If you are planning a trip to the Loire Valley and you’re wondering what do and where to go during your stay, there is certainly plenty on offer. The Loire Valley, in central France is located along the Loire River, France’s longest river, and is a region often referred to as the Garden of France. With its rich agricultural soils and favourable climate it is renowned for its fine wines and speciality foods.
It also has an important historical and cultural background, developed over the millennia by the people who lived and worked along its banks and used the river for travelling or transportation. As such, the Loire Valley has many quaint old villages, historic towns and numerous fairy tale castles or Chateaux to explore. In 2000 the Loire Valley, between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes, was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its “Outstanding Cultural Landscape”.
Food of the Loire Valley
Much of the fun of visiting the Loire Valley is trying some of the regional foods. Whether it be a village delicatessen, a typical French restaurant or a farmers market you won’t go short of local produce on offer. Some tasty treats you are likely to come across and might like to try include:
- Cheeses – these really do come in all shapes and sizes and flavours and goats cheeses are especially popular. Most shops or market stalls will let you try a sample before you buy.
- Pâté or Rillettes – are usually made to age old recipes with pork as the main ingredient. Again you will find an enormous range of textures and flavours.
- Game – is an important produce of the region and hunting was an important pastime. You will find everything from wild boar and venison to rabbit, pigeon, duck, quail and pheasant on offer.
- Mushrooms –one of the more interesting and less known crops from the region. They are grown underground in troglodyte caves and are responsible for a good percentage of France’s production.
- Tart Tatin – this fabulous rich upside down tart made from caramelised fruit originates from a hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron in the Loire Valley.
Wines of the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is France’s third largest wine producing area and has an enormous diversity of wines. They can be broadly split into four groups which follow the upper, middle and lower course of the river as it flows out to sea. Why not spend an afternoon visiting a winery and tasting some local wines or enjoy them with a mean as they complement the gastronomy of the region perfectly:
- Centre wines – such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé
- Touraine wines – such as Vouvray, Montlouis, Cheverny, Touraine, Tours and Chinon
- Anjou and Saumur wines - such as Anjou, Saumur, Bourgueil
- Nantes wines – such as Muscadet
Castles and Chateaux of the Loire Valley
Dotted along the serene River Loire you will find numerous Castles and Chateaux. Many were built in the French Renaissance period and were the homes of French nobility of the time. Some were ransacked during the French revolution, but those that remained are part of the cultural history of France. Even better they make for a great day out, and generally have plenty of activities to suit all ages.
Some of our favourites include:
- Chateau Blois
- Chateau Chambord
- Chateau de La Ferte Saint Aubin / Castle
- Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire / Castle of Sully-sur-Loire
Towns of the Loire Valley
There are many historic towns spread along the Loire Valley, most notable are Orleans, Blois, Amboise, Tours, Chinon, Saumur and Angers. Each has its own charm and appeal and some of the highlights include shops, markets, restaurants and bars, museums, bridges and even the impressive Tours Cathedral.
Pastimes of the Loire Valley
Along the middle region, the River Loire flows through a wide valley lined with rich fertile soils. It is a broad slow moving river and is particularly beautiful. Over many generations a wide range of pastimes have developed along the river and valley and many of these are still enjoyed today.
Our favourite things to do in the Loire Valley are:
- Bird watching
- Canoeing and Kayaking
- Horse riding
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in the Loire Valley, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! We offer fantastic accommodation, perfect for a family break in this stunning region.
We do hope you have enjoyed hearing about some of the things to do in the Loire Valley that we find are most popular with our visitors. We’re sure you will find more things during your stay, so please do help us add to the list and let us know your favourites!