The Loire Valley: A way of life
The Loire Valley is one of a kind with its majestical architecture, landscape, food & wines! J. de Villebois contributes with passion to the promotion of the unique wonders and wines of the Loire Valley in France and abroad.
Here are some of our recommendations below, to make the most of your experience and your stay in the Loire region !
The castles of the Loire
The Loire Valley, or Vallée de la Loire, is astonishingly home to over 100 recorded châteaux.
Masterpieces of the Renaissance, these glorious chateaux and gardens are a heritage so unique in the world. Our vines are planted within a few kilometres from some of them (Cheverny, Saint Aignan, Chenonceau …) and at the foot of a multitude of other magnificent abbeys, manors, villas and lesser-known castles. These majestic architectural works are an endless source of inspiration to us. They encourage us to constantly strive to produce equally elegant and refined wines, a living testimony of this heritage.
The Loire Valley, a UNESCO heritage since 2000 (architecture, landscape, history, castles, artists, etc.)
Like crown jewels, the castles are the most famous representation of the Loire. They are set in the middle of a unique rural and urban environment shaped by the Loire and its inhabitants over centuries. A major cultural hub in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Loire Valley has kept its artistic spirit. Today, countless artists, craftsmen and winegrowers are inspired by these works and contribute through their artistic expression to the enhancement of the Loire Valley. Find here our favorite places, artists and news.
(restaurants, exhibitions, practical advice…)
Here are some places and addresses we recommend during your stay in the Loire Valley. Do not to take a look regularly to keep up to date with the latest openings, exhibitions and other tips in the region.
The Loire Valley region has a rich heritage dating back to the rise of the Roman Empire and, as such, has a number of fascinating towns and cities waiting to be discovered. Whether on foot, by bicycle or as part of a group or individually, here are a few suggestions in uncovering the charms of the towns of the Loire Valley.
St Aignan :
The town has a rich historical past. Built on the site of an old 9th-century fortress,the Renaissance château towers over the houses of the medieval town. The 11th and 12th-century Romanesque Collegiate Church is another of Saint- Aignan’s historic monuments. Admire the sixteen metre high nave supported by eight columns with carved capitals, along with the Romanesque central bell tower. The former Hôtel-Dieu (hospital for the poor) is a 17th-century building attributed to Mansart.
During your visit, you will also be able to see beautiful houses, such as the Gothic Prévôté dating from the 14th century or the Villa Rose from the beginning of the 20th century.
Artisans worth visiting is “Atelier De Curiosités Fromagères” at place Wilson for a cheese tasting experience and la Biscuiterie de Saint-Aignan for homemade cookies, shortbread and local specialties.
- Le Mange Grenouille
- Ferme Auberge de la Lionnière à Mareuil
The Beauval ZooParc offers you an unforgettable journey to the heart of the animal world, with more than 35,000 animals from all continents. Enjoy a unique experience at Beauval ZooParc, ranked among the 5 most beautiful zoos in the world! In 2020, the ZooParc created the Equatorial Dome: a greenhouse unique in the world, where you can immerge in over 12,000 m2 of equatorial splendours.
Peddle or paddle:
A unique and fun way to explore is by bicycle or on the Loire by canoe. Head off along the 400km of cycle paths, tracks and quiet country roads following a dozen secure, well-signposted circuits. You can seek out the famous châteaux like Chambord, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Cheverny and Blois… or discover many off the beaten track treasures such as river-side villages and countless historical sites. Otherwise rent a canoe for a day and admire all the monuments while meandering down the Loire. Both activities can be booked at :
Chenonceaux is synonymous with one of the most beautiful and best preserved castles of the Loire. It is referred to as the “ Chateau des Dames” in reference to the many formidable women such as Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici that played a role in the history and preservation of this unique castle.
The restaurant Auberge du Bon Laboureur is a must visit. Chef Antoine Jeudi will delight your palete with his favourful creations and wine pairings with wines from the region.
Tours played an important role in the history of France and a walk through town gives you a look into this glorious past. For that, head for the Old Town of Tours and Place Plumereau with its half-timbered houses and Renaissance houses. The most remarkable is undoubtedly the Hotel Goüin. Also well worth a visit is the small castle, the Saint-Gatien cathedral and the Saint-Martin basilica.
A visual and sensory delight awaits you at the Halles de Tours fresh market. It is brimming with every kind of food you can imagine. Meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables, pastries and especially cheese are on display. Make sure to taste the goat’s cheese from Rodolphe Le Meunier, whose cheese is internationally renowned and distributed in the best delicatessens and famous restaurants around the world.
Here are a few restaurants we can recommend:
- La Deuvalière
- Au Martin Bleu
- La Maison des Halles
1 hour aerial walk over the Loire Valley castles:
Go on an unforgettable adventure and discover the beauty of the Loire Valley Castles in the most unique way … from a private micro-plane! You will have a breathtaking view of Amboise, Chaumont and many others that you can discover with a local pilot.
Visit the Chateau du Clos Lucé:
Visit the Chateau du Clos Lucé where Leonardo da Vinci, at the invitation of François I, lived the last three years of his life. Here he devoted himself as an engineer, architect and director, organising sumptuous parties for the Court. In his residence located 300 meters from the Royal Castle, he drew up plans for a model castle for François I at Romorantin and designed the double-spiral staircase for Chambord. The Château du Clos Lucé is dedicated to discovering and understanding the knowledge of the Italian Master.
The Pagoda of Chanteloup :
A quirky chinese park in pure Louis XVI style with the Pagoda reflected in a half- moon pond in the heart of a 14 hectare park. A virtual restitution allows you to relive the rich hours of the extraordinary Château de Chanteloup, destroyed in 1823. You can enjoy ancient outdoor games, a picnic or a barge ride.
Patisserie Chocolatier Bigot:
A master chocolatiers that produces his creations on site from selected 100% pure cocoa butter. Ask for the Amboisine, Pouchkine, Paola and the “Petit Bigot” – a very unusual goat’s cheese creation! Ganaches, variations of pralines and seasonal flavours are a few of the delights of this house that will keep you coming back!
Where to eat well:
- Le Lion d’Or
In this town, which has existed for more than 1000 years, history and heritage are at your fingertips : the Royal Chateau, timber framed houses, picturesque streets, historic gardens and churches.
The Royal Chateau de Blois has always been a rival of the Chateau of Amboise and it hosted many personalities from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance such as Anne of Brittany, Charles V, Pierre de Ronsard, Louis XII and many more. Follow in their footsteps and visit the House of Magic as well as the gardens of the old bishopric and the rose garden.
- Le Medicis
- Le Bistrot de Leonard
Chaumont sur Loire :
The Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire is stunningly pretty, reminiscent of Disney’s fairy tale castle in Sleeping Beauty. Nestled on the banks of the Loire it is unique for its presentation of art and the international garden festival that’s held here annually. It’s a bit like Chelsea Flower Show meets Kew Gardens and utterly gorgeous. There are temporary show gardens for the festival and all year-round gardens for general visits.
The International Garden Festival takes place from April to November each year.
For lovers of gourmet cuisine from Touraine:
Les Hauts de Loire restaurant in Onzain. Dominique Pépin thoroughly deserves his two Michelin stars in this19th century hunting lodge.
As a careful craftsman he relies on high quality products – Touraine truffle, Sologne caviar and Loire fish which he masterfully transforms into sublime dishes. In line with his predecessor, he prefers to cook regional game and vegetables from the home garden.