A trip to the Loire is not complete without visiting at least one of its beautiful chateau; here's a list of Gill's favourites with travelling times from La Roultiere.
VILLANDRY; 40mins. Famed for its gardens that will leave you lost for words, this has to be "the must do" chateau of your holiday. A wander around the rooms inside too (for which you dont need to join a guided tour) will enchant children and adults.
LANGEAIS; 30mins: Beautifully restored with authentic furniture from the 16th Century, this chateau dominates the lovely town of Langeais. With activities to help children get the most out of their visit, and a garden to play in, this is a great family excursion.
BREZE; 50mins: Underneath this chateau lies a labyrinth of tunnels and caves to explore, and test your imagination. A must for children, and in the old stables are wine tasting opportunities (for the adults of course)
CHENOUCEAUX; 1hr 15mins: this has to be the chateau of fairytails, as it spans the River Cher in perfect proprtions. Its history includes the passing of prisoners between Nazi occupied and Vichy France across the bridge. Wonderful grounds to walk in and explore, and its possible to hire a rowing boat and paddle under the chateau.
USSE, 50mins; the chateau that inspired the legend of Sleeping Beauty. Climb the turrets and see the waxwork models depicting the story.
With its temperate climate and aluvial soil, The Loire's Gardens are abundant and uplifting places to spend an afternoon. Of course the great Chateaux have ornate gardens but there is much more to experience than these:
TERRA BOTANICA — a new attraction and horticultural park, fun and informative near Angers. 4-D cinemas, boat rides and resturants (Loire's version of the EDEN PROJECT)
DOUE LA FOUNTAINE — Les Chemins de la Rose is a beautiful rose garden with over 500 varieties grown here, landscaped and gardened in an inspiring way. June and July and the best times to visit.
CHATONNIERE — The twelve distinct gardens in the ground of this unassuming chateau are just heavenly and created by the vision of one man. Picnic on the lawn in front of the grand house under beautiful chestnut trees.
CHAUMONT SUR LOIRE — Each year the gardens host a festival of garden design based on a theme. Like at Chelsea Flower Show, designers create individual garden masterpieces, but unlike Chelsea, they are there for the entire season.
CHATEAU RIVEAU — A feast of the senses; lawns, long borders, contempory design, childrens activities, woodland. To me, this is perfection.