Located in Central France, Loire Valley surrounds the 170-mile center portion of the Loire River. Only around 2 hours from Paris, it is one of the most popular day trips from the capital.

This area is characterized by its lush landscape, made up of vineyards and parklands. It is also home to at least 300 castles and chateau hotels.

Naturally, most of the things to do in Loire Valley had to do with these fancy abodes and more.

How about a medieval town? A super ostentatious chateau? Dining in a cave? More wine?

If you’re visiting Loire Valley soon, your schedule will surely be jam-packed. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Loire Valley, France.

11 Best Things To Do In Loire Valley, France

 

1. Explore Château Chenonceau in the Loire Valley

Chateau de Chenonceau

Another must-visit in Loire Valley is also among the most popular castles in France.

Château Chenonceau dates back to the 11th century, but the castle as that we see today was constructed during the early 1500s. It’s right by the River Cher, which makes it even more picturesque.

It has quite an intriguing history. Its 16th-century owner King Henry built the castle for his mistress Diane, who built gardens on its grounds.

When the king died from a freak accident, his wife Catherine De Medici threw Diane out to live somewhere else. Catherine built her own gardens and this is why you’ll see two sets of gardens around here.

Visitors to the chateau will appreciate that they maintained the interiors in a way that makes it look as if it’s still inhabited.

Every room has fresh floral arrangements and the furnishings look as if they’re still in daily use. Other places that you must see in this chateau are the art gallery, wine cellar, and donkey park.

Opening Hours:

January 1 – January 5
9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.

January 6 – April 3
9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

April 4 – May 29
9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

May 30 – July 3
9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

July 4 – August 21
9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

August 22 – September 27
9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

September 28 – November 1
9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

November 2 – December 18
9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

December 19 – December 31
9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.

Admission Fee:

Adult
With brochure 15.00 €
With audioguide 19.00 €

Students 18 to 27  yrs old
With brochure 12.00 €
With audio guide 15.50 €

Children 7-18 yrs old
With brochure 12.00 €
With audio guide 15.50 €

Children less than 7 years old
With free brochure
With free audio guide

Family
from 3 paying children
from 7 to 18 years old
With brochure 9.50 €
With audio guide 13.50 €

“Group” rates + 20 pers.
With brochure 12.00 €
With audio guide € 15.50

Contact Information:

Address: 37150 Chenonceaux, France

Phone: 0247234406

Email: info@chenonceau.com

2. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours

Musée des Beaux Arts

Housed in a bishop’s former palace, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours is located right in the heart of ‪Tours’ old town.

It is home to an extensive and truly impressive collection of art.

Some of the works you’ll find here are from luminaries like Monet, Rubens and a lot more. Art lover or not, this museum is among the best places to visit in Loire Valley.

Make sure to check out the stunning sculpture collection, which features ancient classical Roman and Greek pieces, as well as sculptures depicting historic French monarchs.‬

Opening Hours:

The museum is open daily from:
9:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
except for Tuesday.
Closed on 1 st January, 1 st May, 14 July, 1 st and 11 November, 25 December

Admission Fee:

Full price: 6 €
Half price: 3 €
Young people from 12 to 18 years old
Senior 65 and over
Students on presentation of their card (excluding PCE)
Faculty members, Teachers
People with disabilities, beneficiaries of the disabled adults’ allowance card
Veterans, Groups of 10 or more.

Free
First Sunday of the month
Children under 12

Contact Information:

Address: 18 Place François Sicard 37000 Tours

Phone: 02 47 05 68 73

Email: museebeauxarts-secretariat@ville-tours.fr

3. Visit Chartres and Its Cathedral

Notre Dame de Chartres

One of the best things to do in Loire Valley is a visit to the charming town of Chartres.

Stroll through its charming old streets and marvel at the centuries-old architecture.

A must-see in this town, however, is the magnificent Chartres Cathedral.

As is most of the Loire Valley, Chartres Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in 1205 and is one of the most brilliantly -preserved Gothic cathedrals in Europe. It has stained glass windows that have this stunning blue color.

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres is also home to the Sancta Camisa, considered as one of the most important religious relics.

It is a piece of cloth from what’s believed to be the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary on the night of Christ’s birth.

This relic is one of the reasons why Chartres and its cathedral have become a popular pilgrimage destination.

Opening Hours:

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres

Daily – 8:30 to 7:30 p.m.

July and August

Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays open until 10 p.m.

Admission Fee

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres

full price
€ 7.00
reduced rate * € 5.00
free for children under 10
no guided tours on 1 st January and 25 December, or during celebrations
* reduced rate applicable on presentation of proof to:
– people with disabilities + their companions
– unemployed
– students and children over 10 years
– religious ( priests, sisters )
– pilgrims of Saint Jacques ( on presentation of credentials

Contact Information:

Address: 16 cloister Notre-Dame – 28000 Chartres France

Phone: 02 37 21 59 08

4. Learn more about Leonardo da Vinci at the Château du Clos Lucé

Château du Clos Lucé

Located in the picturesque Amboise is one of the best attractions in Loire Valley, the Château du Clos Lucé.

Here was where the legendary Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life. He stayed here until his death in 1519.

This place is now a museum that’s dedicated to the history of the region. It is also home to models of Da Vinci’s various inventions as well as a replica of the Mona Lisa.

Château du Clos Lucé is also where you’ll find Da Vinci’s final resting place so you can also pay your respects.

Opening Hours:

January: 10.00 am to 6.00 pm
February – June: 9.00 am to 7.00 pm
JulyAugust: 9.00 am to 8.00 pm
September – October: 9.00 am to 7.00 pm
November – December: 9.00 to 6.00 pm

Admission Fee:

High Season
Adults -17.00€
Reduced (large families, unwaged)-15,50€
Children (from 7 to 18 years old – free for children under 7 years)-12,00€
Students -12,50€
Family rates (2 adults and 2 children) -47,00€
Family rates (2 adults and 3 children) -50,00€
Family rates (2 adults and 4 children) -52,00€
Disabled person -7.50 €

Low Season
Adults -14.00€
Reduced (large families, unwaged)-12 €
Children (from 7 to 18 years old – free for children under 7 years)-11,00€
Students -11,oo€
Family rates (2 adults and 2 children) -36,00€
Family rates (2 adults and 3 children) -40,00€
Family rates (2 adults and 4 children) -42,00€
Disabled person -7.50€

Contact Information:

Address: Le Château du Clos Lucé – Parc Leonardo da Vinci 2, rue du Clos Lucé 37400 Amboise Val de Loire France

Phone: +33 (0) 2 47 57 00 73

5. Stroll through the gardens at the Château de Villandry

Chateau Villandry

The chateau is definitely worth visiting, but on a sunny day, be sure to spend time in the gardens.

Château de Villandry’s lush gardens are among the best places to see in Loire Valley.

This green space features a labyrinth, fruit-bearing trees, vegetable patches, grapevines, and grass courts. There’s also a number of flower gardens to get lost into.

There are beautiful fountains for you to sit by and paths to explore on a leisurely stroll.

Opening Hours:

Garden Only

January, December
9.00 am -5.30 pm

February 1 to 7: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
February 8 to 29: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

March 1 to 31: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
April – September -9.00-19.00

October 1 to 24: 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. *
October 25 to 31: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. *

November 1 to 15: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. *
November 16 to 30: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. *

Admission Fee:

Garden only

Adult-  7.5 €
Youth- 8 to 18 years old / students – from 26 years old on presentation of their card -5 €
Groups (minimum 15 paying / 2 free reserved exclusively driver / guide) – 5.5 €
free for children under 8

Reduced Winter rates ( November 16- March -31,2021)
Adult-  5 €
Youth- 8 to 18 years old / students – from 26 years old on presentation of their card -4 €
Groups (minimum 15 paying / 2 free reserved exclusively driver / guide) – 4.50 €
free for children under 8

Contact Information:

Address: Château de Villandry 3 rue Principale 37510 Villandry

Phone: + 33 (0) 2 47 50 02 09

Email: info@chateauvillandry.com

6. Visit the Natural History Museum in Tours

Aside from the impressive art museum, Tours in Loire Valley is also home to a Natural History Museum.

Easily one of Loire Valley’s attractions, this place is home to a fascinating and varied collection.

Apart from the displays of various animal species, the museum also has an impressive library that’s sure to be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.

Make sure to check out the mammoth exhibition on the ground floor, it’s definitely one of the museum’s highlights.

7. Check out Chateau D’Amboise in the Loire Valley

Amboise Chateau

When in Loire Valley, you simply cannot miss Chateau D’Amboise. It is perched high on a hill and it’s massive, overlooking the beautiful river.

Built on the foundations of an old fortress, it served as a home to the French Royal court.

Throughout the centuries, it was a luxurious palace, then a prison, visited by Joan of Arc then demolished.

It was taken over by the government and is now among the most visited castles in Loire Valley.

Unlike most castles surrounded by lush countryside, Amboise Castle is located in the middle of the city yet still as majestic.

Opening Hours:

February-9:00 am – 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm

March – 9:00 am -5:30 pm

April- June :9: am – 6:30 pm

July -August -9: 00 am- 7:00 pm

September -October – 9:00 am- 6:00 pm

November 1 – 9:00- 6:00 pm

November 2- November 15- 9:00- 5:30 pm

November 16- November 30 – 9: 00 am – 12:30 am ,  2:00 pm -4:45 pm
The Château is open every day of the year, except 1st January and 25th December.

Admission Fee:

Admission fee & Histopad

Adult -13 10 €
Student 11,30 €
Child age (7-11 )  9,00 €

Disabled visitor and accompanying person
(including audio-visit for the disabled)

Adult -10,60 €
Student 9,70 €
Child age (7-11 ) 8,30 €

Free of charge: for children under 7

Contact Information:

Address: Montée de l’Emir Abd el Kader, 37400 Amboise, France

Phone:+33/(0)2 47 57 52 23

Email: contact@chateau-amboise.com

8. Stroll Around Amboise, Loire Valley

Amboise town

Charming and unmodernized, the town of Amboise looks like it’s stuck in the medieval era. The architecture, the cobbled streets, and alleyways are great for a leisurely stroll.

After you have explored the castle, one of the best things to do in Loire Valley is to simply enjoy the sights of one of its prettiest towns.

Enjoy a meal in one of the quaint cafes or eateries, have some gelato or even sample some wine.

9. Château Chambord

Château Chambord

Of the Loire Valley castles, Château Chambord stands out as the fanciest.

Unlike most castles that boast of defensive structures and doubles as fortresses, Château Chambord’s features are mostly purely decorative.

In lieu of fortifications, the castle has manicured gardens, fountains and other decorative features.

One of its architectural highlights though is a double helix staircase supposedly designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

The castle has 83 more staircases, 800 sculpted columns, 11 different towers, 3 types of chimneys, 440 rooms, and 282 fireplaces.

That’s a lot, but those are among the reasons that make Château Chambord one of the best places to visit in Loire Valley.

Opening Hours:

Peak season:
From March 28 to October 25: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

Off-season:
From January 2 to March 27: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
From October 26 to December 31: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Open all year round apart from January 1st, November 30 and December 25.
The castle closes at 4:00 pm on 24 and December 31.

Admission Fee:

Chateau and French gardens access
Full rate: € 14,50

Reduced rate (18-25 non-European Union resident on presentation of proof of age), unemployed person from France, associate, work councils, group of 20 people or more): € 12

Free admission (individual public): under 18 years old, long-term EU residents aged 18 to 25, disabled person + 1 accompanying person.

Privilège “card” (advantages valid for one year): € 40

Contact Information:

Address: 41250 Chambord – France

Phone:+33 (0)2 54 50 40 00

Email: info@chambord.org

10. Wine-Tasting in the Loire Valley

Cheverny_cooperative in the Loire Valley

Wine tasting is one of those things to do in Loire Valley that’s a definite must.

France’s Loire Valley is among the world’s top wine-producing regions. It is also the second-largest producer of sparkling wine next to the Champagne region.

Loire Valley is famous for its white wines so that’s something you should try. Have some Chenin or Sauvignon Blancs and pair them with some local cheese.

11. Have Dinner at a Troglodyte

troglodytes de Graufthal

The name sounds like it’s from the Jurassic era but troglodyte actually pertains to a human cave dweller.

In Loire Valley, you’ll find a lot of homes built right on the sides of slopes and rock faces. The rock material in this region are soft and it’s quite easy to just build a house on it.

The temperature inside is also consistent all year round, which makes it quite an ideal place to live in.

One of the unique things to do in Loire Valley is to enjoy dinner at a troglodyte.

Dinner usually consists of what are probably considered as cave food such as meat and potatoes. They also serve fouées, which are tasty pocket bread built in their ingenious cave ovens.

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