Favorite Family-Friendly Tours in France

When planning a vacation that will be special for the entire family, it’s important to keep in mind specific activities that will be engaging for both young and old. French Side Travel has put together a list of some of our favorite family-friendly tours in France that are sure to make your vacation unforgettable.


Favorite Family-Friendly Tours in France

Walk in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel with A Private Guide

private walking tour mont saint michel

Take the opportunity to discover the other side of Mont Saint-Michel during a walk along the shore. Step into the water and sand, dance on the quicksand, and admire the landscapes and natural beauty of the Bay. Your private guided walk departs from Mont Saint-Michel, so it is the perfect activity to combine with a visit to the abbey. You’ll walk towards the Rocher de Tombelaine and back to Mont Saint-Michel. It’s also possible to include a seaside treasure hunt to discover the local sea creatures.

Discover the Beauty, History, and Culture of Provence in a Day

provence favorite family-friendly tours in france

You will depart for Lourmarin, ideally on a Friday, which is market day, and have free time to discover one of the most beautiful villages of the Luberon. Don’t miss the Renaissance castle, beautiful vineyards (which you can visit and have a tasting organized), or the quaint galleries and artisanal shops. Stop for lunch in an exceptionally charming village like Lauris, Oppède-le-Vieux, Ménerbes, Goult or Gordes. Afterwards, you will continue the day by taking the Combe, a winding road, to discover from near or far the perched villages of Bonnieux, Lacoste, Ménerbes, Oppède-le-Vieux, Roussillon and Gordes. From the Marquis de Sade to Vasarely, they all have a unique story to tell, and by the end of the day you will know many of them!

Family-Friendly Stays in Provence
Le Vallon de Valrugues & Spa

Le Vallon de Valrugues & Spa

Located 600 meters from the center of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, this luxurious and refined 5 star hotel offers exceptional villas, a gourmet restaurant, a bistro, a bar, an outdoor swimming pool and a 500 m² spa. The village of Les Baux-de-Provence is 10 km away.

Rooms, suites and villas have air conditioning, free Wi-Fi connection, as well as flat-screen satellite television. Offering a view of the surroundings and the Alpilles National Park, some rooms also have a terrace. Some suite and villas also have a private pool.

The gourmet restaurant prepares menus with a Provençal theme, created by the using local seasonal products. The bistro is open for lunch in high season. In summer, you can enjoy a poolside bar with smoothies, ice cream and milkshakes. A shuttle service drive you to the center of the village and back. The spa offers individual or duo massage room, perfect for a relaxing time with your loved one!

Scenic Horseback Ride in Camargue Followed by a Picnic on the Beach

favorite family-friendly tours in france camargue

Accompanied by Laurent, an expert gardian nicknamed “Peù Blanc,” you will ride across over 1,235 acres of land. Discover the natural beauty of Camargue with its terrain divided between rice paddies and pastures. The famous white horses will take you for a ride off the beaten path and bring you close to the Camargue bulls. Experienced riders will even be able to accompany the gardians in the sorting of the bulls. No matter your age or level of experience, the Camargue cowboys will be happy to share their work and passion with you! This special ride will end in Piemenson with a picnic on the natural beach.

Private Guided Chocolate Tour in Bordeaux

chocolate tour in bordeaux

Feel the charm of the city like a real resident, while tasting the best products of Bordeaux in a unique atelier that will share all of its fabrication secrets with you. Enjoy delicious samples of incredibly refined chocolates in this completely chocolate food tour. From the origin of coco beans to the tasty finished product, you’ll discover the history of chocolate in the moon harbor of Bordeaux. This tour is a great option for foodies as well as those who would just like to experience a unique experience and walking tour in Bordeaux.

A Day On the Water: Private Boat Tour of Cassis and the Calanques National Park

cassis private boat ride

Cassis and the Calanques are two spots that are absolutely not to be missed in Provence. You’ll depart from Marseille’s picturesque Vieux Port for a day on the water and see this stretch of spectacular coastline on a private boat. Explore the forgotten coves, tiny ports, and soaring cliffs of the Calanques National Park. Snorkelers will enjoy the turquoise waters and marine life. You’ll stop for lunch in Cassis where you can dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant with a breathtaking view of Cape Canaille, France’s highest marine cliff.

Pedal Through Paris during a Private Guided E-Bike Tour of the City of Light

bike tour of paris

See the real Paris during this fabulous guided e-bike tour. You might come across a hidden game of pétanque at the oldest Parisian monument as you discover all the twists and turns of the Marais. Marvel at the Jardins des Plantes and effortlessly climb the slopes of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. Get a look at the student life of the Latin Quarter and then the artists’ cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Next, follow the grandeur of the Obelisk in Place de la Concorde and travel in time on your way to Les Champs-Élysées. Amidst all the bustle and excitement of this legendary city, your guide will reveal the relaxing calm of the quiet refuges of Paris. This is a perfect opportunity to take beautiful snapshots and unforgettable memories back home!

Family Friendly Stays in the Loire Valley
les sources de cheverny

Les Sources de Cheverny

Tucked away in its own private estate, this 5-star hotel is the quintessential French château. Exuding 18th-century elegance, this striking hotel balances bygone grandeur with a homely charm.

Soft light from tall, gothic windows creates a restful space. An open fire welcomes guests into the dramatic lobby. While 26 rooms and 23 suites pair sumptuous fabrics with stripped wood panelling to create a sense of contemporary luxury. Beyond the twists and turrets of the building, beautiful lawns and gardens are waiting to be explored. The historic building offers room with classic Chateau feeling, whereas the cottages nearby offer more modern decoration.

As the sun starts to go down, it’s time for a cocktail in the courtyard. Then, you can head into one of the two restaurants and take your pick from mouth-watering menus inspired by the season’s finest local produce.

Days are made for relaxing by the pool, or indulging at the spa Caudalie. Private coaching and yoga classes are available on request.

Private Kid-Friendly Cultural Driving Tour in the Loire Valley

favorite family friendly tours in france loire valley

Your licensed driver-guide will pick up you at your hotel for a unique day experiencing the best of the Loire Valley. Discover a private château and stroll through its splendid gardens. Children will be invited to dress up in medieval costumes and enjoy a treasure hunt or a workshop. For lunch, you’ll enjoy a farm-to-table meal made entirely with products from the castle’s garden in the magnificent setting of the park. To finish the day, you’ll stop in Chinon to trace Joan of Arc’s footsteps.

Full-Day Tour of Provence’s Lavender Fields

provence lavender

Visit the high plateau to experience one of Provence’s emblematic sites: the blooming, fragrant lavender fields. From mid-June to August, the high plateau blooms in breathtaking purple. Enjoy scenic routes away from the crowds. Get ready to take beautiful photos!

The tour includes the Albion plateau, and the villages of Sault and Banon. The wild nature surrounds Sault, perched on a rocky promontory. It dominates a plain dedicated to agriculture where lavender predominates offering in summer a unique palette of colors. Leaning against the Albion plateau, between the mountains of Lure and Ventoux, Banon has an authentic and natural character. Surrounded by fields of lavender, plains, and hills delicately perfumed by aromatic plants, a checkerboard of striking colors is drawn around the village.

Private Scavenger Hunt to Discover the World’s Most Famous Museum from a Different Angle

family friendly louvre scavenger hunt

One of our ultimate favorite family-friendly tours in France is a private scavenger hunt at the Musée du Louvre. While adults take in the highlights of the historic museum with its many treasures, children will get their own specially-designed booklets and a pencil. They’ll look for clues and answer questions as they walk through the different wings of the museum. At the end of the scavenger hunt, the children will be rewarded with a surprise gift.

Private Walking Tour of Old Lyon with a Storyteller

lyon walking tour

Follow the guide-storyteller in the secret covered passageways of Old Lyon. You’ll learn about the incredible adventure of Petit Pierre, and his thirst for science. This adventure allows you to discover the Lyon of the Renaissance, the great Lyonnais figures of the 16th century and the magic of this district.

“Our story begins in the time of King François I. Petit Pierre was an orphan who knew the constellations by heart. One day, he heard the young Louise Labbé talking about Copernicus’ discoveries. He decided that he had to go further, to know more. To do so, he was helped by a mysterious magic book. But first, he had to reckon with the wiles of the evil master Nicolas”.

Guaranteed emotion and thrills! The story is fictional, but based on real historical elements, and includes historical characters. We recommend this visit for children from 6 to 12 years old, as well as for their parents!


We hope this list of our favorite family-friendly tours in France is helpful when choosing a vacation that will be memorable for your children. French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Five Unique Summer Experiences in France: Part Two

With summer travel planning in full-swing, we’re excited to share part two of our list of five unique summer experiences in France. Read on to discover more about this year’s Tour de France and Tour des Femmes, Fête Nationale, and more.


Five Unique Summer Experiences in France: Part Two

Via Ferrata – Hiking and Rock Climbing with a View of Mont Blanc

via ferrata chamonix unique summer expriences in france

Beginners and experienced climbers, adults and children alike can enjoy the fun of the vertical world of via ferrata. This activity is a cross between hiking and rock climbing. Go along routes equipped with cables, ladders, and rope bridges and across rock faces and crags. This particular via ferrata route looks directly at the stunning Mont Blanc. The Chamonix Valley is a wonderful place to experience this unique activity, and the Evettes via ferrata guarantees enormous fun and adventure. You’ll safely push your limits on a varied route with a professional guide.

Celebrate La Fête Nationale – Bastille Day

fête nationale fireworks paris
Photo Courtesy of Groupe F


The French Fête Nationale marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789, a turning point in the French revolution. It also marks the Fête de la Fédération, which celebrates the unity of the French people on July 14th, 1790. Since 1880, July 14th has officially been the Fête Nationale. It symbolizes the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the French Republic. Celebrations are held throughout France. In major cities like Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Toulouse, you’ll find military parades, games, shows and entertainment for the whole family. There are spectacular fireworks shows as well, especially in Paris at the Eiffel Tower.

Where to Stay in Paris
hotel la reserve paris

Hôtel La Réserve

This palace hotel is housed in a mansion dating from 1854, once owned by couturier Pierre Cardin.

Behind its ruby-red doors, it offers guests a world of Haussmann charm and rooms with stunning views of Paris’s finest landmarks. The elegant and stylish decoration was designed by Jacques Garcia.

Practical and aesthetically pleasing, the 26 suites and 14 rooms seamlessly combine tradition with modern technology. It is also worth noting that La Réserve Paris is the first palace hotel to offer a personal butler service for every room. There is special attention to make guests feel as though they are staying in a private home.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the world’s most beautiful avenue, this discrete and spacious establishment also has a private library and a smoking room.

Chef Jérôme Banctel oversees the kitchens at both Le Gabriel restaurant and La Pagode de Cos brasserie. The restaurant serves contemporary French cuisine with Asian influences.

Tour de France and Tour des Femmes

tour de france unique summer experiences in france
REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

The 109th edition of the Tour de France is back again this year from July 1st to July 24th. The race is set to depart in Denmark and also includes stops in Belgium and Switzerland. This year’s race will cover 2,067 miles of cycling and span four mountain ranges. If you happen to be in Paris on July 24th, don’t miss the final stage of the Tour de France. The finish line is on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Spectators can cheer on the riders around Place de la Concorde and the Quai des Tuileries. The end of the Tour de France in Paris marks the beginning of the Tour des Femmes, the first women’s cycle stage race around France. The Tour des Femmes takes place from July 24th to July 31st.

Kayaking or Canoeing in the Dordogne

kayaking in the dordogne unique summer experiences in france

Begin your journey in either a kayak or canoe at Saint Vincent de Cosse, just next to Beynac-et-Cazenac, which many consider to be one of the most beautiful villages in France. Nestled between the Dordogne River and an immense rocky promontory, the village is not to be missed. With stone-paved streets, houses in light-colored stones, and a château, you’ll be in for a total immersion in medieval times. A shuttle will take you to your preferred starting point on the Dordogne River. From there, you’ll start discovering the amazing villages and châteaux on both sides of the river. You’ll have your pick between three different tours: a half day tour, a 4-5 hour tour, and a full day tour. A perfectly unique summer experience in France indeed!

Where to Stay in the Dordogne
chateau de la treyne

Château de la Treyne

The exceptionally located 4-star hotel is set on a rocky bluff and mirrored in the Dordogne, beneath a wooded hillside covered with boxwood and truffle oaks.

The hotel’s combination of authenticity and refinement is a perfect expression of contemporary luxury, in a sublime and relaxing setting. It offers guests the opportunity to step back in time with all of the comforts and amenities of modern life.

All Suites and deluxe rooms are equipped to the highest standard. A tempting menu of seasonal dishes, using only the best locally sourced ingredients, is served daily at their Michelin-starred restaurant.

Loire Valley Bike, Wine, and Châteaux Tour

loire valley cycling wine and biking

Join a licensed guide for an incredible private tour and day experiencing the best of the Loire Valley’s biking, wine, and châteaux. Stop at the Château de Villandry, one of the last châteaux built during the Renaissance period. There you’ll discover perhaps the most breathtaking example of Renaissance garden design in all of France. Afterwards, bike along the banks of the Loire River to an old fisherman’s village. You’ll stop for a picnic lunch on the riverside with local delicacies and wine.

Play amateur photographer in Rigny-Ussé where you can admire the exceptional exterior architecture of the Renaissance château. The view of the château from the bridge over the Indre is quite simply stunning. To finish the day, stop in the Vouvray vineyards to visit a cellar and taste the delicious local sparkling wine. A simply wonderful way to have a unique summer experience and experience some of the best of France all in a day!


We hope part two of five unique summer experiences in France helps inspire a trip later this year. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Spring Break in France: Our Top Destinations

Spring Break is a popular time to visit France. Mild temperatures, blooming flowers, and fewer crowds than during the summer are just a few of the reasons why it’s a great time to travel. French Side Travel is sharing our top destinations for spending a Spring Break in France that will be a hit with the entire family.


Spring Break in France: Our Top Destinations

Paris

spring break in pariis

Visiting Paris in the spring really is as wonderful as it sounds. To see the city covered with blooming flowers in various shades of pinks will make you feel like you are living la vie en rose. A spring break trip to Paris will please the whole family thanks to the large number of different museums, tours, and activities.

Please the history buff with private guided tours to museums. French Side Travel can arrange an exclusive visit to the Louvre where you will be welcomed by the head of a department in the museum and accompanied by a security guard throughout your visit to facilitate access.

We can also arrange a special VIP tour at the Château de Versailles. You will discover the classic Versailles experience covering the most famous parts of the Palace: the Chapel, the Hall of Mirrors, the Queen’s apartment and the gardens. You will also have private and VIP access to places that are not accessible to regular visitors, including the Louis XV and Louis XVI’s apartments.

For an authentic look into the French art de vivre, don’t miss a market visit, cooking class, and lunch or dinner. You’ll get to go to a local Parisian market and shop for the ingredients to prepare your meal. You’ll learn about the specific Parisian market culture, seasonal produce, and food in France. Afterwards, you’ll return to the cooking school to practice both basic and advanced French cooking techniques while creating a three-course meal. Finally, you’ll sit around the table to savor your creations with wine, and hear stories all about French culture and gastronomy. It’s truly a unique experience!

Where to Stay in Paris

hotel monsieur george paris

Monsieur George Hotel and Spa

This 5-star hotel has 46 rooms and suites distributed throughout six floors. Each floor has its own ambience and decor, with adjoining rooms available for families. Suites on the upper floors have views that capture all of Paris with merely a glance. Closer to earth is the Garden Suite, a lush duplex sanctuary.

The restaurant and bar invites guests to enjoy special moments with refreshing breakfasts, lunches, snacks, aperitifs, dinners and night-caps. The menus are constantly updated by a young, enthusiastic head chef, with a focus on freshness, creativity, and tradition.

The hotel also has a spa and a famous yoga club, hailed as the ultimate benchmark for health and well-being. It offers custom services including special in-room yoga courses, fitness and massage sessions, and a wide variety of aesthetic services.

Normandy

honfleur spring break in france

Whether you have several days to dedicate to the region or just want to take a day trip, Normandy is a fabulous Spring Break option. Visit the charming coastal towns like Honfleur, Deauville, and Trouville and indulge in the delicious local seafood. The half-timbered architecture is picturesque.

Take a full day to see the profound and impactful World War II D-Day landing beaches and memorials. There are both private and shared tour options that depart from Paris daily, or you could spend the night in an authentic château just outside of Bayeux.

Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most popular places in France to visit. It seemingly rises out of the surrounding bay. Climb to the top for a tour of the Abbey and incredible views. You can even spend the night on Mont-Saint-Michel to experience the magic without crowds.

Bordeaux

arcachon

In just two and a half hours via a high speed train from Paris, you can be worlds away in beautiful Bordeaux. Explore the lovely city with its rich history and allure. We recommend discovering Bordeaux with a gourmet walking tour – you’ll see all of the fabulous highlights as well as sample some of the region’s specialty foods and of course taste wines.

The city of Bordeaux is also a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Take day trips to renowned wine regions like the Médoc or Saint-Émilion. Or head west towards the Atlantic to discover the picturesque beaches of Arcachon. Visit the Dune de Pilat, which is the tallest sand dune in Europe. You can spend a lovely Spring Break day on a boat exploring the Arcachon Bay, and even visiting with an oyster farmer for a tasting.

Provence

saint remy

For art, wine, and culture lovers, Provence is a must. Spring Break is a wonderful time to visit before the crowds set in – the area truly feels untouched. Enjoy the relaxing place with great weather, incredible history, and a fantastic art legacy.

Nestled between the sea and mountains, Van Gogh and Cézanne immortalized Provence’s beauty on canvas. Throughout the year you’ll find striking colors: azure skies, bright pastel facades, and deep purple lavender fields and vibrant yellow sunflowers in the summer.

Wine fanatics can’t miss the powerful Côte-du-Rhône reds and the refreshing Aix-en-Provence rosés. History buffs should explore the exceptional Roman ruins in Arles and Saint-Remy, and the Gothic Palais des Papes in Avignon. You’ll want to spend as much time outdoors as possible during your stay!

Where to Stay in Provence

hotel villa la coste

Villa La Coste

Situated halfway between the historic town of Aix en Provence, home of Cézanne, and the famous Luberon Nature Park, this 5-star hotel is set in the heart of a biodynamic vineyard. It’s an international destination for art, architecture and natural beauty.

The property features 28 Villa Suites, surrounded by gardens, herbs, and flowers. Each opens onto a spacious terrace offering expansive views over vines and valley. The hotel’s contemporary architecture is emphasized by local materials and embraces the natural setting.

The close-to-nature philosophy runs through in each of the four contrasting restaurants, all of which feature organic produce.

The spa conveys contemporary elegance, keeping with the spirit of the property. Treatments are 100% natural and feature regional ingredients. Think oils from Provençal plants and flowers, mineral salts, clays, and more. The perfect destination for a Spring Break and retreat in France!


We hope this list of French Side Travel’s top Spring Break destinations to visit will help inspire a future trip. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France in the coming year with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite regions in France include Bordeaux, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

What to Do in the Loire Valley in 2022

The Loire Valley, known as the Garden of France, is one of the lushest regions in the entire country. You’ll find yourself begging to be outdoors no matter the season. Imagine exploring the endless châteaux and their gardens, tasting delicious wines, and taking in the scenery from a bike or a boat to name a few possibilities. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s list of what to do in the Loire Valley in 2022.


What to Do in the Loire Valley in 2022

Discover Lesser-Known Loire Valley Châteaux

chateau de villandry

The Loire Valley is synonymous with châteaux. Because of the central geographical location as well as the economic importance of the Loire River for trade, French Kings built numerous castles in the Loire Valley during the 15th and 16th centuries. Famous names like Château de Chenonceau, Château de Chambord, and Château d’Amboise come to mind for most visitors, but it’s the lesser-known châteaux that really delight. Don’t miss the fabulous gardens at Château de Villandry or Leonardo da Vinci’s last home, the Château du Clos Lucé. Read French Side Travel’s list of 10 Essential Loire Valley Châteaux here.

chateau de beauregard
Photo Courtesy of Blois-Chambord Tourist Office

Private Late Afternoon Guided Driving Tour of Château de Beauregard with a Wine Tasting 

Start your visit with a private guided tour of the château. Afterwards, you’ll be whisked away to one of the terraces of the château, far from any other visitors, to meet for a wine tasting and pairing with local cheeses.

An oenologist will teach you all about the château’s wine philosophy of “pleasure and emotion.” Bask in an unforgettable moment as though you were the king or queen of the castle!

Explore the Loire Valley Vineyards

what to do in the loire valley in 2022

The Loire River is France’s longest wine route – it stretches for 600 miles from the Atlantic Coast to Sancerre in central France. The mild micro-climates and different terroirs lead to a wonderful, diverse selection of wines produced. Think dry and sweet whites, fruity and delicate rosés, complex reds, and sparkling Crémants.

There are eleven different types of grapes in the Loire Valley and Cabernet Franc, Chenin, Melon de Bourgogne, and Sauvignon are among the most popular varietals. Many wines are made with a single grape variety, which makes them perfect for pairing with different foods.

Cellars are often located in extensive troglodyte galleries: former quarries dug to supply building material for the valley’s châteaux. They make for a fascinating place to sample the region’s fine wine or cool off on a summer day. Among the dozens of Loire Valley AOCs, Vouvray and Chinon are two of the best-known.

Where to Stay in the Loire Valley:

manoir les minimes

Manoir Les Minimes

Located on the banks of the Loire, this charming 5-star hotel offers spacious rooms with views of the Château d’Amboise and Loire River.

As soon as you arrive at the hotel you’ll feel the warmth and spirit of the building, built on the foundations of the old Minimes medieval monastery. The entire hotel has been recently refurbished. Every room and every space has been designed to make travelers from around the world to feel at ease and at home, wherever they are from.

In the warmer months take advantage of the large terrace, perfect for enjoying a glass of wine from the bar on a summer’s evening.
The location of this hotel is perfect for discovering the historic city center, and cycling through the Loire Valley, Touraine and its many vineyards.

Take a Ride Along the Loire River in a Traditional French Barge

what to do in the loire valley in 2022 boat ride
© Collection Watier/Maxppp

A favorite French Side Travel experience is a cruise along the Loire River in a traditional “toue” boat. The boat design hasn’t changed much over the centuries. It’s essentially a large rowing boat with a sail and a flat base, making it ideal for navigating the Loire’s sandbanks. Each cruise is different depending on the weather and navigating conditions.

Come aboard for a simple cruise along the river or add a picnic with local specialty foods and wines. For the early-risers, there’s an unforgettable cruise at dawn to watch the world come alive. Sunset cruises are equally as special.

Have an Authentic Gourmet Experience in Tours

local experience in tours loire valley

Travelers are craving unique and authentic experiences now more than ever. One of French Side Travel’s favorite experiences in the Loire Valley in 2022 is a private guided visit of Tours and the market followed by lunch in an authentic French home. You’ll spend your day with your local host for the day to learn all about l’art de vivre as well as food in the Loire Valley.

Start by visiting the medieval center of Tours. Visit a fabulous covered market to taste and shop for the best seasonal products including cheeses, charcuteries, wines and more. After the market visit, you will head to your guide’s home in neighboring village for lunch. Spend the afternoon enjoying a delicious meal and relaxing on the terrace and learning about the French language and life. There is also the option to explore a nearby château if you wish. This unique look into French life is sure to be a highlight of any trip.

Where to Stay in the Loire Valley:

domaine de la tortinere

Domaine de la Tortinière

Enjoy the beautiful luxury 4-star château-hôtel centrally located in the heart of the Loire Valley.

The charming bedrooms combine classic style with modern comfort and conveniences. Some rooms offer magnificent views over the Indre Valley.

Guests can enjoy gastronomic meals outdoors or in the dining room at the restaurant before setting off to explore the Loire Valley châteaux. Your fairytale stay in this genuine château is sure to be a memorable one!

Soak Up the Scenery on a Bicycle

loire valley bike ride

The Loire Valley is an excellent region for cycling, whether you want to explore the countryside on your own or with a guide. If you want to stay close to town, don’t miss cycling Tours. You’ll see its historic neighborhoods with half-timbered houses, the bustling Place Plumereau and Saint-Gatien Cathedral, as well as the new Olivier Debré Contemporary Art Center.

For those who prefer the countryside, let a guide lead you along the banks of the Loire River. You’ll stop at an old fisherman’s village for a picnic lunch on the riverside, complete with local delicacies and wine. Next you’ll be off to the picture-perfect Rigny-Ussé where you can admire the exceptional exterior architecture of the renaissance castle. The view of the château from the bridge over the Indre River is quite simply stunning. Finish the day’s ride with a stop at an organic Vouvray vineyard that dates from 1875. You’ll tour the cellar and stop off at a serene spot for a typical French apéritif.

See the Loire Valley on Horseback
loire valley horseback riding
Photo Courtesy of D. Templier CRT Centre – Val de Loire

See the Loire Valley on Horseback

Enjoy a full day on horseback, exploring between rivers and forest, apple trees, and vineyards. The ride is named for all of the flowers and castles you’ll see. Stop for lunch near the delightful French gardens of Chateau Villandry. After the lunch, you’ll be treated to a visit in the gardens, alone or accompanied by your guide.

In the afternoon, continue your horseback ride to discover more of the beautiful landscapes. You’ll finish by returning next to the Loire, the last wild river in France.


We hope this list of what to do in the Loire Valley in 2022 will help inspire future travel to this wonderful region. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France in the coming year with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Bordeaux, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

The Five Most Romantic Things to Do in France

In honor of the upcoming Saint-Valentin (Valentine’s Day) we’ve put together a list of the five most romantic things to do in France. Paris specifically is known as the City of Love, but there are plenty of other dreamy corners of France to discover as well. Whether a honeymoon, anniversary, or simply a special trip with someone you love, France is filled with romance.


The Five Most Romantic Things to Do in France

Check in to A Secluded Hotel

One of our five most romantic things to do in France is heading to the French countryside and checking in to a superb hotel away from it all. The options are plenty from just outside Paris to Champagne, Provence and beyond. A few of our favorites to add to your list include:

Les Maisons de Bricourt

les maisons de bricourt

Two of the boutique hotels form Les Maisons de Bricourt in Brittany have sweeping panoramic views of the sea.

Château Richeux, built in the 1920s, faces Mont-Saint-Michel. The endless hues of blue, green and grey of the sea, sky, and earth merge into one. The restaurant features products from local small-scale fishermen and farmers. The bread served is made with local organic flour and is kneaded and baked in-house. This culinary commitment earned the chef two Michelin stars in 2019. Take a walk in the park, which runs downhill towards the beach and enjoy the magic of the Mont-Saint-Michel bay.

Les Rimains is a haven located on the cliffs of Cancale. Four romantic rooms bask in Mont-Saint-Michel Bay magical light. Simple and elegant, each room faces the sea. There is a coastal path known as the Lovers’ Trail. It offers the most beautiful views over the bay and the oyster beds, which are clearly visible in the translucent water. Bordered by yellow flowers, pines, and fragrant eucalyptus, the path offers a look into local life.

Les Sources de Cheverny

les sources de cheverny

Tucked away in its own private estate, this 5-star hotel in the Loire Valley is the quintessential French château. Exuding 18th-century elegance, this striking hotel balances bygone grandeur with a homely charm. An open fire welcomes guests into the dramatic lobby filled with soft light from tall, gothic windows. Beyond the twists and turrets of the building, beautiful lawns and gardens are waiting to be explored.

Spend your days touring the surrounding Loire Valley châteaux. Or simply enjoy relaxing by the pool and indulging in treatments at the Caudalie spa. When the sun starts to go down, head for a cocktail in the courtyard. Then finish your evening at one of the two restaurants featuring menus inspired by the season’s finest local produce.

Les Sources de Caudalie

les sources de caudalie

Just 20 minutes from Bordeaux’s city center, Les Sources de Caudalie is located between Grand Cru vineyards and forests. This 5-star hotel features a special Vinothérapie Spa, a two Michelin starred restaurant, a casual restaurant in the old washing house, a wine bar, a lounge and more.

There are plenty of activities to enjoy at Les Sources de Caudalie. Enjoy the spa with unique treatments using water from the natural hot spring. Take a cooking class with a two star Michelin chef. Enjoy a wine tasting with the head sommelier at the wine bar or take a mixology class at the bar. And of course, use the hotel as a base to explore the fabulous Bordeaux region.

hotel de paris monte carlo
Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo

Valentine’s Day in Monaco
What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a romantic dinner in Monaco? Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer is rolling out the red carpet, ready for your very own love story.

Picture your intimate dinner: a celebratory atmosphere, maybe? Or perhaps a cozy alcove or a luxury dining experience? When it comes to bringing you joy, the creativity shown by Monaco’s top restaurants knows no bounds.

Whether you prefer an intimate in-room dining experience, a mix of gourmet food and gaming, or perhaps a gastronomic experience, there is something to delight surely every couple.

Take a Private Champagne Cruise Down the Seine River

seine river cruise five most romantic things to do in france

Another of our five most romantic things to do in France is take a Seine River cruise. Not many people can say they’ve had the opportunity to see the Seine River from a beautiful Venetian water taxi. The cruise offers you a unique, tailor-made look at one of the most beautiful waterways in the world. Enjoy the unforgettable views of Paris including the Musée du Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, and bridges from aboard your private boat.

Step inside the private salon, with tinted windows to respect your privacy, and pop a bottle of Cristal or Dom Pérignon champagne to mark this special occasion. Private breakfast cruises are also available if you’d like to have your morning croissant, coffee, and fresh-squeezed orange juice aboard.

Take a Drive Along the Côte d’Azur Coast in a Classic Car

rent a classic car on the riviera: one of the five most romantic things to do in france
Copyright Christian Horan Photography

Enjoy your time in the French Riviera as it was in years past with an exciting sightseeing tour in a vintage convertible car. Your drive can be chauffeured or you can be the pilot. We suggest a drive from Nice to Monaco with stops along the way in Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, and Èze to name a few.

You’ll see beautiful seaside resorts, towns with Belle Époque charm, medieval villages filled with quaint shops and restaurants, and pure Côte d’Azur luxury. French Side Travel can arrange for a professional photographer to meet you along the way for a special photoshoot to document the old-world French Riviera magic.

Spend a Weekend in Champagne

wekeend trip to champagne five most romantic things to do in france

The perfect romantic excursion from Paris is a weekend trip to Champagne. Taste world-class Champagnes, soak in the unique history and culture of the region, and relax and unwind at a fabulous hotel. It has all the makings of a wonderful, intimate getaway.

Take a full-day private guided tour of Champagne. Enjoy a commented drive along the Champagne scenic roads and discover the villages that are part of the Champagne appellation area. Stop at the charming UNESCO-listed small town of Hautvillers, where you can visit the church where the famous monk Dom Pierre Pérignon is buried. You’ll then visit a family-run boutique Premier Cru winery to learn about how the well-known beverage is made and enjoy tastings. Next, uncover the secrets behind the signature taste of Dom Pérignon in an exclusive visit. You will taste some of their finest Champagnes in a private salon. Finally, visit the oldest producer of Champagne: Ruinart to learn about the fascinating history.

royal champagne hotel and spa
Royal Champagne Hotel and Spa

Where to Stay in Champagne: Royal Champagne Hotel and Spa
In the heart of a vineyard, this former coach house (one of Napoleon’s favorite stopovers) is the perfect base from which to explore the glorious Champagne wineries. Be sure to visit the wine cellar, which boasts no fewer than 220 exceptional brut and rosé vintages and crus. The best place to taste them is on the terrace overlooking the vines, which extend as far as the eye can see.

All the 47 luxurious rooms have magical Champagne views. The interiors take inspiration from the natural and cultural heritage of the region. Traditional materials are favored to create a sleek and graphic mise-en-scene.

Vegetables are grown in the gardens and meat is delivered daily by local farmers. This commitment makes fine dining in the Michelin-starred contemporary restaurant exciting. Be sure to take time to indulge in the spa, which overlooks the vines.

Indulge with a Private Seaside Cabana on the French Riviera

private cabana club dauphin

With a guestbook signed by everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Winston Churchill, and an enviable perch overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the palatial spread of the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat has been the epitome of Côte d’Azur chic for more than a century. Make the most of the hotel’s luxurious grounds and fully experience all the beauty of Cap-Ferrat, a wooded peninsula that juts out into the glistening blue waters of the Mediterranean.

A highlight of the property is the Club Dauphin, one of the world’s most beautiful swimming pools. The infinity pool overlooks the sparkling Mediterranean Sea just below. For an extra special experience, treat yourself to a private seaside cabana to enjoy a moment of solitude amongst the tranquil setting. You can also reserve the Dauphin Lounge to enjoy the service of a dedicated butler who will prepare cocktails and serve lunch in your own private outdoor dining room.

fireworks in cannes
Dinner and Fireworks Cruise from Cannes

Summer Catamaran Cruise with Dinner and Fireworks from Cannes
Spend an incredible evening on a three-hour catamaran dinner cruise departing from Cannes. Imagine sipping on a glass of wine and taking in coastal views as you sail across the Bay of Cannes at twilight. Take in views of the Lérins Islands archipelago and the Riviera coastline as the color fades from the sky and lights sparkle along the shore. 

You’ll then enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner on board. For a dazzling finale to the evening, watch a firework display from the deck with the twinkling lights of the Riviera coastline as a backdrop. This is surely an unforgettable addition to a romantic Côte d’Azur trip.


Whether you’re planning a honeymoon, anniversary trip, birthday trip, or simply a special trip with someone you love, we hope this list of the five most romantic things to do in France inspires you. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Normandy, Bordeaux, the South of France, the Loire Valley and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Christmas in France: Must-See Highlights by Region

The holiday season in France is something that every traveller should experience at least once. Starting in mid-November there is an unrivaled festive atmosphere that overtakes the country. Whether you’re coming to get some shopping done in Paris, visit the Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, or to see the Loire Valley châteaux decorated, there’s truly something extraordinary almost anywhere you go. We’re breaking down the Christmas in France must-see highlights down by region.


Christmas in France: Must-See Highlights by Region

Lyon: Fête des Lumières

christmas in france lyon la fete des lumieres
Photo Courtesy of the city of Lyon

For four nights in December, a variety of different artists take over Lyon for the Fête des Lumières. You’ll be able to discover illuminations on buildings, streets, squares and parks throughout the city. This year the festival is from December 8th to 11th.

Paris: Christmas Shopping

paris christmas markets

There’s so much to do in the French capital during the holidays that we have an entire post about visiting Paris in the winter. One activity that brings a lot of seasonal highlights together is Christmas shopping. Whether you’re visiting the Grand Magasin department stores or one of the Christmas markets you’ll be sure to take in the festive decorations and lights, and you’ll be able to bring back gifts from Paris!

Île de France: Vaux-le-Vicomte

christmas in france vaux le vicomte
Photo by Yann Pirioux

While the Château de Versailles doesn’t decorate for Christmas, one stunning castle in the Paris region that does is Vaux-le-Vicomte. Visitors will discover illuminations in both the gardens and the château. Inside, decorations have a gourmet theme this year. Rooms will be scented with gingerbread and cinnamon. To complete the cozy atmosphere, fireplaces will be lit and carriage rides will be offered. The festivities go from November 20th until January 2nd (closed on December 25th and January 1st).

vaux le vicomte christmas
Photo Courtesy of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Private Guided Christmas Tour of Vaux-le-Vicomte with Afternoon Tea or Cocktail in a Private Room

After the castle is closed to the public, discover the State Rooms and the private apartments in peace. Your private guide will recount the tales from the heyday of the estate; from its creation by Nicolas Fouquet, through its operation in the 18th and 19th century, until its opening to visitors in 1968 thanks to the current owners, the De Vogüe family.

Afterwards, enjoy an extraordinary moment of relaxation in the Salon Le Brun. There will be a monumental projection specially set up for you! An evening fit for a King and Queen!

Strasbourg: Christmas Market

christmas in france highlights strasbourg
Photo Courtesy of Strasbourg.eu

The Christmas Markets in and around Strasbourg are without a doubt a holiday must-see. With more than 300 market stalls, miles of garlands of light, the majestic Big Tree, and dazzling shows and concerts there is nothing quite like the Strasbourg Christmas Market. This year the market is open from November 26th until December 26th. As a note, there may be a limited amount of vendors open on December 25th and 26th.

Loire Valley: Christmas Châteaux

christmas in the loire valley
Photo Courtesy of Touraine Loire Valley

The Loire Valley châteaux are marvelous year round (we’ve identified our ten favorites here). During the holidays, many of the châteaux are decorated both inside and out. You’ll see Christmas trees, festive wreaths, and holiday tables dressed to the nines. It’s truly a wonderful time of the year in the Loire Valley and especially fun for families.

Normandy: Christmas Markets and Light Shows

christmas in normandy rouen christmas market
Photo Courtesy of Normandy Tourism

In a region known for gourmet specialties including hearty ciders and cheeses, it’s not difficult to imagine that Christmas is a lively time of year. You’ll find Christmas Markets in the most picturesque of places: at the foot of Mont Saint-Michel (dates to be announced), along the port of Honfleur (from December 20th to January 2nd), and at the base of the Rouen Cathedral (end of November to December 31st) to name a few. Also special for the holidays is a William the Conquerer-inspired light show inside the Bayeux Cathedral starting on November 27th, on Saturdays in December, and from December 19th to 23rd and 26th to 30th.

Provence: Unique Traditions

christmas in provence
Photo Courtesy of Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Tourisme

In Provence, there is a unique Christmas tradition to eat 13 desserts following the Christmas dinner: one for each Christ and his twelve apostles. Each of the desserts served varies a bit based on the region and particular family. Some common items include fougasse, the four beggars (almonds, raisins, dried figs and nuts), Cachat piquant, white and black nougat, calissons, pain d’épice, and of course, the Bûche de Noël.

You’ll also find Santons, little clay figurines in nativity scenes. The literal translation of Santon is ‘little saint.’ There’s an entire Foire aux Santons dedicated to these collectables in Marseille, this year from November 20th to January 2nd.

Bordeaux: Christmas Markets in Wine Country

christmas in bordeaux
© Facebook / Marché de Noël de Bordeaux

In the heart of Bordeaux you’ll find the Christmas market back again this year from November 26th to December 26th. It’s a wonderful place to admire the decorations and also get some shopping done. For a more artisanal market, this year there is a special Christmas market in the heart of Saint-Émilion on December 4th and 5th.

Pas de Calais: Fête de la Dinde de Licques

christmas in france
Photo Courtesy of La Voix du Nord

France can be known for being quirky. Perhaps one of the quirkiest Christmas festivals is the Licques Turkey Festival in the north of France. It’s named for the turkey, which is a popular item served on Christmas day in France, but you’ll also find all sorts of gourmet regional products. It’s the perfect opportunity to prepare your Christmas menu and stock up on wine, cheese, chocolate, Champagne, and of course turkey! This year the festival will be held on December 11th and 12th.

French Alps: Snow, Skiing, and Merriment

christmas in the alps

The snowy alps make them the perfect setting to celebrate a memorable Christmas. Whether you’re in Courchevel or Val d’Isère, you’ll be enchanted by the special Christmas magic including parades throughout town, Santa hitting the slopes and more.

Winter in Courchevel: The Last Track After Hours Ski

You’ll have the opportunity to continue skiing after the slopes are closed for the end of the day. You’ll meet at the top of Courchevel to have a drink while you enjoy the sunset.

Then, once the sky is dark and everyone is at home, you’ll enjoy the entire slope for yourself and experience what skiing at night is like. An excellent opportunity to take in the view on the lights of Courchevel from the top!

Are you ready to spend the holidays in France? Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you. They can help to identify the perfect region for you to experience the must-see Christmas highlights in France.

Fall in France 2021: What to See and Do

Fall in France brings out some of the best of the country from the crisp weather and stunning fall colors to special seasonal foods and more. It truly is a wonderful time to visit and you can’t go wrong with almost any region. We’ve identified some of our top picks for what to see and do during fall in France in 2021.


Fall in France 2021: What to See and Do

Normandy: Authentic Cider and Cheese Tour

fall in france normandy camembert

Fall is a great time to discover Normandy with fewer crowds compared to the summertime. No trip to the region would be complete without at least a day spent tasting some of the gourmet regional specialties, namely ciders and cheeses. You’ll learn the ins and of the famous Camembert de Normandie and will have the opportunity to meet with the last remaining producer of the cheese in the village of Camembert. Next, you’ll see the cows, discover the production process, and taste two other regional cheeses: Pont l’Évêque and Livarot. After stopping for a fabulous picnic lunch, you’ll be learning all about ciders: apple, pear, pommeau and Calvados. This delicious day ends in one of the most beautiful villages in France with colorful half-timbered buildings and great shopping.

Paris: Colorful Modern Art Museums

fall in paris

While the trees in Paris are filled with beautiful colored leaves in the fall, rain can be common, especially further into the season. A great way to escape the rainy weather is with a museum visit. Classics like the Musée du Louvre and Musée d’Orsay are always wonderful options, and are always ever-changing thanks to temporary exhibits. However, if you’ve had enough of the grey skies, consider the Centre Pompidou for colorful modern and contemporary art or the intimate and beautiful Musée Picasso in the heart of the Marais.

Fall in Paris from the Ducasse sur Seine
What better way to take in the fall colors than from aboard a Ducasse sur Seine cruise? This electric boat glides along the river to show you a side of Paris you may have never seen before. During the journey, you’ll enjoy a four or five course menu filled with seasonal products all complemented by prestigious and eclectic wines. A romantic and magical way to see Paris!

Burgundy: Fall Along the Wine Trails

burgundy wine trails in fall

For wine lovers the Burgundy wine trails are a highlight no matter what time of year. The visits are especially spectacular drenched in the gorgeous fall colors. Our local wine expert guides will lead you through the renowned estates and surrounding scenery. Throughout the day you’ll taste exceptional Premiers and Grands Crus wines. Truly an extraordinary way to see and experience Burgundy!

Loire Valley: A Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

loire valley hot air balloon

For a unique perspective of the majestic Loire Valley châteaux, we recommend taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Imagine floating above on a misty fall morning with gorgeous golden light touching the vineyards, forest, rivers, and châteaux below. This fabulous experience ends with a breakfast and you’ll have the rest of the day to continue exploring!

Bordeaux: Market Visit, Cooking Class, and Lunch

fall market foods france

Southwest France is a region known for fabulous fall foods including foie gras, truffles, and nuts. During a private market visit, cooking class, and lunch in Bordeaux you’ll have the opportunity to learn even more about and taste these delicious fall specialties. A chef will lead you on this experience that is both gourmet and a unique look into life in France.

Provence: Visit Chateauneuf-du-Pape with a Local Wine Expert

chateauneuf de pape

During the fall, you can take in the mesmerizing beauty of the historic Châteauneuf-du-Pape village and vineyards dressed in a layer of gold. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is famous for powerful, full-bodied red wines, made from the southern Rhône grape trio of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Besides the golden leaves, you’ll find distinct lightly colored stones amongst the vines: a spectacular fall combination. During this day your local wine expert guide will take you to meet with three winemakers. Next, you’ll stop for lunch in a charming Provençal restaurant. Afterwards, you will get the chance to make local confectioneries in copper cauldrons!

Fall in Provence: Truffles and Wine Tasting
The ultimate unique fall in Provence experience! Take a two-hour tour of an estate and its vineyards in a 4×4 where you’ll learn about biodiversity. Next, meet with a truffle farmer and his dog to learn about the fascinating world of truffles and the nuances of growing tuber melanosporum and tuber aestivum truffles.
The visit concludes with a lunch centered around the estate’s truffles with a wine pairing!


Ready to experience fall in France? There’s still time to make it this year! Our travel designers are standing by and can help you book any of these activities and create the perfect fall itinerary in France. Some of our most popular fall destinations include Normandy, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, and Southern France.

10 Essential Loire Valley Châteaux

Thanks to an abundance of vineyards, orchards, and artichoke and asparagus fields, the Loire Valley is often referred to as both the “Cradle of the French” and the “Garden of France.” It’s a region filled with charm and history as well as notable towns, wines, architecture, and over 300 châteaux. We’ve narrowed down our picks for 10 essential Loire Valley châteaux to visit.


10 Essential Loire Valley Châteaux

Château de Chambord

chateau de chambord 10 loire valley châteaux

Château de Chambord is an exceptional masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1965, François I built the Château de Chambord as a hunting lodge. It’s the largest château in the Loire Valley and most prestigious of the French Renaissance châteaux. Leonardo da Vinci inspired parts of the château, particularly the double-helix staircase.

From the terraces you’ll find incredible views of the fascinating architecture of the château and the entire estate. You could easily spend a day exploring the domaine on foot, by bike, or on horseback.

relais de chambord

Unique Stay: Relais de Chambord
Just a four minute walk from the castle, you’ll find this small and refined 4-star boutique hotel in an unrivaled location. With captivating views around every turn, you’ll get to know each turret and spire of the castle’s famous rooftop skyline.
Each room is unique and filled with natural light. Some rooms offer a view of the Château de Chambord, while others overlook the river, Place Saint-Louis or the forest. Guests can enjoy hot air balloon rides over the estate, boat tours along the Cosson River, 4×4 safari rides through Chambord’s reserve and more.

Château de Blois

The town of Blois is located in the heart of the Loire Valley. It’s home to one of the most iconic châteaux in the area and is also a recognized Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (Town of Art and History).

The Royal Château of Blois is a true synthesis of the art and history of the Loire Valley châteaux. The four distinct wings are a prime example of the diversity of styles and architecture over the centuries. Be sure to take a moment in the courtyard to admire the four architectural styles: the 13th century Medieval fortress, the Louis XII Gothic wing, the François I Renaissance wing, and the Gaston of Orleans Classical wing. Over time, seven French kings and 10 queens lived at this royal château.

Château d’Amboise and Château du Clos Lucé

chateau d'ambois chateau clos luce 10 loire valley châteaux

The Château d’Amboise has a picture-perfect setting overlooking the Loire River and the charming town of Amboise. It holds an impressive collection of medieval and Renaissance furniture. The council chamber and the royal chamber are absolute must-sees.

Amboise is also the location of Leonardo da Vinci’s last home, the Château du Clos Lucé. This relatively small 15th century palace was the childhood home of François I. The château is especially well-known because Leonardo da Vinci spent his final three years living here as a guest of the king. Today, the Château du Clos Lucé is a museum dedicated to the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci. You can see Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb on the grounds of the Saint-Hubert chapel at the Château d’Amboise.

Château de Beauregard

chateau de beauregard

One of our favorite smaller châteaux in the Loire Valley is the privately-owned Château de Beauregard. Built at the end of the 15th century and set on an expansive 173-acre estate, it houses an exceptional portrait gallery featuring 327 European monarchs, ministers, clergymen, and diplomats among others.

Want to Be King of the Castle?
Enjoy a private tour of the Château de Beauregard followed by a wine and cheese tasting with an oenologist. This exclusive experience takes place in the late afternoon on a château terrace. You’ll be able to watch the setting sun with a glass of local wine in hand. Truly an unforgettable moment!

Château Azay-le-Rideau

Château Azay-le-Rideau is perfectly set on an island in the middle of the Indre River. This 16th century is an early example of French Renaissance architecture blending French tradition with innovative Italian decorative arts. Thanks to both the beauty of the château and its sublime natural setting, Azay-le-Rideau is one of the most popular châteaux to visit in the Loire Valley.

Château de Chenonceau

10 loire valley châteaux

This prestigious château spans the River Cher. Château de Chenonceau is known as the Château des Dames because of the women who built, expanded, defended, restored and ultimately saved it. Built by Catherine Briçonnet in 1513, it was later embellished and transformed by the likes of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici.

Be sure to visit the garden of Diane de Poitiers, a “floating” parterre created in the Renaissance. You’ll also want to see Catherine de’ Medici’s Italian-style maze and separate smaller garden facing the lake and the park. To the north, there is an English-style Green Garden. Last but not least, visit the Flower Garden where you’ll find over 100 varieties of “cutting flowers” used for the château’s floral arrangements. Yes – the château does organize floral workshops!

Château Chaumont-sur-Loire

10 loire valley châteaux

Set the banks of the Loire River, Château Chaumont-sur-Loire blends defensive Gothic architecture with aesthetically pleasing Renaissance architecture. The landscaped English-style grounds offer a spectacular, unique vista of the untamed Loire.

Each year between the end of April and November, the Festival International des Jardins invites landscape artists from all over the world to dream up and create extraordinary gardens on a different theme each year. The theme this year is “Biomimicry in the Garden” which proposes ambitious and exemplary creations that feature fresh and contemporary scenes, aiming to surprise, give understanding and capture imaginations all at once. The festival goes through November 7th.

Château de Villandry

chateau de villandry garden

The Château de Villandry is one of the most impressive of the Loire Valley châteaux. While the château itself is beautiful, the extensive gardens are the highlight of any visit.

The château is best-known for its formal French-style garden. There are also several smaller gardens in various styles that are worth exploring. Our favorites include the vegetable garden, the ornamental garden, the water garden, the sun garden, and the herb garden.

Built in the early 16th-century, Château de Villandry was the last Renaissance-style castle constructed in the Loire Valley. The interior of the Château de Villandry, although less frequented than the gardens, is well worth a visit. Highlights include the kitchen, the main staircase and dining room (classified historical monuments), and the ceiling in the oriental drawing room.

Château de Brézé

Classified as a Historic Monument, Château de Brézé is unique because of its remarkably well-preserved troglodytic cave network, richly furnished rooms, and highly detailed neo-Gothic architecture. Many visitors come to see the “castle under a castle.” This nearly four kilometer underground route holds unexpected underground rooms including stables, kitchens, a bakery, and a wine cellar.

Stay in a Château at the Loire Valley: Château d’Artigny
An unmatched experience of living in a château and feeling the grandeur is what this 5-star hotel promises.
Located south of Tours, Château d’Artigny offers the best of comfort and opulence to its visitors. During your stay you’ll enjoy marble statues, a French garden, beautiful woodwork, and amazing views over the Indre Valley.


This majestic region of France begs exploring. Whether you want to spend a few days visiting from Paris or extend your stay to see all 10 essential Loire Valley châteaux, we can help you plan the perfect itinerary. Some of our Loire Valley favorites include A Loire Valley Road Trip, An Exclusive, Romantic Visit to the Loire Valley, and Loire Valley Wine and Châteaux. French Side Travel has something for everyone whether you’re interested in food and wine, history and culture, adventure, or romance and scenery.

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