The Loire Valley is best known for two things: wine and chateaux. But there is much more on offer in this region.
It is of course impossible to visit the 300+ chateaux on offer, but in just a few days you will have time to experience some of the most impressive and varied.
Villandry with it’s world renowned garden; Chenonceau, a Renaissance masterpiece known as the ‘Chateau des Dames’ due to the feminine touches and architecture created by the women of it’s past; Chateau Chambord – a vast 400 room castle and hunting lodge and Blois – home to no less than 17 French Kings and Queens.
But long before the chateaux, ‘troglodyte’ caves were the dwelling of choice – built from the ‘tuffeau’ limestone that created the valley floor 90 million years ago and inhabited since the 4th century BC – the caves maintain a constant 12 degrees throughout the year and are perfect for storing wine, growing mushrooms and for the poorer inhabitants through the ages, offered the possibility to survive the cold winters. These days many of the cave dwellings are restaurants, shops and even houses but a trip to the Trogoldyte Village in Rochemenier will take you through the history of these remarkable excavations.
The Loire Valley is France’s most diverse wine region and offers a long list of well-known and well-loved wines such as Pouilly Fume, Sancerre and Muscadet. Using just 4 grape types the Loire valley wine output is impressive with white, sparkling, rose and red on the menu – any visit to this region will inevitably result in some long lunches in the sun, by the riverbank, in a quiet French village or even in the grounds of the Chateau that produced it.
With a stretch of the longest river in France running through it, the Loire Valley became one of the most important trade routes in Roman times and was the cause and site of many battles through the ages. But with beautiful medieval towns such as Saumur, vibrant cities like Angers and Tours and eight of the most beautiful villages in France, the scars have healed well and with river side bike routes, boat hire, walking routes and vineyards to explore. There is ample opportunity to experience the absolute essence of the world famous Loire Valley.
Travel in June to combine your Loire Valley road trip with the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race, less than an hour’s drive from the town of Tours.