Few countries in the world are more well known for their wines than France. Often paired with excellent culinary treats and opulent architectural settings, there are many spectacular sights and tastes in France. But, for wine lovers and francophiles, there is no better example of this than the Loire Valley. This valley has castles dotted across green rolling hills for the traveler to explore, and a food scene to rival the best in the world.
The image of the Loire Valley is one of a fairy tale come to life. This starts with the vision of castles, vineyards, and lush trees. Though the castles are often known as a chateau, they were built for fortification from the 10th to the 14th centuries. The most famous of these is the Château du Clos Lucé, once home to King Charles VII and the legendary inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci. Then there’s the Château de Chenonceau, a manor partially built over a river with a huge garden out back. And these are only two examples of almost 300 chateaux around the Loire Valley.
Spreading over 310 sq mi in central France, the Loire Valley is the third largest wine producer and has the second highest sparkling wine-producing vines in France. These include the major wine regions of Centre, Touraine, Anjou and Saumur, and Nantes—in order, going west to where the Loire River empties into the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of France. The wine itself, even over multiple regions, is often cited as having a fruity, crisp, and fresh taste.
The cities, towns, and villages that stretch along the Loire Valley of old world aesthetic. Largest of these is Orleans, a city that has had a rough go through history with the Romans, English, Attila the Hun, and WWII all sowing some manner of destruction upon it. Though now, this historic city is flourishing with tourism—particularly with the national heroine, Joan of Arc, leading a force to free the city in 1492 from English occupation during the Hundred Years’ War. Festivals during the summer liven up streets lined with renaissance architecture and Romanesque churches.
Tours, a city of gardens mixed with modern and old-world charm in the old quarter, is another stop worthy of the traveler’s trip. The city of Amboise gives the traveler a hub for visiting many more cities, including the above-mentioned city of Tours, like Chenonceau, Chambord, Blois, and Chaumont. Loches is a popular spot for its medieval look and being right along the river, with small streets and castles (with a dungeon) to explore.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than enough to fill a full itinerary for wine lovers, history buffs, francophiles, foodies, and Euro-travelers. Add in the world-renowned French cuisine and river cruises—and there’s a good chance the traveler will remember this getaway for many years to come. Getting there is easier with French bee Airlines, and with French bee Air+Train offer travelers can book and take a TGV (speed train) to either Saint Pierres-des-Corps, Angers, or Nantes to explore the “Valley” from Massy Gare Rail Station which is just 20 min away from Orly (shuttle bus available).
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