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Loire Valley wine

What you should know about Loire Valley wine

Vineyards and winemaking are deeply rooted in a culture and heritage of French people. That is why France is the country widely recognized for its production and consumption of wine. French people love their wine and usually cannot refuse a glass or two during the dinner or even lunch 😉. Also, wine lovers from all over the world come here to taste this delicious liquor and to please their taste buds.

There are a couple of regions in France that are famous for producing and selling wine. We can distinguish regions such as Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and Loire Valley, where you can find different types of wine, according to the specific region. But let me tell you something more about the Loire Valley wine region.

Loire Valley region

The region of Loire Valley, also called the Garden of France, is located in central west France and is well known for its attractive landscapes, stunning castles, and old villages. The combination of the beautiful landscape with the cultural heritage determines the uniqueness of the valley. But there’s something more to that. The Loire Valley region is also well known for the wine that its producing. It is the most diverse wine region of all France that produces wines in every style. We can find there 86 different wine appellations with a wide choice of red, rosĂŠ, white and sparkling wine.

Loire Valley wine

Loire Valley wine

The Loire Valley wine has its unique flavors that are made from different types of grapes. The grape varieties we can find in the Loire Valley wine region are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, Muscadet, and Chardonnay.

Loire Valley wine

Among all of the exquisite wines of the Loire Valley wine region, I would recommend trying Coteaux-du-Layon which is a sweet white wine made from Chenin Blanc grapes. Its delightful fruity flavors may be perfect for those who need a little bit of sweetness in their life. Second one worth trying is the Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil which impresses with its soft, fruity taste. It is made mainly from Cabernet Franc grapes with up to 10% of Cabernet Sauvignon. You can choose between rosĂŠ and red wine. When it comes to Anjou wine, it has its winegrowing influence for over 1,000 years. This wine is especially known for its fresh fruits flavors and it’s usually found as red or rosĂŠ wine. The next wine I would recommend you to try is the Muscadet, made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes. Muscadet wines are usually dry and light bodied. So, if you’re a big fan of this type of wine, it might be perfect for you!  The last but not least is the Vouvray which has white dry, off-dry, sweet and sparkling wines since it’s made of Chenin Blanc grapes. Its flavor is considered very fresh with the range from full to opulent.

Visiting cellars

Loire Valley wine

In Loire Valley there are 5 smaller regions where you can find a lot of tourist cellars: Anjou, Centre-Loire, Pays Nantais, Saumur, and Touraine. Take a tour in one of the cellars where you can have a guide who will explain everything to you. Also, you can try the famous Loire Valley wine! To taste some of the finest wines I would highly recommend you to go and visit one of those cellars: Cave des Producteurs de Montlouis-sur-Loire, Cave des Vines de Bourgueil, Domaine de la Vinçonnière, Ackerman, Domaine Lelais or Conférie des Vignerons de Oisly et Thésee. Each one of them has in their basements different types of wines so I’m sure you will find something for yourself!

If you’re not a fan of visiting the cellars you should check out also the wine bars where you can taste Loire Valley wine with some local food. And maybe you will get to know the secrets of pairing wine with some culinary specialties! 😉

 

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Loire valley vineyards

Loire Valley Vineyards

 The Loire Valley Vineyards are rich in history and French culture. The valley falls in the middle of the Loire river in central France. To the French, Loire valley is regarded as “le jardin du France” (garden of France) because of the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards and fields of crops that decorate the river bed.

Loire valley vineyards

Loire Valley Vineyards History

Loire valley vineyards

Loire valley vineyards have been around for a very long time. The Roman’s are credited for planting the first vineyards in the Nantes region around the 1st century, however it is noted that it was not until

the 5th century that the region became popular for wine production. Over the centuries that followed, the influence of monks around was a major factor in developing various vineyards and planting more varietals of grapes. The monks played a vital role in producing everything from the vines to the wines and because they were so familiar with the region they knew the most effective ways to communicate, which was crucial in that point of time.  In general, traveling along roads in France at this time was considered dangerous, many traveled along the Loire River because it was the safest option. This method of traveling also helped promote the region. Loire valley vineyards continued to grow and prosper until the year 1709, when a harsh winter hit the region and decimated much of its production. Following this, the French Revolution further prevented the Loire Region from growth. As the war concluded and France began to reemerge into society, winemakers in the Loire valley began to focus solely on quality. This commitment to producing nothing but the best has allowed for the region to create very famous appellations, which were given recognition in the year 1936. Today it is known as “Appellations d’Origine ContrĂ´lĂŠe”.Loire valley vineyards between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonees-sur-Loire were finally classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000. Some popular wine varietals that come from this region include chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, gamay, melon de bourgogne (muscadet) and pinot noir!

Loire valley vineyards to visit

Loire Valley VineyardsBouvet Ladubay is one of the most vistited vineyards in the Saumur region of Loire valley. Here they produce sparkling wines and over the past decades have received over 500 awards for their production, which is a testament to their consistent production of excellent quality wines each and every year. The winery welcomes its visitors onto almost 5 miles of vineyards and cellars in which they are able to venture out and explore. At the end of the visit, you can enjoy a tasting of the Bouvet Ladubay brut de Loire collection which will not disappoint.

Loire valley vineyardsAnother winery worth checking out is Chateau de Miniére. It is a beautiful estate that resides in the heart of the “Val de Loire” which is apart of the UNESCO World heritage. Originally built in the 17th century, today the property stretches over 44 acres of vineyards in districts with various appellations. An interesting fact about this estate is woman have always been in charge of production. A tradition that is still observed today, with Kathleen Van den Berghe as the current winemaker. Kathleen not only upholds the female tradition but her commitment to preserving the environment is also a practice rooted in the history of the estate. Chateau de Miniére produces a special wine from old vines that are known as “Vignes Centenaires”. In addition, they also produce a great selection of sparkling wines, reds, and rosés.

loire valley vineyardsDomain Sauvète is also a winery worth your while. It is located in Monthou-sur-Cher which is resides in the Touraine region of Loire valley. If you are someone who has a distinct admiration for nature and its beauty, this is definitely the winery for you. Domaine Sauvète is family owned and operated, and has been for four generations from the same family whose mission is to produce very natural and organic wines. They grow a broad spectrum of varietals which enables their wines to have a lot of style and flavor. There are lots of activities to do at this winery other than tasting the wines, so if you have young ones with you definitely keep this one in mind!

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Where To Stay In Loire Valley : Hotels Guide

A lot of impressive castles from the Renaissance are scattered throughout the region. From the famous castle of Amboise to the outstanding castle of Azay-le-Rideau, this region is really filled with history. We also can’t forget to talk about the wine of the region, known internationally. If you are interested, you can take part in a wine tasting proposed by wine cellar.

So here is a list of special hotels where to stay Loire Valley to immerse in the universe of the Renaissance and extend the fairy atmosphere conveyed by the region’s castles.

 

Amboise


 

Hotel Les Minimes ****

$$$

The manor house offers an exceptional environment to their clients. The spacious room are designed with the French touch of the Renaissance time. Really well located, the hotel is at only 5 minutes of the château of Amboise and 15 minutes of the Clos-LucÊ! I advise you to ask a room with a view of the Amboise castle. Warm and customer-friendly service, you will find everything you need for your comfort.

34 Quai Charles Guinot, 37400 Amboise

where to stay in Loire Valley

Hotel Les Minimes @Hotel Les Minimes

 

Hotel Le Clos d’Amboise ****

$$$

The Clos d’Amboise was a former master house from the 17th century, transformed in hotel. Its history gives him a unique charm you will not resist to. The traditional design with a modern touch is really pleasant. You can enjoy the sauna, the swimming pool and a breakfast at the terrace full of rose bushes. A bar-restaurant is available if you are a bit hungry.

27 Rue Rabelais, 37400 Amboise

where to stay in Loire Valley

Hotel Le Clos d’Amboise @Hotel Le Clos dAmboise

 

Chenonceaux


 

Hotel Auberge du Bon Laboureur ****

€€€

Former postal relay, this charming hotel has a cosy setting where you can rest. Behind its luxuriant exterior, can be found a heated swimming pool and Scandinavian baths. The 1-star restaurant offers in its menu, tasty and original dishes. Very well-located, the hotel is at 2 min only of the Castle of Chenonceau and 30 km from the zoo of Beauval.

6 Rue du Docteur Bretonneau, 37150 Chenonceaux

where to stay in Loire Valley

Auberge du Bon Laboureur @Auberge du Bon Laboureur

 

Hotel La Roseraie ***

€€

With its comfy bedrooms and its classical design, the hotel conveys a relaxing atmosphere. The secret weapon of this hotel is its flowery garden where it is nice to walk around in summer. With a restaurant and a swimming pool at your disposal and a perfect service, this hotel is really a good value for money. Highly recommended.

7 Rue Docteur Bretonneau, 37150 Chenonceaux

where to stay in Loire Valley

Hotel La Roseraie @Hotel La Roseraie

 

Cheverny – Chambord


 

Hotel Relais des Trois Chateaux ****

€€€

In you search a comfy place where to stay in the Loire Valley, come to the hotel of the Relais des Trois Chateaux. At first a postal relay, it was transformed in hotel-restaurant in 1865. Since, the hotel kept its special identity while modernizing itself. The spacious rooms, the helpful staff, everything is here to make you feel at ease. The little extra is the fireplace where you can have a cafĂŠ or an appetizer.

1 Place Victor Hugo, 41700 Cour-Cheverny

where to stay in Loire Valley

Hotel Relais des Trois Chateaux @Hotel Relais des Trois Chateaux

 

Hotel Restaurant Saint Hubert ***

€€

Near the castles of Chambord, Cheverny and Amboise, this hotel-restaurant is an ideal location where to stay in Loire Valley to see the most worth visiting castles. A simple and cosy hotel-restaurant perfect for families : Rooms for 4 available. The restaurant offers local specialities. The staff is very welcoming and attentive to our requests.

122 Rue Nationale, 41700 Cour-Cheverny

where to stay in Loire Valley

Hotel Saint Hubert @Hotel Saint Hubert

 

East of Tours


 

Chateau de Rochecotte ****

€€€

Spend a night in an exceptional place : a castle of the Loire Valley. The castle of Rochecotte with its majestic French style gardens and Italian patio has a both classical and baroque design. The hotel by its special assets, represents the French grace. This authentic place is at 20-25 min from the magnificent castle of Azay le Rideau, renoved recently, and the castle of UssĂŠ, so beautiful that it has inspired Charles Perrault for the Sleeping Beauty tale.

where to stay in Loire Valley

Chateau de Rochecotte @Chateau de Rochecotte

 

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The 6 most beautiful Loire Valley castles

The Loire Valley, known as “Le Jardin de la France (the garden of France)”, was being the favorite residence for the French kings during the Renaissance, and these buildings are mostly built or substantially reworked during the Renaissance in France. ParisbyM will present you some of the most beautiful Loire Valley castles, in order to help you in case you want to visit castles in the Loire Valley.

Loire Valley castlesAs you can see from the map, there are numerous castles disperse in the region. The main reason might correspond to the hundred years’ war which made the French kings and the English kings oppose against each other. During this very long war, the kings of different nationalities possessed each a bank of the Loire and made the construction of several palaces and military fortresses which later became, particularly during the Renaissance, the majestic Loire Valley castles. In addition, the winegrowing condition and the goat cheese production make this region more charming in terms of the castle culture.

The 6 most beautiful Loire Valley castles

1. Chateau de Chambord

According to most people, the Chateau de Chambord is the castle the most worthiest of being visited. As the hunting reserve of the king François I, its immense park is the biggest closed forest park in Europe, with an area that is similar to the city of Paris. Its facade is also spectacular with its hundreds of amply curved chimneys and chapiters. In addition, you can also attend the horse and raptor shows in the Chateau de Chambord (the raptors may graze your shoulder!).

 

2.Chateau de Chenonceau

The chateau de Chenonceau also named “le château des dames” (the castle of the ladies), spanning the river “le Cher” just like an elegant lady. Its history is marked and embellished by women. Thomas Bohier built the castle in 1513, but it was his wife Katherine Briçonnet who supervised the construction and imposed her style on the castle. Afterwards, Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de MĂŠdicis also added their personal touch. As a result, you will have the chance to promenade in the marvelous French garden and in the forest, and to cross and walk along the banks of the beautiful le Cher.

3.Chateau royal de Blois

To visit the chateau royal de Blois, is to discover a panorama of the French architecture history. In the center of the inner courtyard, four architectures of four different periods (from the medieval style to the classic style) are available for you to visit. Evidenced by the royal apartments sumptuously furnished and adorned with magnificent decorations, it is also a place which is evocative of the kingship and the daily life of the Court during the Renaissance.

4.Chateau de Cheverny

Domaine de Cheverny was a seigneurial property that had belonged to the same family for six centuries. Unlike many castles in the Loire Valley, Cheverny has always been inhabited and each generation contributes to the maintenance of the castle with passion, to keep the beauty of the place. Therefore, Cheverny presents the most beautiful interior and the most beautiful furniture. It is worth mentioning that, in the comic “The Adventure of Tintin”, Hergé used Cheverny as the model for Marlinspike Hall, you can also visit an exposition dedicated to the comic album.

5.Chateau d’Amboise

The primary reason to visit Chateau d’Amboise is that it offers you a unique view of the panorama of the Loire Valley. With its terraced gardens, you have many different vast and magnificent views of the valley. Another thing to know: Leonard da Vinci who lived in Amboise, is buried in the Chateau d’Amboise. You can also visit the Chateau Clos Lucé which is right next to it, where Leonard da Vinci lived for his last three years.

 

6.Chateau Chaumont-Sur-Loire

The castle of Chaumont-Sur-Loire, standing in the Loire Valley between Amboise and Blois, its construction was for the purpose of protecting Blois from the attacks of the Counts of Anjou. It may not be interesting to visit the castle itself, but its gardens do worth a visit. Each year, the castle hosts the International Garden Festival, from April to November. You will discover not only the style of “French garden”, but also different contemporary artistic landscape creation. Really amazing and surprising to discover!

 

Not only these 6 castles above, ParisbyM have selected for you the 19 most beautiful Loire Valley castles, you can check them out by clicking the marks on the following map!


Have a good trip in the Loire Valley!

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Which chateau de France you should visit

The “Chateau de France”, is the symbol of the splendidness of the French history. From Versailles to Castelnaud, passing by the “Chateaux of the Loire Valley”, the rich and fantastic culture of castle may sometimes make us confused when it comes to visit a chateau de France. So, this article is aiming to help you to have a clear vision of the chateau de France, in order to help you further to choose the best ones to visit.

Castles of the Loire Valley

loire valley bike tours Chateau de France

Map of the Loire Valley

In France, when we talk about the castles, the first thing that really comes to mind is the “Chateaux of the Loire Valley”. During the hundred years war, the French kings and the English kings opposed each other, and each one of them possessed of a bank of the Loire. Theses kings of different nationalities did the construction of several palaces and military fortresses that eventually became, especially during the Renaissance, the magnificent chateau de France.

The Loire Valley is located in the west of the France, about an hour and a half from Paris (one hour and twenty minutes by train, and one hour fifty by car). The region is reputed for its natural landscape, cultural heritage and the castles which are very worth a visit. If you are passionate about the chateau de France, this place cannot be missed. Not only the famous castles like Chambord, Chenonceau, Amboise, Blois, Azay-le-rideau etc., you can also visit the little-famous ones such as Talcy, Menars, Abbaye de la Guiche, Chemery etc. If I write a list of the castles at this point, it will be long and tedious, I would suggest you buy and read a backpacker guide to get a more complete knowing about the Chateaux of the Loire Valley before your visit.

 

Castles in the Paris region

The world-famous chateau de France in the Paris region (in the department Île-de-France) is also unavoidable for a visit, like the Palace of Versailles, the Palace of Fontainebleau, the Vincennes Castle and so on.

The Palace of the Versailles is the most visited one among all the chateau de France, was constructed from 1661 to 1715, by King Louis XIV, in order to appease the rebellion and strengthen his kingship. The palace became since then, a very significant symbol of the greatness of France, which have been attracting people from all over the world to come and look at it with reverence.

Palace of Versallailles, Châteaux de Versailles Chateau de France

The garden of the Palace of Versailles

It is worth mentioning that, the chateau de France in the Paris region usually merges with the stories of French kings. For example, the Vaux le Vicomte Castle, located in the south-east of Paris, its background story is as fantastic as its look. Its builder, Nicolas Fouquet, was the superintendent of finance, imprisoned because of the manipulation of his colleague on the charge of corruption. And his Castle, Vaux le Vicomte, was then sealed and the king Louis XIV seized almost all his property. Also, the king Louis XIV used the Vaux le Vicomte Castle as the model for the design of the Palace of Versailles.

 

The chateau de France in the Paris region are all accessible by public transport, and it takes generally from 20 minutes to less than 1 hour by train. If you don’t have the availability to visit the castles which are outside the Paris region, the castles inside the Paris region are easy to reach and worth to visit, besides, don’t forget to get to know the stories behind these majestic castles.

 

The Castles outside the Paris region

The most famous chateau de France outside the Paris region and the Loire Valley must be the Chateau de Castelnaud, which is in the town of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, in Dordogne department. It is a magnificent medieval fortress, offering you an amazing panorama of the Dordogne valley. Classified as historical monument, this fort is entirely dedicated to the great era of the Middle Ages. The fortress shelters a huge number of weapons and armor. The models, the furniture, the machines of war, as well as the numerous restorations of the fort, make of it a museum of war more real than nature. The castle counts more than 200 000 visitors a year.

 

Other chateau de France that I suggest you to visit are :

chateau outside the paris region Chateau de France

Click the picture to see the map

Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg in the Alsace region (Key words: medieval, furniture, weapon, rocky spur)

Chateau des ducs de Bretagne in Nantes (Key words: Nantes history, Bretagne history, museum, Gothic-Renaissance)

 

Chateau de Valençay in the Commune of Valençay, the Indre department (Key words: French garden, English park, Renaissance, elegance, art)

Peyrepertuse, in the Commune of Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse, the Aude department (Key words: ruined fortress, Cathar castles, rocky spur)

 

 

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Loire Valley Bike Tours

Would you like to enjoy your trip to France in a different way for a change? Why don’t you explore the wonderful nature and architecture of Loire Valley by bike? Marvelous landscapes, breathtaking castles, fresh air and exercise – doesn’t that sound like a perfect vacation?

About Loire Valley

Located only one hour from Paris, in the west of France, the Loire Valley is a region of nature and history. Lovers of ancient castles and chateaux will enjoy themselves! Not only the world-famous castles of Chenonceau and Chambord, the smaller castles like Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry and Saumur are worth a visit. Apart from that, you must see the city of Ambroise and the magnificent landscapes and woodlands of Loire Valley. Perfect for  unforgettable Loire Valley bike tours.Loire Valley 2 Days, loire valley private in 1 day, places to visit in France, loire valley bike tours

How to get there

If you are already in Paris, it is not difficult to get to Loire Valley. Find out more about travelling to Loire Valley here!

loire valley bike toursLoire Valley Bike Tours

Most providers offer both guided and self-guided tours. Both have their advantages, based on your ideas and needs. The local guides not only lead the way but they know loads of stories about the region. So, if you wish to learn more about the region, its history and its anecdotes, you should book a guided tour. However, if you prefer to discover the region at your own pace, we recommend a self-guided tour.

loire valley bike toursThere is a great deal of various offers available during spring and summer months, mostly from April to October. Please check the website of the specific provider for detailed information. All in all, you can choose between several bike tours with different durations – from only one day up to six days. In case of a duration of more than one day, most offers will include accommodation. You will be able to pick the Loire Valley bike tour that fits best for you since various routes are offered.

Additionally, there can be extra activities to guarantee an outstanding experience for you. For example, you can take a break to have a picnic in a nice spot off the road, visit the breathtaking castles and charming villages with their winding streets all around the area. There are even offers including wine tastings. Or you can also try a Bike & Spa if you’re into wellness!

Length & difficulty

To give you a rough idea of the tours, you will do 25 miles within approximately 12 hours, for example. The level of difficulty varies but most providers will indicate how strenuous the tour will be. If you would like to go on a Loire Valley bike tour, be prepared for cycling through a region with hills and changing grounds since most routes will lead you on back roads and through forests.

Advice

loire valley bike toursFirst, please don’t overestimate your own fitness! Cycling all day long can be more exhausting than you may think. So, perhaps it is more reasonable to book an easier route for a start. If you are an expert when it comes to cycling, don’t hesitate to try the other bike tours. But even if you are used to cycling a lot, don’t forget the drink enough water, especially during the hot summer months.

Second, if you’re coming with your family, check out first if there are family offers. If your children are old and fit enough for a bike tour, you might be interested in one of the easier ones. But after a whole day riding your bikes, one thing is for certain – your kids are going to sleep like a baby.

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Top 10 French Castles

Fond of the Middle Ages, their mysteries and monuments full of history? Also keen on kings and the way they left their mark on their time? Here is a top 10 French castles which will fulfil your curiosity about the most stunning French architectural creations.

 

Around Paris

Versailles Gardens, versailles, the gardens, french castles1. Versailles Palace

In order to avoid any rebellion against his reign, King Louis XIV built a magnificent castle in Versailles for his court and himself. They settled there from 1682, and the palace still is an important sign of the greatness of France. With its renowned Hall of Mirrors, King’s apartments, but also Palace of the Grand Trianon, Marie-Antoinette’s Estate and its sumptuous gardens, it is without a doubt an outstanding castle nobody should miss.

 

french castles2. Vaux le Vicomte Castle

Located in the south-east of Paris, this 17th century castle was designed by Nicolas Fouquet, in charge of Finance under the reign of Louis XIV. It was actually used as a model for the construction of the Château de Versailles, which already implies how beautiful this castle is. Don’t miss its French gardens designed by Le Nôtre, which will leave you as relaxed as admiring.

 

3. Fontainebleau Castle

Fontainebleau, french castles

Here is a castle which has known many different ages. Its construction probably began in the 12th century and it housed French Kings such as François Ier. With its classical, Renaissance, medieval but also Italian styles, it is a must-see near Paris, particularly because it is surrounded by a beautiful parc and the very popular Fontainebleau Forest.

 

4. Chantilly Castle

french castles

Originally a medieval fortress, then damaged during the French Revolution, this castle knew a great revival in the 1880’s thanks to the descendant of the last French King Louis-Philippe, the Duc d’Aumale. Full of its personal collections, it was left by the duc himself in 1885 to the Institute of France. It has now become the “CondĂŠ Museum” and is also surrounded by gorgeous French gardens designed by Le NĂ´tre.

 

In the Loire Valley

 

5. Chambord Castle

Loire Valley, Full Day, Guided Tour, visit paris and france, french castles

Our top 10 French Castles continues with the biggest castle of the Loire Valley: Chambord. It was built in the 16th century by King François Ier, who used to spend a lot of time there. The magnificence of its surroundings but also of its architecture, which is said to originate partly from De Vinci’s imagination, caused its registration at the UNESCO World Heritage in 1981.

 

6. Chenonceau Castle

Chenonceau, 5 days in france, france tourist attractions, french castles

This Renaissance castle, nicknamed the “Ladies’ castle”, housed many duchesses and queens such as Diane de Poitiers or Catherine de Medicis, who both have dedicated gardens there. Particularly known for its galleries on the Cher river, it is the second most visited castle just after Versailles, and its splendour tells us why.

 

7. Cheverny Castle

french castles

A heritage transmited through ages within the same family, this classical castle from the 17th century was the first to be opened to the public in 1922. It is a huge estate with a botanical garden, parks, doghouses and even a 3D museum about the “Moulinsart castle” used by Hergé in his Tintin cartoons.

 

8. UssĂŠ Castlefrench castles

Also known as the “Sleeping Beauty Castle” because Charles Perrault took inspiration from it for his tale, its medieval and Renaissance style make it a very unique castle. Although private, it is open to public visits and its Le Nôtre gardens are as worth a visit as the stunning castle.

 

9. Villandry Castle

Villandry Castle, french castles

Registered in the UNESCO World Heritage, the great renown of this castle is mainly due to its gardens divided into 4 terraces : the sun garden, the water garden, the decoration garden and the vegetable garden. The last Renaissance castle built along the river Loire, the harmony of its estate makes it a must-see.

 

10. Blois Castle

french castles

Domicile of many French Kings it is also called the “Royal Castle.” This castle is an extraordinary exhibition of how the French architecture changed through the years. You can distinguish 4 styles from the “cour d’honneur”: medieval with the 13th century fortress, gothic with Louis 12’s wing, Renaissance with François Ier’s wing, and classic with Gaston d’Orleans’ wing. And don’t miss the monumental double helix staircase!

 

So if you liked this top 10 French Castles, what are you waiting for? Go satisfy your curiosity!

 

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Villandry Castle

Villandry Castle

Specially known for its beautiful gardens, the Villandry castle is one of the most famous buildings in the Loire Valley area. Villandry was built in 1536 by Jean le Breton, Finance Minister of Francis I, the most relevant fact about this castle came when the King Philip II of France once met Richard I of England in the gardens to discuss peace.

WHAT TO SEE?

Enjoy the beautiful green gardens of the Villandry castle. It is the main thing that you will notice: huge, green and tricky gardens around you. Its famous Renaissance gardens include a water garden, ornamental flower gardens and vegetable gardens. Perhaps you may be wondering… and why tricky?  Because of its labyrinth gardens! Yes, here you will be able to get lost in its famous mazed gardens!  We recommend to think it twice before entering to the gardens, just in case…

Villandry Castle

Credit: ggirard

In addition, the castle itself offers you the chance of visiting a unique buiding. Purchased by Joaquin Carvallo in 1906,  who restored the full property and invested an enormous amount of time and money into repairing it and creating the beautiful gardens. Its style is Renaissance and Neoclassicism.

HOW TO EXPERIENCE?

The castle is located near the Villandry village. The building hosts more than 330,000 visitors per year, so it is highly recommended to prepare your visit in advance or taking your tickets in advance.

You will be able to enter to the castle and contemplate the both Renaissanse and Neoclassicism styles. The gardens are carefully maintained and colorfull during all the year. Recommended to visit at least once in your life.

Villandry castle

Credit: jsmutschler

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Hours: 9 am to 5 pm approximately
  • Prices: 10,50€ for gardens plus castle. 8 during winter
  • Access: car or bus. Accessible by motorway and road. It is just nine miles from Tours

Additional sightseeings in the Loire Valley

Chenonceau Castle

Chambord Castle

Azay-Le-Rideau Castle

Château: Azay Le Rideau, france in 5 days

Azay-Le-Rideau Castle

Built between 1518 and 1523 by Gilles Berthelot, which was at that time the Treasurer of the France´s Finances under the King Francis I, as well as mayor of the city of Tours;  the Azay-Le-Rideau castle inspires nowadays a new method of conceiving the beginning of the french Renaissance architecture.

Azay Le Rideau castle

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
(Wikimedia Commons)

WHAT TO SEE?

Today, the Azay-Le-Rideau castle is owned by the Government and managed by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux.

It is one of the most popular castles in the Loire Valley region. In addition, it was declared World Heritage by the UNESCO in 2000.

Its structure is consolidated in the middle of the Indre river, on a small island of it. Its main fact is that the principle stair is located in the middle of the castle, being one of the first buildings to adquire this new perspective in its ages.

The castle itself contains both french and italian styles. You will be able to appreciate the italianized sculptural decorations, while the windows and the roof are purely french style.

Azay Le Rideau castle

Photo Credit: ParisByM

HOW TO EXPERIENCE IT?

Azay-Le-Rideau is a castle that presents you the opportunity of being in front of a gem of the Renaissance. The park is not that big, but tourists are usually spending an average of 1 hour and a half in the place. There is no best way to visit it, you can start your visit either with the park or the castle itself.

You can take a guided tour, which is available on site, but it is just in French language. However, you will have also the opportunity of taking an audio guide, available in English and also in French, among other languages.

Want to know more about the castle? Check out more here!

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Hours: open from 9:30 am to 5 or 6 pm, depending on the season
  • Prices: Adults: 6,50€. Free under 18 and under 26 with a valid EU residence card.
  • Access: 19, rue Balzac, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau. Access only by car or guided tour.

Additional sightseeings in the Loire Valley

Villandry Castle

Chenonceau Castle

Clos LucĂŠ Castle

 

map of loire chateaux

4 original Loire Valley chateaux

 

The Loire Valley chateaux have influenced and inspired imaginations the world over. Luckily for you, if you’re planning a trip to Paris, you can make it to these illustrious castles easily. We’ll walk you through some of our favorite lesser-known sites on this Loire Valley chateaux map. For the classics, take a look at our previous post, 4 French castles to see in the Loire Valley.

You’ll find an interactive version here : http://parisbym.com/map-of-loire-valley/

Chinon

Less refined than its later Renaissance counterpart, Chinon clings to its medieval heritage. Here is where Joan of Arc holed up and declared her commitment to ousting the English. Chinon’s uniqueness earns it a place on the list of must-sees.

loire valley chateaux

Chinon (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Meung

Meung is a picturesque castle with a memorable history. Meung locals rebelled, and when the king’s men stormed the town to put them in their place they flung themselves off the castle tower in defiance. Today it is independently run, each of its rooms offering a taste of French countryside history. The chateau also features temporary exhibitions that make it worth the visit.

loire valley chateaux map

Meung

 

Clos LucĂŠ

The French king François I famously cultivated a friendship with Leonardo da Vinci. It’s with François that da Vinci spent the last years of his life, in the company of a man (one of many, surely) who truly appreciated the Italian’s genius. In return for close friendship and kingly hospitality, da Vinci lent François his mind. At Clos LucĂŠ, you’ll find an abundance of his genius, especially his royally-appreciated bent for creative weapons of mass destruction. This is one of the more special pins on our Loire valley chateaux map.

loire valley chateaux maps

Clos LucĂŠ (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Villandry

While certainly not lesser known, no list of Loire valley chateaux can in its right mind forget this horticultural marvel. This is a castle with a garden that stands out among the Loire valley’s plethora of manicured greenery. The garden here is a quintessential example of the jardin Ă  la française, and embodies the philosophy thereof. Nature, it was thought, was unruly, and a garden fit for a king should display mankind’s domination over it. As you stroll through an unforgettably vast, geometrical yard, you may spot the many layers of Renaissance symbolism.

Loire Valley chateaux maps

The gardens (Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

 

loire river

Photos from the Loire river

loire river

Panorama of the Loire from Ambroise (Wikimedia Commons)

 

The majestic Loire is the longest river in France. It also marks a symbolic line: the Loire river separates north from south, which is as large a cultural distinction as a meteorological one. Visitors come to the Loire to discover the tranquility of central France through the reflections on the water. Here is a brief slideshow of France’s magic mirror.

 

The Chateaux

The castles of the Loire, built as displays of decadence and architectural prowess more than as strongholds of defense like their Medieval predecessors, are unmissable landmarks. You’ll see the prettiest ones twice: once cutting their mages’ towers against the open sky, and again in a tremulous haze on the silver surface of the Loire river.

loire river

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
(Wikimedia Commons)

 

loire river

Schloss Chenonceau (Wikimedia Commons)

 

loire river

Chateau d’Ambroise (flickr)

 

Bridges

Bridges represent man’s (attempted and successful) dominion over nature, or at least summarize this principal dialogue of human history. A river meanders as it wishes, splitting the earth in two. To look at manmade bridges is to revel in the glory of man’s hubris: bask in the inextinguishable will of mankind to build and to connect.

loire river

Bridge at Blois (Wikimedia Commons)

 

loire river

Pont Wilson (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Unforgettable Riverscape

Now follow the Loire river deeper, to the forgotten woods and villages that dot its shores. Enjoy the magic of the river that knows how to wait, to sit still and marvel at the sky stretching above, the trees towering over its borders, and the life wriggling within.

 

loire river

Birds’ eye view of the Loire (Wikimedia commons)

 

loire river

Dordogne Valley (Wikimedia Commons)

 

If you’d like to take and share your own photos of the mystical Loire, you’re more than welcome to contact us for information!

3 days in Paris, Planning Your Trip, Must-See Attractions, Package, Trip to Paris

A selection of the best tours in Paris

When you come to Paris, there is always a bunch of activities that you can do, and it really is a jungle when finding out which ones you should pick. We hereby completed a guide, for our selection of the best tours in Paris, that are original, fun, different and out-of-the-ordinary!

Louvre, Museum Lover Package

Louvre, by Flickr

On ParisByM, we have carefully picked out the most beneficial and interesting tours, which comes in packages. These includes romantic tours, photo tours, sightseeing tours including the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Musem, Montmarte, Notre-Dame and also wine-tours, because being in the capital of France, Paris is one of the best places in the World, where you can taste and explore the wide range of quality wines.

Paris, nightlife, eiffel, pinterest

Paris by night, by Pinterest

 

Our weekend-trip packages allows you to relax, have fun and discover some secret places when in Paris. That is one of our selections for the best tours in Paris, and you will find it on our website here. You will be accommodated in Paris’ historical center, and discover secret and funny activities during your weekend in Paris.

If you are in Paris with your loved one, whether the purpose is a weekend escape, honeymoon, wedding proposal or something else, we strongly advice you to order our Romantic Trip package. Again, one of our proposal for a selection of the best tours! Find it here. The package includes transportation, visit to the World’s most famous museum, Louvre, and a sightseeing in the wonderful Montmarte. Also, you will go and see the Arc de Triomphe. A last walk on the Champs Elysees and the avenue Montaigne will allow you to see the most luxurious neighborhood of the city! What is optional in this package, is to discover Versailles which you seriously do not want to miss, the Champagne region or Loire valley with all of the breath-taking castles!

Loire Valley, Full Day, Guided Tour, visit paris and france

Castle, Loire Valley!

 

Next up, when selecting the best tours in Paris, we have to mention our “Paris All Inclusive” package, which is ideal if you come to Paris for the first time, and want to see all the attractions without rushing. This package allows you to combine city walks to discover and explore the most beautiful hidden gems in Paris, to get some guided tours, see the main museum and go back in history and much more… Furthermore the top quality accommodation is in the centre! Check it out here!

wine tasting Paris

Wine tasting in Paris!

 

If you still have some time on your hand when in Paris, and want to do something additional to the packages, we strongly advice you to check out this article from Tripadvisor, which gives you an overview of the most fun and interesting activities when in Paris!

Hope you enjoyed going through our selection of the best tours in Paris with us.

Trip to Paris, package, hidden gems

Parce des Buttes Chaumont

So long, dear followers!

 

Loire Valley, France

How to travel from Paris to Loire Valley?

When you visit Paris, and have a bit more time, you definitely have to see the Loire Valley, which is studded with fairytale villages, and the famous châteaux de la Loire. The areas are like postcards; so beautiful and peaceful that it could win the Nobel peace prize. Magic corners everywhere, and not to talk about the breath-taking castles…

Book ParisByM day tour from Paris to the Loire Valley. You will see the main castles: Chambord, Chenonceau, Azay Le Rideau and Villandry gardens.

Book ParisByM day tour from Paris to the Loire Valley. You will see the main castles: Chambord, Chenonceau, Azay Le Rideau and Villandry gardens.

In other words, the Loire Valley is an outstanding cultural landscape of overwhelming beauty, historical villages and towns, and if you are interested in architecture? Then Loire Valley is perfect for you. The landscape contains great architectural monuments (the châteaux), and cultivated lands formed by many centuries of interaction between their population and the physical environment, primarily the river Loire itself.

Loire Valley Castles, Paris packages

Loire Valley, France, Pinterest

If you decide to visit the Loire Valley, there are several transportation options available; buses and trains can carry you to the main towns of the three Loire provinces—Anjou (to the west), Orléans (to the east), and the center ring of the show, Touraine.

If you want to get a full package, whereas you also can explore the amazing Mont Saint Michel, you can go to ParisByM and order one of our packages, which includes everything you need for your tour: transportation in an luxury, air-conditioned bus, accommodation in an great 3 star hotel with double room, and guided tours to the areas and the wonderful monuments! Note, that a guided visit of the Château de Chambord, which is the largest and most imposing castle in the Loire Valley, is also included in the packages! Something you don’t want to miss for sure…

We just released the packages, because of a great demand. More and more people discover the Loire Valley, and want to see the magical landscape with their own eyes – and we do understand why.

Paris packages, loire valley

Loire Valley, Pinterest

Loire Valley wine

Loire Valley wine tasting at Cave Duhard

  Read this in FRENCH here // Version FRANCAISE disponible iciFR

Do you know that contrary to what people think, the Loire wines can be kept for years?

Loire Valley wineThis is what you will discover by visiting the wine cellar Duhard in Amboise. Cave Duhard is among one of the few wine merchants (traders) in France. They are specialists of the Loire Valley wines: Montlouis and Vouvray for white wines, Bourgueil, St Nicolas de Bourgueil and Chinon for red ones. Daniel and his team have bottles dating back from 1874!

In the authentic setting of a troglodyte cave, 10 meters below the surface, carved into the rock of the region, these bottles are raised with care, bottled and aged, in the “Maternity” where younger wines are kept until they mature (up to 50/60 years).

Loire Valley wineIn a fascinating tour punctuated by numerous anecdotes, Daniel, Thierry or one of their colleagues will teach you how to develop your wine tasting skills. The notion of pleasure is always at the heart of the visit. And if the choice of the wine itself is important for a good tasting, i.e. a  tasting that you will remember, you also have to take into consideration all that surrounds it: not only with whom you will share this moment, but also with what. The tasting comes indeed with some regional cheese that will perfectly accompany the wines.

After the visit, you may be interested in taking a few bottles home. Well, good news: the cellar can even arrange the shipment to international locations. Besides, the bottle prices are more than fair, so, why hesitate?

 Loire Valley wine

Duration of the visit: 1:30 approx.
Languages available: French and English.
Price: from € 3,50.
Open: From Monday to Thursday, 10AM-12AM & 2PM-6PM
            Friday and Saturday, 10AM-12AM & 2PM-7PM
For whom? Everyone (wine tasting for adults only)
Good to know: remember that alcohol taken in excess can be dangerous for your health, keep moderated when drinking! 

www.caves-duhard.fr/en

ParisByM’s recommendation

If you are visiting Amboise or staying in the city for a night, visiting Cave Duhard will be accessible by foot and will make you discover some regional wine, bringing something else to your Loire Valley castles tour.

You may visit cave Duhard as part of your Loire Valley castles package. Contact us for additional inquiry and for booking the visit.

Further posts:

How to travel from Paris to Loire Valley?

Wine Tasting in Paris

Loire valley castles in 2 days

 

Map of Loire Valley

Loire Valley map with French castles

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Are you looking for a Loire Valley map?

We have referenced a few maps below: a Loire Valley map with the most known castles and a more detailed one with 70 castles in Loire Valley.

Loire valley map and main castles’ location

In addition to the Loire valley map you can also get a description of the main 4 French castles to see in Loire Valley by clicking on the link.

 

Detailed Loire valley map and 70 castles’ location

Loire Valley map

 

Loire Valley map

 

Get the free Map of Loire Valley

Chateau de Chambord, Chambord castle

Château de Chambord

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Visiting Château de Chambord?

For top splendor, you will not find better than Château de Chambord. The château is a perfect example of French Renaissance. This is the largest and most visited in the Loire Valley.
The multilingual audioguide is worthwhile (€ 5 for adult / € 2 for child). Take a free map at the entrance, to explore the 440 rooms, linked by 84 staircases. The castle is also surrounded by the huge hunting reserve, Domaine de Chambord, one of the largest park in Europe.

Chateau de Chambord, Chambord castleVisiting Château de Chambord

Entrance fee is €11 / adult above 25 years €8 / adult between 18-25 and free for kids below 18.
Opening time: 9AM-6PM (April / September); 10AM-5PM (October / March)
Several time daily there are guided-tour you can book at the entrance for €5 / adult (€3 / kid)

 

Chateau de Chambord, Chambord castle

Credit: Domaine national de ChambordŠSophie Lloyd

Château de Chambord’s History

The château was built by François Ier in the XVIth centuryIt turned out to be one of the most ambitious (and expensive) projects initiated by a French King. It took 30 years to build the château, mostly because of financial problems, design setbacks and military engagements. Some famous people took part of the architectural project, such as Leonard da Vinci for designing one of the masterpieces of Chambord, the double-helix staircase. You can also admire the chimneys, turrets and staircases.

 

Chateau de Chambord, Chambord castle

Credit: Domaine national de Chambord (c) DNC

Chambord’s architecture

Despite its apparent complexity, the construction of the château follows basic mathematical rules: each section is arranged on a system of symmetrical grid. The rectangular keep stands at the centre, crossed by four great hallways and at each corner stands of of the four bastions. The most interesting rooms are on the first floor: king’s and queen’s chambers. However do not expect to see much furniture in Chambord.

 

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Additional information

4 French Castles to See in Loire Valley

Excursions From Paris

Loire valley castles in 2 days

Book ParisByM day trips from Paris to the Loire Valley. You will see the main castles: Chambord, Chenonceau, Azay Le Rideau and Villandry gardens. Chateau de Chambord, Paris tour packages, French DMC

4 French Castles to See in Loire Valley

The Loire Valley has more than 150 castles so it is impossible to see them all. You should aim to see 2 or 3 castles if you are on your own or about 4 castles if someone else is driving, giving you time to rest in between.  You have a couple of options. You can either take a day trip to Loire Valley from Paris or stay at Loire Valley (in Amboise or Tours) for a few days. A good tip is to plan your Loire Valley day tour for visiting the French castles in advance (especially during the summer).

4 Castles You Must See in the Loire

French castles part of Loire Valley castles package

Azay Le Rideau

1. Azay-Le-Rideau

Château d’Azay-Le-Rideau was built between 1518 and 1527 by a rich banker – Gilles Berthelot.  Located in the west area of the Loire Valley, Azay-Le-Rideau is a prime example of an early-Renaissance château: with the intention of living a luxurious life, the craftsmanship of the stonework is breath-taking, as are the beautiful windows. As you climb up the Italian-styled loggia staircase, you can admire the central courtyard and the staircase itself, which is also decorated with salamanders and ermines of François I.  The castle was so luxurious that the king, François I, seized it, causing its owner to flee. By  some miracle, the castle managed to survive the French revolution, making it an example of the royal lifestyle between the 16th and 19th century.

Visiting the Château of Azay-Le-Rideau (€8.50): There is no need to get an audioguide, as every room has panels that explain them well in English. A good place to start would be the castle attic, after which you can make your way down through the luxurious Renaissance rooms, where you can admire the fine tapestries and fireplaces. Make sure you don’t forget to walk around the romantic and peaceful garden, designed in the 19th century.

French castles part of Loire Valley castles package

Villandry

2. Villandry

Villandry is the second most visited castle in the west side of Loire valley. It is famous for its extensive gardens, considered to be the best in the entire Loire Valley. Finished in 1536, Villandry was the last great Renaissance French castle built on the Loire. As another project financed by François I, the château and gardens were inspired by Italian Renaissance. The landscaped gardens are some of the finest in France, occupying 6 hectares, filled with beautifully manicured lime trees, ornamental vines, and fountains.

The castle was built by Jean Le Breton, the finance minister of François I.  Jean had served in Italy as an ambassador and had fallen in love with Italian Renaissance gardens. He razed the XIIth century castle that existed on the land, keeping only the old tower, to put up his own while designing Renaissance Italian-style gardens.

Visiting the gardens of Villandry (€6.50 gardens only): Get the handout included with your admission ticket that will guide you through the gardens. The flowers, fountains, tunnels and even herbs seem to live in harmony. There are 85,000 plants, cared by 10 full-time gardeners.

French castles part of Loire Valley castles package

Chambord

3. Chambord

With its huge scale and prickly silhouette Château de Chambord is the most famous in the Loire Valley. It is surrounded by the largest park in Europe, which brings serenity and splendor to the impressive castle. Chambord is one of the crowning examples of French Renaissance architecture, and by far the largest and most visited castle in the Loire Valley. The castle has some 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases. No to mention the turrets, chimneys, and a famous double-helix staircase.

The castle was built between 1518 and 1532 by François I for his personal weekend retreat. During the construction, 1,800 workmen were employed. The grand architectural plan of the château, modelled after an Italian church, was a way to show off his power.

Visiting the château of Chambord (€11): The free handout is pretty good. You should however consider getting an audio guide (€5) or booking a guided-tour (€7) as the castle interior is mostly empty and you will need a proper narration so as to imagine how it was.

 

French castles part of Loire Valley castles package

Chenonceau

4. Chenonceau

Gracefully arching over the Cher river, Chenonceau was nicknamed the “château of the ladies”, as it housed many famous women over the centuries, while their husbands were away on the king’s business. Find a riverside view of the château that will allow wonderful pictures. You will be swept up in the magical architecture and the glorious surroundings: exquisite formal gardens and landscape parkland.

Chenonceau is one of the most visited French castle. Chenonceau was the first castle in France to be built for pleasure only. There is no defensive equipment. In 1547, king Henry II gave it to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers until the King died and she was kicked out by the King’s wife, Catherine de Medicis. The masterpiece of the castle is the three-story Grand Gallery, 200 feet long that spans the river. One can imagine the grand banquets that were hold there.

Visiting the château of Chenonceau (€12.50): the iPod video audio-guide (€4.50) is worthwhile, to wander through the fascinating interior. There’s also an audio-guide for kids. Alternatively, you can download the tour from the apple store for free to your mobile device.

You can see these French castles on a map of Loire Valley by clicking on the link.

Posts you might be interested in:

Photos from the Loire river

4 original Loire Valley chateaux

Loire Valley Castles Day Trip