Loire Valley, France

Updated | 17.oct.2013

"The Garden of France"

To quote UNESCO, the Loire Valley is: "an exceptional cultural landscape, of great beauty, comprised of historic cities and villages, great architectural monuments - the Châteaux - and lands that have been cultivated and shaped by centuries of interaction between local populations and their physical environment, in particular the Loire itself."

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in late 2000, the Loire Valley is also noteworthy for the quality of its architectural heritage. Historic towns such as Amboise, Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur and Tours, and in particular its world-famous chateaux (castles), such as the Châteaux Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chambord and Chenonceau. 

Château Chenonceau
Places to see:
Here's my 1-day road trip itinerary leaving from Orleans, the city where we stayed, to visit 4 chateaus. Quite busy, but absolutely worth it. 
From Orleans we drove to Chambord, Chenonceau, Clos Luce and finished at Amboise. On the way back we stopped for dinner at Blois, another lovely medieval town along the Loire Valley.

Chateau du Chambord
Map for 1 day road trip exploring the valley:
A/F) Orleans: In Orleans we visited the cathedral and Joana d'Arc monument, which are stunning.
B) Château Royal D'Amboise
C) Château Du Clos Lucé
D) Château Chenonceau
E) Chateau du Chambord

Where to stay:
Ibis at Orleans - cheap, clean, good location. However, if I ever come back I rather stay at Blois, which is closer to the castles and has a cooler and romantic atmosphere.

For more information about the region: WikipediaViaje na ViagemLonely PlanetFodor'sFrommerConexao Paris 
Driving tips: Via Michelin
More information (in Portuguese): Conexao Paris, Vale do Loire