When you visit the Loire Valley, it's not hard to see why, once upon a time, French royalty decided to set up shop here instead of in Paris: the rolling countryside and fertile farmland — ideal for making cheeses, growing pears and harvesting grapes for Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé — provided a perfect backdrop for castles, quaint villages and general pastoral bliss. It's a fairy tale come to life. The place has succeeded so remarkably in keeping that majestic beauty alive that UNESCO declared the area a World Heritage site in 2000. Part of its ongoing magic is the region's gentle pace of life, which is irresistible to travelers. Use our Loire Valley travel guide to make the most of this enchanted place.
Things Not to Miss in the Loire Valley
When you visit the Loire Valley, sample the region's fantastic wine and cheeses, especially in Touraine, and be sure to include some of these popular activities on your itinerary:
• Go back in time while visiting the many chateaux in the Valley
• Explore Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, the biggest medieval abbey in France
• Rent a bicycle to tour the vineyards or ride though the countryside
• Paddle down the Loire River, Europe’s last untamed river, in a canoe
When to Visit the Loire Valley
The best time to enjoy everything Loire Valley travel has to offer is during the spring and summer, when the warm sunshine allows for outdoor activities. That's not to say that you should never visit Loire Valley in the fall or winter. After all, castles can take on a more romantic feel in the chillier months — and you'll have the advantage of sharing the view with significantly smaller crowds.