A visit, for our site research, on a wet July day to the Priory Saint-Cosme just outside of Tours, could have proved disappointing but even the weather couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm for the place. Not overly publicised, this little treasure, the one-time home of French writer and poet Pierre de Ronsard, is a delight and we could imagine the tables and chairs, set among the tidy rose gardens, playing host to picnickers sheltering form the currently absent, summer sun. History, architecture and poetry - all there for your appreciation.
Which chateau to visit? A question that almost all visitors to the glorious Loire Valley must address. The problem is you are spoilt for choice, from renaissance castles to medieval fortresses, from lived in homes to almost empty extravagances.
Your decision may be influenced by a number of factors, your holiday location, the dynamics of your party (are children travelling with you?) or perhaps the length of your stay. You may also be more interested in the gardens of the chateaux or their history rather than their architectural merit.
To help you decide we will feature postings on individual chateau as well as grouping them in categories such as ‘gardens’ or ‘with children’ Perhaps starting with our favourites..
You can see a list of chateaux by clicking the tab 'Loire Chateaux' above or following this link
At Experience Loire we have decided that we should ‘do’ as many of the tourist attractions ourselves, in order to offer an opinion on where they might rank in the ‘must see’ list of the delights of the LoireValley. We have visited almost all the major chateaux (more of that later) plus some lesser known gems. We have also visited many of its towns and villages and tried to find the best parks & gardens, things to entertain the kids, things to entertain the adults plus the less obvious attractions. Because we are fortunate enough to live here we can go off the normal beaten-track and explore using our ‘stumble upon’ method where we follow a road/direction we have not travelled before. We can also earmark a specific tourist attraction/event to visit and offer our humble opinion. We are based in the Southern Touraine area of the LoireValley and when heading north (to Tours for example) we often choose the more picturesque D50 route. We take the direct road most of the time but sometimes choose to wander off this and explore. One such trip yesterday took us through the pretty village of Tauxigny, not somewhere your average tourist (is there such a thing?) would probably visit but a place that has a little surprise up its sleeve. Here you will find the unlikely, maybe it is the clarity of its night sky, location of the observatory and planetarium of Touraine! Small but apparently perfectly formed - they were closed when we arrived - but we found a nice man who explained they were busy preparing for their annual festival, (http://www.festivaldelacontemplation.fr/index.htm) The itinerary seems to include live music, things astronomical, things arty, eating (you have to book) and of course walking.
We are never really surprised when we find what might seem random events here in the Loire Valley as the region goes into a ‘festival frenzy’ during July, August and September with every town and village seeming to have an annual festival of some sort or other. It is one of the many features that make the area special. As a point of interest, or not, there is actually an annual banana, yes banana, festival in a small village in Southern Touraine (will get back to this later).