Hear Loire Valley

Enjoy sound and light shows at the Loire Valley chateaux, plus a busy calendar of music festivals and poetry and plays by Rabelais and de Balzac. Pack your car and sail to France with Brittany Ferries.

Son et Lumière at the châteaux

Every summer the major Loire Valley châteaux come to life with light and sound for spectacular open-air experiences. These evening performances, known as sons et lumières, take place at Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Clos-Lucé and Chenonceau among others, providing an insight into the little-known aspects of these famous monuments in spectacular fashion. Highly recommended for families with children.

Music festivals

Music lovers won’t be disappointed by the Loire Valley, with its vibrant calendar of festivals. Don’t miss…

  • La Folle Journée, Nantes (January-February)
  • Le Printemps de Bourges (April)
  • Sully Festival (May-June)
  • Helfest, Clisson (June)
  • Orléans Jazz (June)
  • Jazz en Val-de-Cher (July)
  • Loches en Voix (July)
  • Rock festival, Yzeures-sur-Creuse (August)
  • Les Rendez-Vous de l’Erdre, Nantes (August)
  • Jazz en Touraine (September)

Poetry, novels and plays

The writers François Rabelais and Honoré de Balzac took great inspiration from the Loire Valley and the area is home to two museums honouring their lives and work. Rabelais was born at a 15th-century farm, La Devinière, in Seuilly-sur-Loire – and the Chinon countryside was an inexhaustible source of inspiration for him. Take a tour of the eponymous museum and listen to literary excerpts. A Touraine native, Balzac stayed at a friend's château in Saché in the Indre valley for seven years, and today it houses a museum dedicated to him. Built in the Middle Ages and remodelled during the Renaissance, it became a comfortable residence in the 19th century, surrounded by a tree-planted garden. The sitting room still has its original wallpaper, and the little room where the prolific writer wrote part of Père Goriot and the beginning of Illusions perdues is a delight.

In Nantes, don’t miss the Jules Verne Museum, housed in a beautiful building that dates from the end of the 19th century, overlooking the Loire. Its white facade bathes in light that comes directly from the south and is reflected by the river, the brick cornices, the Moorish arches that outline windows and doors, the turret positioned elegantly as a look-out post, all these naturally invite you to look out over the town and river and dream of travel and escape. If the writer did not actually live here, he did come very regularly to this Loire hillside where the Verne family’s country house can still be seen very close by. And as Julien Gracq wrote, he “must have come here often to look out over the river from on high, here where it becomes the doorway to the open sea and the way to adventure”. In this very special setting, “the very curious Jules Verne” makes himself known to us little by little through objects from his daily life, the manuscripts written in his hand which allow us to follow line by line how the “Extraordinary voyages” evolved and the many by products inspired by his storytelling powers and the fame of his works. You will therefore get to know not only the man who predicted the submarine and the conquest of outer space but also the man for whom writing was “the only source of true happiness”.

The Cadre Noir, Saumur

This harmony between academic horse riding and classical music is held in October, a special gala performed by the Cadre Noir (External link) riders and the orchestral ensemble of Paris, directed by Christian Ciuca. It’s an occasion to discover the prestigious Cadre Noir with its École Nationale d’Équitation (National Riding School), where you can learn the French savoir-faire of horse-riding. Saumur’s association with horses dates back to the end of the 16th century, when the first equestrian academy was opened. Don’t miss out on the breathtaking performances that demonstrate perfect mastery of dressage.

Loire valley