Few people realise that the centre of the Loire valley is just a one hour away from the centre of Paris. Just board the high speed rail link to Tours at 7.00 am and you will be there by 8.00 am with the whole day ahead of you to explore the Garden of France. From Tours you will be able to join one of the many day tours of the Loire by mini-bus, or simply hire a car for the day and set you own itinerary.
Tours is a university town and lies at the joining of the rivers Cher and the Loire. It is the ideal starting point from which to explore the many vineyards and chateaux for which the valley is renowned, and it was an important pilgrimage site back in the middle ages. In the town’s centre is found the Plumereau square which is surrounded by several museums and the Cathedral of St-Gatien. The region is famous for its fine wines such as Chinon, Bourgueil and Vouvray.
Close by are a number of chateaux, including the Azay-Ie Rideau which is frequently portrayed with its reflection in the river, the Villandry which is surrounded by wonderful gardens, and even more romatically the Usse, which ancient folk law has it that it was where Sleeping Beauty lived. The city of Chinon is also close by. Located on the banks of the Vienne River, this medieval city dates back to pre-historic times.
A little further away you will find the beautiful Chateau de Chenonceau with which many of France’s most famous women were associated. These include Diane de Poitier, the favourite courtier of Henry II of France; Catherine de Medici, the Queen consort of France and wife of Henry II of France; Louise de Lorraine, another Queen consort; and Joan of Arc who liberated Orleans from its siege by the English.
Chateau d’Amboise is just a short drive away. This is an excellent example of a gothic chateau mixed in with some renaissance architecture. It was the home of Francois I of France, and so one of the first royal residences. It was also the home of Leonardo da Vinci during his later years; he died there and his body is buried in an adjoining chapel. From here there are stunning views over the Loire Valley.
Not only can you travel by bus around the many sights of the Loire valley, you can also travel from London to Paris on the iDBUS SNCF service to connect with the high speed rail link to the valley. Catch the overnight from London and you will be touring the Loire valley the following morning.
This is a guest post by Claire Chat a new Londoner, travel passionate and animal lover. She blogs about Pets and Travelling in Europe. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can find email her here or contact her on Twitter (Claire_Chat).
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