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The Perfect Loire Valley Itinerary | Loire Valley Highlights Tour from Paris

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Paris is absolutely magical. Even if you aren’t a big city person, you will probably fall in love with the charming streets and cafes of Paris. But if you’ve got time, why not see more of France? This lovely country boasts several eclectic regions to visit, many just a short drive or train ride away! On our most recent trip to Paris, we wanted to get away for a day and see the highlights of the Loire Valley. Needless to say, this Loire Valley itinerary was amazing.

I love France so much. I lived there for 5 months during my semester abroad in Grenoble and had my first visit to Paris in January. Then, I visited Paris again in May. But to visit Paris again in July with my love made it even more enchanting. And the only thing that can possibly be more enchanting than discovering the hidden gems in Paris would be to get out of the city and venture to the Loire Valley for a day of fairytale castles and wine!

Pro-Tip: For our trip to the Loire Valley, we didn’t want to worry about directions, driving after wine tasting, etc. So after searching for a great tour, I found this castles and wine tour from Get Your Guide that we decided to go on and it was amazing. It included food, transportation, wine tastings, and a super sweet and informative guide and seriously made our trip much more enjoyable than inevitably getting lost trying to find the best castles.

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The Perfect Loire Valley Itinerary: Getting from Paris to the Loire Valley

There are a few ways to travel from Paris to the Loire Valley, including renting a car and driving yourself or taking the train (and then having to find a way to the castles). However, as we said above, we loved the tour we took instead of driving!

And let me say, it was 100% worth it!

But the day was an early one. You meet out front of the Catacombs at 7:15 am, check-in for the tour, and off on the shuttle you go at 7:30 am to 3 of the best castles to visit in the Loire Valley!

It is a little over 2 hours to get to the Loire Valley from Paris, but the bus stops about halfway and allows for a much-needed coffee and restroom break.

Then, it is on to the first castle of the Loire Valley tour: Chateau de Chambord!

Chateau de Chambord Suggested Itinerary for the Loire Valley

Visiting the Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord is one of the Loire Valley’s most famous castles, and if you look closely it may appear familiar to you. It was the castle that inspired Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!

Originally constructed (but not completed) by King Francois I, it was designed to be a hunting lodge. And, being the largest chateau in the Loire Valley, turned out to be quite the spot for a casual hunting party!

Once you visit, you’ll notice how surprisingly empty the place feels. There is little furniture, only a few tapestries, etc. This is due to the French Revolution, where the Revolutionary government sold many furnishings and used wood paneling for timber, among other things.

Kat twirling in the halls of Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley, France

Stairwell at Chateau de Chambord

Inside of Chateau de Chambord

Gardens at Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley, France

The castle has seen a lot over the years, including being used as a place to store precious French art during WW2.

But as you wander around, you’ll admire the grand spiral staircase, dance around castle corridors, and maybe gaze out over the dazzling gardens from the balcony. It was such a great start to our day of exploring the Loire Valley. We spent about an hour or so here before taking the coach to the next spot.

Kat and Chris in the Loire Valley in France- Suggested Itinerary for the Loire Valley

Photo by our friend Alice Quinones.

Kat climbing the stairs at Chateau de Nitray Loire Valley Itinerary

Visiting Chateau de Nitray

Chateau de Nitray was the only privately-owned chateau that we visited during our time in the Loire Valley, but it was easily our favorite. We thoroughly enjoyed the grounds, and it was also one of the places to have wine tastings in the Loire Valley.

We arrived at this smaller castle before the rest of the group (there was a bus joining us for lunch here). So we wandered around the gardens, saw some adorable horses, and even had time to take photos around the gorgeous architecture.

We also learned a little bit of history from our guide: it was built in the 16th century to replace an older castle that belonged to Knight William du Plessis in the 13th century. It has since been passed to many families, and now the current family.

French country lunch at Chateau de Nitray

During our time at this castle, we had a catered, traditional French countryside lunch consisting of deliciously roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, roasted tomatoes, salad, and amazing cheese. As we were waiting for the feast, we were guided through a wine tasting of Sauvignon Blanc, Coux, Cabernet Franc, and Chenin Blanc as well as had plenty of red wine to enjoy with our meal.

After lunch was a tasty pie served with a lovely Brut sparkling wine that we were able to take around the grounds during the tour of the estate.

Maybe it was the wine and full belly, but it was such a fun, cozy experience!

Luckily the last castle was only about 20 minutes from here; otherwise, we’d have all been napping!

Cheateau de Chenonceau over River Cher

Visiting Chateau de Chenonceau

This is probably the best chateaux in the Loire Valley. Based right over the Cher River, this place is incredibly dreamy. It is also known as the “lady castle” as it was under the ownership of many famous women in their day, including Catherine de’ Medici and Diane de Poitiers.

Built-in the 12th and 13th centuries, this castle has seen a lot of history. The most significant, however, was when King Henry II gave it to Diane de Poitiers, a surprise to many, including his Queen Catherine de’ Medici. It was Diane de Poitiers who commissioned the bridge over the river.

Kat and Alice sitting out front of Chateau de Chenonceau

Kat running through gardens at Chateau de Chenonceau

Then, after Henry II passed, Catherine de’Medici, took the castle from Diane de Poitiers and made it her residence, adding immense and intricate gardens to the estate.

While the castle passed to many since that time, several other women came into ownership of this chateau, and it even served as a military hospital during WW1 and was bombed in WW2.

This place is absolutely stunning, though. We had the option of having a wine tasting while we were there, but we opted to spend what little time we had exploring the grounds and frolicking through the gardens!

Wander into the castle over the river, admire the architecture, and definitely walk in the gardens. It’ll have you feeling like you’re back in time!

Chateau de Chambord with gardens

Getting Back to Paris from the Loire Valley

After visiting these 3 lovely Loire Valley castles and having a wine tasting (or two), it is about a 3-hour ride back to Paris.

Luckily, with a comfortable seat in the coach, we passed out for most of it, waking up just as we started passing the buildings of Paris.

Chateau de Chambord guest houses

Details of Visiting the Castles in the Loire Valley

This was a fabulous day trip from Paris! We had many options, including the Palace of Versailles, Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, Mont St Michelle, or even to the Champagne or Burgundy wine regions.

While we toiled for a month or two on which day trip to pick, we’re so glad that we ended up choosing the Loire Valley. It seriously is one of the best day trips from Paris! It had everything we wanted: castles, wine, and delicious food. What more could you ask?

Here are a few details to note from the Loire Valley highlights tour:

Cost for Your Loire Valley Itinerary: 

It is important to note that this was NOT a sponsored post for us. We paid the $180.75 per person (Chris, our friend Alice, and I went on this tour). Yes, it is pricey, but it does include a tour guide, entrance fees to all the chateaus, lunch and wine at the Chateau de Nitray and wine at Chateau de Chenonceau, and transportation from Paris to the Loire Valley and back.

I seriously thought about renting a car originally and doing this ourselves, but with the cost and hassle of doing it on our own, we just decided to do the tour instead, and I’m so glad we did. Not only could we enjoy the wine without worrying about driving, but we also got more background on the castles from our guide!

Kat overlooking Chateau de Chambord

Length of Time:

This is one of the longer day trips from Paris. It was about 12.5 hours long, departing at 7:30 am and we arrived back at 8 pm.

What to bring for Your Loire Valley Itinerary:

I wore comfortable sandals and my maxi dress to take fun photos around the castles in! Chris wore shorts and a nice t-shirt. Definitely, don’t forget to take your camera! Also, bring a little euro to tip the guides and driver too!

For more tips on what to wear in Paris, check out this post!  

We absolutely fell in love with the Loire Valley during our day exploring these fabulous castles. This was the most romantic day trip to take from the city. You could easily spend several days here, exploring the 300+ chateaus. But if you only have one day to take a day trip from Paris, we definitely recommend visiting the Loire Valley!

Here is our exact tour that we took to book it for yourself!

Want to read more about wine destinations around the world? Check these posts out!

What do you think of this Loire Valley itinerary? Would you visit the chateaus of the Loire Valley? Let us know in the comments!

Read next: April Honeymoon Destinations and Best European Honeymoon Destinations

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Suggested Itinerary for the Loire Valley day trip from Paris

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