The Loire Valley has long been one of France’s most popular regions and with good reason. Located far enough South to provide visitors with gorgeous weather from April all the way through to mid October but close enough to the coast so as not to make any drive overly onerous. Add to that some of the most breathtaking architecture and scenery in all of France and you have a region that has much to offer for all its visitors.
As you would expect, the region is dominated by the River Loire that runs from the Massif Central all the way into the Bay of Biscay. Throughout the often bloody history of France, the river has provided a natural boundary that has been fought over many times. Indeed it is where the great French heroine, Joan of Arc began her military career as she strove to drive the English out of France for good.
Thankfully tempers have calmed since those days and visitors from the UK can expect a much friendlier reception!
Once there visitors have a wealth of attractions to explore; most famously, the several hundred châteaux that line the river. Perhaps the most popular and famous is Chenonceau that gloriously straddles the Loire and was the old boundary between Free and Vichy France during WW2. Boats are available for hire so you can spend a lazy hour paddling under its arches and soaking up the spectacular views. Each château has its own style and atmosphere and whichever you choose to visit will give you memories and sights to savour.
Aside from the famous châteaux, the Loire Valley has an abundance of interesting towns to check out, where terrace culture is high on the agenda. It is all too easy to lose a day taking in the sights and taking in a few refreshments (and perhaps a good lunch) in the sunshine or under the shade of a tree.
Saumur, Blois, Chinon and Angers are all well worth a visit. All are large enough to provide several attractions without being so urban as to be stifling. For those who can’t cope without a reminder of home, Saumur even has it’s own Cricket Club where you can watch a game whilst sampling some of the local wine.
The wine of the region is also famous and is home to Muscadet and Sancerre, two ideal partners to a fish supper or simply as a pleasure to be taken on their own. The Loire Valley is known as “The Garden of France” for it’s abundance of vineyards and fruit and vegetable crops. The arable landscape, so often draped in warming sunlight, can be breathtaking, it’s not just all about those intimidating châteaux, some pleasures are more simple.
This rural, spectacular, cultural and temperate region is a very attractive destination. For those wishing to find good weather and places of interest in abundance without having to travel too far it’s definitely one for your short list. To miss out on such a feast for the eyes and senses is almost unthinkable.