Monday, April 1, 2013

All About France, The Lovely Loire Valley

The Loire Valley (Vallée de la Loire) is every little girl's dream come true.  Located about 2 hours south of Paris, the 800 square kilometer of land surrounding the Loire River in center of France is where fairytale comes to life.  With studded castles worthy of the most pompous Hollywood films, historic towns and charming little villages straight out of Disney stories, and outstanding landscape of great beauty, the Loire Valley lives up to every detail of its fantasy.  So much so that I expected Belle from Beauty and the Beast to walk down the streets of Amboise singing with birds flying on her shoulders.

Beyond the picture-perfect setting, some of the greatest architectural monuments (the châteaux) in the world are located in the Loire Valley.  The architectural heritage in the valley's historic towns, which has been inhabited since the Middle Paleolithic period, is notable, and its chateaux embody the greatest achievement in Renaissance and the Age of the Enlightenment on western European thought and design. 
Like many people, I couldn’t resist the lure of the Loire Valley, and even if it happens to be one of the most tourist-driven places in France, I was determined to see it. 
Travel Tips:
  • Fortunately for my husband and I, what made even the most tourist-driven place bearable was staying in smaller inns, which can be found through: Gîtes de France, Logis de France, and Guide de Charme
  • Most guidebooks recommend biking as the best way to see the valley, but not being blessed with Lance Armstrong’s stamina (as questionable as it may be), my husband and I opted to travel by car.  
  • Although most travelers to the region tend to castle-hop to see as many castles as possible, I recommend choosing a few and taking the time to enjoy the full experience, taking in the history, the atmosphere and the grandeur of it all. 


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