The Top 10 Things To See And Do In The Loire Valley, France

Photo of Madeleine Bazil
9 February 2017

The Loire Valley, in central France’s Loire River, is known for its abundant produce, famed wine industry, vibrant culture and stunning châteaux. Here are ten ways to make the most of a trip to the Loire Valley.

Château de Chenonceau | © Yvan Lastes/WikiCommons

Tour the Château de Chenonceau

Building
Map View
Château de Chenonceau gracing the River Cher | © Benh LIEU SONG/Flickr
Perhaps the most famous of the many castles in the region, Chenonceau is a sight to behold. Spanning— literally— the River Cher, this attractive mix of late Gothic and early Renaissance architectural styles is best known for being the residence of Queen Catherine de Medici. The endless rooms and halls are decorated sumptuously, and feature historical info to boot.

Partake in some wine tasting at Bouvet-Ladubay

For an extensive guided tour of one of France’s best producers of sparkling wine, look no further than this winery. It possesses no fewer than 10 miles of wine cellars— with a tasting at the end of the tour. Worried about walking so many subterranean miles? Fear not; the winery offers cycling tours.

Bouvet-Ladubay, 11 Rue Jean Ackerman, Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent, Saumur, France +33 2 41 83 83 83

Take in the art at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours

Museum, Art Gallery
Map View
This delightful art museum, housed in the bishop’s former palace, is located in the peaceful heart of Tours’ old town. It features one of France’s most extensive collections of art, with artists including Rubens, Monet, and more. Don’t miss the sculpture collection, which includes ancient classical Roman and Greek pieces, as well as sculptures of historic French monarchs.

Visit Chartres Cathedral

Cathedral
Map View
Chartres Cathedral's world-famous stained glass windows
Chartres Cathedral's world-famous stained glass windows | © Daniel Stockman/Flickr
This famous Gothic cathedral (full name: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres) attracts pilgrims and tourists alike from across the globe. Join the ranks and visit this stunning cathedral, which has gorgeous stained glass and workmanship. In the summertime, stay until the evening for a light show which is projected on the exterior of the cathedral when night falls.

Learn about Leonardo da Vinci at the Château du Close Lucé

This little château in Amboise served as the official residence of legendary artist, inventor, and scientist Leonardo da Vinci for the last three years of his life, until his death in 1519. Today, visitors can tour the museum to learn about the region’s history as well as look at models of many of da Vinci’s invented machines and a replica of the Mona Lisa, as well as pay respects to da Vinci’s tomb itself.

Château du Close Lucé, 2 Rue du Clos Lucé, Amboise, France, +33 2 47 57 00 73

Enjoy the summertime at La Guinguette

Summertime in the city of Tours means one thing: the ‘Tours-sur-Loire’ guinguette cafe which is set up in the town center along the banks of the Loire river every April to September. With food, drinks, outdoor seating, concerts and outdoor cinema every day or night, this summer tradition makes an excellent meeting spot for a meal, relaxing evening, or cultural experience.

Guinguette de Tours sur Loire, Tours, France, +33 2 47 21 60 60

Cycle around Orléans on the Loire à Vélo Cycle Path

Traverse the city and its nearby countryside by bike, passing through adorable towns, copious historical sites, and more. Register online, grab some wheels, and then explore the various scenic paths and routes— just make sure to return the bicycle when finished to a station in town.

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