I’m in to Fantasy. I mean really in to Fantasy. Castles, fairies, princes on horses (and princesses taking ahold of their own story lines and not waiting to be rescued) – give me it all, I will eat it up and ask for seconds. And what’s a quintessential part of Fantasy? Castles!
I watched Ever After religiously as a kid, and recently revisited it when I was making my Italian Renaissance gown. Curious as to the filming locations, I googled it and the Loire Valley popped up. When my boyfriend said he’d like to visit wine country when we were in France for Versailles Fetes Galantes this year, I jumped at the chance to find us a chateau to stay at in the Loire.
After extensive googling, I decided we’d stay at Chateau des Arpentis near Amboise. An easy 2 1/2 hour drive from Paris brought us to the property. I decided to book us the Orangerie apartment, as it was more cost effective for 3 people than getting two separate rooms.
While you can use trains to get from Paris to the main towns in the valley, you’ll be reliant on taxis to get you anywhere else, so I suggest renting a car.
It’s easy to visit multiple chateaus and wine caves in a day, but I spaced things out a bit. Chenonceau and Chaumont are both within 20 minutes of Arpentis, and Amboise is just 5 minutes away). You can visit others, such as Chambord and Villandry, but those are a further drive.
If you intend to visit any wineries, know that they’re quite different from the types you’d see in America or Australia/NZ. They’re usually just small rooms (called caves – some are actual caves) attached to the production house, not set amid actual vines (take a class on French wines – the whole process there is fascinating!). The whites are definitely the star in this area.
Here are the ones we visited:
Le Caves de Pere Auguste
Cave de Domes
Domaine des Pierrettes
Plou & Fils
Also, if you have time, drive in to Tours and check out the intact Medieval section of the city. It’s one of the oldest cities in France and the history is mind-blowing.
So that’s it for our quick tour of the Loire Valley! It’s a perfect weekend trip from Paris. I’m greatly looking forward to having an opportunity to go back and explore some more.