The Loire has a lot of interesting things happening along its banks. From vineyards to castles, vineyards in castles, gardens in castles… lots of things are connected to castles, but that’s not all. There are also other forms of architecture, events and views that need little explaining. Here are the best of the above.
This goes near the top because it’s the number one attraction in Loire Valley, according to Tripadvisor. Reviews say things like ‘more than just another cathedral’ and ‘perfection’ should be a good indicator, and the best bit is that the cathedral will appeal to nearly all types of people: if you want views, walk to the top, if you want architecture stay inside and, if history is your thing, enter the crypt for the tour.
From April to September the cathedral has its own light festival that’s now entering a decade of performances.
If you’ve read any of the previous Loire Valley posts, castles on the list will come as no surprise to you. This one hasn’t featured yet, but the 14th-century fortress has remained a popular attraction in central France. If the architecture alone is not enough to impress you, the surrounding gardens past the moat and the views from the turrets definitely will.
We covered the Festival de Jardins early in December last year, but that’s because it is incredible, and for that reason we can’t leave it off this list. The Chaumont sur Loire Garden Festival runs for six months over the summer and features some of the strangest and most wonderful concept gardens you’re likely to see in real life.
Chateau Blois has had a turbulent past since its creation in the 16th Century, but the lasting result is still magnificent. Son et Lumiere performances go throughout the summer and, on Wednesdays, are shown in English. They use sound and light, the English translation for son et lumier, along with spoken word to tell the story and history of Chateau Blois.
Photo credit: chateaudeblois.fr
Within the stone walls of Chateau d’Angers, a 100 metre tapestry depicts the power of God through biblical events and horrific monsters with varying numbers of heads. The tapestry was woven during the 100 years’ war between England and France, and gives a great insight to art at the time it was made.
As the Loire acted as the border between France and England so remains an important historical point, and Angers also held the first printing press in France towards the end of the war.
This may sound too general to feature on the list of top sights, but cycling along the Loire has and always will be one of the most popular cycling spots in France. It’s a combination of the gentle routes and broad variety of natural and man-made sights that make it so popular. While there is no one thing to pin down for this one, it has to be here.
The reason The Loire may have so many places of note could simply be down to its size. The 170th longest river in the world may not sound that impressive, but when you consider that it’s 629 miles long, and that the area it drains- 117,054km²- makes up a fifth of France’s landmass.
Some of the most notable cities are Orléans and the medieval Angers, but there are many small towns and areas famous for there wines such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, who’s territory is so closely guarded that two grapes either side of a fence post can be given different names.
Read more about Loire Valley Wines and see which one is the most underrated.