This tour will acquaint you with the castles of the Loire valley and France’s exceptional heritage. The unspoiled, royal river takes you on tours to fairy-tale castles and visits to less well-known but equally enchanting sites including riverside cafés-cum-dance halls, forest trails to explore on foot or by bicycle and no end of fine dining opportunities. A long weekend is all you need to don the imaginary crown of one of France’s former monarchs!
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In the throes of renewal, Orléans is once again lively and animated. Follow in the footsteps of Joan of Arc and discover some of the town’s must-see sites, such as pedestrian Martroi square, Sainte Croix cathedral and its 114-metre spire and the Briare canal bridge. Take the time to slow down and experience the gentle pace of life that defines the Loiret département as you stroll along the river banks. Then head to Chambord.
MyTripTailor advice : Don’t miss the hidden gems around Orléans, like the medieval castle and town of Beaugency.
Much more than a hunting lodge for Francois 1st, Chambord, which boasts no less than 77 staircases, 156m of façade, 282 fireplaces, 426 rooms and a staggering 800 carved capitals, is one of the greatest masterpieces of Renaissance architecture. The château of Blois, home to seven kings and ten queens, provides an opportunity to review French architecture from the Middle Ages to the 17C. Don’t miss Catherine of Medici’s Italianate studiolo, adorned with 237 carved wooden panels that hide secret cupboards…
Admire the Italian Renaissance in the shape of the château of Amboise, built between the 15 and 16C. Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the chapel of Saint Hubert. In addition to its must-see castle, the town of Amboise is well worth a tour: banks of the River Loire, historic houses and winding lanes and streets. Make the most of an overnight halt to enjoy this enchanting town.
MyTripTailor advice : If you venture to the edge of the forest of Amboise you will be treated to the sight of a 44-metre-high Chinese pagoda !
It is impossible not to fall in love with Tours and its historic half-timbered houses, friendly riverside cafés-cum-dance halls, cathedral district and second-hand book stalls. Take the time to explore historic Tours, beautifully restored in the 1970s. Its sports cobbled lanes, many of which are pedestrian, will guide you to Saint Gatien cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece adorned with ornate stained glass.
MyTripTailor advice : Pay a visit to the château of Villandry (20 or so kilometres westbound of Tours) and marvel at its Renaissance inspired gardens.
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