CRUISING THE LOIRE VALLEY
Known for its wine production and some of the most beautiful and historic chateaux in the world, the Loire Valley in central France is a must-see destination for any traveler.
Perhaps starting with the colossal Château de Chambord is the right thing to do. It’s listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site and has an impressive 426 rooms, 77 staircases, 282 fireplaces and a stable that once held 1,200 horses. The Château de Chenonceau is the most visited French château after Versailles, is part castle and part bridge, and is made up of intricately carved stone walls, forests, and mazes.
It took several centuries to build the Royal Château de Blois, which was home to seven kings and 10 queens and incorporates Classic, Renaissance and Gothic architectural styles. Last, but definitely not least is The Cheverny Castle, which is private property and the inspiration for Herge’s famous Moulinsart castle, thanks to its beautiful gardens and 17th century furniture.
After you’ve toured any or all of these amazing structures, sit back and sip a glass of wine because the Loire Valley is also home to one of the world’s most wellknown areas of wine production.
It’s referred to as the Cradle of the French and the Garden of France. Here you can enjoy wine tastings at one of its many vineyards, including Nitray Vineyards. At Nitray you can sample their Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Rouge that is produced on site. Another massive vineyard is the Loire Valley’s Bouvet Ladubay, which has more than 10 miles of wine cellars located right under the St Florent Abbey ruins.
France is also known for some of the most beautiful art made by the most famous artists in the world, including Rubens and Monet. The Loire Valley is home to several venues where you can see masterpieces. The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours museum, located in the Loire Valley inside a bishop’s former palace, houses one of France’s most extensive collections of art, including a massive collection of Roman and Greek sculptures.
The Loire Valley was also home to artist Leonardo da Vinci. He resided at the Château du Close Lucé in the last three years of his life. The museum is open for tours where you can see, among other things, a replica of his famous Mona Lisa.