The Loire Valley, France

Chenonceau Loire Valley France

Located south of Paris, this stretch of about 170 miles along the Loire River has been designated by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to be a “World Heritage” site.

Why to go:  The incredible chateaux (castles)!  But also, the beautiful historic towns, vineyards, and produce (fruit, artichoke and asparagus).

When to go:  Spring through September/October are best for cycling through the valley.

When NOT to go:  Winter is chilly but could still offer a good experience and it’s less crowded.

Where to go:  Pick one of the larger towns as a base (maybe Blois, Tours or Saumur) and either do day trips to the chateaux, smaller towns and vineyards OR do a multi-day cycling trip along the chateaux route.

What to eat and/or drink:  Wine!  There are great dining experiences throughout this region.  Take advantage of the locally-grown produce!

What to see/do:  Visit the chateaux – you won’t be able to see them all so pick a handful and enjoy!  Some of the most famous are:  Chambord, Chenonceau (my favorite!, pictured above), Azay-le-Rideau and Chinon.  Other interesting sites include the Chartres Cathedral and Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud.  It’s a great area for cycling, dining and visiting beautiful historic towns.