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Loire Valley Wine Tours

 

Regional Highlights

The River Loire runs westward for over 600 miles before reaching the Atlantic Ocean and is France's longest river. The Loire and its tributaries, the Rivers Cher, Indre, Vienne and Loir (without the "e") link the chateaux, vineyards, farmlands, forests and ancient towns that rest on their banks. It is said that "The Loire is a Queen and Kings have loved her". The Loire has been the home of Kings since the 10th century. From the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, the Kings and Queens of the Loire Valley championed intellectual and artistic creation. The result is an endowment of accomplishments for all time in the arts and literature, as well as extraordinary examples of magnificent architecture and landscaping. The drive from Paris to the Loire Valley takes about two hours journey through lovely countryside. In the "Valley of Kings" there are 1000 chateaux and more than 100 are open to the public. If your time is limited or you are prone to "Chateau Burnout", it is perhaps worth considering limiting your visits to those you think you will enjoy the most or are closer to your interests and perhaps just "driving by" others. Only 2 hours from Paris and you are in the magnificent Loire Valley where you can tour the magical chateaux and gardens. During the summer some of the Chateaux hold concerts. If you would like a private tour or hotel in the area or a self-drive tour just email us for a recommendation.

Famous Chateaux in Loire

Azay le Rideau
Archetypal early Renaissance Chateau with a magnificent staircase. The setting is one of the most romantic in the Loire Valley, between two branches of the Indre river. 'A diamond with two facets, set in the Indre, mounted on a flower-covered support', Balzac: from 'Le lys dans la vallee'.

Amboise
One of the first royal defensive medieval castle overlooking the Loire and its charming city; a combination Gothic and Renaissance. Interesting furniture.

Blois
A large royal Chateau illustrating the development of French architecture from the 13th to the 17th century. Facade of the Loges, Louis XII wing, Francois I wing, Gaston d'Orleans wing, the apartments of Francois I, musee des Beaux-Arts

Cheverny
Cheverny is the perfect example of a Louis XIII Chateau, elegant and of unusually unified style with a magnificent decor. The staircase and furniture (King's Room) are exceptional; interesting Musee de la Venerie (Hunting Museum). Hergé (the author of Tintin) used it as a model to draw Moulinsart.

Chambord
The largest of the Chateaux of the Loire built as hunting grounds for François Ist. Impressive and majestic, it has architecturally innovative terraces with the famous “double revolution” staircase attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: 'an abridged version of human industry', as Charles V said.

Chaumont
Elegant Gothic and Renaissance Chateau castle flanked by spectacular and numerous towers on a dominating site. The park was designed by contemporary landscape gardens. 'Black trees surround this ancient manor house on a sides and, from afar, resemble the feathers on King Henry's hat'.

Chenonceau
A stunning fairytale bridge castle stretching across the River Cher with Renaissance and Classic architecture of rare elegance.

Chinon
Impressive medieval ensemble consisting of three Chateaux on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Loire. Here Joan of Arc met the future Charles VII

de Villandry
A remarkable reconstruction of the 16th c. gardens divided in three terraces. The last of the great Chateaux of the Loire, it reflects a combination of influences from the Loire Valley (Renaissance) and Ile-de-France (Classicism).

Famous Cities

Tours
Tours is the capital of Tourraine and the center of the Loire Valley. It was an important city even in Gallo-Roman times. It was deviated in World War II, but since 1959 the city began the process of regeneration.

Blois
Blois is a pretty medieval town dominated by its magnificent chateau with steeply winding streets lined with half-timbered medieval buildings, little alleys and hidden courtyards. Blois is often used as a base to explore the Loire Valley.

The Chamber of the State General and part of a tower are all that remain of the 13th century fortification. Additions were made in the subsequent centuries which gives it its extraordinary mixture of architectural styles. Louis XII (R.1498-1515) transformed it into a Renaissance palace but his son, Francois I (R.1515-1547) created much of the magnificent edifice you see today. Its greatest single feature is the magnificent octagonal open spiral staircase that forms part of the Francois I wing.

Orleans
Orleans is a modern town rebuilt after World War II destruction. It is the scene of Joan of Arc's greatest triumph, when she successfully drove the English from France in 1429. There is only her statue to visit in Place Martoi.

Beaugency
Beaugency is a pretty medieval town and is a good viewpoint for the river. It has an historic church, Notre Dame, and magnificent bridge.

Wine and Vineyards

Of the rose wines, Rose d’Anjoy is the best known, and the Cabernet Franc grape, special to this region, makes a number of good reds. Look out for the fruity reds of Chinon and Bourgeuil. In Saumur, look for sparkling wines (methode champenoise –champagne method) which are also produced at Vouvray and Mountlouis. Also there are the sweet dessert wines of the Coteaux du Layon.

The local wines go well with the regional cuisine, which, like the climate of the Loire, is gentle, agreeable, and never extreme. The key is simplicity: Local game, fish, vegetables, and fruit are so good they need only a subtle sauce to bring out the flavor.

Foods

The Loire Valley is the garden of France: young white asparagus tips in season, salad crops, squashes, mushrooms (grown in caves along the riverside cliffs near Saumur), and tiny potatoes. Raspberries and strawberries flourish in the market gardens, while orchards yield apples, pears, and quinces as well as plums, especially greengages (reines claudes). An abundance of sun and warmth produce the plums and melons for which Tours is famous.

Fish from the rivers feature on many menus, and include carp and pike, often served with a sauce of shallots, butter, and vinegar: salmon (with sorrel sauce); and eel is often made into a succulent red wine stew. Tiny fish are served simply fried.

In Tours pork is cooked with prunes, game comes from the Sologne region south of the Loire, and chicken and fat capons are the basis for fricassees and casseroles.

Specialties

Caneton de Nantes aux navets: duck with turnips; Friture de la Loire: fried tiny freshwater fish; Matelote d’anguilles: eels in red wine stew; Rilletes du Mans: shredded pork conserved in its own fat; Rillons de Topurs: chunks of pork cooked till crisp and golden; Sandre au beurre blanc: pike perch with a sauce of butter, shallots and vinegar; Saumon a l’oseille: salmon in a sorrel sauce.

There are fresh cheeses, especially goat cheese.

Local cheeses:

Valencay, Crottin de Chavignol, Sainte-Maure de Touraine, Cremet de Nantes.

Desserts include open tarts of apples and plums and fritters flavored with eau-de-vie.

Specialties are:
Gateau Pithiviers: puff pastry almond cake; Tart Tatin: caramelized upside-down apple tart.

Customer Reviews

Hi Larry,

I wanted to take a moment to provide you with some feedback on our trip to France. First of all...thank you! Your recommendations and guidance was invaluable!!

Chateaux de Thillaye: This was absolutely incredible!!!! It was way beyond our expectations and we did not want to leave. Roxanne and Patrick were wonderful . I cannot say enough about this chateau and its owners. Would highly recommend this to anyone and would return repeatedly. My only regret was we arrived Normandy much later than we had wanted and were not able to see as much as we would have liked.

I can't wait to return to France!! My family and I had an incredible experience.

Again, thank you!!

JS

 

Details

Prestige Wine Tours

Marc Bref Cellar
Take the Tour

Come with us for a week on a special journey into the heart of the most important wine regions in France with your own private wine expert staying in wonderfully hotels, enjoying top wines in the vineyards and eating gourmet meals.

 

Chateau Saumur

Loire Valley Wine Tours

Discover the many facets of the Loire Valley. Picturesque villages alternate with towns rich in art and history. The climate is temperate and the fertile meadows have become the "Garden of France". The vineyards of Vouvray, Bourgueil and Chinon produce world-renowned wines.

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Loire Chateaux

Wine & Chateaux Tours

3 fantastic tours with chateaux visit and wine tasting departing daily from Tours and Amboise. Take the TGV and an hour later you are on your way to a great experience. Starting at 145euro pp.

Wine Cruise Loire

Barge & Wine

The 6 passenger Nymphea is a classic Dutch design with shallow draft and is ideal for navigating the incredibly beautiful yet somewhat sandy reaches of the river Cher in the Loire Valley. ON board you will enjoy St Nicolas de Bourgueil, L'Alliance des Generations, Sancerre, Vouvray wines

Chateau Loire

Wine & Gourmet Experiences

3 prestige wine and gourmet tours in the Loire Valley and other regions Cooking Tour includes: Wine Tastings, French traditional cuisine, gourmet cooking lesson, Chateaux visits and luxury hotel or Chateaux accommodation.

Chenonceaux

Bike & Wine Holidays

France has a well established network of well signposted trails of different levels of difficulty. Here are a few of our routes. We offer self guided routes for biking and walking. Enjoy your stay in charming hotels from 'Grandes Etapes Francaises' label which guarantee the comfort, and a warm welcome in sumptuous residences. Along the Loire Valley area, discover wonderful treasures of art and architecture and taste refined flavours of the local gastronomy & wine.

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