Val de Loire (Loire Valley)

This region of France does things on the grand scale.

South of Brittany and Normandy and just a short drive or train journey from Paris, the Loire Valley straddles the frontier between northern and southern France and is synonymous with majestic châteaux. If you love history and architecture, there are as many crenellated towers, spiral staircases and glittering banquet halls as your heart could ever desire in the Loire Valley.

Illust: Château de Chambord, 223.2 kb, 351x263
Château de Chambord
Photo: MEAE / Y-J. Chen

The Loire River and estuary are the lifeblood of this unique part of France, providing opportunities for canoeing, fishing and boat trips along its serene waters – or you can choose to soak up the scenery by bike. There are sleepy villages and vibrant, sophisticated towns to discover, including Tours, Angers, Orléans, Saumur, Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, as well as breathtaking gardens such as those at the Château de Villandry.

Celebrated by Rabelais and venerated by Gargantua, the cuisine of the Loire Valley – and the old provinces of Touraine and Berry – is an institution in itself. Among the numerous specialities are delicate freshwater fish, goats’ cheese and golden, oozing tarte Tatin. The Loire Valley’s fertile soil also provides ideal conditions for orchards and vineyards to thrive, and its wines (Bourgueil, Chinon, Vouvray, Cheverny, Anjou, Saumur, Sancerre and Muscadet to name a few) are renowned the world over.

Visit the official portal for tourism in France for more information about the Loire Valley.

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Source: Adapted from Atout France