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 2023.
What to Do in the Loire Valley in 2023
Discover Lesser-Known Loire Valley Châteaux
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.
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
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:
Relais de Chambord
Located in Chambord, a 4 minute walk from the castle, this small and refined 4-star boutique hotel was designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte and is situated in an unrivaled location. With captivating views around almost every turn, you will get to know each turret and spire of the castle’s famous rooftop skyline from your hotel.
The stylish rooms, full of natural light, are equipped with a high-end comfort combining velvet, wood, ceramics , and lamps. Every room is unique, so you will find each one slightly different in a charming and individual way. Some rooms offer a view of the Château de Chambord, while others overlook the Cosson River, Place Saint-Louis or the forest.
A buffet breakfast is served every morning. The restaurant prepares modern French cuisine. You can also have lunch at the bar, with its menu of snacks.
The hotel’s wellness area is open every day and has a hammam, sauna, outdoor jacuzzi, and tea room.
Take a Ride Along the Loire River in a Traditional French Barge
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
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:
Pavillon des Lys
This 4-star hotel is located in the heart of the royal city of Amboise. Ideally located in the city center, it is close to the Château Royal d’Amboise, the Château du Clos Lucé (Leonard de Vinci’s last residence) and the Domaine Royal du Château Gaillard.
Several rooms in the hotel have a view of the Royal Castle of Amboise and the Chapel of Saint Hubert. Three of the nine rooms are located outside the main mansion, offering small annexes for an intimate and quite stay. The decoration of the rooms are modern with touches of bright colors whereas the public areas are more classical and more château-like.
Breakfast is served in the grand living room, or comfortably seated on the terrace. You can enjoy coffee, teas, chocolate, and a selection of fruit juices in a truly authentic French setting.
Soak Up the Scenery on a Bicycle
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
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 2023 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!