Quick Guide to Loire Valley
Departments in Centre/Loire Valley:
Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Loire-et-Cher, Loiret, Eure-et-Loire, Cher
Tours, Orleans, Bourges, Chartres, Blois, Chateauroux
What is in a name? It's no surprise that "Centre" is situated at the heart of France, but perhaps more telling is the nickname it is given by the French themselves, "Chateaux de la Loire" (Castles of the Loire river) - which highlights its two best assets: captivating castles in the "Valley of the Kings", which boasts at least 1200 castles, manors and mansions, and the glorious Loire valley, which is considered the epitome of the French spirit.
The region concentrates the genius of the nation into one region, with excellence in literature, architecture, wines, fine dining, all set around the Loire. On the left bank of the river lies Indre-et-Loire and Loire-et-Cher, with waterways, enchanted woods and, of course, its fair share of castles, The right bank boasts Eure-et-Loire, Loiret, named the "Garden of France" with literally hundreds of timeless villages. So, what is in a name? Come and see for yourself.
Top things to see...
- The 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces and 84 staircases at the Château de Chambord, the largest castle in the Loire Valley
- An awe-inspiring prehistoric village of houses expertly cut into the rock at the Troglodyte village in Rochemenier.
- Hedge, hedge and more hedge as you get lost in the enormous maze set in lavishly ornate gardens at Chateaux de Villandry
- Chartres - Paris may officially be "the city of lights" but Chartres is hot on its tail with its "Chartres en Lumiere" light shows and displays and the unrivalled stain-glassed windows of the cathedral.
- Snow-dusted trees and a frozen river from your view in a castle sheathed in ice during the winter months.
Top things to do...
- Glide serenely over the valley in a hot air balloon ride for a truly unforgettable journey.
- Hope someone will be there to lower the drawbridge as you bike from castle to castle along the banks of the Loire.
- Saddle up for a donkey trek for the opportunity to explore pristine French chateau forest undisturbed by hikers and cyclists.
- Get your adrenaline pumping at "La recreation" in Tours, an adventure park built of recycled materials with go-karting, high ropes and much more.
- Rest your sore feet with a soothing paddle in the famous, clear Loire River.
Castles, the Loire valley, the river, valley of the kings, literary genius.
Did you know...?
The Loire valley is the longest UNESCO world heritage site in Europe, at 280km
By road... Centre is easy to reach due to its proximity to Paris, or if coming from the UK via Rouen. It is also connected by motorways to Brittany, Bordeaux and Toulouse, amongst others. From Paris, its only 2 hours.
By air... Air access is easiest via Paris Orly airport, or Tours - although depending on where you are heading in Centre its probably quicker and easier to drive or get the train from Paris.
By public transport... As it is very close to Paris and Ile-de-France, public transport to the area is very simple; the best option is going by train (TGV) from Paris Gare Montparnasse or Gare d'Austerlitz to any of the main towns in the region. There are also buses which take longer but can be a bit cheaper. Trains to Orleans take 1 ¾ hours.