City Guide of Top Things to Do in the Loire Valley
As the meeting point of northern and southern France, the Loire Valley was strategically descended on by the richest and most powerful families in the area. Throughout history, royals hired the world’s best artists and architects to design the biggest, grandest palaces they could, while many a noble figure followed suit for fear of being left behind.
As it went, the provincial area turned into a maze of regal Renaissance masterpieces and fairytale towers, which has seen the entire central area crowned a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a thriving wine scene, ornate old towns and stunning rural cycle routes, you’ll find plenty of things to do in the Loire Valley.
Chateaux Medieval Fortress in Loire Valley
There are a whole host of things to do in Loire Valley. Why not start your explorations in the capital city of the region, Orléans, where you'll only be a short distance from the Duke of Sully's 14th century medieval fortress Château de Sully-sur-Loire.
Further west, occupying a dominating position between the capital and Tours, you'll find one of France's greatest architectural wonders – the royal retreat of Château de Chambord . The work of Italian architect Domenico da Cortona, with the reported assistance of Leonardo Da Vinci, this breathtaking structure was commissioned by François I to show off his wealth and power to foreign dignitaries.
However, it isn't just the royals with fabulous residences in the Loire. The Château de l’Islette was the home of the great sculptors Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin, while the restored Château d’Azay-le-Rideau is easily one of the most picturesque structures in the region – both castles are just a short distance from the lively city of Tours.
From real-life medieval fortresses travel back in time with a visit to Puy Du Fou a historical theme park without the rollercoasters! Experience different centuries of history, brought to life with fast-paced action shows with special effects, themed restaurants and villages. This is a theme park with a difference attracting over 2 million visitors a year.
Discover Loire Valley’s Charming Towns
Take a step back in time and discover some of the sophisticated cities of the Loire Valley. Chartres, Orléans and Bourges are best known for their spectacular cathedrals, but by following the Loire River you'll also discover the grandeur of Blois, as well as the final resting place of Leonardo Da Vinci at Amboise.
At the famed mushroom growing city of Saumur, the enormous fungi caves are only narrowly less impressive than the effortlessly grand Château de Saumur that overlooks the city.
Make the most of the cultural and tourist amenities of the region with the Angers City Pass card and get free admission to more than 20 sites with discounts on public transport, bicycle rental, cruises, shopping and much more.
For those in need of a drink after a hard day of exploring, laid-back Angers is the home of Cointreau liqueur and the ideal place to blow off steam while wandering along the twisting cobbled alleyways of the old town. If you're feeling particularly energetic, you can also grab a bike and take on the challenging 800km Loire à vélo cycle route along France’s longest river.
Fine Wines of the Loire Valley
Favourable wine growing conditions has helped put this part of the country on the wine making map, with production traced back to the 5th century. Wine tours in the Loire Valley offer visitors the perfect way to drink in the flavours, aromas and passion of this fertile region.
White wine is the biggest product, and the Loire Wine Road helpfully directs the flow of vino fans through the meadows, villages and hilltop vineyards. On the way, some essential tastings include Touraine's sparkling wine, Saumur's dry reds, Sancerre's famous sauvignon blanc and the excellent quality chenin blanc from Anjou.
Ready to discover these fantastic things to do in the Loire Valley for yourself? Book your crossing from Dover to Calais today!
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