The Loire region and its wide, meandering river give a sense of old France, with grand halls and chateaux that remind you of a different age. But you’ll also find lots of unspoilt, wild land too, with wildlife including birds, amphibians – and even the beaver! History and nature is made all the more exciting by the great wines and mouth-watering dishes that are found in restaurants and cafés across the Loire region. We think you should make time for all three whilst visiting, giving you a taste of France that you'll never forget!
Places to go in the Loire
You’ll have your work cut out if you want to explore all the key cities, towns and villages in the Loire region – there are so many, each deserving of your holiday time in order to fully appreciate their charms. If you’re looking for French people who regard themselves as speakers of ‘perfect French’, then Tours is a must, and if you’re just interested in experiencing the excellent local wine – you should be equally sated. Orléans, too, is not to be missed, with five wonderful bridges and lots of history. Another must-see is the town of Chartres and its cathedral – considered the finest Gothic example in the country. On the subject of cathedrals, don’t miss the UNESCO World Heritage listed Gothic Cathedral of Saint Etienne in Bourges.
Our Top Picks in Loire
We want you to enjoy the best that the Loire region has to offer and so here's a small selection of our favourite things to see and do;
Chateau de Villandry
After a week or two in the Loire, you’ll realise that chateaux and castles are far from a rarity in the region. Before you tire of them completely, we think you should visit the Chateau de Villandry – which, although boasting some sumptuous interiors, offers what is probably the finest example of a formal garden in France. Sure to entrance every member of the family, these beautifully maintained gardens seem to bring a whole new meaning to the word ‘relaxation’. If you’re short on time or have had your fill of chateaux interiors, we recommend spending time outside; few gardens in the world have had such praise heaped on them!
Cathedrale de Chartres
With so many beautiful buildings to see in the Loire, you have to be picky. Why not go for gold and visit what is considered one of the finest (if not the finest) examples of French Gothic architecture in the form of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. What will strike you most is that so much of the building is original – from the stained glass windows to the majority of the overall structure. UNESCO World Heritage listed, this cathedral is the latest in a line of at least five that have graced the site – so the place has hundreds of years of history. We think this should be marked as ‘must see’ on your itinerary!
A River Boat Tour on the Loire
It won’t be long before you realise how integral the River Loire is to this region – with tourism now playing a much bigger role than trade or fishing once did. Choosing one of the many river boat trips is a wonderful way to get a grasp of the scale and beauty of France’s longest river. Depending on how much time you have, you might take a day trip, or opt for a multiple-day voyage. Watching the sun set over the banks of the Loire is an experience we think is best enjoyed onboard a boat – and whatever length of trip you take, many stop at principle riverside chateaux along the way, so you can explore a huge swathe of Loire in one go!
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