Spotlight on the Loire Valley

August 11, 2016

The grandeur of the chateaux, the green of the rolling vineyards, and the winding rivers of the Loire Valley render it one of the most picturesque regions of France. The entire area has been given the UNESCO World Heritage site status, and as well as the natural beauty, it is also home to a number of historic cities and towns that shouldn’t be overlooked for an authentically French experience.


Things to do

• For a cultural day out visit one of the many museums, from homes of authors, to military vehicle exhibitions, and fine art museums there’s sure to be something to fit your interest. One of the highlights has to be Leonardo Da Vinci’s home and grounds where you can see his bedroom, kitchen and numerous canvases and gadgets that offer a glimpse into the life of one of the world’s greatest artists and inventors.
• Scattered all the way along the valley are hundreds of fairy tale French Chateaux, sprung from the Renaissance period when kings, queens, dukes and nobles built their feudal and pleasure palaces here. Scenes of turrets, towers, banquet halls and grand architecture await at every turn.
• As the 3rd largest wine region in France, a tour of the region’s vineyards makes for an amazing wine-tasting holiday. Try Chinon’s family-owned Pierre & Bertrand Couly winery, which has been producing fine wines for generations.
• The stunning scenery and rolling landscape make the Loire Valley an ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts, with the Loire à Vélo route winding its way along the banks of the river and La Vélodyssey. For gentle strolls or more challenging hikes the forests and river pathways allow plenty of opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors at your leisure.
• Take in the breath-taking views of the entire valley with a hot air balloon ride, as you slowly fly past castles, vineyards and meandering rivers.


Where to eat

• Enjoy an intimate meal at the cosy La Maison d’a Cote, just outside of Chambord. A fireplace and exposed beam décor creates a beautiful atmosphere to enjoy the delicious French cuisine.
• If French romance is what you’re after then head to Les Annees 30 in the centre of Chinon. The medieval façade will take you back in time, the fish and game dishes are local to the area, and an outdoor terrace allows for a relaxing experience in the summer evenings.
• Head to the weekly food market at the foot of the chateaux in Blois for a true street food experience with local produce. With up to 300 stalls it was voted France’s favourite market!
• For those who like a bit of home while away, Chez Teresa is a little café run by English expats. Brimming with typically English décor and snacks (think scones and cream!) it’s the perfect spot for a cup of tea and slice of cake.


Grab a drink

• For a one stop guide to some of the best wines in the region, Le Tasting Room offers an all-inclusive day of touring the vineyards, and a home cooked meal in a 16th century winemakers home.
• If cocktails are your style then head to the Baroque Café in Angers, one of many bars in the area with outdoor seating. Cocktails are their speciality so enjoy your favourite while watching the world go by.
• With over 300 wines available from the local area and wider France, Le Cercle Rouge will leave you spoilt for choice! Once you’ve made a decision enjoy your chosen glass with cheese platters, a selection of meats or even oysters.
• Enjoy a pint and a burger at La Cave a Bulles after a day exploring Amboise. Located right by the Chateau d’Amboise tapas are also on offer, but the real highlight is definitely the never ending beer list.


For a 5 night self drive tour take a look at our Loire Valley Great Journeys tour.

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