The Loire Valley region is in north central France and incorporates several main cities from Nantes in the west through Angers, Saumur and Tours to Orleans just south of Paris. However, the most popular area of the Loire Valley for tourism is between Maine and Sully-sur-Loire, which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Known as the Garden of France, the Loire Valley is a beautiful area of historic towns, turreted chateaux and an exceptionally rich history which makes one wonder why the area is not more crowded. Mercifully it remains tranquil and uncommercialised with quiet roads winding beneath the cliffs, passing acres of vineyards and fields of sunflowers. The Loire links a host of charming towns such as Amboise, Chinon and Saumur.
The attractive countryside and interesting towns are reason enough to make self-catering villas and gites in the Loire Valley very desirable, but the sleepy river with its many tributaries and the prestigious chateaux make it a real delight for outdoor pursuits. Add in some beautiful gardens, world-class wineries and gourmet cuisine and you may never want to leave!
The lakes and rivers around your Loire Valley gite are ideal for peaceful walks, canoeing, good fishing or taking boat trips. Walking, cycling and taking scenic road trips are popular things to do. Golf courses are plentiful along the Loire Valley and horse riding is a great way to explore the countryside.
Visiting the chateaux around your Loire Valley gite is a must-do! The royal Chateau d’Amboise and the nearby Clos Lucé where Leonardo da Vinci lived and died are well worth exploring. The Chateau de Chambord is one of the best known with its French Renaissance architecture. Chateau d’Usse with its formal terraced gardens and the grand Chateau de Villandry each have their own unique architecture. Some are fairytale residences while others were clearly built as defensive fortresses.
Wine tasting is a must and is particularly fun when combined with an educational tour of the vineyard to see how the wine is produced and stored.
May to October is the best time to enjoy a gite in the Loire Valley with temperatures ranging from 18-25C (65-77F) and few showers. The Loire has its own culinary specialities making it ideal for those who appreciate fine cuisine. Wild game, delicious goat’s cheese and cherries are some of the best in France as is the local cherry-based Guignolet liqueur.
A car is essential for exploring the Loire Valley, so consider bringing your own car by ferry or hiring a car from the local airport.
Self-catering villas and Gites in the Loire Valley are well served by the Tours Val de Loire Airport which has regular daily flights with budget airlines. A hire car is the best way to explore the region, or book a ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre and drive to your Loire Valley gite.