The castles are graceful—right out of a fairy tale. The manicured gardens are flawless—too perfect to believe. The landscape is idyllic—a rolling symphony of vineyards, orchards, fields and rivers. The cuisine, the wines—simply exquisite. Order and elegance have shaped the Loire Valley. Now it's your turn.
1 Bike quiet rural roads to inspiring architectural landmarks A sampling of Chinon's wine and local fare is the perfect way to begin our Loire Valley sojourn Warm up your legs on a pleasant ride through the castle-dotted landscape to Château de Rochecotte, a beautiful estate brimming with charm and baroque décor.
2 Sample superb local vintages Pedal through vineyards and picturesque towns like Restigné, where you can stop to admire the medieval St-Martin de Restigné cathedral Discover Château de Gizeux, a historic monument dating back to the Middle Ages, and enjoy a picnic on the grounds.
3 Relax at gracious castle-hotels A leisurely ride through fields, vineyards and forested Loire villages leads to Azay-le-Rideau, set on the bank of the Indre River Visit the town's Renaissance château, considered one of the most magnificent in France and beloved for its splendid period furnishings and elaborate tapestries Savor an elegant dinner of local seasonal specialties.
4 Delve into fascinating French history where it actually unfolded At magical Château de Chenonceau, spanning the Cher River, our local guide reveals the castle's past as we walk through richly appointed salons and vast galleries In Amboise, choose an outdoor table and sip a café on Rue Nationale, a prime people-watching spot.
5-6 Renaissance, medieval and classical châteaux are yours to discover Cycle along rolling hills to Château de Chaumont, set among verdant lawns and meandering paths Explore the castle's plush chambers and stunning collection of themed gardens Opt for a final spin through the countryside or a leisurely morning at the hotel Visit Leonardo da Vinci's former home, Clos Lucé, and be inspired by the artist's remarkable work on display in the property's museum.