With charming towns and villages that transport you back in time, follow the course of the River Loire for an unforgettable trip of a lifetime
Apart from being one of the most beautiful regions in France, famed for its stunning landscapes and vineyards, the Loire Valley also boasts more than fifty castles, many of which have been declared World Heritage Sites.
Located between the cities of Angers and Orleans, in the centre of France, the best time to visit this region is June and July, when the weather is usually reliable and the days are longer. High season falls in July and August, but April to June and September are also good times.
You’ll be able to complete a fairly comprehensive tour of the region in about five to seven days, including the most important cities and châteaux. If you fly to Paris, Orleans is only 100 km away and not to be missed. The route follows the natural course of the Loire River and begins at the 14th century Sully-sur-Loire castle, a lesser-known but beautiful château. Next to come into view is Château Chambord, one of the Valley’s most prominent castles. A perfect end to the day here would be a wander around the medieval streets in the town of Blois.
Next stop is Château de Cheverny, well-known by Tintin lovers, then Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, one of the most beautiful along the route. Why not round off the day or kick off your next day with a visit to the spectacular 16th century Château de Chenonceau? Its unique architecture boasts a long gallery that spans the River Cher. It is one of the region’s most famous sights and undoubtedly the most impressive castle in the world. Together with Château de Chambord, it is also one of the two most visited castles in the Loire Valley. Just 20 km away you’ll come to Amboise, another city worth visiting. Nearby Tours is another recommended stopover, renowned for being one of France’s most beautiful medieval cities.
As you follow the meandering flow of the Loire you will come to Château Villandry, with its impressive gardens, and built on a small island on the Indre River stands Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, which is particularly remarkable because of its stunning French Renaissance architecture. Further along the route are Château Langeais and Château Ussé. Only 16 Km away lies Chinon, in the heart of the Loire Valley, another city that shouldn’t be missed. Top attractions include the Royal Fortress, the Medieval City, the Rue Haute St. Maurice and the Chinon lift, which will take you to the city centre from the fortress.
The next day would be suited to visiting Fontevraud Abbey, then the towns of Candes-St.Martin, Montsoreau and Turquant, Château Saumur. Round off this leg of your trip with a visit to the imposing Château d’Angers, owned by the Counts of Anjou, and an overnight stay in the lively town of Angers.
With so many impressive châteaux to visit, it’s worth noting that a large number can be admired from the outside, without having to pay an entrance fee, such as the Châteaux Sully-sur-Loire, de Blois, Royal d’Amboise, Langeais, Ussé, Angers, Saumur, Montresor, the Royal Fortress of Chinon and the Royal Citadel of Loches. So, it’s wise to plan your route in advance.
Pre-booking accommodation is a must, as is reserving a hire car, especially in high season. Spanish and EU citizens need only carry a DNI card and European Health Insurance Card. If you are planning to rent a car, GPS is essential. If you don’t have one, Maps.me (App) can be very useful (online and offline). It’s also wise to upload your most important documents to the cloud to minimize problems in case of theft or loss. Non-EU citizens should check visa entry requirements (via your embassy’s website) and it is always advisable to take out travel insurance.