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Tips on travelling to Loire Valley from Helene Lorier

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.

For more information on the Loire Valley, particularly wine tasting tours and holidays, check out Helene's website.

Why should I visit the Loire Valley?

For many, many reasons! Firstly, I would say that it is a really accessible region, only about one and a half hours journey by train (TGV) from Paris. It is also a good stop if people want to go and visit The Mont Saint Michel or go south to Bordeaux.

Secondly, the Loire Valley boasts the greatest array of chateaux in France, including the splendid Chambord, Chenonceau, Villandry, Azay le Rideaux, Amboise and Saumur, making it a dream destination for lovers of castles, palaces and mansions.

Thirdly, the Loire Valley is a fantastic French wine region offering a large variety of wine tasting experiences and a large variety of wines (red, white, sweet wines and sparkling). This region alone could satisfy even fussy wine drinkers for life!

And finally, the Loire, a legendary, UNESCO-listed river, offers fantastic wild landscapes for nature lovers.

What is your favourite thing about the region? 

Hard to say. Probably the diversity of things you can do. Whether having fun at the seaside in the Est region, visiting Chateaux near Tours, enjoying wine tastings and meeting wine makers, going shopping in buzzing cities such as Nantes and Tours, enjoying a boat tour on the Loire near Saumur, or cycling along the Loire, there is something to enjoy for everyone! You never get bored in the Loire Valley!

When is the best time of year to visit the Loire Valley?

Any time between early spring and late autumn (April to October). During this period you can enjoy many events like music concerts, wine festivals and flea markets, and usually you get a good weather. The Loire Valley has a generally mild climate.

Where would you send a first-time visitor?

It depends on what they are looking for. But generally I would say either Amboise or Saumur. They are both beautiful, quaint little towns, easy to get around on foot, and conveniently central for explorations of the region. Amboise is closest to the major chateaux of the Loire, but Saumur is generally a cheaper option.

How long should I spend in the Loire Valley?

At least three to four days, but preferably a week or two. It depends on your budget and on your interests.

What do I need to pack for a trip to the Loire Valley?

A corkscrew and a camera!

Are there any places that are overrated, or best avoided?

Not really. Some hotels in places like Amboise are comparatively expensive but the accommodation is usually of a high standard and Amboise is such a wonderful town that it is mostly worth it.

What are some of your favourite local dishes?

Fouees, special bread baked in a wood oven, is a treat best enjoyed in the unique troglodyte (cave) restaurants of the region. The fish dish called sander au beurre blanc is another favourite of mine.

What are the best souvenirs to buy in the Loire Valley?

Wine and more wine.

What is the best thing to do with children in the region?

Visit chateaux, cycle along the Loire or enjoy a day at one of the local zoos.

How would you recommend getting around the region?

I would say by car if you want to explore many places. Taking the train is also a good option if you are interested mostly in seeing the major chateaux. From Tours and Amboise you can find daily shuttle services to get you to the major chateaux. For the fit and active I would definitely recommend getting around by bicycle, following the Loire a Velo path.

How expensive is a holiday in the Loire Valley?

It totally depends on where you are staying; I mean, you can find a lovely B&B for a decent price, or stay in a wildly expensive chateau hotel. But I would say that the life here is sweet and can be affordable if done right.

For more information on the Loire Valley, particularly wine tasting tours and holidays, check out Helene's website.