Vacations in Loire Valley, France (Castles, wine, and food)
Updated: May 26, 2020
For my wife’s birthday I wanted to treat her (myself as well) to some luxury in France. We planned a 10 day trip from Paris to the Loire Valley to wine and dine in castles.
We first began our journey in Paris, France. After getting off of the plane at the airport we went downstairs to the train terminal in Charles De Gual airport. The train station is a super convenient way to get into Paris and other outskirts. We would 100% recommend taking a train into the heart of Paris instead of a 60+ euro taxi.
As mentioned in a different article (Traveling in Provence, France (during the lavender bloom) the trains run pretty close to on time and if you miss the train you will have to wait for another one (if there is another one going to your destination at all!)
Every time we use the train in Europe we check out RailEurope.com (the website uses multiple languages and shows the prices in your applied currency).
We decided to get on the approximate 2 hour train ride from the airport to the Loire Valley at the beginning of the trip so that all of the travel could get completed at once. I still standby my rational (however my body and wife were not as agreeable with the decision).
It is quite a bit of traveling in one day in different modes in order to get to your final destination- airplane, train, and car.
We took the train from Paris and decided to stay in Amboise, France. This is about a $23 one way ticket per person. We got off the train in St. Pierre Des Cor in order to get the rental vehicle. This is a bigger hub for rental cars and if you need/want a car with automatic transmission this station that offered the best prices. After picking up the car, it was about a 15 minute drive to central Amboise, where we stayed during our trip.
Was an excellent place to stay for home base; due to it being central to most points of interest (castles/food). After arriving we took a very necessary nap and went to our dinner reservations in a small hotel in the area.
For this trip I made dinner reservations at all of the restaurants. I learned my lesson the last time I was in a smaller city in France and was turned away.
As I stated before this was more of a luxury trip and dinner and food were on the higher end. We ate first at La Breche. When we first arrived the restaurant was deserted with only one other couple there. The food was good (lobster, soup) and the end bill was close to 140 euros.
For this trip I planned everything to a tee for timing. Wake up at 9 am, get breakfast in the hotel, go to Chateau de Blois, etc etc. This was good in thought and nice in preparation but the constant scheduling and appointments didn’t go as expected. The Loire valley is best taken at a slow pace. Enjoy the small shops and the villages near the large Château’s, don’t plan to rush and see everything in one sitting.
After planning on checking out five different Chateaus we only managed to go see two (fully see them from the inside out). I planned for the best looking and interesting Chateaus in the area:
Amboise Chateau (open from 8am-6pm 11.50 € per person)
Chateau de Bloise (1015am to 5 pm 10.50 € per person)
Chateau de Chambord (9am to 5pm 13 € per person and 6€ for parking)
Chateau Chenonceau (9:30 am to 5pm 13 € per person)
Chateau de Villandry/ gardens (9 am to 5 pm check time of year)
We ended up only fully seeing Chateau de Chambord,
and Chateau Chenonceau.
Both Chateaus were amazing! If you’re like us and can only manage two then these will be the epitome of the Chateau viewing locations.
For the other few days we were in the Loire valley we ate at L’Ecluse, and L’iLot. Both very reasonable and enjoyable near central Amboise.
All in all Loire Valley is an amazing place to stay and to eat. What I truly learned on this trip was the wine from the Loire valley is the best tasting wine in the world. There wasn’t one wine that I didn’t like, and now I make it a mission at any restaurant that serves a bevy of wines to search out and try the Loire Valley wine.
This was one of the best trips that I've been on. There was just so much to see, great food, and very cool ambiance. When people ask where should they go to see Europe THIS is one of the first things I can think of. As an American, Europe sometimes takes on a fanciful and old school connotation. A trip to the Loire Valley fulfills that feeling completely.
We stayed only for four days, and I think we could've stayed more. We did end up going back to Paris for her birthday and ate at the Eiffel Tower (EXPENSIVE AND OVERRATED). See our Eat section for our E.T. experience.
When we went it was fall starting to get into winter (hence the coats)
Coming from California, obviously a lot of places are going to feel like this, but when traveling to Europe in the fall/winter most likely it will be cold, rainy, and foggy (35-50 degrees F). This was probably the only negative thing that we didn't care for during this trip. But, if you live in a warmer climate, try doing something different like this to really feel like experiencing different seasons. Plus the flights are cheaper...