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“Castles, history, wonderful Loire Valley!”
Review of Loire Valley

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Bucharest
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
55 helpful votes
“Castles, history, wonderful Loire Valley!”
Reviewed 5 May 2009

If you are interested in a vacation where visiting and history are the main themes, I highly recommend the Loire Valley and its wondersul castles.
Every castle is astonishing.. With a little bit of imagination you can picture the old times with kings and queens, music and good wine, banquets and chase parties.. Everything is perfectly preserved, and the tourist can easily find his way around..
Chambord, Chenonceau, Villandry, Usse, Azay le Rideau...

We have been there in August 2008 and stayed in Nantes, which was not the best choice as a location; we found out that we should have chosen Tours or Blois, cities that are located right in the middle of the Loire Valley.

There are numerous castles to be seen. We could only visit the most important ones (I think one needs 2 weekes at least to visit everything and not get tired of driving and walking and.. )

But.. the feeling is great! Although we spent quite some time in the car, it paid off when we became part of the French history..

I think Loire Valley is a must for everyone. Enjoy!

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2 Thank Jules27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dixie
1 review
6 helpful votes
“Loire River Valley”
Reviewed 24 August 2007

The Loire River runs basically east/west about 50 miles south of Paris. The Loire River Valley is most famous for the multitude of chateaux that line it's banks and those of the tributaries that flow into the Loire River. The Chateau de Chambord and Chateau de Chenonceau are the most recognizeable of these chateaux. The area I visited was from Orleans to Angers and included the towns of Blois, Amboise, Tours, Saumur, and Langeais. I made this self guided trip on a bicycle and followed the "Loire a velo" route. This area is beautiful with a shallow, wide river running through farmland and vineyards. The people of the Loire are very friendly and speak English well enough that I rarely had to try to speak French. They all seem to want to be helpful in some way. I also got the idea that they don't see very many Americans on bicycles. I have written and posted a much more detailed journal about this trip that can be found on this website: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Loire2007. My overall impression is that this is a very relaxing and laid-back area. There are so many sleepy little towns to explore if you burn out on visiting chateaux. We went through several that we never even saw anybody on the streets and thought they looked like ghosttowns. This was quite a contrast to the 3 days I spent in Paris following the completion of my bike trip.

The Loire Valley is also noteable for some rather good wines. Chinon, Saumur, and Touraine are three of my favorite areas for red wines along the Loire River. It was so enjoyable to go from town to town and drink the local wine at each stop. Often times in the restaurants, we would drink a wine from a vineyard we had passed along the way that day .

So, if you want a very relaxing and slow paced vacation, go to the Loire Valley, rent a car, and spend a week driving from one sleepy town to the next. And don't forget to visit a chateau or two or more along the way.

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6 Thank GoVolsGo1998
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
“Suggested Itinerary for Chateaux of the Loire”
Reviewed 20 February 2004

Where should you go and what should you do in the Loire valley when there is so much to choose from? I propose the following five day itinerary for first visitors to theis region southwest of Paris: Day 1: Start your trip outside of Tours. Tours itself, thanks to World War 2, is now sprawling and modern. It has the best urban planning from the middle ages, the worst traffic congestion from the 20th century, and so much traffic signage, that it is difficult to know where and when to abandon the numerous round-abouts. Best advice is to find accommodations on the south side of the Loire river close to Tours, but outside the urban center. Dedicate enough time to commute to Tours and then to escape it. Rush hour rules apply. On this same note, while I can highly recommend the Chateau de Bourdaisiere in Mont-Louis-sur-Loire, I can tell you that it too is nearly impossible to find. Joe Millionaire would need a million dollars in GPS equipment to find it on the first try. Still there is nothing like staying in a Chateau, in the Chateau region though. Day 2: Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Usse, and Chouse-sur-Loire (stretch goal). Travel east to west from Tours. Villandry, with it's ornamental vegatable and flower gardens rivals Versaille for sheer beauty and saturated color.
This will likely be the most beautiful small chateau you visit, and so you should take your time and wander to your heart's content.
Photographers will revel in the layer upon layer of symmetry, perspective, color, and light. Plan lunch in Azay le-Rideau. The chateau closes for the lunch hour, like all of France, but this will give you an opportunity to enjoy one of the many delicious cafes between the post office and the main gate. More elegant dining is available around the square, but village life in France is the cafe and you can't get a better lunch for the money. When Azay opens after lunch, you will find an inverted pyramid surrounded on three side by water. Wander first through the park around the Chateau and take yet more wonderous pictures of the chateau and its reflection. Inside, the chateau has noteworthy interiors and modern art installations. Finish the Day in Usse, wandering through Perrault's Sleeping Beauty Castle.
This Castle, perhaps the most historic, is sadly well-worn by those who visited before you (namely children). Kids love to climb into the tower and view the diarama's telling the story of Sleeping Beauty. Adults will leave wondering why sleeping beauty looks like the lingerie mannequin at Sears. Still the real interiors of the Usse Chateau are interesting, and the tour worthwhile. End the day with dinner at the Close Usse in Rigny-Usse (bargain), or drive on to Chouse-sur-Loire for a three-star dinner at the Chateaux des Reaux, south of Bourgueil (reservations required). Day 3: Head east from Tours to Chennonceau and Chambourd. Chennonceau is famed for it's landscape architecture, and it's form as a bridge over the river Cher. It's pristine and beautiful, but more popular with tourists and so a little more institutional.
Lunch in the Buffet is recommended. Continue on to Chambourd at check in at the Hotel Grand St. Michel. Here the early 60s live again in your room decor, but the proximity to the Chateau cannot be beat. In summertime, be warned that the cafe noise runs through 11pm and there is no air conditioner. The formal restaurant however is very good, and reasonably priced. Chambourd is an architectural wonder. Walk around it as far as you can, and then walk through it. Save enough film to capture the thousand spires, chimneys and peaks of the rooftop. Sadly, the same French schoolchildren that sacked Usse have gouged there names in the limestone walls of Chambourd. Despite this the setting cannot be missed. Day 4: Spend the next day getting to Versaille. There are 26 different tours of the gargantuan estate. It's the most famous palace on earth. Enjoy. Day 5: On your last day drive from Versaille to Barbizon, southeast of Paris, and tour the inspiration for Versaille, Vaux-le-Vicompte. Stunning, well-preserved, and my favorite large chateau. There you have it, five days of diverse castles quality assured for your enjoyment!

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14 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
“The Loire was Heavenly”
Reviewed 20 January 2004

We spent a month in France and had an absolutely wonderful time!! The French are lovely helpful people, even with our very limited language skills. A few key phrases was all we needed to get along very nicely. The country is beautiful, gardens everywhere and still in full bloom in October. We rented a car and travelled all over the Loire. The roads are beautiful and so easy to drive and find your way around. We would go back in an instant!!

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1 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Fe
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
32 helpful votes
“A Gem of a Region”
Reviewed 26 May 2003

The western section of the Loire is often overlooked by travelers who are focusing on the chateaux located east of Tours. West of the city of Tours is lovely and has a ton to see. Azay-le-Rideau, Chinon, Fontrevraud, Saumur and Angers are all worth a visit and all of them have great amounts of things to see including castles, chateaux, the river itself, wine tasting in caves, vineyards, churches, great shopping and much more. I love this region and will continue to revisit it!

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3 Thank chiplynch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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