Spring is knocking at the door and with it comes long week-ends, school holidays and the dilemma of how to spend your days off.
If you still don’t have anything planned for June, don’t fret, I’ve got the perfect solution. Look no further than the Loire Valley: it’s easily reachable by car, offers culture, gourmet cuisine and is also family-friendly for those of you traveling with kids.
Only 600 km from Luxembourg, you can reach the Loire Valley in just around 6 hours. When you arrive you’ll be welcomed by enchanted castles, charming medieval towns and a cuisine that transforms traditional countryside flavours into refined gourmet dishes. When you’ve eaten too much you’ll find a wide array of outdoor activities to burn off those extra calories.
The valley is most famous for its more than 50 castles, which surround the Loire river. There is something for all ages and every taste.
There are huge and impressive royal castles like Chambord and more intimate choices like the Château de Chenonceau; you can discover fairy tales manors like Ussé and then enjoy the blooming gardens of Villandry. Some of these pearls, like Cheverny, lie deep in the countryside and others are found in historical towns such as Amboise and Tour.
Chambord was built between 1519-1547 as a hunting lodge for King Francis I, and is arguably the most famous and impressive castle of them all. You can visit its 440 rooms and then rent a cart to roam around its 52.5‑km² park.
Set on the river Cher in the midst of blooming nature and gardens, Chenonceau is the ideal destination if you’d like something special and romantic: its magnificent ballroom was built like a bridge on the river and hosted the festivities held in 1577 by Catherine de Medici in honour of her son King Henry III.
If you’re travelling with small kids you can’t miss Ussé, which is said to be the castle that inspired Charles Perrault when he wrote ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and which was later used by Walt Disney as a model for many of his fairy tales castles.
If the kids are older and take an interest in comic books then the amazing Cheverny is for you as it was used by the author Herge as a setting for one of his Tin Tin episodes. Additionally, the manor has a lot to offer including beautiful interiors and lush gardens, and the adults will be happy to find many impressive cellars for wine tasting just outside the village.
When you’re finally getting tired of roaming around all of the endless royal rooms and hallways, it’s time to head to the amazing gardens that surround Villandry’s castle. Here you can wander around tree-lined paths and play hide and seek in the castle’s maze.
To satisfy your palate I definitely recommend devoting some time to wine tasting as wine production is a great pride in the Loire Valley and it perfectly compliments the excellent local food.
You now know what to do, but where to stay?:
If you’re more into active holidays and family fun then try Center Parcs. There are two in the Valley, Les Hauts de Bruyeres and Les Bois aux Daims, where you can find indoor and outdoor swimming pools, activities for kids and grown-ups alike and a wide range of entertainment.