Road trip: explore the Loire Valley; Gaye Lamouroux; Complete France

France – The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes

Explore France’s Loire Valley and its famous châteaux by car with this three-day road trip itinerary from Saumur to Amboise

The Loire valley, known as the Garden of France, was of immense strategic importance during the Middle Ages, but the feudal fortresses of warring lords were replaced by charming castles during the Renaissance, when kings came here to escape hot summers in the city. Most of the valley is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, which can be enjoyed over a few days travelling from Saumur to Chambord.

Day one: Saumur to Fontevraud

Prepare to fall in love at first sight with Saumur, topped by its 14th-century castle hewn from limestone. This charming town on the left bank of the River Loire is home to wine cellars, gourmet restaurants and food specialities such as fouace. This bun, stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings, is available at Joseph (Boulevard du Maréchal Juin), a bakery on the outskirts of town which also stocks oven-baked bread.

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