Taken with Tours, travels through the Loire Valley, France

For our Autumn vacation this year, ( around the same time as the UK October half term) we took a few days out to travel to Tours, the gateway to the Loire Valley, just a three-hour drive from Paris, and boy it was magnificent!

Travelling to Tours

We hired a car, so we could take our highly energetic 10-month-old pup, Mr L, with us. Once again we rented an Airbnb house which gave us and the children plenty of room, and a garden for Mr L to roam around in.

Our house was located just outside the city of Tours, which made it the perfect spot for day trips to neighbouring chateaus which are scattered across the Loire Valley.

The Loire Valley is beautiful, and Autumn was  the perfect time to visit, the trees turning, from green to gold to russet, the days started out frosty with clear blue sky, and gave way to bright, sunny afternoons. What more could we possibly want?

Three chateaus in three days

This was we why came. Chateaus are in abundance around Tours we were completely spoilt for choice. But we chose three chateaus that we felt were well worth a visit (and also because dogs were allowed in the grounds):

Chateau Amboise

chateauamboise

Chateau Amboise is built on a spur on the river Loire, and is famous for being the burial place of Leonardo Da Vinci. You can see his tomb in the chapel located on the grounds of the chateau.

amboisechapel

In 1434 the chateau became a royal residence to Charles VII of France having seized it from its owner, Louis d’Amboise. The chateau has been graced by the presence of Catherine de Medici (brought up her children here) and Mary Queen of Scots.

Much of the Chateau was destroyed during the French Revolution, and as a result, great parts of the chateau had to be demolished.

This chateau even provided an audio guide for children, in English, which kept our two children happy and engaged.

Admissions

Entry to chateau and gardens with audio guide: Adult €15.20, Child €10.50
Children under 7 years get free entry

How to get to Chateau Amboise

Chateau Villandry

chateauvillandry

Chateau Villandry is the sort of chateau that you have to stop, stare and breathe in its beauty, it is a truly magnificent chateau, the sort of stuff  you find in fairy tales.

Chateau Villandry isn’t really a chateau, more of a rather grand house, with the trappings of a chateau. Much of the house is decked out in 18th-century grandeur.It doesn’t have the royal patronage of Chateau Amboise, but it’s gardens are, well what can I say, stunning.

villandrygardns2

The children weren’t so keen on the house, but they were taken with the garden, especially the woods, (I sent them on a nature trail) and getting lost again, and again in the maze.

Admissions

Entry to chateau and gardens: Adults €10.50,  child €6.50
Entry to garden only: Adult €6.50, child €4.50
Children under 8 years get free entry

How to get to Chateau Villandry

Chateau Chenonceau

mistlifting

If you are only going to see one chateau, this is the one to see: Chateau Chenonceau. The children saw this in the guide book and this is the once they really wanted to go to: “The floating chateau!”

The chateau is a mix of styles, gothic and renaissance.

After parking the car, we walked along a tree-lined avenue, there was mist over the river which partially hid the chateau, and as it lifted, our first glimpse of the Chateau was breathtaking.treelinedave

The chateau did belong to the mistress of King Henry II, Diane Poitiers, who adored the chateau (if it was mine I would too). She had the idea of building the two-story extension over the river, she was in desperate need of a ballroom. Unfortunately, her lover died, the widow of Henry II, Catherine de Medici, ousted the mistress and took the chateau for herself, completing the extension and no doubt having all those balls. Diane Poitiers did get another chateau, Chateau de Chaumont so it wasn’t all bad.

chenonceau

This chateau is the most visited after Versailles, and if you want to beat the crowds, get here early.

Admissions

Entry to chateau and gardens: Adults €13.00  child €10.00
Children under 7 years get free entry

How to get to Chateau Chenonceau

A humbling experience in the Troglodyte caves

A visit to Troglodytes des Goupillieres can only be described as an incredibly humbling experience, especially if you have feasted your eyes on the lavishness and ostentatiousness of aristocratic living.

These caves show just how peasants, from the middle ages for 900 years, had to eek out a livin hand to mouth, with one family surviving in one room (with animals).

troglodytehomes

It was an eye-opening experience for the children, learning that not everyone in the olden days got to live in a beautiful castle.

donkey

What the children liked the most was wandering in and out of the living areas, enjoying the petting farm (the goat and feeding the donkey are firm favourites), and burning off excess energy in the kids play area. There’s even an onsite restaurant, for when you are feeling peckish.

Troglodyte caves can be found all around the Loire Valley, many  have been converted into wine cellars, where you can come for tastings and buy a case of delicious Chinon, others have been converted into gites, and you can book yourself a stay through Airbnb.

Admissions

Entry to Troglodytes des Goupillieres: Adults €6.50  child €5.00
Children under 5 years get free entry

How to get to Troglodyte des Goupillieres

And let’s not forget the Loire Valley wine

Oh yes the wine. We left this ’til last, big mistake. It was a bank holiday and many places for tasting were closed. Disaster!

On our way back to the house, we spotted a place that looked like it might be open, the lights were on and there were cars in the car park! Yes Mummy is getting her wine.

The Cave au Vin was superb, we tasted some delicious whites and reds. This particular Cave au Vin even had a little play area to keep the children occupied while we tasted the produce. (Only in France!)

We’ve brought home a mixed case of Chinon, Bourgueil, and Pouilly Fume. (This is one happy mummy!).

Fancy a trip to Tours?

Tours Val de Loire International is the nearest airport with flights all year round from the UK (London Stanstead, Ryan Air).

Tours is only 238 kilometres from Paris, around three hours by car.

By high-speed TGV train Tours is just under an hour from Gare Montparnasse.

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48 Comments

  1. What a gorgeous little getaway. Much more exciting than the likes of peppa pig world or somewhere like that. I love the idea of doing a little chateau tour like this, youre so lucky to have places like this on your doorstep now 🙂 Ill definitely have to remeber this for the next time we decide to pop over to France! Lovely post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

    • Thank you so much! It was a fabulous break, and I really do appreciate how lucky we are. I have done my time with Peppa Pig World! The chateaus and gardens are stunning, so if you are planning a trip to France, do pop down to the Loire (and the wine is amazing too!)

  2. Really beautiful photos! My partner is going fishing in France next year and we both live the there. I’m so excited to take our two over there for a nice educational holiday (I love war museums) #MarvMondays

    • Thank you, well France is so close! The chateaus are just beautiful – well worth a visit if you ever head this way.

    • Yes, it was a magical experience, it’s hard to imagine this is how people lived. I think you should head this way soon, I’m sure you’d love it.

    • You are so right, the French do know how to build a chateau, the are just so impressive.

  3. Your photos are so gorgeous ❤️I’ve never been to the Loire Valley although I’ve had some wonderful holidays in Brittany and Normandy. The castles would be totally my cup of tea, I’m always fascinated by how people lived.

    • Thank you! The Loire is just gorgeous, I’m completely fascinated by the renaissance era, going to do a little research on it.

  4. Ooooh looks so pretty! I am utterly in love with the French chateaus we visited this summer. I’m adding these to the list for next year! Thank you so much for being a part of the #bigpinklink it’s great to have you with us!
    Louise Pink Pear Bear recently posted…Big Pink Link 41My Profile

    • Thank you, there is so much to do there, yes and getting the wine haul or so important!

    • I know what a muppet, leaving that til the last moment! It was a fabulous holiday, the Loire is well worth a visit if you are thinking about France for a holiday.

    • Fairytale like is so right, and yes looking at the castle in the mist was simply magical.

  5. This brought back so many happy memories for me. When I was a teenager my school did a foreign exchange with a school in Olivet in the Loire Valley and I went every year to stay with my pen pal for 6 years. In fact my first boyfriend was from that area as a result. It is such a beautiful area and I was taken to many of the Chateaux you mention and to Paris too. I would love to go back. Thanks for the memories.#MarvMondays

    • That’s just so wonderful, I’m thrilled this post brought back so many happy memories. It’s such a beautiful area and how lucky you got to visit over six years. I just loved it there!

  6. We did a camping tour of the Loire Valley when I was little and I’m sure we visited all of these. I definitely remember Chenonceau though, no mistaking that one! I remember my Dad being rather fond of the wine too! I’d love to explore that beautiful garden, it’s absolutely stunning – now considering my own family tour of the Loire Valley! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…5 Happy Things #26My Profile

    • It’s so amazing, and pretty brilliant for kids, and yes, of course the wine! What’s not to love!

  7. Oh wow what a beautiful way to spend an autumn break, such gorgeous architecture and gardens. Fantastic photos of the adventure too! #MarvMondays

    • Ooh it was simply wonderful to be out there, really fabulous – thanks for dropping by.

  8. That looks like the most amazing trip! That last chateau is jaw droppingly stunning, and I would love to explore the gardens at Chateau Villandry. I think I’d find those caves most fascinating though. #MarvMondays
    Charlotte | Baking Betsy recently posted…Living Arrows 143My Profile

    • Yes, Chemononceau, now that’s the chateau of chateaus and real must if you ever go to the Loire Valley.

    • Hey, that was the most important part of the trip – can’t miss out on the fabulous wine!

    • Visiting the caves was an incredibly humbling experience, so hard to imagine that’s how people had to survive and to be next to all those fancy pants castles, it was a time of huge inequality. Guess the revolution had to happen!

    • That’d be Chenonceau – it was simply stunning, and so beautiful in the morning mist.

  9. My husband was just peeking over my shoulder and exclaimed, “Whoa! What’s that?” You are so fortunate to have these chateaus so close by to you! Exquisite. I’ve also forgotten about Airbnb, so this is a good reminder to check it out when we’re planning our next trip. Thanks for sharing your vacation photos! #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, we are so lucky, totally appreciate what we have within a few hours drive.

    • I think you had better add the Loire valley to your travel list, it was such a beautiful place. It’s well worth having a holiday here.

  10. Wow, your photos of the chateaus and gardens look as if they were plucked out of fairy tale books! Perhaps when I return to France some day, I’ll make sure I visit the Loire Valley to see these castles. #citytripping

    • Thank you, they really are fairy-tale castles, so amazing, hope you get to France someday soon.

    • Oh yes, they are incredibly fascinating, it’s really hard to imagine whole families had to live in such small spaces.

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