Every year, visitors come in droves to witness a fairytale scene, complete with glorious castles and alluring countryside. Called the ‘Garden of France’, the whole region of the Loire Valley is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And because of its charm, the Loire Valley was often visited by French kings. Since the Middle Ages and the Hundred Years’ War, the area has been strategically significant. However, the Loire Valley jolted to life in the Renaissance.
In the 1400s and 1500s, the French Kings conjured an image of opulence and luxury and built exuberant country retreats in the middle of the Loire’s rivers and woodlands. These extravagant castles became iconic, and wealthy nobles did the same by making their own massive homes in the region.
The elegant Renaissance castles were built mainly for entertainment as a replica of court life outside of Paris. The imposing Chambord is the most impressive castle, while Chenonceau happens to be the most beautiful.
>>Also Read: Things To Do In Loire Valley
Here Is Why Loire Valley Is Worth Visiting
Visit All of the French Castles
There is no other area in France that is closely associated with châteaux as the Loire Valley is. In the middle of medieval piles, smaller seats of family authority, and royal palaces, whatever type of architecture you desire to see, this region has it all. It might interest you to know that over a hundred chateaux are accessible by the public, most of which have small entry fees.
Here are Some Some Castles Worth Visiting in Loire Valley:
Châteaux de Chambord
There is a story that some part of this elegant castle was designed by Da Vinci as evidenced in the complex architectural details liked the double helix staircase in the château’s center. In some other parts of the castle, there are several hundreds of rooms to take on, and a vast expanse of gardens to stroll around.
Château de Cheverny
For followers of Tintin comic books, Cheverny might become instantly obvious as the inspiration for Marlinspike Hall (Château de Moulinsart). In some other parts of the property, there is a perfect garden to stroll around and many incredible French furniture to adore.
Château de Chenonceau
Of all the chateaus in the region, this one is perhaps the most popular. The château contains dramatic turrets, fascinating spires, and many other riveting amazing water features, it is a must-visit on any trip to the region. Situated close to a village of the same name, Chenonceaux, the estate was founded sometimes in the 1000s.
Marvel at the Fairytale Towns
For lovers of blissful holidays that come with a piece of history, a visit to the Loire Valley is certainly the one to make. This is not just because of the castles. Rather, the area is home to lots of elegant towns and many timber-framed cities.
>>Also Read: What is Loire Valley Famous For
Here are Some Cities Worth Visiting in the Loire Valley:
With timber-framed structures and a cathedral that is regarded as one of the most captivating in France, Chartres is the ideal place to spend a day or two sampling local delicacies, exploring, and immersing yourself in the mellowed atmosphere.
Chinon is located on a hillside city, just above River Vienne’s waters. In the Middle Ages, the town was an important point for the English and French.
There is an element of surprise in this place! Situated on the edges of the Loire Valley, and close to the motorway that course back to Paris, these medieval townhouses an 1100s fortified château, ancient church, and many twisting lanes.
Take on the Thriving Markets in the Loire Valley
In France, markets are cultural, and the Loire Valley is certainly not an exception. A lot of the biggest towns organize events every day. And to add to the regular fresh food markets, markets deal in different things, including furniture, flowers, truffles, second-hand books, etc.
Indulge in Some Loire Valley Wine
The wine produced here is one of the most sparkling and softest in the world. Thanks to the fertile soil it has, the area is aptly dubbed the ‘Garden of France status’. In fact, the wine manufactured here has the reputation of being crispy and fruity flavors. The area extends to comprise of Sancerre, Muscadet, and Pouilly-Fumé. Even though many of the wines made here are white grapes types, some red grape options are used as well to produce rosé, white, and red wines.
UNESCO World Heritage Status
Given its countless culture, old-but-striking towns, and many other chateaux, the central area of the Lore Valley has been recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site since 2000. Included in the list are the departments of Loire-et-Cher, Loiret, Maine-et-Loire, and Indre-et-Loire.
Best Time to Visit the Loire Valley Region
When you visit the region, and the exact place you should head to is a matter of preference. You could visit in the spring because it is less crowded than during the summer months. In the spring also, you might have the chance to see pops of color in all the gardens in the Loire Valley that you visit. In the case that you prefer to visit just to enjoy longer days without a fleet of persons and longs queues, visit in September-October or April-June.
Visiting during spring and autumn (shoulder seasons) or in the summer (peak season) also assures that most establishments will be opened for business. Do not forget that the many Loire Valley castles and museums close for the winter. Meanwhile, those that do not close have short opening hours.
In the peak season, many of the chateaux have flashy nighttime light displays, and festivals are held throughout the area in the summer months. For lovers of outdoor sports and pursuits, the Loire à Vélo cycle trail (made up of over 800 km) means that getting around the region by bicycle is simple and easy.
Getting Around the Loire Valley
To reach the region in the first place, it is worth sharing that the Loire Valley boasts of about two international airports; one at Tours and the other at Nantes. Trains travel to the region from many major cities in the country.
When there, if possible, rent a car. Even though buses to the main Loire Valley tourist attractions are available, they hardly offer the same flexibility as riding in a car or going on a day’s tour to the area.
Where to Stay in the Loire Valley
Some of the great places to stay in the area include Orleans (Joan of Arc’s home town) and Blois (a hillside town in the area’s center). Another large city option is Tours, which is a university town that was established in the Gallo-Roman times. For tourists that will be preferring a rather more off the beaten tourist trail selection, then the beautiful Amboise has many accommodation options. Amboise also has many restaurants and some of the most charming French mansions in the area.
How to Visit Loire Valley In a Day Trip from Paris
If you will be spending a short time and prefer to see the area in a day, then a day trip from the French capital is definitely a possibility, especially if you have a vehicle. Alternatively, you can extend your stay to many days to genuinely immerse yourself in history and see a lot of sites. There are many tours organized by tour companies, so you should check them out if interested.
>>Also Read: How to Get From Paris to Loire Valley
Is Loire Valley Worth Visiting? – Summary
The Loire Valley is one of the places to be if you will be staying longer in France and a region definitely worth visiting. If you are a wine lover, you can take wine tours as much as you want, and if you just want to visit for the magnificent architectures and extra attractions, the Garden of France will be ready to impress you in spectacular proportions. There are many things worth visiting the Loire for if you want to have some of the most sensational experiences in France.