When you come to the Heart of the Loire Valley, you'll discover a part of Perche and the Loire Valley. Further south on the banks of the Loire, you will turn the pages of a life-size history book... This is where the kings built their castles.
Beyond this, the Sologne region starts, containing a land of water, moors and forests. Finally, at the very south of the Loire Valley, the Cher valley is like a musical through the vineyards.
A long time ago, kings, painters and poets found their inspiration in the Loire Valley, through its wonderful castles, but also through its charming villages. We first think of the castle of Chambord, a work of art, inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci, and erected in a large forest where you can still hear the bellow of the stags.
The castle of Blois is a mixture of four different architectural styles, built around a central courtyard with its famous staircase. The castle of Cheverny represents the aristocracy and its traditions. It actually inspired Hergé for the creation of Captain Haddock’s Manor, and you can even tour an exhibition dedicated to Tintin. The castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire overlooks the river, and is a perfect environment to host the International Garden Festival every year?
You will be delighted to discover other smaller, more intimate castles, such as Beauregard, the castle of Fougères, or the castle of Villesavin. It is of course impossible to name them all, but don’t forget the castle of Talcy, which was the scene of French writer Ronsard’s love affairs, the Château du Moulin, where the strawberry is honoured, or the Commanderie Templière of Arville, in the north, where you can relive the story of the crusades.
If you say the word “garden”, the automatic reply will be “festival”, referring to the International Garden Festival of Chaumont. But you can visit so many others, of varied styles, such as renaissance, French, vegetable or botanical gardens. Whether wild or manmade, nature is the masterpiece of the Loire Valley; you will always find nice paths to stroll along, following the twists and turns of the Loire, on the banks of the Cher, or in Sologne.
“La Loire à vélo” (cycling the Loire) is an initiative that allows everyone to cycle (or walk) along the river. You will go through typical villages of the Loire Valley. Other itineraries such as “les châteaux à vélo”, or “la Sologne à vélo” will fulfill your desires for discovery. Finally, you can have the opportunity to experience its affluents on a typical Loire riverboat.
Find a variety of landscapes and flavours in the heart of the Loire Valley, thanks to 9 AOC wines (label guaranteeing the origin of the wines). Discover the beautiful wine selection of the region. In Vendome, get a taste of the “Coteaux du Vendomois”, particularly the "Gris", made from the Pineau d'Aunis. Since the end of 2012, two more AOC have been added to the selection: the AOC Touraine Oisly and the AOC Touraine Chenonceaux. As for the Cour-Cheverny and the Cheverny, they have been labeled AOC since 1993. The Cour-Cheverny is made from a unique grape variety called the Romorantin and collected from over 20,000 vines, which were planted by Francois 1st in 1519. It is a dry white wine, with lots of character, and flavours of lime-tree and black wood honey, which can only get better after a few years.
In the Cher valley, the vineyards are still there, and they go perfectly with the “Selles-sur-Cher” (an AOC goat cheese). It is also the region where you can find the quarries from which the limestone was extracted to build the castles. Today, these quarries are used for the culture of mushrooms, and you can also find an underground town! You can also discover the Sologne region, famous for its asparagus, strawberries, and the tarte Tatin of course!
On the banks of the Loire, history is alive. This is why the festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire has become THE rendezvous for garden lovers. This internationally renowned event is a reference in terms of expression and contemporary creation. In the Loire Valley, you also get to share good moments with your family. In Saint-Aignan, the ZooParc of Beauval is one of the most beautiful zoos in the world. In Blois, the House of Magic has been created in the honour of the “prince of magicians”, Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, who was born in this royal town. The facade of the house is amazing by itself, where every hour, dragons come out of the windows.
Shows and entertainment help visitors to witness some of the most important moments in history:
All year long, culture is in the spotlight in the heart of the Loire Valley, through many festivals:
Consider this your invitation. Come and enjoy the wealth of our heritage, the beauty of our landscapes, the flavour of our wines and other local products. There's something for everyone in the heart of the Loire Valley.