Living France - - DESTINATION -

cheese. And Tours it­self isn’t short of great places to dine. One pop­u­lar bistro is Le Zinc, south of the Loire, where din­ers can en­joy coun­try clas­sics made with mar­ket-fresh in­gre­di­ents for the small sum of €25.


Head fur­ther east and you ar­rive in the ‘Gar­den of France’ where you’ll find glo­ri­ous châteaux boast­ing ver­dant gar­dens, and re­mark­able vil­lages fringed by sun-dap­pled vine­yards. An­other jewel in the Loire Val­ley’s crown is the el­e­gant town of Am­boise, perched on one of the widest stretches of the Loire.

Sit­ting ma­jes­ti­cally atop this river­side town is a 15th-cen­tury château that was once the home of King Charles VIII and was par­tially de­signed by lead­ing Re­nais­sance artist Leonardo da Vinci, who spent the fi­nal years of his life in Am­boise and is re­ported to be buried in­side the château.

This invit­ing town is also a shop­per’s par­adise with a smat­ter­ing of bou­tiques and nu­mer­ous mar­kets, the most no­table of which is the large Sun­day mar­ket, where traders assem­ble along the Loire and a friendly smile and ‘ bon­jour’ are quickly fol­lowed by cus­tomers’ re­quests for lo­cally pro­duced wines, cheese, meat and sun­gorged fruit and veg­eta­bles.

South of Am­boise lies the Château de Chenon­ceau, one of the most el­e­gant and best­known in the Loire Val­ley. A se­ries of grace­ful stone arches span the limpid wa­ters of the River Cher, which, to­gether with the château’s re­flec­tion in the wa­ter, creates an in­deli­ble im­age. Land­scaped gar­dens which burst out into a riot of colour in the spring add to the fairy-tale set­ting, and are the per­fect place to sit and en­joy a pic­nic.

For full-blown majesty, it’s im­pos­si­ble to top the Château de Cham­bord, the largest and grand­est of the Loire Val­ley châteaux. This mag­nif­i­cent struc­ture, sur­rounded by ex­ten­sive park­land, be­gan its life in 1519 as a hunt­ing lodge for King François I and quickly turned into one of the most am­bi­tious ar­chi­tec­tural un­der­tak­ings ever at­tempted by a French monarch.

A crown­ing ex­am­ple of French Re­nais­sance ar­chi­tec­ture, this château boasts an elab­o­rately crafted roof and truly op­u­lent in­te­rior, mak­ing it the Loire Val­ley’s pièce de ré­sis­tance, and like the rest of this idyl­lic cor­ner of France, is a sight to truly be­hold.

Tourist in­for­ma­tion

An­jou tourist of­fice Tel: 00 33 (0)2 41 23 51 51 an­jou-tourisme.com

Angers tourist of­fice Tel: 00 33 (0) 2 41 23 50 00 anger­sloire­tourisme.com

Sau­mur tourist of­fice Tel: 00 33 (0) 2 41 40 20 60 ot-sau­mur.fr

Val d’Am­boise tourist of­fice Tel: 00 33 (0) 2 47 57 09 28 am­boise-valde­loire.co.uk

Where to stay

Hô­tel Château de Ver­ri­eres 53 Rue d’Alsace 49400 Sau­mur Tel: 00 33 (0) 2 41 38 05 15 chateau-ver­ri­eres.com

Fact file

Le Grand Hô­tel de Tours 9 Place du Général Le­clerc 37000 Tours Tel: 00 33 (0) 2 47 05 35 31 legrand­hotel­tours.com

Where to eat

L’Hélianthe Rulle An­toine Cristal 49730 Turquant Tel: 00 33 (0) 2 41 51 22 28 restau­rant-he­lianthe.fr

La Brèche 26 Rue Jules Ferry 37400 Am­boise Tel: 00 33 (0) 2 47 57 00 79 labreche-am­boise.com

Get­ting there

The near­est air­ports are Angers and Tours. Bri­tish Air­ways runs a sea­sonal ser­vice from Lon­don City to Angers. Reg­u­lar flights run from Lon­don Stansted to Tours with bud­get car­rier Ryanair.

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