The Loire Valley is the region along the Loire River, a little south and west of Paris. It’s famed for its numerous castles that tower above the river. And lucky for us, driving to the region only takes about an hour and a half from our house.
So last year, on the last Sunday of May 2012, we hopped in the car after church and made a day trip of it. Our goal was to see two castles and to get a general sense for the region. We knew one day wasn’t really enough time, but figured a day trip would almost be like a scouting mission for a longer trip. The first castle we stopped at was Chateau Chenonceau.
Some castles are more kid-friendly than others, and this one is probably the most family-friendly that we’ve visited — lots of options for roaming and free-ranging, and the weekend we were there, it wasn’t too busy at all.
There are gardens to explore, bridges and moats, a grand checker-board hall with views of the river, and on the way out we explored the garden maze and had a little picnic. Also. We took a TON of photos. So please forgive me if this feels like a photo dump. : ) Hopefully it will be helpful for anyone out there who’s considering a visit to the Loire.
We did not take an extensive tour of the castle interior — the weather was great, so we made the most of the grounds.
If this had been an overnight trip, it would have been fun to rent kayaks or hire a boat to take us on the river. The castle was built to span the river and boats can go back and forth directly beneath the castle arches.
After Chenenceau, we tried to visit the next castle down the road — maybe 15 minutes away. But we were too late and it was closed. Alas! So instead, we went into the charming nearby town for ice cream, then explored the marshy banks of the Loire River while we watched the sunset.
It was such a satisfying day. And we can’t believe it’s been almost a year and we haven’t been back yet! We keep thinking it would amazing to go back for another day trip, and rent bikes. We hear there are wonderful bike paths along the river.
Have you ever heard of the Loire Valley? Is it on your travel wishlist? Or maybe you’ve already been — if yes, what’s your favorite Chateau?
P.S. — The 7th child is our niece, Roxcy. She stayed with us for 3 months last year to get a taste of the French life.