On our most recent trip to France we decided to take a few days and explore the Loire Valley, an area of country side found just south of Paris. One of our favourite things to do is rent a car and go and explore the rural areas and smaller centres of a country to get a real sense of everyday life there.
We wanted to visit some of the châteaux, taste the wines and cheeses of the region and just enjoy a more relaxed pace of life than what can be found in a large city like Paris. So often a European vacation turns into more of a ‘trip’ than a ‘vacation’ when you’re hurrying from one city to another, waiting in lines for museums and cathedrals crowded among the other tourists.
I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that we did not encounter other tourists while in the Loire, but we certainly encountered smaller groups in fewer numbers. We also chose to spend time visiting the various châteaux mid-week rather than on weekends and in the Spring rather than summer, to try and avoid additional crowds.
We planned our trip by deciding on a home base city for the Loire (we settled on Orléans) and a list of spots we were hoping to visit. We mapped out each of our days to maximize our time at each place while minimizing travel time in between.
We find that renting a car, rather than being on a bus or organized tour, means that we can live by our own schedule and timelines. Need some extra time at one location? Take it, we’ve got nowhere to be. Finish up early at another location? Great, let’s move on to the next spot on our list! See something interesting on the side of the road? Let’s pull over and investigate!
There are so many interesting châteaux, villages, towns and small cities to visit in the Loire Valley that sometimes you have to pick and choose between what interests you the most. I suggest taking a read through this guide, deciding how long you think you’d need at each location and planning your trip accordingly. When centres like Orléans, Blois and Amboise are less than 3 hours driving distance from Paris, the French countryside is much more accessible than you think!
For everything you need to know for your trip, buy your copy of our Detailed Travel Guide to France’s Loire Valley!
This 14 Page Guide Includes Things Like:
- Logistics: When to Go, Where to Stay, How to Get Around
- Things to See & Do
- Where & What to Eat
- Where to Shop & What to Buy
- How to tailor your trip to the Loire Valley to your interests!
- All the details and best travel tips you’ll need!