In this post I’m sharing an easy Paris day trip to three beautiful and historical Loire Valley castles. I hope that it inspires you whether simply to look from your armchair or are planning a trip to Paris in the future.
I recently shared my latest trip to Paris with you in the post – Living Like A Parisian. With just a week in the city we decided to devote a couple of days for Paris day trips. One of our side trips was to spend time with my dear friend Tania of Grange de Charme (follow her on Instagram) at her beautiful home in the countryside outside of Paris. Right off the bat…excusez-moi, all of these photos are unedited and from my iPhone and I do apologize if they aren’t the best.
We spent some time brocante shopping and I got all googly-eyed gazing at the amazing French antiques (even if I couldn’t bring them all home). I mean…these beds were incredibly gorgeous and this is only a fraction of what we savored!
But I digress and wanted to mostly talk about and share the Paris day trip that my husband and I took to the Loire Valley.
The sun rises early in Paris in the spring and we walked over to the Arc de Triomphe to be there by 6:30. Although I had my real camera I didn’t bring it this day, because I wanted to be more in the moment and not worry about taking the best shots. The light was golden, and we met up for a Paris day trip to the Loire Valley castles with a small group tour.
We decided on a small group tour from the company Viator, as we’ve taken day tours with them for years and had always been happy. I encourage you to visit their website and see what they offer in most countries worldwide as well as the U.S. Viator partners with local travel tour businesses on these overseas day tours and the guides are well trained and speak several languages. Find our particular tour here –Small-Group Loire Valley Three Top Castles Day Trip with Wine Tasting (not sponsored).
Paris Day Trips – Why Take A Small Group Tour?
- While we have done a few large tours over the years, we generally like to explore on our own when we can. However, there are definitely good reasons to take tours. When you have limited time and want to squeeze a lot in…as this day, where we saw three chateaus in one day. That would have been close to impossible on our own. I talked about our Switzerland trip of last year and the day tour that we took into Alps in this post – Natural Beauty Of Switzerland.
- There is a knowledgeable guide/driver on these tours and the small group tours have limited spots. There were only eight of us and we were able to ask questions and receive personalized attention.
- You will be in a small van and not a huge tour bus. That makes it easier for getting in and seeing small streets and areas that buses can’t navigate.
- Less annoying people, lol! We have taken large and small tours and it’s simply less aggravating with fewer folks.
- From a practicality standpoint, small group tours seem to be more organized. We’ve taken those umbrella holding up tours before and it’s easy to miss people and have to wait for them to show up.
There are many chateaus or castles within a couple of hours drive from Paris. The Loire Valley Castles that we visited were about 2 hours in a comfortable air-conditioned van. These chateaus offer an alternative to Versailles, which while worth seeing at least once…is CROWDED. As in…overcrowded! We could have driven ourselves, but frankly my husband drives all day every day in his job as a general contractor and deserved a break. If you’d prefer to be on your own, you definitely could do one of these chateaus in a day.
Château de Chambord
The Château de Chambord is the largest chateau in the valley and is one of the most recognizable with it’s French Renaissance architecture. The chateau is grandiose, with 426 rooms, 83 staircases, 282 fireplaces and rivals Versailles with several “apartments” recreated authentically to visit. The gardens are formal and spectacular!
The Château de Chambord has a huge park on it’s grounds. It’s the largest enclosed park in Europe with dense woods to explore if time permits.
Next we stopped for lunch and a bit of shopping in the quaint town of Amboise. This little town itself is worth a Paris day trip, simply to enjoy! The weather was great on this day and we sat at an outside cafe and had pizza (and wine). This was a wine tasting tour, so after lunch we met up with our hostess and headed over to a local tasting room to sample wines made in the region. Side note: if you are thinking of this tour and don’t drink wine, that portion of the trip is not heavily emphasized. We did 2 quick visits for tastings.
Loire Valley Castles – Chateâu d’Amboise
This historical and luxurious chateau is deeply rooted in the history of France. It was a residence for French kings from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb is preserved at the chateau. If you’re interested in the history of this magnificent place, find more detailed information here.
Loire Valley Castles – Château de Chenonceau
Building of this chateau started in 1514 in the style of gothic renaissance architecture. Other than the royal palace of Versailles it’s the most visited chateau in France. Of the three that we visited on this day it was my favorite with not only magnificent architecture but impressive grounds and…beautiful flowers both inside and out. You can find much more information here and the history of the monarchs who lived here over time is fascinating. If you visit Paris this is a must see as a Paris day trip in my opinion!
If you’re interested in knowing more about our tour of the Loire Valley Castles, visit THIS LINK. As I mentioned in full disclosure, this is not sponsored in any way but I highly recommend it for a Paris day trip! I’m happy to answer any questions if you’d like to leave a comment below.
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