The Loire Valley has been hosting tourists since the 15th century when wealthy aristocrats built pretty castles as summer hunting lodges. Today there are upwards of 1,000 chateaus in the Loire Valley, each with its own tale to tell, and they make an important part of any adventure trip to this part of France especially as seen from the saddle of a passing bicycle. Time taken out for the best three: Chateau Chambord, Chateau Villandry and Chateau Chenonceau, which is even built in the Loire River itself, needs to be at the top of the list.
The countryside is an endless blend of green woodlands, stunning castles, and of course the River Loire itself. Lush, verdant woodlands make the sun dapple endlessly as the day progresses. The river and the countryside seem to constantly change. Deep channels with the road clinging precariously to the cliff change into wider vistas across valleys with one constant, La Loire herself. The gently flowing river brings this Constance to warm summer days here. Cycling tours through the Loire Valley are quite simply the best way of seeing the beauty on show.
This part of France is firmly steeped in the culture of wine making. Vineyards are all around and some of the world’s best wines such as Sancerre, Muscadet and Vouvray are made in this region and trips to vineyards and wineries are a good way to learn all about them. Perhaps a real joy is to seek out a less well known vineyard and get to know its product. Coming back from a European vacation, anyone can talk knowledgeably about the world’s great wines but knowing the less great wines. Well, that’s something to share.
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