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The Loire Valley is located in Central France Stretches approximately 280KM comprising of about 800 square KM. The region is best known for its magnificent chateaux and of course its magnificent heritage of Vineyards. The region is easily accessible both from the UK and further afield only 2 hours south of Paris but a completely different world.
For me having lived in the Loire Valley I want to share with you some of the places I love and I enjoy exploring, Whether it’s a summer evening or a day out the Loire Valley is full of culture and history as well as magnificent scenery and beautiful sunsets.
If you would like any other information please take a look at my Loire Valley visitors Guide with some more information on how to get here and where to stay,
1, Sunset Paddle under Chateau Chenonceau
Chenonceau is one of Frances most famous Chateaux. The former home of Diane de Poitiers, the Chateau is remarkable for its architecture and design. Built as a bridge to span the River Cher and a passage over its flow. The Chateau and gardens were built to encompass this feat of engineering.
Nowadays the Chateau and gardens are open to the public as an exhibit (more further down)
For me the only way to Experience the Chateau is as a sunset Canoe Trip, Starting upstream before paddling through its majestic arches, taking your time to relax and unwind in the warm Loire Valley evening surrounded by hot air balloons taking off and landing close by.
As the sun sets on the Loire Valley you finish your voyage with some amazing evening colours broadcast through the skies.
For me, this is the number one thing to do and should not be missed.
After a long day visiting the zoo or tasting Wine why not head out for a relaxing Canoe Voyage with family and friends.
Experience Canoe Kayak host this trip every night through the summer months and is definitely a worthwhile experience
If you want to head out during the day Experience Canoe Kayak offers trips on the River Cher based in Noyers Sur Cher, Close to the Zoo de Beauval they offer a variety of trips of different lengths perfect for all the family.
(English and French Speaking)
2. Visit the Zoo De Beauval
The Zoo de Beauval is ranked as one of the top 10 Zoo’s worldwide with over 10,000 Animals, 600 species set over 40 Hectares the park is built on a natural setting with large enclosures and plenty of opportunities to see all of the animals.
The Zoo is located only a few minutes from the historic town of Saint Aignan within easy reach of the autoroute.
The Zoo is an amazing day out and is far too much for a single day so certainly look at spending a couple of days at the Zoo. With plenty of places to stay locally and reduced rates available for multiple day tickets. my top hint is to purchase the annual year pass as (at time of writing) is actually the same price as visiting for two days but allows you to visit unlimited times in a year.
The Zoo has recently (2017) had a new addition of a Baby Panda the first to be born at the Zoo and is sure to be a big attraction.
Be sure to plan time to visit the Bird show for an unbelievable experience coming face to face with a large number of amazing birds.
In the summer months be sure to take a bottle of water as the zoo does get very hot but is an amazing place to visit.
3, Visit the Chateau de Clos Luce
The last home of Painter, Inventor Leonardo da Vinci and now Museum and gardens celebrating his life and inventions.
The famous Chateau is situated in the heart of the historic town of Amboise just 500m from the Royal Chateau de Amboise.
The Chateau is open daily to visitors to explore the house of da Vinci with the downstairs exhibition a set of models built by IBM showing many of his inventions in working miniature form.
Head outside into the park area to roam the gardens with a number of the inventions built in life-size format for you to see and discover.
The chateau is a nice activity to do whilst visiting Amboise.
Sunday mornings is a large open-air market next to the river so the perfect opportunity for a day out in the beautiful town on the banks of the Loire.
4, Take your pick of the local produce with Wine Tasting
Probably the largest regional export from the Loire Valley has to be its famous wine with the Touraine Region at its heart, the fresh fruity flavours from over 5,300 hectares of vineyards throughout the region.
With so many Vineyards to choose from its easy to find a great wine tasting, With every winemaker offering a cave and tasting areas some offer an organised tasting and tour whereas others offer a simple tasting experience
a couple of our favourite Vineyards include
Domaine de la Renne – Saint Romain Sur Cher 41140
Domaine des Souterrains – Chatillon Sur Cher 41130
Domaine des Chezelles – Noyers Sur Cher 41140
5, Head inside the beautiful Chateau Chenonceau
So if you’ve managed to take a breathtaking sunset paddle under the Chateau with Experience Canoe Kayak then its time to head inside and explore the chateau on foot.
The Chateau is open daily to the public with both the house and Gardens open to explore. The Chateau is set amongst some beautifully kept gardens on the riverbank of the Cher River. The Chateau then spans the river as a bridge with the stanchions housing elements such as the gleaming kitchen facilities.
Chenonceau is a beautiful example of Loire Valley Chateaux not the biggest but one of the most beautiful with each room well set up with information and plenty to see.
Within the grounds is a farm area and well as wine cave and cafe.
Of all of the Loire Valley, Chateaux Chenonceau is one of my favourites with beautiful architecture and plenty to see it’s an amazing place to visit and explore.
6, Drive through Chambords Domaine
Chateau Chambord is the biggest chateau in the region featuring 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. All set within a 13,000 acre wooded parkland.
The Chateau is truly spectacular to explore but if you want a great day out it is possible to hire a golf cart for an hour of two to explore part of the park. The 5km loop can be walked or driven and takes you out around the historic canal.
It is also possible to take a small rowing or motor boat on the canal.
Chambord is really nice for an evening stroll or bike ride and is free to visit the park (Pay for parking) You only pay to go inside the Chateau.
Inside the chateau an interactive tour is available to follow and learn about this majistic chateau. Up on the roof the views overlooking the gardens and woodlands are not to be missed.
7, WhiteWater close to the Loire Valley – Stade d’eau vive de Tournon Saint Martin
If you want to add a little adventure it is possible to go whitewater rafting or Hydrospeeding at Tournon Saint Martin’s whitewater stadium.
This artificial course is only small but is full of fun and adventure. with the opportunity to SUP, Kayak, Raft or Swim through the rapids it is a great experience for all of the family.
8, Head underground and into a subterranean world
Hidden away along the banks of the River Cher, cut into the rock are an expanse of caves and tunnels.
These tunnels were cut to quarry out the rich Tufa Stone Used to build the local Chateaux, Chenonceau, Cheverny and Chambord. This particular stone is composed of calcium carbonate formed by the precipitation of water from nearby mineral springs. It has the unique quality of becoming harder and whiter after coming in contact with the air this makes it perfect for building these grand gleaming chateaux.
This underground world has been home to mushroom farm since 1893 at once stage they were commercially producing 200 tonnes a month. Nowadays they produce high-end mushrooms and offer tours of the caves and underground village. With wine storage and cafe its a great chance to taste some of the flavours of the region.
This place is perfect to visit on the hottest days of the year with the underground temperature a constant 11 degrees it is perfect to hide from the heat.
The Loire Valley and Vallee Du Cher are some of the most beautiful regions full of culture the region is perfect for a short getaway or a longer trip to explore the region in full.
With so much to do yo will certainly need multiple visits.
For more information be sure to look at my visiting guide with more hints and tips on places to stay and how to get here.