The King’s Valley
A Guest Post from Travel Blogger, photographer and content creator Brenda Tavares (note from Tsitaliya: please link the name to our previous interview with her)
DREAM DESTINATION: Just two hours southwest of Paris you’ll find the Loire Valley, known also as the “ King’s Valley". This romantic UNESCO heritage-listed site spans 280 kilometers along the Loire River and is dotted with hundreds of fairytale castles and local wineries which will make you dream while you travel.
HOW TO GET THERE
The best way you can explore this area is by car. Even if you arrive by plane or by train somewhere (like Paris), I would recommend you to rent a car and have total flexibility to do the tours in your time with all the comfort. The Loire Valley is comprised of many small towns and the famed castles and wineries are spread out across the region. A car is necessary to get from place to place! The roads were easy to navigate and there wasn’t any traffic or congestion.
WHERE TO STAY
You won’t find many recognizable chain hotels in the Loire Valley. Bed and breakfasts and chateaus turned into boutique-hotels are more common over there.
To list the castles and wineries you want to visit will help you to decide which city you should choose as your base during this trip. We decided to stay at Chateau des Arpentis near the medieval town of Amboise, which is one of the smallest villages of the Valley, where we could go around walking and probably where the crowd would not really arrive, as in times like the ones we are living, to get distance of the mass is a must.
The hotel is a bit out of town, but only 10 minutes way. It dates back to 1313 and throughout the centuries it changed hands between many French aristocrats. The 75 acre property is surrounded by a moat in the middle of a forest (with horses, many birds and rabbits around) and is incredibly gorgeous. It was restored in 2007 and since then has been open as a boutique hotel.
WHAT TO DO
As mentioned above, the Valley is a fairytale scenery, with beautiful castles all around. As they are really a lot, my suggestion is that you list your favorite. Maybe in base of its history, or style, or location). I would not recommend to do more than 4 in one trip. You would get tired to see so similar building at once.
My favorites are:
Chenonceau: The “Ladies Castle”, beautiful (part of its construction was inspired in Florence and its “Ponte Vecchio” and really close to the hotel I just recommend you.
Chambord: if you are a Disney movies fan, you probably know that this monumental place inspire the movie “The Beauty and the Beast”. It’s enormous! With interesting stories and architectonic elements.
Amboise: if you decided to stay in this area, you should go and visit
the castle of this cute town. It has an underground tunnel that connects the Royal Residence to the house where Leonardo Da Vinci was living until his death. This house is a museum and you must visit it! Ideal for parents traveling with kind, there many interactive areas where they will have so much fun!
Villandry: this is the last of the great Loire castles built during the Renaissance (1536). The gardens of this place are something out of the curve. Going there during the spring/summer is absolutely beautiful!
Another great experience you can live while traveling around the Valley is flying in a hot air balloon!!!! We had to wait 3 days because of the forecast but it totally worth it! It’s so peaceful up in the air. We could see the castles from above, the forest, even some animals running around. One of the most beautiful moments of my life! We did our fly with Balloon Revolution. They have been amazing with us!
WHERE TO EAT
Chez Bruno (Amboise) – This was our favorite meal in the Loire Valley! At Chez Bruno we feasted on pumpkin soup, lamb and homemade creme brûlée. The setting and atmosphere of the restaurant was super cozy too!
Bigot Chocolatier (Amboise) — Bigot is a famous chocolate shop in the region that’s been owned by the same family for over 100 years! I ordered a cake by internet that they delivered in our hotel for a special celebration and it was so delicious that we went back there everyday to buy something different. All as good as the chocolate cake we had at the first time!
I hope you enjoyed the tips and I can’t wait to see you packing cozy and beautiful clothes to enjoy this magical scenery in the country side of France!