The Loire valley is one of the most stretched-out regions in France because of the length of its river. It winds through the country for about 1,000km showcasing sumptuous landscapes.
After two periods of prosperity during the Middle Age and the Renaissance, the second longest river in France still has some history to relate.
Here stands the heritage of the Renaissance. Between the 15th and the 17th century, members of the French aristocracy lived in the Loire valley and built several castles, the most famous ones being Chambord and Chenonceau.
Chambord is one of the most majestic castle’s while Chenonceau is renowned for awe-inspiring architecture around the water. But they are not the only ones as the region hosts hundreds of other castles, not as acclaimed perhaps but definitely worth visiting.
The graceful gardens often epitomize the typical French style. The garden of Villandry are probably the most memorable.
Discovering Loire valley also means traveling through natural landscapes. Running from the ocean shores to the very heart of France, the region covers many gorgeous territories. So much so that UNESCO decided to declare a 250 km long road part of the World Heritage.
Similarly, it would be a shame to overlook the natural parks of the region. The Sologne forest is one of the most famous in France for hunting an wild boars, also acclaimed for its magnificent landscapes. You will find other great natural parks such as the “Brenne”, the “Loire-Anjou-Touraine” or even the “Perche”. Once you have explored these parks and the gardens of the different castles, you will understand the nickname of the region: “The Garden of France”.
Although they aren’t as celebrated as the other two features mentioned above, the dwellings of the Loire Valley play a significant part in the heritage of the region. Named “troglodytic caves”, they are essentially quarries dug right in the stone. These are used for storing wine or as housing. Some houses are entirely built in the stone. The area of Saumur is the main one where you could find some.
Gastronomy… A French specificity because every region conceals a few gems. The Loire valley is no exception.
Freshwater fish from the Loire river play a major role here, and the oysters are very renowned and go very well with the white wines of the region. Regarding the meat, the Loire valley has some jewels of the French most famous charcuterie with the rillettes. also the andouillettes, the boudin blanc or even the fouaces.
The region is also the ambassador of goat cheeses, behind nearly half of the entire French production! The curé nantais, saint-paulin or port-salut are the most famous.
The salt from Guérande is renowned throughout the whole country, Europe and even worldwide. The “fleur de sel” is the purest salt in the world and is an optimal way to season the finest meats.
The desserts in the region are equally very popular. The tarte Tatin, a pie cooked for the first time by mistake and made with apples, is the most notable. Sweet and smooth, the taste is inimitable.
Now you know that the region can offer a great variety of products, from charcuterie to desserts. Come to the region and taste these products! If you want to discover more about wine and food pairing, click here!
As with the gastronomy and the landscapes, the Loire valley hosts a rare diversity of wines. From sparkling to sweet wines, the region is a great ambassador of white wines because it produces more of it than any other region in France. You should also taste some red wines which can be remarkably delicate.
Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay are the main grapes cultivated throughout the whole region. For the red and rosé wines, you will find mostly Cabernet Franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Malbec (locally named Cot de Loire) and Gamay.
Anjou, located around the city of Angers, is the area of rosé, overflowing with rose and red berry aromas. The local wine-makers also produce some dry whites and light and fruity red wines.
Savennières produces the most age-worthy Chenin Blanc. The wine-makers have succeeded in crafting wines with nutty notes rather than fresh and fruity.
Sparkling wine area of Loire valley, the Saumur region makes wine with a bright acidity thanks to the soils. Mousseux or Crémant, it produces both! But you will also find some interesting white and red wines.
Touraine. The widest appellation of the Loire region. The second most drunk sparkling wine of France comes from here and is named “Vouvray”. Touraine is also the home of sauvignon blanc and Malbec (cot de Loire), blended with Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The most famous appellations are Bourgueil, Chinon, Cheverny and MontLouis-sur-Loire.
The Centre region, the eastern part of the Loire valley, hosts very well-known appellations: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Quincy. There, you will find white wines produced with Sauvignon blanc, Chasselas, Pinot Gris while the reds are mainly produced with Pinot noir and Gamay. The white wines are often compared with the ones from Chablis, in Burgundy, due to the similarity in the soil.
As wine and tourism experts, we are very familiar with the region and the producers. As you have probably read in this article, we know the different sights whish are worth a visit. After analyzing the best itineraries we could design, we decided to pull together the very best for you during a wine day tour in Loire Valley!