WHAT TO SEE IN THE LOIRE VALLEY

In the very heart of France, the Loire Valley marvelously combines fantastic architecture and natural heritage. The region is unspoiled and exceptional with its rich historic past. Formerly very popular with the French Royalty, Val de Loire is renowned for sumptuous castles and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Loire Castles, all compete with each other for their beauty and their elegance. Magnificent parks and gardens, and also unspoiled nature, offering a series of rivers, forests and lakes makes this region de Garden of France.

Heading from east to west, the most popular and visited chateaux in the region include:
- South-west of Orleans, the Chateau de Blois, the Chateau de Chambord, and Chateau de Cheverny, with Chateau de Valençay a little to the south of this group
- Continuing from Blois towards Tours are Chateau de Chenonceau and Chateau d`Amboise
- To the west of Tours are Chateau de Villandry (and the renowned gardens also at Villandry), the Chateau d`Azay-le-Rideau, with Chateau du Lude a little to the north-west.
- Close to the western border of the centre region, are Chateau Chinon and Chateau du Rivau

There are also several classified `Most Beautiful villages of France'`dotted around the Loire countryside to discover and explore.

These include Lavardin; Candes-Saint-Martin (6 miles SE of Saumur); Apremont-sur-Allier (9 miles SW of Nevers); Montresor (12 miles E of Loches); St-Benoit-du-Sault (12 miles SW of Argenton-sur-Creuse); Gargilesse-Dampierre (6 miles SE of Argenton-sur-Creuse) and Crissay-sur-Manse (18 miles SW of Tours)