10 of the Best Things to do in the Loire Valley, France
Leah Walker October 22, 2019

Sophistication, gastronomy, and grand estates are just a few ways to characterize France’s sumptuous Loire Valley. Once a place where royalty established castles and leisure estates, the Loire Valley combines the opulent châteaux with award-winning wine, unique tours, and picture-perfect natural scenery you simply can’t find in the city.

10 Things to do in the Loire Valley

However, the Loire Valley sits just a two-hour drive from the center of Paris, making it a “must-do” day or weekend trip for anyone seeking history, cuisine, and unforgettable views, both natural and man-made. These 10 things to do in the Loire Valley will help you soak up the best of the area’s sightseeing, adventures, cuisine, and wine.

Loire BoatTake a Traditional Loire Boat Ride

Those who have escaped Paris for the calm natural beauty of the Loire Valley can enjoy it right away on a traditional Loire boat ride. An expert guide will accompany you on a journey to explore the biodiversity, culture, architecture and landscapes of the Loire Valley. Whether aboard a fishing boat or a commentated cruise, this is the perfect introduction to your time in France’s central region.

 Things to do in the Loire Valley Wine Bottles

Drink All the Wine

If you’ve been in France for any amount of time, you’ve probably sampled wines. One of my favorite places to go wine tasting is the country’s garden, known as the Loire Valley. In fact, the Loire Valley is one of France’s most diverse wine-growing regions, and while these wines are found on some of the country’s most prestigious menus, they’re not as often found outside of France. Whites, sparkling, rosés, and reds –you’ll need more than a weekend getaway to explore the wines of the region.

 Things to do in the Loire Valley

Get One with Nature by Camping

When you booked your flights to France, you probably didn’t think you’d be camping, but the natural beauty of the Loire Valley will make you think differently. Yelloh! Village, on the Pays de la Loire region’s Atlantic Coast, offers relaxing yet luxurious camping experiences in an area that was once home to royalty. The Pays de la Loire region is easy to explore by bike, boat, or on foot, and it’s home to three regional nature reserves that put the picture-perfect natural scenery on display.

 Things to do in the Loire Valley Chateau

Learn French at Château de la Mazure

There’s no better way to step into a country’s culture than by learning the language, and there’s no more scenic place to do it than the Château de la Mazure. The centuries-old estate offers a French Lifestyle Program, which helps visitors learn French and better understand French culture.

 Things to do in the Loire Valley

See the Apocalypse Tapestry at Château d’Angers

Experience even more French history at the Château d’Angers, where you can view the famed Apocalypse Tapestry, based on the story from the Book of Revelation. The piece was commissioned by the Duke of Anjou, Louis I, during the late 1370s, and Flemish artist Jean Bondol drew the sketches that were later woven into a tapestry in Paris by Nicholas Bataille. The tapestry includes six 78-foot by 20-foot sections, displaying 90 total scenes, and is a sight so grand it’s only fitting that it is featured in the Loire Valley.

 Things to do in the Loire Valley Milk Bottles

Visit La Cité du Lait {Museum of Milk} in Laval

If a museum dedicated to dairy sounds boring, you haven’t visited the La Cité du Lait. The “Museum of Milk” shows the history of dairy products and how they have helped shape the culture of France. Discover how milk processing has changed throughout the decades and how the museum’s founder turned local milk processing into one of the flagships of French industry.

 Things to do in the Loire Valley chateau

Explore a few Châteaux

One of the most popular things to do in the Loire Valley is to visit the many châteaux that make this region so impressive. Chenonceau, bought by Henri II for his mistress Diane-de-Poitiers, towers over the River Cher, and the mesmerizing International Garden Festival takes place at Chaumont. There are 42 chateaux in the region, making it nearly impossible to visit them all in a short stay.

Discover Tours

Often described as a mini Paris, Tours is one of the most scenic towns in the Loire Valley, sandwiched between the Cher and Loire rivers. One thing visitors love most about Tours is its unique personality, which is considered more laid-back than the City of Light. Festivals, concerts, markets, open-air movies, wining, and dining are just a few things you can enjoy on a day trip to Tours.

 Things to do in the Loire Valley cointreau

Cocktail and Tour at the Cointreau Factory in Angers

The Cointreau Distillery is the No. 1, place to uncover how Cointreau is made. Here, you can enjoy a tour of the distillery, which produces roughly 15 million dollars of the liqueur each year. Call ahead and reserve your tour by phone, and keep in mind that most tours are in French with iPad translations.

 Things to do in the Loire Valley bi-plane

Fly in a Hot Air Balloon or Bi-Plane

Flying in a hot-air balloon is a bucket-list-worthy adventure to try, but it’s even more magical in the Loire Valley. And if the hot air balloon seems too risky (or a little too touristy), opt for a bi-plane tour instead. Whichever mode of transportation you choose, seeing the river, lime-colored fields and towering chateaux from above is an experience you’ll probably never forget.

This year (2019), the Loire Valley region is celebrating its Renaissance heritage. It has been 500 years since the birth of Catherine de Medici, the death of Leonardo da Vinci and the laying of the first stone of the Chateau de Chambord. Throughout the year, visitors can enjoy a long list of exhibitions, events and more to make visits to the Loire Valley even more special in 2019. Don’t forget to plan this weekend-getaway destination into your French travel plans.

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for four years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa renewal. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

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