Enjoying Your Stay in the Valley

If you’re looking for the perfect holiday destination for the whole family, the Loire Valley offers something for everyone. The valley is

located along central France’s Loire River littered with glorious chateaux and versatile countryside. The River Loire is a World Heritage Site with interesting villages and towns to explore. The valley offers a huge range of activities for the clan to enjoy. From historic museums, waterpark, gardens and impressive castles everyone is guaranteed a good time.

Here’s a list of activities you can do while enjoying your stay in the valley:

Rediscover Leonardo da Vinci at the Chateau de Close Luce
Leonardo da Vinci, the great artist and inventor spent the last three years of his life in Chateau de Close Luce. The chateau in Amboise served as his official residence. Today, it has been converted into a museum. You can tour the museum to learn about the valley’s history as well as look at this invention. School-age-kids will surely love many of his inventions on display. Kids can learn by touching, spinning and exploring his fascinating inventions. The museum also offers playground and picnic area for the whole family.

Stroll the Garden of Love at the Chateau de Villandry
The gardens at the Chateau de Villandry are renowned for their beauty. The magnificent gardens have been admired for over 500 years. The best view of the gardens is from the higher vantage points inside and outside the castle. Look down and appreciate the meaning and the complete designs of the gardens. The labyrinth is divided into symmetrical sections for easy exploration.

Cycle along the River through the Loire à velo Cycle Route
Hire a bicycle and cycle the River Loire through the Loire à velo cycle route. The route stretches 800 kilometres from St-Brevin-les-Pins on the Atlantic coast through the cities of Nantes, Angers, Saumur, Tours, Orleansto Cuffy in the Cher. The route is easy and well organised with signpost and paths to ride. You can also take the side routes that concentrate on the Loire Valley chateau. Go at your own pace or stop for sightseeing. You can also have a picnic under the fruit trees or just rest on the banks of the river.

Marvel at the great Gothic Cathedrals at Bourges
Cathedrale St-Etienne at Bourges is one of the great gothic cathedrals of France which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bourges cathedral is modelled in Notre Dame in Paris. Take a pair of binoculars when you visit this great cathedral so you can pick out the details of the biblical stories in the stained glass.

Taste the Healing Waters at the Spa Town
The spa town in La Roche Posay was founded by the Romans in 15th century. The spa is renowned for its healing waters which is good for the skin. Taste the waters from one of the taps outside the spa and enjoy its health giving properties. La Roche Posay is also the home of two race courses. The Hippodrome features both trotting and steeple chasing. You might even find some free book maker bets at the onsite tote style betting shop.

Tour the Château de Chenonceau
Chenonceau is perhaps the most famous chateau in the Loire Valley. The castle literally spans the River Cher with the attractive mixture of late Gothic and early Renaissance architecture style. The interior of Chenonceau is meticulously restored, showcasing the intricate tapestry, furniture and paintings. The high-ceiling rooms lets you step back in time and visualise royal life. The fresh flowers made the castle feel lived in. The chateau is small that you can tour all the rooms in less than an hour.

Wine Tasting at Bouvet-Ladubay
Bouvet-Ladubay is one of the valley’s best producers of sparkling wine. They offer an extensive guided tour of the winery. It has less than 10 mile of wine cellars to explore with wine tasting at the end of the tour. The winery also offers cycling tours for people worried about walking the subterranean miles.

Visit the delightful Art Museumat the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours
Musée des Beaux-Arts is located in the bishop’s former palace in Tours. This delightful art museum contains one of France’s most extensive art collections with artist including Monet and Rubens and more. The sculpture collection features ancient classical Greek and Roman pieces, including the sculptures of historic French monarchs.

Explore the Valley in the Air
Float over the Loire Valley and see the landscapes from a whole new perspective.Riding the hot-air balloon is a unique way to explore the town of Amboise, its magnificent castles and the countryside. Exploring the field, forest and rivers up in a hot-air balloon is a magical adventure that will linger with the kids for a lifetime.

Visit the Natural History Museum in Tours
Natural History Museum in Tours is one of the most child-friendly museums in the region. The kids will surely enjoy seeing the stuffed animal section of the museum on the second floor. Kids will go wild inspecting gorillas, lions and other predators at the museum. There’s also a live animal exhibit which include reptiles and insects as well as other crawling critters. The museum is fun for all ages.

Let the kids explore the PapéaParc
The PapeaParc located in Yvre-l Eveque is a family-friendly theme park that is sure to wipe your boredom away. Families with young kids that need to expend some energy will find lots of things to do here. Take a pedalo ride out on the lake to let the kids meet and greet the farm creatures. There are also stomach-churning rides like the log flume or pirate ship.

Meet animals at La Fleche Zoo
La Fleche Zoo is one of the best in France. It contains 1,200 animals kept in enclosure that replicate their natural habitat. The zoo has an innovative viewing windows at allow kids to take a glance into the animals without disturbing the inhabitant. Feeding session provide opportunity for younger kids to learn about the different species in the zoo.

Joan of Arc and the Brutality of British Law

There are few more fascinating stories from history than that of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, who led the French against the English in the Loire Valley in 1429. Apparently, she was an illiterate farm hand who heard the voice of God inside her head, telling her to defeat the English. The Battle of Jargeau, was her first offensive engagement, and took place along the districts at this point on the Loire River. This was one battle in what is known as the Hundred Year’s War, fought between the House of Plantagenet ruling England and the House of Valois defending its rulership of France.

Joan of Arc was involved in five military actions in 1429: lifting the Siege of Orleans; the Battle of Jargeau; the Battle of Meung-sur-Loire; the Battle of Beaugency; and the Battle of Patay. Her leadership of the French forces was seen to be decisive in turning the war in France’s favour. This period is seen by historians as the first real development of opposing French and English nationalistic feelings amongst the peoples of these lands. Prior to this the English kings were vassals to the French ruling house in France, since the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Joan of Arc and the Brutality of British Law

In 1430 Joan of Arc was captured at Compiegne by the Burgundians, who were allied with the English. They handed her over to the English and Joan was tried by the Bishop of Beauvais on charges of witchcraft, amongst others, and found guilty. Whilst still only nineteen years of age; Joan was burnt at the stake by the English in 1431 in Rouen, Normandy. The brutality of British law would see them burn her remains three times. This was because she died of smoke inhalation the first time, and her organs were not completely incinerated the second time, so a third burning was required under law.

One wonders what wills and estates the Maid of Orleans may have left for her surviving family. Unmarried, a virgin, it would have to be her parents or siblings that would inherit, if she had left any property behind. Joan of Arc became a saint, and a national icon of French, when she was beatified and canonised by the Catholic Pope, and celebrated by Napoleon Bonaparte. Church and state united behind this illiterate young woman who fought fiercely for French identity against the English.


Irish Pub Tours Loire Valley

Irish Pub Tours Loire Valley France: The Pale

Tours (pronounced “Tuurh”) is the largest city in central France located on the river Loire in the Centre-Val de Loire region. Tourine, the region around Tours is known for its wines and for the perfection of its local spoken French. Much of the city is modern, it is a beautiful and lively city at night where you can find lots of places to relax, drink a beer or dance the night away.

An Irish missing home can find Irish camaraderie in The Pale, an authentic Irish Pub Tours Loire Valley is located in the heart of town at 18 Place Street at the corner of Rue Colbert and place Foire-le-Roi. The Pale is open from 2:00pm to 2:00am daily. It’s definitely the pub to go when you are visiting Tours, it’s close to everything. It is a great place to unwind after a day of sightseeing or have a few drinks after dinner. The outdoor seating and plenty of Irish beer make it a prime warm-weather hangout, day and night.

The Pale’s welcoming staff could make you feel at home and comfortable, even thousands of miles away from home. The Pale is popular with visitors of all ages, especially the English speaking ones. A great place to go if you are feeling lost and don’t speak any French as the clientele is about 75% Anglophone and all the staff are Irish.

Personally signed Irish celebrity framed posters, photographs and memorabilia are tastefully hung on the wooden walls, giving the pub a homey appeal. There are also beer tankards inscribed with the regular’s name. The Pale also have numerous wide HD screens and Sky Sports you won’t have to miss an important sporting event back home. The pub is particularly busy on game nights when fans gather to watch rugby and football matches.

There are billiard tables downstairs where they regularly have in-house concerts, invited bands play Irish music and dance nights. The Pale also have an upstairs section for people to play chess, backgammon and darts. The Pale have a wonderful terrace that is heated in the winter where you can chat with friends while drinking coffee or simply watch the people go by.

The Pale is one Irish pub all the way, with Guinness, as well an enviable collection of Irish whiskey alongside the beautifully lit bar. There is always an upbeat crowd here, and the staff makes sure everyone is having a good time. If you visit Tours and don’t go to The Pale, then you have missed out on a guaranteed highlight of your holiday!

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Loire Valley Highlights

The Loire Valley lies within the heart of France. The Grand River Loire stream right through the centre of the region and is France’s longest river. The water of the Loire starts its journey on the Massif Central and ends in the Atlantic Ocean.  The Loire is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural landscapes, magnificent castles and regal homes.

This part of France has a superb topography and perhaps less known for the fact that this region also supports a mouth-watering flora and fauna. The Loire Valley region’s river and streams reveal treasures to behold – its scenery, its climate and its untamed nature.

Aside from the majestic castles and the superb wine and food, some of the natural highlights you’ll find in the Loire Valley include sacred sites, rivers, forests, lakes and moors. There are so many fantastic highlights in the Loire Valley and here are some of them:

Stopover the Chartres Cathedral located in the medieval town of Chartres. It is an outstanding model of Gothic style architecture. You’ll be amazed by the 152 beautifully stained glass windows that are noted for their remarkable deep blue colour. Part of the relics found is a tunic believed to be owned by the Virgin Mary herself.

Drop by the Tours Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours). This cathedral has an amazing detailed design and exquisite facade, and the outside is just as impressive as the interior, with its Gothic windows and splendid walls.

Don’t forget to visit the Cathedral of St Etienne of Bourges which was constructed between the late 12th and late 13th centuries. It is considered to be one of the great masterworks of Gothic art because of its proportions and the unity of its design. Besides the magnificent architecture, it affirmed the influence of Christianity in medieval France.

Visit the Abbey of Fontevraud or Fontevraud Abbey which is considered as one of the greatest monastic cities in Europe. The Abbey has a remarkable size and originality. It was transformed into a prison by Napoleon in 1804 and was saved from destruction and became a dreaded penitentiary centre. The Abbey today is a renowned site for concerts, conventions and expositions.

Take some time away from Palaces and Cathedrals to see the charming Berce Forrest. This forest is surrounded by oak trees and there are trails marked by arrows on the trees to follow. It is idyllic, unspoilt, with gigantic oak trees towering 50 meters into the sky before branching out.

Visit the lakes of Brenne which is known as the land of a thousand lakes. This welcoming place is also home to Europe’s biggest population of European pond turtles. In the summer you can observe these little turtles when they sunbathe. You can also find different insect species. This is where two-thirds of France’s dragonfly species can be found.

Would you like to see the domain of rare eagles?  Visit the Orleans Forest, France’s biggest state-owned forest. This forest has very rich soil and has a number of bodies of water which explains the diversity of animal and plant species in the area.

Take some time out and see Sologne nestled in the loop of the Loire River. It is famous for its forests, lakes and moors. Three-quarters of the area is occupied by forestland plus 12,000 hectares of lakes. The moors is the typical Sologne feature. Its rivers are highly populated too and its lakes are home to an impressive array of plant species.

If you want to see wooded hillsides, paths bordered by green hedgerows, ribbons of water running through meadows, and rolling landscapes then Perche is the place for you. Perche is a haven of greenery which any nature lover will enjoy, and nature really prospers in this area.

Another highlight would be the Charters Light Show (Chartres En Lumiere). During this event, colorful lights illuminate historic sites and some principal buildings of the old city of Chartres including the cathedral, media Library, theatre building and many more.


TGV Rail Train Paris Loire Valley Accommodation France Disneyland

Travelling By Train

Image by Sese Ingolstadt

Early developers of high speed trains – the ‘TGV’ – France now has a well-developed network of rail links between major centres both in France and to neighbouring countries.

Fortunately their booking system is going a lot faster too! www.tgv.fr gets you to the booking site which gives you the fast trains, or go to www.sncf.fr if you want a wider choice of trains.

But before you book, look at a map! Seems obvious, but we have had many visitors who think we are in the South of France –or just outside Paris – or anywhere in between!

The TGV site lists TGV destinations, so use the map to find the nearest point of departure and arrival.

Booking on the site is quite easy, although they do show us lots of options, so check very carefully that you have the correct destination and time! There are sometimes special offers such as first class travel at almost the same price as second class, especially at off peak times such as Sunday lunchtime.

Another option is the opportunity to modify or cancel your tickets, free or with a small fee. As this allows you to cancel at any time up to the train departure, it can be quite useful – a little extra insurance against things going wrong! It also means that you can book all your travel then modify if you find that it would be nice to stay on an extra day somewhere to visit a special event – a summer fete, a winter chateau wonderland…

All aboard!

At the station, watch the arrival/departure screens for information on your train. Be sure to check the train number as you would for a flight! The screens will give the platform number. Unfortunately most announcements are in French only. You will need to know the French for a late train –“retard” or “delai” – fortunately near enough to English.

There will be a screen on the platform showing the train make up – carriage or “car” numbers – with an indication that, for example, car 2 can be boarded between zones E and F, which are indicated on its platform.

Note your “car” number and seat number and away you go! 250 km/hr seems not fast at all! As journey times are pretty well standard, trains do not make up time and arrive early. So if you are due to arrive at noon, you probably will!

As there are never many stops, this means that you can be ready to exit at the appointed station without the worry that it may be the wrong one! (Useful as announcements are often only in French again). We set our phone alarms to vibrate 10 minutes before arrival time so we can snooze without worry!

Use the TGV to travel to the Loire Valley – Tours or St Pierre des Corps – from CDG airport (1 hour 40 minutes) or Paris (1 hour) and visit the stunning chateaux.

Find your accommodation at www.b-and-b-loire-valley-touraine.com/


Villandry Gardens Accommodation Loire Valley France

The Gardens of the Loire

La Ferme du TempleThe longest untamed river in France- La Loire- passes through Touraine, where in the valley and surrounding hills can be found hundreds of chateaux, manoir and other imposing buildings. A classified UNESCO site, the Loire Valley has long attracted kings and queens, artists and writers, poets and plebs.

At the root of the attraction of this area is a mild climate and fertile soil, giving rise to the name “The Garden of France”.

With a mix of soil types – chalk, clay, gravel – short winters and dry summers, almost any non-tropical plant will find an ideal growing location, be they roses or grapes.

There are gardens here for all tastes, from traditional to, well, frankly bizarre (or maybe innovative is better!)

Traditional starts with Villandry a stylised Renaissance formal garden. Low box hedges surround beds of roses, annual flowers and vegetables in a visually stunning geometric layout. There is also the formal lake, the avenue of lime trees, a maze… the whole is a picture of tranquillity where you could imagine princes and princesses strolling.

Another formal garden is at the Chateau of Chenonceau, a stunning building spanning the River Cher. However, the formality is balanced by the forest walks through massive oaks, chestnuts, beech and other trees. Here you will find hidden treasures – the maze, the gazebo – where you can pause and rest awhile.

A similar forest is at the Chateau de Riveau, but carried one stage further, The Chateau itself being quite small, the owners have developed interest in the garden. Taking as their theme things gargantuan (Gargantua was the giant hero of books by the writer Rabelais who lived in this area), you will find giant boots, giant legs striding through  the forest, giant – well, you get the idea! And some elves and fairies, all very delightful.

Even more innovative are the gardens at the Chateux de Courson, where every year from April to October they hold a garden festival.

The chateau is set in a parkland – giant Lebanese cedars, flower and grass meadows, woods; but, adjacent to the old farm buildings, a large area has been set aside to host some 30 show gardens. Unlike temporary garden shows such as Chelsea, the show gardens here have to survive for 6 months – withstanding all the weather has to offer, as well as thousands of visitors passing through.

Here you will find the imaginative, innovative, and, yes, bizarre, but always idea generating, amusing and sometimes stunningly beautiful.

Here at the farm of La Ferme du Temple, we love to share our garden with our visitors. Natural streams, a small lake, meadows grazed and fallow, a rose bed, dahlias and spring bulbs. All enhanced with bridges, old stone buildings and sculptures – a private paradise!

Accommodation Loire Valley

accommodation loire valley B&B bed & breakfast

La Ferme du Temple Bed & Breakfast …

The Loire Valley is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France. It is referred to as the Cradle of the French Language, and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards and artichoke and asparagus fields that line the banks of the river. It is also known for its historic towns, architecture and wines.

La Ferme du Temple is a farmhouse Bed & Breakfast in the Loire Valley that has been exquisitely renovated and modernised. It is located in the lovely South Touraine in the charming village of Nouatre, just 100 metres or so from the baker, grocer, bars and restaurant, and the River Vienne. It sits on 6-acre grounds that warrant tranquility and pleasure, featuring a lake, streams and waterfalls and plenty of wildlife. It is overlooking the courtyard in the south and the village to the north. It is ideally situated for seeing the famous chateaux of the Loire Valley as well as the Vienne region to the south – Poitiers, La RochePosay and more.

Imagine staying in a very charming and cozy house overlooking some of the best sights, and then stepping out to enter the welcoming view of the garden, lake and meadow that are adjacent to the house. An outdoor living patio offers shade and shelter for you to unwind while enjoying the views. There is also a fishing barn next to the lake. For a bit of solitude, listen to the romantic songs of the nightingales while sitting in the shade of the old walnut tree by the stream.

Meet the locals at the centre of the village and visit Madame Estelle the Boulanger. They offer an array of sumptuous baked delights like croissants, pastries and bread, and other delicacies like ham, cheese and wine for a perfect picnic takeaway which you can enjoy at the table alongside the River Vienne.

See magnificent castles like Chinon, Loches and Chateau Azay le Rideau just by driving on roads that are uncluttered by traffic, or draw inspiration from the river, village and lakes all around the area.

Experience all of this and benefit from the stress-free and peaceful ambiance La Ferme du Temple has to offer.

For more info on this B&B accommodation in the Loire Valley call Roger Dawes on +33 (0) 2 4765 3238 or email roger.dawes@sfr.fr

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Families Welcome

Aussie brother and sister Jack and Olivia loved their stay in the Loire Valley.

Even though only 2 and 3 years old, they were thrilled by the majesty of the castles and chateaux.

Their parents Paul and Jo had long wanted a trip to France, and the Loire Valley is very convenient by fast train to both Disneyland and Paris – it’s on the same train line so no changeovers required.

The trips between highlights within the Loire Valley are short which meant the kids weren’t prone to getting grumpy and fighting in the back seat – well, we won’t say never!

Of course travelling tips for parents nowadays involve the benefits of iPads and DS equipment, making for a much more tranquil travel experience.

In fact Jack and Olivia really bonded on this trip. As the photo shows, they were mutually enthralled by the sights both natural and historically man-made.

Topping it off with accommodation in Disneyland and watching the Disney spectacular at night, this was a trip they may forget through the prism of youthfulness, but their enjoyment will never be forgotten by mum and dad, who took plenty of photos to treasure for a lifetime.