• © Getty Images

    © Getty Images

Feel Loire Valley: Regal riverside splendour and gastronomy

South of Brittany, north of Bordeaux 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. Kings, queens and noblemen initially built important feudal structures here before turning their attention to palaces for leisure and pleasure – and now the valley is home to hundreds of France’s most extravagant architectural gems, and is the largest area in the country to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. 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.

 

The Loire river is 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 and Saumur, as well as breathtaking gardens such as those at the Château de Villandry. The Loire Valley also moves to the beat of its many music festivals, the most popular being Printemps de Bourges, while jazz plays an important role and is showcased at Jazz en Touraine and Jazz en Val de Cher.

 

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 and Sancerre to name a few) are renowned the world over.

 

Click on the senses below to feel Loire Valley...

  • © Chartres en lumières 2015 - médiathèque©J-S.Mutschler_CRT Centre-Val de Loire_Spectaculaires_Allumeurs d\'Images

  • © Cabriole©Cadre noir de Saumur_Alain.Laurioux

  • © Rillettes de Tours©M.Perreau_CRT Centre-Val de Loire

  • © Jardins de Villandry - grappe de raisins©G.Girard_CRT Centre-Val de Loire

  • © Crédit-photo-Coralie-Pilard