THE LOIRE VALLEY – WHY GO?
Come to the Loire for castles, castles, castles... from the feudal to the fairytale, and the Renaissance to the Rabelaisian. The Loire Valley's famous châteaux, with the river lapping at their feet, are architectural jewels evoking a courtly age of kings and courtesans.
Steeped in history and intrigue, these regal châteaux are beautifully set off against a backdrop of glinting water. Many a smaller château has now opened its doors to welcome hotel guests, so you can get a real taste of their aristocratic past.
MUST SEE, MUST DO
The spectacular riverside Château d’Amboise is a must, while other grand ones on the list should be Chenonceau, Cheverny, Blois and Chambord. Other gorgeous castles include Chaumont, Villandry, Chinon and Ussé. Romantics should head for Château Gizeux, one time home of the poet Du Bellay.
Treat yourselves to a massive cultural intake at the spectacular Château d'Amboise, looming above the river. Amboise is very walkable, and you can also visit Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years.
Wander among this elegant wine town’s half-timbered houses and cobbled streets, or brush up on your horsemanship at Saumur’s Cadre Noir school, one of the world’s top equestrian centres. There’s also a good Sunday market here.
Wander through the historic city of Bourges – a medieval masterpiece, with its warren of cobbled streets and beautiful buildings.
Huddled at the top of a steep, round hill, Sancerre could almost be in Tuscany. It’s all very picturesque, and there are dozens of wine caves offering tastings.
See the Château du Plessis Bourré near Angers to experience all the history of a stunning Loire castle. Visit the fire-torn Abbaye de Solesmes, whose high vaulted ceilings and fine architectural features make it one of the region’s most amazing buildings.
Be sure to try some local Vouvray, Sancerre and Montlouis wines at one of the Loire vineyards. Taste some sparkling Saumur brut at a tasting in the underground limestone caves of the Bouvet-Ladubay vineyard.
Take a boat trip along the Loire, or rent some bikes and enjoy exploring the little byways and riverside paths along the river.
On the edge of the Loire, Le Mans is famous not just for the 24 Hour motor race but also for its picturesque old town.
Say hello to springtime at the Printemps de Bourges music festival.
The heroic maid of Orléans is honoured in the two-day Fête de Jeanne d’Arc, with a huge procession.
Get ready to boogie at the annual jazz festival in Amboise.
Splash out on the ultimate treat – a helicopter or hot-air balloon ride to see the pearls of the Loire from above.
Boutique Hotels in Loire Valley
Intimately scaled Loire château with sumptuous style. More Details...
Secluded lakeside estate in the Val de Loire. More Details...
Manor house overlooking the Loire close to medieval Saumur. More Details...
Former priory set in gardens in the heart of Amboise. . More Details...
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