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What to see in Loire Valley

Loire Valley Attractions

Topping the list of things to see and do in the Loire Valley are the châteaux. Some of the best are the Château d'Angers, with its famous Tapestry of the Apocalypse; the Château d'Usse, which inspired the Disney palace; the Château de Langeais; the Château de Chambord, which is the biggest château in the Loire Valley; the Château of Azay-le-Rideau, built on an island in the Indre River; the Château de Cheverny; and the magnificent Château de Chenonceau, possibly the most celebrated of them all.

One of the most delightful châteaux is to be found in the little village of Villandry, though it is not the building so much as the astoundingly creative gardens that draw so many visitors.

The Loire Valley is blessed with plenty of impressive architecture and the cities and villages do not disappoint, even though some of them, such as Tours, were damaged in the war. Amboise is a Renaissance town, once the favourite residence of Leonardo de Vinci, which has preserved its old-world charm despite its enormous popularity with tourists. Blois has compromised fairly well between modernisation and the maintenance of its medieval appeal. Angers and Tours are both good bases from which to explore the Loire Valley region. The city of Orleans, which still celebrates its liberation from the English by Joan of Arc, remains a picturesque and interesting place to stay. The lesser known city of Chartres is worth visiting just for its magnificent Gothic cathedral, which has world-renowned stained-glass windows and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


On the banks of the Loire, 20 miles (32km) east of Tours, is the Renaissance town of Amboise, a popular holiday destination. Both historic and beautiful, Amboise attracts tourists by the busload, but…

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The holiday destination of Angers straddles the Maine River, towards the west of the Loire Valley, and is a popular base from which to explore the local sites and the surrounding châteaux country.…

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Much of the historic ambience of medieval Blois remains preserved in its white-washed houses and narrow cobbled alleys, but modernity has impacted quite severely on the noble former seat of the dukes…

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Château d'Angers

A kilometre-long wall, studded with 17 circular towers, surrounds this vast medieval fortress, which was never conquered by any invading force. Visitors can tour most of Château d'Angers, built…

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Château d'Ussé

The magnificent Château d'Ussé overlooks the Indre River, and was built by Charles VII in the mid-15th century. The fairytale castle passed through the hands of many nobles, and was said…

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Château de Chambord

Eleven miles (18km) east of Blois, the vast Château de Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley. It was commissioned by François I, who wanted to outshine the Holy Roman…

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Château de Chenonceau

Only a few miles outside Tours, on the River Cher, the Château de Chenonceau is probably the most celebrated of the many châteaux in the Loire valley. It was used as a mill in the Middle…

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Fontevraud Abbey

Built in the 12th century, Fontevraud Abbey is thought to be the site of the graves of King Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their son King Richard I; however, it is not known…

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There was a time when Orleans was the second most important city in France after Paris; today it is a modest and attractive city well worth a visit to explore its cobbled streets. Orléans' long…

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Puy du Fou

Puy du Fou is a historical theme park in western France which attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year, making it one of the most popular paid attractions in the country. The experience is akin…

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Saumur is located at the confluence of the Loire and Thouet rivers in the Loire Valley. The region is known for producing world-renowned wines, and also produces mushrooms in an interesting underground…

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Located at the junction of the Loire and the Cher Rivers, the holiday destination of Tours is a great base for exploring the valley. The town was badly bombed during the last war and many buildings…

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Five miles (8km) outside of Tours is the tiny village of Villandry and its wonderful château. The chateau is impressive, with richly furnished rooms and an interesting history. One of the towers…

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Our Travel Expert

Originally from the picturesque village of Saint-Remy-la-Varenne in Anjou, Helene grew up on the banks of the Royal River. After travelling to and working in many different places, including New Zealand, Canada, Brazil and the UK, Helene is happily back home enjoying the beauties of the Loire Valley region.

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