Feb 20th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Seniors Delight in the Val de Loire

The Loire Valley (Val de Loire) in France rates very high with me.  I have been to France close to three dozen times and Paris and Provence will always be my two top choices for a return trip, but the Loire Valley comes in a close third. Why the Loire Valley the senior citizen would ask? First you must see the river.  It is unlike the other four major rivers in France.  Leisurely flowing, it  starts in central France and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.  It is very wide, shallow and dangerous, with soft banks that cave in easily.

Following the course of the river, seniors will discover the Loire Châteaux: Renaissance homes, medieval fortresses, and architectural heritage listed by UNESCO. Kings, artists and authors all had the right idea. Seduced by the Loire, a great many of them decided to settle along the banks of this river.  The kings of France found the forests in this area to be their favorite for hunting.  There they decided to first build small hunting cottages that soon became larger ones and at last…castles, or chateaux as they are called.

While the Loire is the longest river in France, the Valley spans only 170 miles. It is referred to as the Cradle of the French Language, and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards, and vegetable fields which line the banks of the river. The valley includes historic towns such as Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Nantes, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours. Each has its historic chateau with its own fascinating history.

And wine.  The wines of the Loire Valley are famous just as they are in Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley and Alsace. The Loire Valley wine region includes the several French wine regions situated along the river from the Muscadet region on the Atlantic coast to the regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé just southeast of the city of Orléans in north central France. Loire wines tend to exhibit a characteristic fruitiness with fresh, crisp flavors. It is a dry dry white wine and well-known in France.  I still remember my visit to Vouvray and saw where they had stored over a million bottles underground.

Yes, 300 Châteaux for Senior Travelers to Visit!

The architectural heritage in the valley’s historic towns is notable, especially in its châteaux such as the Château d’Amboise, Château de Chambord, Château de Chinon, Château du Rivau, Château d’Ussé, Château de Villandry and Chenonceau. The châteaux, numbering more than three hundred, represent a nation of builders starting with the necessary castle fortifications in the 10th century to the splendor of those built half a millennium later. So it’s castle after castle after castle.  Do check out this list and remember, seniors, many people go just to visit the gardens. I do have my favorites, but I will not list them here.  My wife has her list as well with a little “feminine touch” of course.

The entire Val de Loire is listed as a World Heritage Site, which is highly unusual, however with so many historic and beautiful chateaux, marvelous forested environs, gardens, and of course the Loire River itself, it is well deserving.

Fodors will fill you in on all the places to explore, sights to see, hotels and great restaurants all along your way. Once you are in Paris it is an easy trip out to the region by train. This is a super little map that lets you search out accommodations, visits, special events and more. I love interactive maps as you know by now. TripAdvisor lists 84 things to do.

Biking is big here.  My dentist and his wife back in Iowa made a biking tour of the Val de Loire. They loved it. Great souvenir photos all over his office.  There are dozens of different organizations that you can contact to make a biking trip.  Go to GOOGLE or YAHOO and type in “biking the Loire Valley”. After your visit to the Loire Valley, you will know why I love this area so much.  jeb

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  1. […] this site to be well done and full of information for seniors to enjoy prior to a visit. If you are “into castles”, in Lazio you’ll find over 200 of enormous historical and artistic importance in a region […]

  2. […] tours to France, as a senior group leader, a lady in our group repeatedly asked me, ” is that chateau up there on the hill for sale?”  I always responded, “Je ne sais pas”… I […]

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