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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.

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