It's been more than a week since returning home from our summer holiday. Jet lag has worn off along with a valid excuse of not knowing what day of the week it is.
During my trip many of you reached out asking for a travel guide, of which I responded, albeit too eagerly, that I'm happy to oblige. However, I must forewarn you my dear readers, that I am neither clever at writing nor an experienced tour guide. Still and all, a promise is a promise and one must always keep their promise.
The days of lounging in a Chateau courtyard sipping Aperol Spritz is long gone, I'm left with only memories and hundreds of photographs. That overwhelming sense of inspiration and bewitching feeling of je ne sais quoi, something only France can give, still lingers and for that, I'm grateful.
So let's begin, shall we?
Can you imagine a countryside full of castles? Real life fairytale castles. Now imagine spending afternoons exploring these castles, wandering through exquisite gardens and picnicking under lush trees.
It's magnificent, it's enchanting. It's something that may bring tears to your eyes.
If you are planning to visit France and want to venture beyond Paris, but not quite ready to travel too far. Then I highly, highly, recommend Loire. There is so much to do! Castles, wine tasting, cuisine and the list goes on. This is a very quick overview of Loire.
AIRPORT, TRAIN & CAR HIRE
You will most likely fly into CDG, which is the largest airport in France. We arrived by train at Gare du Nord as we came from London, nonetheless all large transportation hubs should have cars available to hire (rent). You will need a car for Loire in able to have the freedom to control your own itinerary. But don't worry, it is easy to drive there. That is as long as you understand how a roundabout (rotary or traffic circle) works.
An added tip, most cars in Europe are manual. Should you need an automatic transmission, be sure to request this upon reservation.
Depending on the town you are visiting, it is about a 3 hour drive from Paris. When driving to & from Loire, expect to spend at least 20 EUR in tolls (perhaps more). There are alternative routes, but will add an hour to your transit time. Be sure to use your preferred maps, we use Google Maps & swear by it! Not only is it great for the countryside, but for transits within the city, I always defer to it when using the metro.
We planned ahead of time to make sure our phone coverage will extend during our travels abroad. We have AT&T, it was a quick call to get the International Plan set up. I highly suggest this if it will be your first time traveling to Europe.
WHERE TO STAY
Now for the fun part! There are many enchanting towns dotted throughout the valley. In the past we've stayed in various towns, Saumur, Angers and smaller villages. This time, we stayed just outside of Amboise, in a small village called Azay-Sur-Cher. Eleven blissful evenings were spent there, where we woke up every morning to a beautiful view of Château de Beauvais. In the rain or sun, the Château glimmered beautifully. Memories from our time spent there will last a lifetime.
Château de Beauvais runs a bed and breakfast within the Château. However they also have 2 exterior houses, which are fully furnished homes - where we booked our stay.
The home we booked is linked here.
The lovely news is, there are countless options within Loire. A quick search and one can easily secure accommodations in a Château. Just imagine waking up in a castle. Through Hotels.com I've seen a range of $150.00 - $300.00+ an evening, all pending what you are looking for. The choices are endless and many seem amazing!
An added tip, I searched for hotels near Saumur and Amboise. Which I find to be really lovely towns in Loire, well situated and very charming.
Here are a few hotel listings that stood out to me:
Photographs taken in 2018, when I photographed an editorial at Château de la Bourdaisière.
I once photographed an editorial here & I can vouch that the grounds are stunning. It also has great reviews!
Photograph belongs to Chateau de Rochecotte, taken from their website.
I just added this hotel on my list for a future travel to Loire, it's located between Tours & Saumur, very well situated. Aside from that, their restaurant looks incredible! You can read what Michelin's Guide say about it here.
Photographs taken during our stay, 2017.