Out and About

Chateau de Chinon by DXR (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Out and About

Wine and châteaux are very much the heart of the Loire Valley. With so many choices on your doorstep, it will be difficult to decide which to explore first! The area is also well known for its charming, medieval towns such as Richelieu, Loches and Chinon.

The undulating countryside and quiet roads in this part of the Loire valley make ideal terrain for cyclists. A new voie verte cycling route from Richelieu to Chinon passes through lovely woodland and countryside. Ideal for walkers and cyclists alike.

An excellent range of golf courses are within an hour’s drive away offering something for all abilities.

Markets are very much part of everyday life in the Loire Valley with every town and village having a local marché. A visit here is not complete without a wander around the stalls sampling some of the fabulous local delicacies whilst taking in the atmosphere where traditional values are still very much upheld.

As you wait to be served you might get a little frustrated with the idle chit-chat between customers and stall holder, but if you stop for a moment you will realise that you can spare the time and perhaps they’ve got it right!

Various events are held throughout the towns and villages throughout the summer months offering a delightful combination of eating, socialising, street entertainment and music.

Here we highlight some of our favourite places to visit in this part of the Loire Valley.

Richelieu

On our doorstep, the pretty town of Richelieu is well known as the former home of the Cardinal of Richelieu.

Sadly, the chateau no longer exists but the beautiful grounds and park remain and the walled town is worth a visit.

During the summer months Richelieu has a variety of interesting events taking place.

15 minutes

Photos: Richelieu town by Manfred Heyde (see original file) | Cardinal Richelieu statue by Ccostberg (see original file) | available under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Chinon and the Vienne river from the tower by Sirud CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chinon

The medieval, market town of Chinon nestles on the banks of the river Vienne and has a stunning, commanding fortress overlooking the town.

The town itself is steeped in history and rich with culture. With interesting buildings, shops, pavement cafés, gastronomic restaurants and a popular brocante market which is held along the river once a month.

The Chinon region is well-known for its vineyards. Many of the neighbouring villages have been producing fine wines for centuries.

25 minutes

Photos: Tower by Daniel Jolivet CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons | Building by francisco_5@yahoo.comCC BY-SA 3.0, Link | Wine by vinotrip CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Loches

Loches © Nick Booth

Diana’s favourite! A small historic market town with cobbled streets and one of the best weekly markets in the region.

There is a spectacular view from the fortress and dungeon and a multitude of pavement cafés, restaurants and shops to explore.

A delightful place to visit.

40 minutes

Château de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau by Ra-smit GFDL, Link

Château de Chenonceau is one of the best known chateaux of the Loire Valley whose history is defined by an almost uninterrupted succession of women who built, embellished, protected and saved it.

Spanning the river Cher, this wonderful building houses an extraordinary collection of furniture, tapestries and paintings. Take a stroll around the beautiful garden whilst the children discover and explore the maze. There is a fine dining restaurant and general restaurant on site.

An absolute must to visit but beware, its popularity means it does get very busy!

1 hour

Montsoreau and Fontevraud Abbey

Abbaye Fontevraud by Jean-Christophe BENOIST CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Make a day of it and visit these two lovely places. Montsoreau is a charming riverside village with cave dwellings and an imposing chateau set on the banks of the river Loire. It also hosts a very popular flea market on the second Sunday of each month.

5-10 minutes from Montsoreau is the village of Fontevraud with its stunning Abbey Royale, home to the resting places of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II and Richard the Lionheart. The Abbey has a fascinating history as one of France’s toughest prisons which closed in 1963 and the Abbey has been restored to its original condition. A truly remarkable place to visit.

45 minutes

Family Attractions

Culture aside, there are plenty of things to do in and around the Loire Valley if you’re in the mood for a fun day out. Here we list just a few of the most popular family attractions.

Panzoult wine-tasting

ZooParc de Beauval

Not to be missed! This zoo is rated as one of the top 5 zoo’s in the world and includes animals such as giant pandas, white tigers and the most amazing bird show ever!  Set in over 35 hectares, it’s a great day out for all the family!

Visit ZooParc de Beauval website


Futuroscope

A large, futuristic theme park less than an hour away offering great attractions, rides, and shows.

Visit Futuroscope website


Panzoult

Just 20 minutes away, the local commune of Panzoult hosts a May Bank Holiday wine-tasting event. Set in a spectacular, huge cave, producers offer samples of their local wines. Panzoult also hosts a variety of entertainment each year from medieval jousting to traditional Breton folk dancing.

Chateau du Riveau

Right on our doorstep – 15-20 minutes away, this popular chateau with its fairytale theme and beautiful gardens is one of the most visited places by our guests. A great hit with children.

Visit Château du Riveau website


Brocante markets

Visitors to the area love visiting the monthly antique markets held in the region.


Les Machines de L’Île – Nantes

Adults and children will be captivated and wowed by this fabulous universe of machines, which can be enjoyed by all generations – perfect for family and group outings. A bit further to travel (approx. 2 hours) but well worth a visit!

Visit Les Machines de L’Île website

For even more things to do and places to see in and around the Loire Valley, download our Family Attractions Guide.