The land of romantic castles and excellent wine, the Loire Valley is one of the most visited destinations in France. Although, the majority of tourists go to the Loire to see the majestic chateaux, there are many more things to do and see in the region. Here are just a few highlights to consider when you are planning your visit.
|Chateau de Chambord|
With more than 100 historic castles open to the public, you can spend days admiring their splendour. The Renaissance Chambord, the largest chateaux in the region; Cheverny where the descendants of the noble family the Hurault de Vibrayes still live, Chenonceau spanning the river Cher, - apart from opulent interiors, they all have something unique to offer.
Abbeys and cathedrals
Some of France’s most spectacular cathedrals are found in the Loire Valley. Chartres cathedral with its 12th century stained glass windows, Bourges cathedral often described as a masterpiece of Gothic art, the elegant cathedral in Tours. Make sure to visit the splendid 12th century Fontevraud Abbey where Henry II king of England and his son King Richard the Lionheart are buried.
Charming towns and villages
Visiting towns and villages in the Loire Valley is like travelling back in time. Narrow cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, splendid palaces and charming village cafes will steel your heart. Montrésor, Chinon, Le Grand Pressigny, Sancerre and many others are worth stopping for a day or two to soak up the atmosphere of joie de vivre.
The Loire Valley might not be as famous as those of Bordeaux or Burgundy but it produces some fine wines such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Muscadet appreciated by connoisseurs across the globe. Many family-run vineyards around Nantes, Tours, Angers and Saumur are open to the public for tastings and cellar tours.
Photos via Flickr by: Thomas Conté, Tim Rawle, Daniel Jolivet.