Friday, 27 December 2013

Chenonceau at Christmas...

After having promoted Chateau de Chenonceau as place to visit over Christmas we felt it only proper to go and see it for ourselves - and you. As a favourite destination of many visitors to the Loire Valley and indeed to us, we feel that the work they do, although rewarded by the number of visitors, should be further recognized. If there was an Oscar celebration for best chateau presentation then Chenonceau's Christmas display would surely walk away with the golden statue.

Boxing Day 2013 proved to be the ideal choice for our visit - a beautiful winter's day here in the Loire Valley and perfect for walking off the excesses of  Christmas day. The chateau herself was looking resplendent but once inside the magic of Christmas was apparent in most of the apartments. 

From the moment you pass through its heavy main door you are greeted with the spirit of Christmas.

Our favourite tree was probably the one in the drawing room...

although the red glow in 'Cesar of Vendome's' room added something to the tree set up in there. 

Some displays, like the one in Catherine de Medici's and

 Gabrielle d' Estree's bedrooms were quite subtle...

while others were quite elaborate... the display in Louise of Lorraine's bedroom.

Probably the only disappointing part of the visit was in the gallery, where I anticipated a tree in every alcove...but maybe that was expecting too much!

We had to make do with a large tree at the far end.

Although the chateau was busy with visitors I was able, with a lot of patience, to get most of my shots without 'people' in them but the kitchens were very popular, as ever and this was the best I could do.

Well worth the visit.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas markets in the Loire Valley

Christmas holiday time in France is a very special time as families prepare for the festivities, they are also enjoying the traditional Christmas markets that you'll find in many towns and villages of the Loire Valley and there is still time to find one.You can check with your local tourist office as to where you  will find the one nearest to you.

There is a popular market in Tours although when we visited in 2011 it was a bit of a damp squib...but don't let that put you off visiting this fine city,

Monday, 14 October 2013

Stand out chateaux - all-year round...

 Even in October it's hard to disguise the beauty of the Chateaux at Azay le Rideau and Villandry here in the Loire Valley.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

New tramway system in Tours

We took the opportunity to ride the new tramway system in Tours recently - just to check it out for you - good fun - simple things eh!

The system was only inaugurated on September 1st (you can see video and pics. here) with much pomp and ceremony, so it's all brand-spanking new. We boarded at Place Jean Jaurés an area which is not new to trams...

Source wikmedia
The new trams at €433M will certainly have cost more than the ones above but the city hopes it will regenerate some of the outlying districts of the city as well as take cars off the road by providing an inexpensive option. The fairs are attractive - we bought an all-day ticket for €3.70 and although the ticket machine is fairly straightforward, with an option in English, there was a young man on hand in case there were any teething problems.

The trams run around every 8 mins so you don't have long to wait...

...and once they do arrive, are very comfortable.

We rode in both directions getting views over the river Cher to the south and the Loire to the north...really handy and fun way to view some of the city's main tourist attractions.

(originally posted on our loirevalleyexperience blog)

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Chateau de l'Islette

We have added a page for the lovely chateau de l'Islette to our list of chateaux on the site. You can view it here. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Tour de France' (2013) through Touraine in the Loire Valley

This year (the 100th) the Tour de France returns to the region with the 218km, Stage 12 on July 11 bringing the riders from Fougères down to Tours. Then they head out of the city on the 12th towards Saint-Amand-Montrond for the 173km 13th stage. 

Map and logo are from the official site
You can view the towns and villages it passes through here.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Loire river at Tours

Visitors to the city of Tours might be surprised as to how small a part the river Loire plays in embracing them as tourists. 'Tours sur Loire' is one of the few chances they will have to get a flavour of the river. At the south side of the 'Pont Wilson' from the 17th May until the 22nd September the bank of the river offers a wide range of diverse and varied activities including a bar, restaurant, concerts, sport, entertainment and games for children , outdoor cinema and dance floor.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Chaumont Garden Festival

Every year since 1992, the gardens of Chaumont-sur-Loire play host to the annual ‘Festival des Jardins’, a garden festival with up to 30 themed gardens. These gardens are created by different landscape architects, designers and artists around a theme, which changes every year. This brings the chateau surroundings to life with the colour and fragrances of the many plants and flowers on display. It also promotes nursery projects and lets both the public and trade see new ideas on the use of colour and materials in flower and garden displays. Due to its continued quality and success the garden festival has gained an international reputation with visitors coming from every corner of the globe.

he 2013 Festival will run from 24th April until the 20th October

Theme "Gardens of sensations"

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

What's on in May...

Orleans celebrates liberation from the English by Joan of Arc with a programme of events until the 9th May, including parades and a  medieval festival.

Festival website

You can find out what else is on in the Loire Valley during May here:

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Fine dining...

Food is obviously important here in France and a visit to the Loire Valley presents a great opportunity to savour the delights of local cuisine at every level from small village restaurants offering local fare at very reasonable prices to fine dining in Michelin star establishments. You are spoilt for choice really , you can check out our 'dining page' for some tips.

One restaurant that has a very good reputation is 'La Promenade' in the small village of Le Petit Pressigny in Southern Touraine.

We have dined here a couple of times and can confirm that the food and service are excellent'

You have a choice of ding rooms both of which are very comfortable...

and the food both in taste and presentation is a delight!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Tours en Chocolat

We haven't visited this in past but have done Loches and Chatellerault but there are worse ways to kill an hour or so.

On "TOURS IN CHOCOLATE", at the Vinci Centre (opposite railway station) on:
Saturday, March 16, 2013 from 14h to 19h
Sunday, March 17, 2013 from 10h to 19h

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Revisiting Chateau du Rivau

If you are coming with young children to the Loire Valley you will be pleasantly surprised with what's on offer, you can checkout our page here. As you will no doubt be visiting some chateaux we think a must for children is Chateau du Rivau and its gardens. We have updated our page here, after revisiting it again last summer.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Loire Valley Chateaux

The chateau has become synonymous  with the Loire from the time it was embraced by French Royalty as a  safe haven and then as a rich cultural playground. What they and their noble followers created is here for us all to see today, preserved in a way perhaps only the French can -- even to the extent of rebuilding, such as the fortress at Chinon.
 The Loire Valley castles are as diverse as they are numerous  (over 300), from Chenonceau  spanning the river Cher, Chambord with its outrageous and unnecessary scale,Azay-le Rideau seemingly floating on the river Indre, Amboise with its Leonardo de Vinci connection plus many with beautiful gardens such as at Villandry and Chaumont-sur-Loire and a few, like Le GrandPressigny housing museums - definitely something for everyone! 
 Their influence and the areas natural beauty made UNESCO designate a large stretch of the river Loire, which includes many of the best chateau, a world heritage site. Listed are many of the more famous chateau -- you will have to decide yourself on which ones to visit --  easily accessable from France's capital city Paris.

Here is a video to give you a taste of what to expect - hope to see you here during 2013.