Trip to the Loire Valley from Paris
Updated by Molli, 22/11/2019
You’ve probably already heard of the Loire Valley! This region is home to many prestigious French Renaissance châteaux (that’s castles in French!). If you’re staying in Paris for a while and have some time to visit some nearby French cities, or want to have a one-day trip outside Paris, the Loire Valley is actually the best idea you could have had! The Loire Valley is perfect for anyone who’s into castles, understanding history, and love charming and romantic places!
Getting to the Loire Valley actually takes less time than you would expect. But, this depends on how you want to plan your trip and on how many days you plan on staying in the region!
Read on to find out the best way to organize your trip to the Loire Valley from Paris, plus my recommendations for which castles you should visit!
How to get to the Loire Valley from Paris
In the Loire Valley, you’ll find that there are many different castles that are worth the visit! However, they are located in different cities along the banks of the Loire river and there is a significant travel distance between each castle and the next one. That is why a car can be very handy, and many people opt for this option. Some decide to rent a car in Paris and then drive to the Loire Valley. Thanks to the car, people feel free and independent, and can visit all the Loire Valley landmarks at their own pace.
However, in my opinion, if you really want to drive from one castle to the other, the best thing to do would be to rent a car once you arrive at the Loire Valley. This way you will avoid the traffic jams from Paris to the Loire Valley. You can take the train from Paris! It is quick, easy, and much more relaxing!
The non-stop train departs from the Montparnasse train station and reaches the Tours train station in less than one hour and 15 minutes. When you buy your train tickets, make sure to book the train that goes to Tours. It will cost you around 29 euros and 45 euros if you want to travel in first class, which can be a nice treat if you’re interested! I also suggest you to purchase your tickets in advance. The closer the departure date is, the more expensive it gets.
Last but not least, you can join a guided tour that departs from Paris. This option is ideal for people who just want to spend one day in the Loire Valley, and want to have a general idea of the Loire Valley châteaux. The ParisCityVision company offers audio guided tours by bus. They leave early in the morning from Paris and propose a round-trip through several Loire Valley castles.
What to see in the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is a wonderful region. When people travel to France, they obviously want to explore the magnificent city of Paris and all its landmarks, and maybe visit the stunning Palace of Versailles. After visiting these amazing places, the Loire Valley is the next place you should go!
The castles of the Loire Valley were the favorite retreats for many French Kings. During your trip to the Loire Valley, you will quickly understand the reason why. The Loire Valley is relaxing, quiet and peaceful. Read on and learn a little about my 5 favorite châteaux of the Loire Valley.
1. Le Château de Chambord, the castle that Leonardo da Vinci helped design
The King of France, François I, oversaw the construction of the Château de Chambord with Leonardo da Vinci during the sixteenth century when he was staying at the Château Du Clos Lucé.
This castle is the most famous and the most popular of the Loire Valley. Many people go to the Loire Valley just to see it! One of the Chambord Castle highlights is the impressive double-helix staircase. Throughout the centuries, the castle was the occasional domicile for sovereigns, princes and royal families when they came to the region for the hunting season.
If you visit the Château de Chambord, try to plan your trip for spring or summer, when all the gardens are full of flowers. The place gets even prettier than usual!
Entry fee: 14.50 euros
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm, closed Monday
Address: Château, 41250 Chambord
2. Le Château de Chenonceau, the Castles of Ladies
You really shouldn’t miss this one. Like the Château de Chambord, the Château de Chenonceau is one of the most popular, and it also is a treasure trove of Renaissance architecture, its galleries and marvellous gardens.
It was nicknamed the “Château des Dames”, which means the Castle of Ladies. Why? Thanks to its owners, Diana de Poitiers and Catherine de Médicis. Built during the sixteenth century, it is one of the most impressive castles of the region thanks to its rich interiors and amazing and feminine furnitures.
It is also said to be the most elegant and nicely furnished castles. You will love the gardens that look like they come straight out a fairytale!
Entry fee: 14.50 euros
Opening hours: Every day 9:30am-4:30pm
Address: 37150 Chenonceaux
3. Le Château de Cheverny, where a lucky family lives today
This castle was inspired by the Palais du Luxembourg located in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was one of the first private residences to open its doors to the public in 1922.
It is now possible to visit only some parts of the château since the most recent owners, the Hurault family, still live in the castle! The Hurault family has lived in the Château de Cheverny for 6 centuries.
There is also the option to book a luxury apartment located just next door to the castle, called Les Suites de Cheverny. Some of the suites boast views of the castle!
The Château de Cheverny is not as big or as architecturally impressive as the nearby castles but its interior, furniture collections, tapestries and historical objects are one-of-a-kind and definitely worth taking a look at.
Entry fee: 12 euros
Opening hours: Every day 10am-5pm
Address: 41700 Cheverny
4. Le Château Royal d’Amboise, the former prince and princess school
For many French Kings, this castle also was one of their preferred retreat. It also was the princes and princesses school! It is where King François I was educated.
You should know that the most famous person to visit the Château Royal d’Amboise was Leonardo da Vinci. During the year of 1515, the famous artist, inventor, and scientist came to the region and stayed in the Château du Close Lucé.
The French king Charles VIII played a major role in decorating the Château Royal d’Amboise, as he brought back Renaissance treasures from his travels in Italy and adorned the castles. A fun fact about Charles VIII, is that he apparently had 6 toes on each foot, and has been described as “startlingly ugly.” Gotta love that royal inbreeding.
The history of the castle is quite unique and interesting, and you will also love how the Château Royal d’Amboise combines both Gothic and Renaissance architecture!
Entry fee: 12.80 euros
Opening hours: Every day 9am-12:30pm, 2pm-4:45pm
Address: Montée de l’Emir Abd el Kader, 37400 Amboise
5. Le Château de Meung
Le Château de Meung is located in the small town of the same name – Meung! This small village put itself on the map in the 11th century. The people living there rebelled against the French king at the time, King Louis le Gros, (gros means fat in English!), and he sent troops to contain the rebellion.
Rather than surrender to the French soldiers, the rebels threw themselves off of the castle walls to their death. They were pierced by spears that were waiting for them below. What a way to go…
Joan of Arc also made an appearance in Meung: she liberated the town from the English in the 13th century.
That’s not all! The French poet François Villon, known for his poetry and for murdering several people including a priest, used the dungeons in the château as his personal prison for his victims.
Today, the castle is privately owned and is only opened for special occasions. Their Christmas at the Castle event sounds magical, as it features a Fairy Tale theme!
Entry fee: Fees vary per event
Opening hours: At this time, Le Château de Meung is only open for special events. Visit the website below to learn more!
Address: 16 Place du Martroi, 45130 Meung-sur-Loire
Loire Valley wineries
In addition to the various châteaux in the Loire Valley, the area is also well known for its wine and wineries! Here are a few that you just can’t miss.
1. Bouvet Ladubay for sparkling wine
Bouvet Ladubay is a popular winery in the Saumur region of the Loire Valley. The winery was founded in 1851, and is known for its sparkling wines! It consists of 8 kilometers of cellars to store their product, and you can visit them by foot, or on an awesome vintage bike! In addition to the bottles of wine, you’ll find a collection of underground sculptures that are just as impressive as they are beautiful.
Bouvet Ladubay has won over 500 different awards for their product, so you’ll definitely want to do a tasting while you’re there.
Entry fee: Fees vary
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-12:30pm, 2pm-6pm, Saturday 9am-6pm, Sunday 10am-12:30pm, 2:30pm-6pm
Address: 11 Rue Jean Ackerman, 49400 Saumur
2. Cave des Producteurs de Vouvray for a unique approach
The Cave des Producteurs de Vouvray began with a small group of winegrowers in 1953. Today, there are over 40 winegrowers that work together to maintain over 500 hectares of vineyards.
This winery specializes in a sparkling wine called Fines Bulles de Vouvray. The winery prides itself on its unique approach to producing their product: an oenologist goes to each winegrowers estate to taste their wines themselves, and the best of the best are brought back to the main production location to be filtered, blended and then sold.
Entry fee: Fees for tastings and guided tours vary
Opening hours: Every day 10am-12:30pm, 2pm-7pm
Address: 38 Rue de la Vallée Coquette, 37210 Vouvray
3. Les Caves du Père Auguste for a century old tradition
Les Caves du Père Auguste has been around for more than a century, and the original caves were dug up by hand! Talk about a tough job. This winery is a family affair, and their tricks of the trade have been passed down through 6 generations.
You will be able to see a portion of their vineyards at the entrance of the Château de Chenonceau, so if you’re in that area you should definitely try to visit this winery! They produce a selection of reds, whites, rosés and sparkling wines. They also produce special older types of wine, including the Côt variety!
Entry fee: Fees for tastings and guided tours vary
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-6:30pm, closed Sunday
Address: 14 Rue des Caves, 37150 Civray-de-Touraine
Loire Valley tours
There are plenty of options for touring the Loire Valley from Paris. Many companies do the hard work for you, and travel from Paris to the Loire Valley is included in the tour! Here are some of my recommendations.
1. Blue Fox Travel for small groups
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If you’re interested in visiting the Loire Valley from Paris with a small and intimate group, the Small-Group Loire Valley Castles Full-Day Tour From Paris by Blue Fox Travel should be your go-to.
This 12 hour round trip tour includes transportation on a minibus to and from the city, and visits to the Château de Chenonceau, Château de Chambord, and Château Royal d’Amboise. You’ll be led by an English speaking guide as you tour the various castles, and you’ll learn about the history of each of them! You’ll also learn about the Loire Valley in general. Plus, after you’ve spent some time learning, you’ll be able to taste some wine from the region. What a perfect day!
2. Paris City Vision for a 2 day tour
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If you’re hoping to get out of the city for a few days to explore the Loire Valley, the 2 Day trip to visit the Loire Valley Castles from Paris by Paris City Vision is the tour for you.
On this tour, you’ll be provided with transportation to and from Paris by bus, and you’ll explore the gardens of Villandry, and the châteaux of Chenonceau, Chambord, Cheverny, Clos Lucé, and Amboise. The price of the tour includes entry to all of the castles and the gardens, accommodation, guided tours, breakfast and lunch on the second day, and dinner on the first day. It is a really good value for everything that is included!
You now have some ideas on how to plan your trip to the Loire Valley from Paris! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it has been useful. France is an amazing country, there are so many things to see and to explore!
If you happen to go to the Loire Valley, I hope you’ll have the time to visit all these stunning castles.
Also, don’t miss the marvellous gardens at the Château de Villandry, and the Château du Close Lucé to learn about the region’s history and discover some of Da Vinci’s works.
You should also try some wine tasting experiences, boat cruises, or bi-plane flights over the châteaux!
If you want to explore more of Paris before you head to the Loire Valley, why not do it with us? Click here to learn more about our walking tour options, all led by our amazing local guides, of course!