Chateaux, rolling green fields, river reflections and bountiful vineyards. The romantic nature of the Loire Valley captivates history enthusiasts, gourmets and wine lovers alike and the region was rightly honoured by UNESCO in 2000 as a World Heritage Site.
Sitting pretty on the banks of the central stretches of the lengthy Loire River, Loire is considered to be the “Garden of France” thanks to its rich fertile farmlands which produce ingredients that fill the larders and cellars of the very best restaurants all over the country. If you’re partial to fine wines, it’s hard to imagine a better place to visit as the area is renowned for viticulture, producing an astonishing variety including Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir.
Historically, Loire was the destination of choice for French nobility and this preference has left its mark in the form of an abundance of magnificent castles and fine architecture. The valley is home to more than one hundred chateaux whose spectacular gardens and fascinating interiors have been opened to the public.
Set amongst ancient forests, beautiful meadows and green hills, the villages and towns of the Loire Valley are renowned for their bucolic charm and history. Amboise, once the home of the French royal court, is a particularly attractive destination and is the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci.
When to go
December to February are the coldest and darkest months and not the best time to visit, so rather hold off until around May when the flowers in chateaux gardens begin to bloom. Temperatures in July and August are hot and humid, but in September and October, the weather becomes more bearable. This is also harvest time, so spending your days out in the countryside will be rewarded with plenty of activity and beautiful scenery.
What to do
- Tour vineyards and chateaux
- Pick up gourmet specialities at the Amboise market on Friday or Sunday mornings
- Cycle around the Loire valley