Home to some of the most spectacular scenery in France, the Loire Valley is a region that offers visitors endless ways to explore its famous chateaux, vineyards and nature. Below is a sampling of some of the many ways by which travelers can explore the region, which are particularly ideal for experiencing the many events taking place around the 500th anniversary of the French Renaissance this summer.
La Loire à Vélo is a scenic bike route spanning 560 miles that winds through the picturesque Loire Valley, allowing travelers to explore the region's most incredible chateaux, villages, vineyards and landscapes on two wheels. The full route takes travelers all the way from Cuffy (near Nevers) to the Atlantic coast, where they can pit stop for a glass of Sancerre, a visit to the Chateau de Chambord, a tour of the royal city of Blois, and so many more iconic sites and cities along the Loire, including Chaumont-sur-Loire, Amboise, Tours and Chinon. Through the 'Accueil Vélo' brand, visitors have access to accommodations, recommended tourist sites, local tourism offices, bike repair services and more within just three miles of the main route. Travelers looking for a shorter ride through the Loire Chateaux can look to Indre à Vélo, a 124-mile bike route that connects the Berry province with the town of Azay-le-Rideau, including serene trails along the Indre River, and past such historic sites as the medieval Fortress of Montbazon, the Chateau de Chenonceau, and Chédigny, the only village-garden in France on an alternative trail. Travelers can stop in the royal city of Loches to see a special exhibit dedicated to the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza "il Moro," who sponsored da Vinci's The Last Supper, which can be viewed until September 15, 2019.
With the Loire River listed as an official UNESCO World Heritage site, one way to access the best of the region is by boat, exploring its countless wild islands, and natural flora and fauna. Destination H20 organizes a two-day Canoe and Bivouac camping trip along the Loire River, guiding guests to learn the ins and outs of canoe camping. In summer 2019, Destination H20 will unveil a brand-new camp for groups, offering a number of activities, a canoeing school, Nordic-style tents and an outdoor coffee shop and a canoeing school available for individual bookings. Canoe Company offers a "Apero' sous le Chato'" outing including a picnic and aperitifs, floating along the river overlooking the Chateau de Chenonceau. Millière Raboton sails traditional row boats through the islands of the Loire from Chaumont-sur-Loire or Amboise all the way to Chinon; this summer, they are offering a three-hour "Des Vins et Des Voiles" sailing trip which includes sampling local wines and specialties from the Loire Valley.
The scenic Loire footpath, also known as the GR3®, covers over 800 miles of paths through the countryside, stretching from Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in La Baule. As the very first Grande Randonnée (long distance) footpath created in France, travelers can meander through the Loire from its source, weaving through the region's iconic cities, chateaux, vineyards, troglodyte caves and much more. There are a few variations of the route, including "de vignoble en vignoble" (from vineyard to vineyard), "sur le Chemin des Mariniers de la Loire" (on the Path of the Loire bargemen) and "le sentier de la forêt d'Orléans" (the Forest of Orléans path). Find more details here: https://www.loirevalley-france.co.uk/outings/other-trips-and-excursions/gr3-legendary-itinerary.
Travelers can bike, boat and walk through the Loire Valley region this year to experience the many events happening in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the French Renaissance, including the following highlights:
- International Garden Festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire
April 25 - November 3, 2019 - Regional Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire
Since 1992, International Garden Festival has been a destination for contemporary creation and landscape design around the world, acting as a breeding ground for talent. The festival revitalizes garden art by presenting new flowers, materials, ideas and innovative approaches. Find more details here: https://www.vivadavinci2019.fr/en/evenements/international-garden-festival-of-chaumont-sur-loire/.
- Commemoration of Leonardo da Vinci's death in Amboise and exhibition on The Death of Leonardo da Vinci: the Construction of a Myth
May 2 - September 2, 2019 - Royal Castle of Amboise
To commemorate 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci on May 2, 1519, a newly designed bust of the artist will be unveiled and a new exhibit dedicated to da Vinci, called The Death of Leonardo da Vinci: the Construction of a Myth, will open at the Royal Chateau of Amboise.
- Renaissance Ball
April 1 - November 3, 2019 - Château of Rivau
To celebrate Leonardo da Vinci on the 500th anniversary of his death, Le Rivau is hosting three events: a contemporary art exhibit, a conference, and a renaissance-style ball on May 18th.
For more details about the events commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the French Renaissance in the Loire Valley, visit: https://www.vivadavinci2019.fr/en/