Two days exploring the heritage and “art de vivre” of the Loire Valley
With its châteaux, royal river and gastronomy, the Loire Valley offers the perfect blend of heritage and “art de vivre”. On this two-day trip, you’ll experience a delightful mix of cultural visits and gourmet experiences.
Lunch in Chinon
Before visiting the town and its royal fortress, have lunch at the Au Chapeau Rouge restaurant, where you can enjoy a menu featuring locally sourced seasonal produce, or at l’Océanic, renowned for its excellent fish- and seafood-based dishes.
Afternoon: Royal Fortress of Chinon and the Château of Le Rivau
From atop its rocky spur, the royal fortress of Chinon boasts an imposing appearance above the Vienne river. From here, numerous viewpoints enable visitors to appreciate the beauty of the valley below as well as the town in which the writer François Rabelais was born. Explore its 150m of ramparts and its towers on a tour that will bring the history of the fortress to life. The completely restored royal apartments retain the typical appearance of a Touraine-style residence from the 15th century.
After your visit, continue to the Château of Le Rivau and its gardens situated just 15 minutes away (12 km). Behind the tall, medieval facade you will discover refinement and comfort in a lordly residence whose rooms are now home to numerous contemporary art works. Its beautifully restored royal stables are thought to be the oldest in France. The 14 fairy-tale like gardens at the foot of the château also house monumental works of art and an impressive collection of 450 varieties of roses that have been carefully selected for their scents.
At the end of the visit, travel on to the attractive Royal City of Loches, which is an hour’s drive away (62km).
Dinner and night in Loches or Chédigny
Enjoy a delicious dinner at “La Galerie B” before heading to your guest room in “La Closerie Saint-Jacques”.
Alternatively, choose to stay in the “Le Clos aux Roses” B&B and restaurant in the charming village of Chédigny, 12km away by car.
Morning: Visit the Royal City of Loches
This charming medieval town boasts an impressive fortified city with an incredibly well preserved 36-metre keep. The royal suite exemplifies the Renaissance style and has played host to Anne of Brittany, Agnès Sorel and Joan of Arc. Inside, visitors can admire armour, Flemish tapestries and fine paintings such as the Chartreuse du Liget altar piece titled “The passion of Christ” (15th century).
Then head in the direction of Veuil, which is 45 minutes’ drive away (48 km).
Lunch in Veuil
L’Auberge Saint-Fiacre will be sure to satisfy all your desires.
After lunch, travel on to Valençay which is 10 minutes away by car (7 km).
Afternoon: Château of Valençay and Château of Chenonceau
After lunch, discover the Château of Valençay with its English-style park and French-style gardens. In 1803, this prestigious château, a harmonious mix of Renaissance and Classical styles, came into the hands of Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, the minister for foreign affairs under Napoleon. Its richly furnished interior (paintings, objets d’art, marble etc) is of special interest, in particular the Grand Salon, decorated in Empire-style.
Continue onto the Château of Chenonceau, 50 minutes from Valençay (50km). The white façade of this prestigious château is reflected in the water of the Cher river, spanned elegantly by its famous gallery. Here, you can rent a boat and glide effortlessly beneath its arches.
A visit to its gardens, highlighting the very best in traditional French garden design, is an absolute must. In particular, admire the luxuriant flowerbeds adorning the Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici gardens.
Late afternoon: return to Paris
To return to Paris by car, allow 2hr 20min from Chenonceau (237km). If you’re travelling by TGV, head to Tours railway station, 35 minutes away by car (33 km). The journey time back to Paris is 1hr 15min.
Events at the châteaux:
- Tasting under the stars at the Château of Chenonceau
- Festival of the rose at the Château of Le Rivau
- “Gourmet Thursdays” at the Château of Valençay