When someone asks me to think about the best place I’ve visited, i think immediately about the Loire Valley in France.
If you are obsessed with castles (like I am) and you like fresh air and nature (like i do), then this is the right place for a vacation.
The Loire Valley is represented by a multitude of castles, gardens, historical towns, troglodyte villages and vineyards, all situated along the Loire River, in France.
For those who don’t understand exactly the limits of this area, here is a clarification: even though in theory the Loire Valley has about 1,012 kilometers (629 mi) as the length of the Loire River, only the central part of valley ( between Chalonnes-sur-Loire and Sully –sur-Loire) measuring 280 kilometers(170 mi) is inscribed in the World Heritage List and is considered as to be „the Loire Valley”. Because there are so many things to see, you will need a few vacation days, a car, a GPS system and a hotel with a good location. The opening hours for many of the castles are 10 a.m.-19 p.m(with some exceptions) and the prices are situated between 5 and 14 € per adult.
The point of departure for the journey was the city Angers, one of the edges of the Loire Valley- situated at about 300 km (190 mi) southwest of Paris. The destination for the first day was Azay-le-Rideau- Hotel des Chateaux, a place located close to many of the castles we wanted to see in the following days.
The first on the list was Chateau d’Angers, a gigantic medieval castle built in the 9th century, hosting the oldest and largest collection of medieval tapestries in the world . As I remember we found very hard a good parking place close to the castle .The price for a visit is 8,50 € per adult.
Chateau d’Angers entrance
As the weather was pretty bad and a walk through the city was out of the question, we stopped for something to eat in a sort of restaurant located very close to the castle. After about a half an hour of eating, listening to French and looking at the rain through the window, we decided to get in the car and continue our hunt for castles in the next town – Saumur.
The second castle visited was: Chateau de Saumur- located in the city Saumur and built in the 10th century. During the time, this castle was : royal domain, a state prison-under Napoleon Bonaparte, storage place for ammunition, museum of decorative arts and Museum of the Horse . The view over the Loire River from outside the castle was great, plus you get to see an exhibition related to horses. So far so good and I couldn’t wait to see the interior.
Chateau de Saumur
Because some parts of the building were closed for renovation, the inside of the castle left us a bit disappointed. At this point I started wondering if all the castles will look like this. Anyway the prices for daytime visits are, depending on the season: 5 or 9 € per adult and parking near the castle was free of charge.
On our way to our next objective, we started to understand the beauty and charm of this place. Everywhere we looked we came across castles, vineyards, troglodyte villages, displays of art and wine. From place to place groups of people were admiring the Loire Valley on bike or simply by foot. Everything was green and relaxing.
Vineyards and troglodyte villages
Displays of art and wine
Displays of art and wine
Following the Loire River we came across another castle with a very good location: Chateau de la Dame de Montsoreau. The castle is perfect for a visit with the children, as it offers a great variety of games and stories. The opening hours are a bit different from other castles, for example in April, October and November the castle is opened only from 14 p.m till 18 p.m. But even if you get there earlier, like we did , the villages in the nearby and the Loire offer a great view.
Close to Chateau de Montsoreau
An interesting fact is that some parts of this castle can be rented for receptions and parties, so this can turn out to be a good location for a weeding.
Chateau de Montsoreau
Chateau de Montsoreau
After a short visit to this castle, we headed towards our hotel in Azay le Rideau, which turned out to be a good choice.
Hotel des Chateaux in Azay le Rideau
After the check in, we rested for some time and decided to make a visit to supermarket located at five minutes distance from the hotel. We made also a first visit to this “city” and quickly located all there was to see: a few shops, some small restaurants, a market and of course the castle. At about 15 minutes from the hotel we found the beautiful castle of Azay le Rideau, but since it was pretty late, everything was closed.
Azay le Rideau Castle
Close to the castle we found a beautiful view of the river Indre, a branch of Loire.
We headed back to our room after a full day and decided to come back the next morning for a complete tour of the mysterious looking Castle from Azay le Rideau.