Every time I ever thought of the Loire Valley, pictures of a luscious river and grand castles came to mind. I had no idea that there is so much more to discover. So our road trip just the other week turned out to be a huge educational experience.
My Hubby grunted at me as apparently prior to blogging I used to be so organised and always knew so much more about where we were going in advance. These days it’s like a “find-out-en-route” pot luck discovery trip with me. Hence this little summary of tips to save you from making the same mistake – smile!
Keep reading for 7 top Loire Valley Travel Tips in a Nutshell.
Loire Valley Travel Tips in a Nutshell
1. Chateau de Chambord
If you only see one castle in the Loire Valley then this will have to be it! Chateau de Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire Valley. There is a lovely hotel pretty much on site to make things very easy. Not to mention the little mini village all around making you feel a little like you are in Disneyland only it is real.
- It is said that Leonardo da Vinci may have been involved in the castle architecture.
- This year the castle is celebrating it’s 500th birthday – wow!
- The château features 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and 84 staircases.
- It was built as a hunting lodge and considered impractical to live in.
This was how we toured around the castle. I may be smiling here but in reality I was petrified as it was my job to hold all valuable camera equipment etc whilst Hubby cycled at great speed – trying to make up for his lack of fitness activities due to being on a road trip. Apparently I am getting boring with age 😉
Next time we’re taking one of the rentable boats around!
2. French autoroute tolls
Not to be underestimated – we spent over CHF 100 each way on this road trip from Zurich to Loire Valley.
Best Tip: Pay with credit card instead of cash and look for the special queue for card only. The queue moves much faster and you remove the risk of loosing change in unimaginable places!
3. The Coast – La Baule Bay
Growing up close to the beach it feels like it is a part of me. Hence one of my favourite things to do was our day trip to the coast and La Baule Bay.
So surprised to find out the beach is one of the longest in Europe. It runs for 9 km, from Pornichet to Pouliguen, and has a chic image thanks to its prestige hotels, historic villas and classy activities.
Lunch on the beach was also so much fun. There are several options dotted along the bay but we had the best burgers ever at Les Fils Maman.
In fact if you have small kids Les Fils Maman would have to be a must visit. The restaurant is full of fun games for kids to play. There are even ’80s movie clips shown on TV in the toilets – great for us FunkyForty’s – smile!
4. Le Chateau du Lude
Certainly not the biggest of chateaus but I actually love the less commercial ones. So much fun to walk around and pretend you’re actually living there – smile.
Love the fact that Le Chateau du Lude has been in the hands of the same family for 260 years now!
There’s a super cute maze to walk through – you could potentially loose anyone under 5 ft tall. Plus don’t forget to check out the original kitchen.
5. Pretty Saumur with it’s own castle
If you’re looking for a place to base your stay in the Loire Valley Saumur is super pretty and not too built up.
Apart for the castle Saumur is famous for its riding school, founded in 1771 with the task of training officers. It was moved to Versailles in 1822, but in 1824 it was back to Saumur. Hence the city is one of the main riding centres in France.
This is the beautiful view from where we stayed – just in the outskirts of Saumur.
6. Loire Valley and it’s Cremant
Being great lovers of wine our conclusion from this visit was to fall in love with the Loire Valley cremant.
It is really worth while going down their pretty wine route that leaves Saumur and then follows along the Loire river. There you will find a number of caves. Interestingly the cellars are set into the mountain and not underground as in other places.
Another interesting article about Loire Valley Wine Tourism here.
7. Best link/map of Loire Valley Castles
A map of the chateaus is not to be underestimated. There are 79 registered chateaus in the Loire Valley, just waiting for you to visit. It pays to research on a map first and decide which ones you wish to see and where they are located.
The one stop shop for all of the main Loire Valley Castles:
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