How to Spend 2 Days in the Loire Valley
With two days in the Loire Valley you’ll have time to admire the magnificent UNESCO-listed landscapes, visit famed châteaus, and sample fine wines. Opting for a guided tour will ensure that you make the most of your time, but even if you prefer to go it alone, prebooking skip-the-line tickets is essential. Here are a few ideas.
Day 1: Castles of the Loire
**Morning:**Start with a tour of the largest of all the Loire châteaus, the Château de Chambord, which is set in 13,500 acres (5,440 hectares) of parklands. This opulent example of French Renaissance architecture is famous for its double-helix staircase, said to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
**Afternoon:**The historic town of Amboise is among the most beautiful in the Loire, full of medieval monuments and half-timbered buildings. Perhaps visit the cliff-top Amboise Castle, stop by the local market (Sunday only), or browse the shops for souvenirs. There are also some excellent restaurants and wineries in and around the town, where you can enjoy wine tasting and sample delicious Loire cuisine.
**Night:**The magnificent Château de Chenonceau is even more magical at night. For a truly unforgettable experience, soar overhead on a sunset hot-air balloon ride, then attend the Nocturne à Chenonceau (June-August only), when the castle and gardens are lit up and classical music is played.
Day 2: Gardens and Gastronomy
**Morning:**Make an early start and head to the Château of Villandry, where the highlight is the spectacular Renaissance gardens. A walking tour covers all the highlights, including the kitchen garden, water garden, ornamental gardens, medieval herb garden, and the maze—do not forget your camera!
**Afternoon:**Nearby Azay-Le-Rideau is home to another stunning château, but for a change of pace, head to the medieval town of Chinon. Surrounded by forests and vineyards, it’s the ideal starting point for an afternoon cycling tour and provides an idyllic setting for a picnic lunch or wine tasting at a château winery.
**Night:**Spend your final night in Tours, the biggest city along the Loire. The atmospheric Old Quarter is the place to go after sundown, and the area around Place Plumereau offers a large selection of bars, restaurants, and bistros, where you can enjoy regional dishes and drink a beer with the locals.