The Loire Valle is a long stretch of central France that surrounds the Loire River, along which vineyards and huge fairytale castles can be found. Much of this central part of the valley was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2000, as much for the natural beauty of the area as it was for the architecture and scattering of historical towns and villages.
For people who wish to visit the beautiful Loire Valley but are short on time, the most popular way to do so is through an organised day tour from Paris. At around 150-200km away from the French capital it is only really worth opting for a full day tour or longer though, otherwise you might spend more time on the road that experiencing what’s on offer. So here are the best five tours to the Loire Valley from Paris.
FROM: €212/per person
Of the many tours available to the Loire Valley from Paris, there are only a few that keep the tour group sizes down to maximise the time that guests get with the guides, and to travel by minibus, rather than a coach. During this 12-hour round-trip, three of the best castles in the region are visited. See the, Château d’Amboise and the grave of the great Leonardo da Vinci, who died nearby. Visit the manicured gardens of Chenonceau, and the whimsical curves of Chambord, castles.
From €145/ per person
The alternative to small group tours is to travel by coach. In the case of this long-running and popular tour, the full day trip takes in two castles, rather than three, but is both better value and has the bonus of offering wine tastings at each castle. For most of the week the tour takes in Chambord and Chenonceau castles, although the former is switched for Amboise on Mondays and Saturdays. At each castle it is only possible to visit as part of a guided tour. Lunch is not included with this option.
From €210/ per person
One of the most notable aspects of the Loire Valley’s most beautiful châteaux, such as Chambord, is the Renaissance style architecture, which gave preference to form and style over defensive function. In many ways they were elaborate stately homes and in the case of Chambord, there was a staircase said to have been designed by da Vinci himself, which can be seen on this tour. Two other castles are also explored over the course of this 13-hour trip: Chenonceau and Cheverny. This tour also includes a hotel pick up and drop off service.
From €402/ per person
If the idea of travelling for 13 solid hours, while cramming in as many turrets, powder rooms and elegant gardens as possible, does not appeal, then this is a great 2-day alternative that allows more time at each castle visited as well as additional side trips to Château de Clos Lucé where Leonardo da Vinci died, and the beautiful city of Tours. The tour also takes in some of the pretty villages within the UNESCO World Heritage area. A 3-star hotel in Tours is included in the price, as are some of the meals (dinner on day 1 and breakfast on day 2).
From €212/ per person
With all of the château-shaped attractions packing the beautiful Loire Valley, it is sometimes easy to forget that the area is famed for something else: agriculture. The fertile region allows vineyards and dairy farms to flourish and the resultant produce is some of the finest in France. This tour takes a deeper look at this side of the region, with trips to a goat cheese-producing farm, a Sancerre winery and plenty of opportunities to taste both. Tours are by minivan, which means that group numbers are smaller too.