When I visited France, I was so excited to see the Loire Valley. This is where most of my favorite wines are from, and once I saw photos of the famous Chateaux, I was sold. This was the perfect little getaway from our Paris vacation.
The Loire Valley is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is the longest river in France. This made choosing where to stay really challenging. After a lot of research, we settled on Tours as somewhere central to both the chateaux and wineries. Tours was also a larger city, with more options for dinner than some of the smaller towns we looked at. Finally, we found the cutest AirBNB to stay in in Tours, so it was settled!
We chose to rent a car from Paris to Tours. The route there was easy, only about 3 hours on the route that avoided tolls, and it allowed us the leisure to stop on the way and explore. As long as you are comfortable with it, I highly recommend driving. Our only challenge was getting out of the congestion of Paris and on the road! It was really nice to be able to venture farther from the city by having a car.
Lastly, we were there in November, and it was lovely this time of year. We were lucky with a late fall, and the colors throughout the countryside were astounding (as a California native, I don’t see a lot of seasons). The only issue with travelling this time of year is some of the chateaux were closed or had limited hours, so it took a bit more planning.
Now on to the schedule!
Day 1: Travel from Paris to Tours
We picked up our car early in the morning and got out of the city. As I said before, the drive was lovely. Do prepare for your drive in advance – we stopped in a neighborhood just outside of the city that was a little seedy so I wish we had stocked up on snacks, water, and coffee in advance. On the drive there, don’t miss stopping in Chartres. The cathedral there was beautiful and classically Gothic. Seeing the variety of cathedrals throughout France is fun to compare as well! Then we arrived at our AirBNB, a cute little studio right in the heart of town. After we settled, we grabbed a quick dinner. NOTE- nothing is open between 5PM and 7PM! If you’re early for dinner, you’ll have to wait to get any food. There is a really cute street in Tours where you can access a wide variety of foods as well.
Day 2: Wine Focused
Day 2 we wanted to focus on wineries! I did a LOT of research before traveling and actually found it very difficult to learn about how to taste and enjoy the wines of the region. I broke it down for you in this post, so you can go to the Loire with less questions than I had! Today, we started at our first Chateau, Villandry, as it was on our way to the wineries we had picked. This Chateau was famous for it’s gardens which were gorgeous, the only issue is the Chateau itself was already closed for winter! We still had a great time wandering the gardens and maze. After, we spent the afternoon exploring the various wineries we came across! Upon arriving back in Tours, we opted for some Lebanese food (there were 5 restaurants within a few blocks of each other, and my boyfriend is Lebanese so we had to try!) and it was so good!
Day 3: Chateaux
Our third day in the Loire, we toured 3 different Chateaux (which I’m not going to lie was an AGGRESSIVE DAY – if you can, I’d limit to two in the future). Each location had it’s own unique architecture and colorful histories I loved exploring though. There are many many Chateaux to choose from in the region, so check out my post about the ones I saw and do some research if others are more appealing to you! Back in Tours, we found a nicer restaurant that had a delicious 3 course meal before turning in.
Day 4: Drive Back to Paris
We used the next morning to drive back to Paris. We took the toll highway to save an hour and a half, but note the tolls are EXPENSIVE! We also used less time to sightsee on the way back, as we were still exhausted from all the Chateaux from the day before. After dropping off the car, we headed over to Laduree to load up on sweets!
We loved our time in the Loire, and because it’s so expansive it’s a place I would definitely visit again to see something new! Hopefully next time in the spring when you can bike between cities and see the gardens in new bloom!
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