Clos Lucé
Château du Clos Lucé

Wow! That’s all I can say concerning the surprising magnificence and uniqueness of Château du Clos Lucé.

It’s a extra softly-spoken magnificence than the opposite Loire Valley castles. Whereas I beloved the grandeur and magnificence of the opposite castles, the modest pink brick stone chateau was the one I may think about myself residing in, particularly with its serene wooded gardens.

people sitting at restaurant in garden

Don’t simply take my phrase for it although. Observe the footsteps of one of many biggest minds of all time – Leonardo Da Vinci.

What makes this Loire Valley chateau distinctive – and unmissable – is that it’s the place Leonardo da Vinci spent the ultimate three years of his life. He arrived upon invitation from Francis I, the place he may stay freely to work, assume, and dream.

He purchased with him the Mona Lisa, the Virgin and Baby with Saint Anne, Saint John the Baptist, and all his manuscripts. That is how these masterpieces ended up on show within the Louvre.

Leonardo was raised within the hills of Tuscany and had a deep connection to nature which impressed lots of his drawings and innovations. The gardens on the property had been an essential place for him to spend time. Gigantic-sized recreations of his work and drawings grasp from the timber and are immersed within the forests and wetlands of the gardens.

There’s additionally a enjoyable and academic stroll alongside a landscaped path that showcases his main innovations. It’s fairly intelligent how they’ve created these life-size interactive machines primarily based on his imaginings and drawings.

spaceship shaped sculpture
girls looking at wooden sculpture of da vinci invention
propellor sculpture
Preparing for flight

Even higher, youthful kids will love accumulating a scavenger hunt booklet upon coming into the chateau grounds, which can assist them interact together with his completely different innovations and study extra about them.

Chateau du Clos Luce is very precious to go to with children, particularly should you homeschool. It’s the immersive studying expertise all mother and father seek for.

 After we visited, there was additionally a particular exhibition that took you thru his anatomical investigations, together with a room arrange with 3D fashions to mirror the dissection of lifeless our bodies he incessantly did to find out about – and create detailed sketches of – the human physique.

dummy of human body lying on dissecting table
Leonardo’s dissecting work
red bedroom and desk inside Leonardo da Vinci room
Leonardo da Vinci’s room

A lot smaller than the opposite French chateaux, there are just a few rooms to go to within the fifteenth Century Clos Luce, which have been restored to mirror Da Vinci’s time within the fort.

You may tour the bed room the place he lived and took his final breath and the workshop the place he imagined and created.

There’s additionally an entrance to an underground passage, which legend says results in the Royal Fortress of Amboise that Francis I’d use to go to Da Vinci every day.

Chateau du Clos Luce is the perfect fort within the Loire Valley for many who love science, invention, nature, and creativeness.

Different Loire Valley Chateaus to Go to

turreted roof of palace

Bear in mind to decide on your castles rigorously, to keep away from AFC overwhelm. Select one thing distinctive and attention-grabbing to do in every one, so it’s not simply wandering the halls of one other opulent chateau questioning how they acquired away with main such prosperous lives when so many had been ravenous.

Oh yeah, it’s referred to as the French Revolution – I’ll present you the cake! 

You probably have extra time, or insist on packing in additional of the Châteaux de la Loire, listed below are a couple of different notable chateaus we had on our doable listing.

  • Château de Chaumont sur Loire dates again to the tenth century when it was initially constructed as a fortress strategically perched atop a hill overlooking the Loire River and the city of Chaumont. The château is famend for its beautiful gardens and the annual Worldwide Backyard Pageant, which attracts panorama designers from around the globe, who create modern and inventive backyard shows.
  • Château de Cheverny is famed for its opulent interiors and its position as an inspiration for Captain Haddock’s Marlinspike Corridor within the Tintin comedian books. It stands as the only real family-occupied château accessible to the general public.
  • Château de Villandry is known for having a number of the most stunning and meticulously maintained Renaissance gardens in France, together with beautiful parterres, water options, and vegetable gardens.
  • Château du Rivau feels prefer it’s straight out of a storybook with its turrets, pointed roofs, and romantic gardens together with a surprising rose backyard with over 450 varieties, whimsical topiary sculptures, and vibrant flowerbeds.
  • Château d’azay le Rideau is a small and quaint chateaux that’s renown for being probably the greatest examples of early French renaissance structure.
  • Château d’Ussé an attractive fort that’s mentioned to be the inspiration for the story of Sleeping Magnificence.

2. Go to The Vibrant Place Plumereau

medieval style buildings surrounding Place Plumereau with people eating in the square
Place Plumereau

“How did we miss this?” Craig and I mentioned as we turned the nook and stumbled upon Place Plumereau.

The night earlier than discovered a cute small avenue stuffed with worldwide eating places and a enjoyable environment. Nicely should you flip proper, you’ll come throughout Place Plumereau, which takes it to a different vibrancy degree. 

Even should you don’t keep in Excursions, I like to recommend spending at the very least one night in Place Plumereau. 

tudor style building on Place Plumereau

Place Plumereau, also referred to as “Plumereau Sq.” or just “Plum,” is a picturesque and historic sq. surrounded by half-timbered homes, lots of which date again to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

It was as soon as used for executions through the Center Ages and has witnessed many essential occasions in Excursions’ historical past.

These fantastically preserved buildings give the sq. a singular and enchanting environment and attracts in locals and vacationers with its  multitude of energetic cafes, bars, and eating places on the sq. and the encircling cobblestone streets. 

caz and craig drinking aperol spritz
Our final Aperol Spritz of our Europe journey

It’s a perfect spot to take pleasure in a leisurely meal, sip on a glass of native wine, or just people-watch.

On our final night, the women stayed within the lodge with takeout (their selection) and Craig and I went into Excursions, beginning with a pre-dinner Aperol Spritz, and ending with a wine in Plumereau Place. And in between we loved ….

3. Have A Scrumptious Prix Fixe Meal at Chez Tonton

caz smiling at restaurant table
Wonderful meals to finish the night time!

We thought Place Plumereau was enjoyable simply by itself, however Excursions actually opened up for us as we began strolling the streets surrounding the sq.. 

It’s restaurant after restaurant alongside cute cobblestone streets, in between previous stone church buildings and towers, market squares, and outside theaters.

That’s the place we ended up, close to a small market and church watching folks stream into the Ukraine fundraising live performance throughout from our terrace desk at Chez Tonton. 

The proprietor of this restaurant instructed us Excursions has extra eating places per capita than another place in Europe!! 

It truly is an unbelievable place for eating and the environment is buzzing so discover one to fit your fancy. We are able to’t suggest Chez Tonton sufficient; it was the place we had our greatest meal in France. 

What is quite common in Excursions are eating places that serve 2 or 3-course prix fixe menus.

Some are fairly expensive, however Chez Tonton was greater than cheap with two programs for under €23 There’s no approach you’d get related high quality of meals at that value within the US for only one course! 

And the servings had been big. 

Because it was our final night time on our Europe journey we celebrated with an incredible bottle of native wine, and a two-course meal.

I had eggplant parmigiana (appetizer) and  Salmon with soy ginger sauce for the principle and Craig  and beef and potatoes with a creamy herb sauce

Loire Valley Cities to Go to

Along with your much less is extra strategy, you received’t have time to see each city, however there are two foremost cities you shouldn’t skip off your Loire Valley itinerary.


Amboise Castle on hill with river in front
Château Royal d’Amboise

Solely streets away from Chateau du Clos Luce is Amboise, a picturesque village nestled alongside the banks of the Loire River. 

This magnificent Château Royal d’Amboise, house of French Kings for 5 centuries, sits on a rocky cliff 40m above the city and river.

For those who’re as much as checking one other fort off your listing, this château is thought for its beautiful structure, stunning gardens, Loire Valley views, and historic significance.

We determined to skip the fort and as a substitute cease in for lunch and a brief river stroll. We visited on a Sunday, so a lot of the shops had been closed, however Amboise had some cute pedestrian streets, shops, and patisseries you might also need to discover. 

craig and girls walking past restaurants in Amboise
Essential avenue in Amboise

Many eating places line the small avenue beneath the fort. Stroll alongside till you discover one which fits your model. We selected a very unsuitable dish – our sausage meal didn’t come out like we hoped – extra like sizzling canine. Gross.

So select properly and maybe attempt some native dishes or a number of the area’s famed wines. 

A well-liked vacation spot for wine tasting, which was on my listing, is Caves Ambacia. You may tour the cellars and pattern a wide range of wines, together with the native wines of the Loire Valley. See rates and availability here.

For those who go to on the precise day, you possibly can discover Amboise’s energetic markets, the place you possibly can pattern recent native produce, cheeses, and artisanal merchandise.


colorful sunrise over river loire and landscape around it
Excursions dawn | Yay Pictures

As talked about, we stayed in Excursions, and beloved having this as our base to return to and revel in night hours. 

Excursions boasts an extended and storied historical past, relationship again to when it was a part of the Roman Empire resulting from its essential crossing level over the river Loire. It was additionally an essential middle through the Center Ages and the Renaissance.

We didn’t have time to go to any of the points of interest in Excursions, however you possibly can go to a number of museums, together with the Musee des Beaux-Arts (Advantageous Arts Museum) and the Museum of Pure Historical past.

The beautiful gothic Cathedral of Saint Gatie is a masterpiece of Gothic structure, with its magnificent stained glass home windows and complex sculptures.

The medieval Château de Excursions witnessed essential historic occasions akin to the wedding of Marie d’Anjou to future king Charles VII and Joan of Arc’s return after main the French to defeat the English military at Orléans. 

coffee and cake on table

Among the best coffees we had on our Europe journey was at Le Petit Atelier in Excursions

The Loire River is especially stunning right here with small islands in the course of it, and we noticed a number of folks swimming within the river within the afternoon hours. 

 Excursions is sometimes called the “Backyard of France” resulting from its lush parks and gardens. Jardin des Prébendes d’Oé is a superb spot to chill out amidst lush greenery.

The place to Keep in Loire Valley: Excursions

path leading up to chateau belmont tours
Chateau Belmont, Excursions

We determined to remain within the student-centric city of Excursions. Excursions is nestled in an incredible central location with quick access to most of the Loire Valley Chateaux. 

I heard such blended critiques about it that I used to be not sure if it was a very good determination. We had been debating over Excursions and the a lot smaller close by village of Amboise. 

We selected Excursions, as we discovered a Chateau in Excursions we may keep in utilizing our mileage factors. As a result of, when within the Loire Valley…. keep in a chateaux.

Be warned as quickly as we checked into Château Belmont The Crest Collection, we realized it was kinda like lipstick on a pig factor. 

Firstly, it was great and our room for a household of 4 was very spacious and wonderful. We additionally had entry to a small wellness spa with a sauna. However, our room was in a contemporary hotel-style wing that had been added to the property, not within the chateau.

bed in hotel
savannah lying on hotel bed
The ladies mattress in front room
red carpeted room with glass windows looking out to a gardens
Contained in the Chateau looking

The precise Chateau Belmont is sort of small, so to remain within the rooms throughout the chateau would have value much more cash. The chateau itself is fairly, the grounds beautiful and there’s a restaurant inside which had a beautiful chateau really feel – though fairly expensive. 

The chateau is on a small hill behind gates, so it does really feel secluded. Nevertheless, it was additional out of Excursions than we thought – solely a ten minute drive and a thirty-minute stroll. We might have beloved to have been nearer strolling distance to Outdated City Excursions because it was fairly cool. See rates and availability for the Chateau Belmont here.

We did go to Amboise on our final day of this itinerary, and whereas I preferred its small village appeal, we’re glad we stayed in Excursions.

We discovered it a extra vibrant place extra suited to our personalities. See available properties for Tours, for Amboise, and for the Loire Valley. You can even use the map beneath that can assist you discover the perfect Loire Valley lodge within the excellent location for you.

Last Ideas on a Two Day Loire Valley Fortress Journey

people in canoe paddling up to Château de Chenonceau

With this information, you possibly can map out the proper 2 day Loire Valley itinerary, which will provide you with a style of the Loire Valley’s exceptional châteaus, wealthy historical past, and gastronomic delights. Make certain to savor each second of your journey by means of this fascinating area.

You probably have a little bit additional time, select one other distinctive fort to go to, or contemplate a enjoyable exercise like wine tasting, or bike driving alongside the Loire Valley.

Whereas we had a drained and rocky begin, however we created some great recollections as a household. The important thing was selecting a relaxed tempo and avoiding Chateau fatigue.

Group Tour of Loire Valley, France

For those who don’t need to tour this area by yourself, and want to incorporate different locations in France, we extremely suggest Globus Excursions. They’re a long run companion of ours! You can see their Loire Valley tours here. And don’t neglect our particular low cost beneath.


We’ve secured an unique yTravel discount: Save $100 per particular person on choose 2023 and 2024 Globus and Avalon Waterway Holidays. Use the code: YTRAVEL when reserving on-line on the Globus and Avalon Waterways web sites, by calling Globus and Avalon Waterways instantly, or reserving with a most well-liked Journey Advisor. Phrases & Situations.

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