Loire Valley Villas & Chateaux

A UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety, the captivating Loire Valley is equal parts scenic, historic and artistic. From the chateaux, undulating countryside, sophisticated cities and impressive wine-making abilities… this French region is ideal for those looking for a glamourous getaway. 

Our France destination experts know Loire Valley well, and have made sure that our collection of chateaux, villas and manor houses are in the best places. Plus, almost all our Loire Valley collection are ideal for kids and teens, meaning there’s plenty to suit the whole family. With outdoor activities in close proximity – fishing, wine-tasting, walking/hiking paths, and golf, you’ll have so much to do on your Loire Valley holiday.

Why visit?

  • The villages in the Loire Valley often hold daily markets, so if you want to soak up the vibrancy of a traditional French market town, this is the place to do it.   
  • The Loire River offers breath-taking scenic views (great for boat trips) and is abundant with wildlife.
  • Loire Valley is also known asThe Garden of France’ so if you’re a garden-lover you can’t pass up the opportunity to check out the various botanical gardens. 

Read the Loire Valley Travel Guide


Why stay with us?

Style and character are everything at Oliver’s Travels, and our collection of handpicked villas in the Loire Valley have this in spades.

We have destination experts who know the ins and outs of all our regions, picking villas that aren’t only unique, but also in the best locations. What's more, our villas are 100% family-friendly, and have the ‘wow’ factor.

Our helpful concierge team are on-hand to make your stay extra special. Whether you want a fully-stocked fridge, a local in-house chef to cook your meals, housekeeping or any other extra service – consider them your holiday genie, who will happily grant your wishes.

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Luxury Villas in the Loire Valley: Our Top Picks

Why visit

France's opulent royal past is folded within the rolling landscapes of the Loire Valley. It is etched into the old stones of its ancient towns, wrapped within the turrets of its grand chateaux and written into the guest books of its lavish palaces.

In the 15th century, France’s rulers flocked to the picturesque region to build feudal castles, later transformed into pleasure palaces by nobility – and the so-called Valley of the Kings was born. Loire Valley has charming cities and towns, from the emerging cultural hub of Nantes in the west to the northernmost Orléans, where regeneration is breathing new life into the riverside quays.

Such is the beauty of the castle-studded landscape and medieval towns that a 300km-long stretch of the valley has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For a memorable experience, rent a chateau to stay in the Loire Valley – perfect for groups of friends or families. 

Food and drink 

While the Loire Valley chateau are its main calling card, the region is also a fine gastronomy and wine destination. It isn’t known as the garden of France” for no reason: Anjou’s orchards are responsible for plums and pears; Sancerre’s vineyards for its crisp Sauvignon blancs; Touraine for its local chèvre fermier (farm-produced goats’ cheese). Fresh fish is served in the classic Loire beurre blanc sauce, while game from Sologne is often accompanied with a mushroom sauce made using champignons de Paris

With a diverse range of Loire Valley holiday villas on offer and chateaux, you can enjoy the region in a totally authentic manner.

If you want more information, check the Loire Valley Travel Guide in our blog. 

What Oliver loves

The fairy-tale Loire Valley chateau and palaces scattered across the countryside. 

bridge across the Maine in Angers,

Best time to go

  • While spring or autumn is ideal for warm weather, minus the summer crowds, you may want to time your visit with one of the Loire’s festivals. 
  • Chaumont-sur-Loire hosts a world-class garden festival between mid-April and October, while oenophiles should visit in early September for Vignes Vins et Randos, which includes guided vineyard walks from Nantes to Blois.
  • Summer is the best time to see son-et-lumière shows light up the chateaux grounds, and to enjoy Tours’ riverside festival of music, theatre and dance performances (until 22 September). July sees horsemanship come under the spotlight when the Carousel equestrian show hits Saumur. 

Top facts

  • Tipping is around 10% for decent restaurant service; round up to nearest euro for drinks. 
  • While 100-plus Loire Valley chateaux are open to the public, it’s best to focus on a few. Check out this website to plan your itinerary.  
  • SNCF offers an assistance service for rail travellers with disabilities, including the option to arrange a wheelchair (“fauteuil roulant”) or help at stations.

Family friendly

A place of romantic chateaux and fine dining, the Loire Valley isn’t exactly the first destination to spring to mind for families. However, the magical castles never fail to pique the interest of teens, with many offering immersive experiences and themed tours to hold the attention of younger kids.

The troglodyte cave dwellings around Saumur will fascinate all ages, while active pursuits like biking, boat trips, kayaking and water-sports will appeal to adventure-seekers. For a special occasion, perhaps combine the Loire with a trip to Disneyland Paris, two hours away by car. 

We recommend hiring a car for ease and flexibility getting around the region.

Best Loire Valley chateaux for kids

    • Spanning the Cher river, Chateau de Chenonceau is a fantasy wonderland for make-believe “royals”. 
    • Leonardo da Vinci’s final residence, Le Chateau du Clos Lucé is now a museum showcasing 40-plus of his creations, some in the gardens alongside a play area. 
    • Disney fans shouldn’t miss Le Chateau d’Ussé, thought to be the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty.  
    • Villandry's intricate maze is always a winner with kids, plus there’s a great play area.
    • Chateau de Chambord not only loans families an interactive tablet preloaded with a child-friendly tour, but boat, bike or horse-drawn carriage tours are also available in the grounds.  
    Château de Chenonceau

    Why it's perfect for families

    • For babies: Most centres rent bikes with child carriers, so you can explore the region easily with tots. Check out our baby-friendly villas.
    • For teens:  Adventure galore: Take a river cruise to spot Disneyesque castles; cycle the Loire à Vélo cycle path to Mauves Balnéaire; snorkel around Île d’Yeu; or try stand-up paddleboarding near Chateau de Craon. For bonus parent points, opt for one of the Loire Valley villas with a pool. Discover our list of teen-friendly villas.

    Top Tips

    • Canoe beneath the beautiful arches of Chenonceau as part of a fun tour. 
    • Immerse children in the world of illusion at Maison de la Magie in Blois.
    • Explore the ancient troglodyte dwellings of Rochemenier.
    • Visit Papéa Parc, a theme park with a pedalo-dotted lake, resident peacocks and adrenaline-rushing rides. 
    • Opt for one of the self-catering villas in Loire Valley for the option to cook at home – perfect for fussy eaters.

    Things to do

    A visit to the Loire Valley is all about following in the footsteps of French royalty and noble aristocracy. It's a place to soak up the beauty of the landscape: rivers and lakes mirror the sumptuous Loire Valley chateaux, and ancient towns are tucked into the folds of rolling hills.

    While discovering these architectural and creative masterpieces top the wishlists of most visitors, there’s more to the Loire than its rich past. Today, the castles are magical settings for summer son-et-lumière shows and the ornate gardens play host to festivals and events.

    You can even live like royalty at chateaux accommodation in the Loire Valley. Sleep like a king then spend leisurely days cycling along riverside bike trails, ducking into lush forests and wending along picturesque riverbanks; discovering troglodyte cave dwellings carved into cliff faces; and indulging in a wine-tasting session to sample the fruits of the land. 

    Best activities in Loire Valley:

    • From the Renaissance masterpiece of Chambord to the handsome Chateau de Blois, boasting France’s largest Gothic hall, and imposing Chateau d’Amboise, home to a succession of French monarchs including Charles VIII and Louis XI – the ever-more elaborate royal residences are an extravagant example of architectural one-upmanship. 
    • Many of the castle’s ornate grounds are just as staggering as the edifices themselves. Standouts include the gardens at Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau and Chaumont-sur-Loire; in the summer visit after dark for the iconic son-et-lumière (sound and light) shows. 
    • Explore the picturesque waterways and castles by bike. The 800km-long Loire à Vélo cycling trail runs from Nevers to the Loire estuary, while Les Chateaux à Vélo meanders a further 300km through forests around Blois, Chaumont and Chambord.
    • Near the handsome town of Saumur, the limestone cliffs are honeycombed with troglodyte caves, which have been carved out of the rock faces. You can explore the ancient dwellings at Rochemenier.
    • Loire Valley is responsible for some of France’s finest wines. Visit Sancerre, Pouilly-sur-Loire or Vouvray to try their crisp whites, or head to Chinon or Bourgueil for their underrated red wines. Fizz fans should hotfoot it to Saumur or Vouvray, both of which produce excellent sparkling varieties.
    • Take a scenic river cruise on a toue, a traditional flat-bottomed wooden boat once used to cart goods up and down the Loire, spotting stunning castles along the way. 

    Oliver's Hidden Gem

    While most people hotfoot it to Chateau de Chenonceau, with its creamy towers and river-straddling arches, the lesser-visited Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau oozes 16th-century romance and the moat-ringed mansion is just as enchanting today. 

    Chateau d’Amboise

    Towns and villages

    The Loire Valley can't fail to stoke the imagination with its spectacular landscapes and dreamy chateaux. Besides these obvious charms, the 1,000km-long Loire winds its way past a smattering of lively towns and cities, each with its own appeal.

    A popular base with good transport links, the ancient cathedral city of Tours is wedged between the Loire and Cher rivers, and has an enticing mix of museums, restaurants and bars. Twenty kilometres upstream, Amboise greets visitors with a mix of beautiful scenery, fine gastronomy and rich history.

    The westernmost city of the Loire, Nantes is the gateway to the Atlantic coast and has a medieval old quarter and emerging cultural scene on its lively quays. In between the two, Angers is a vibrant town where old and new collide.

    Orléans, the northernmost city on the Loire, is a rich cultural hub, while the nearby hilltop town of Sancerre is famed for the crisp white wine cultivated in surrounding vineyards.

    Oliver’s Hidden Gem

    Hugging the River Indre, the under-the-radar town of Loches is home to a magnificent medieval citadelle. Climb to the top of the imposing keep or explore the dungeons and cells.

    Nantes, Loire Valley

    A wave of regeneration has transformed Nantes into a vibrant metropolis. Most recently the Machines de l’Île has attracted attention: an art and cultural project based around a huge mechanical elephant on the city's river island docks. Be sure to spend time in the older medieval city, though, to see its cathedral and chateau, and try a glass of local Muscadet.

    Orléans, Loire Valley

    The spirit of medieval heroine, Joan of Arc, lives on in Orléans’ old quarter and imposing neo-Gothic Sainte-Croix cathedral. Regeneration is transforming the riverside quays into a cultural hub, paving the way for a rich artistic and creative scene. We recommend signing up for La Balade Magique, a fascinating evening tour delving into the hidden corners of Orléans. 

    Tour, Loire Valley

    The ancient city of Tours straddles a narrow spit of land between the rivers Loire and Cher. A pair of old quarters unfurl from either side of the town’s major shopping artery, with historic buildings like the Cathédrale St-Gatien sitting alongside museums and restaurants. A good base for the chateaux, with transport links to Villandry, Langeais, Azay-le-Rideau and Amboise.

    Sancerre, Loire Valley

    Oenophiles should visit the hilltop town of Sancerre to taste its world-class dry white wines. Start with an overview of local wine production at Maison des Sancerre, home to interactive and multimedia exhibits; then get stuck in with wine tours at Henri Bourgeois and cheese tastings at Dubois-Boulay. For reds, Touraine produces a fine selection from the Cabernet Franc grape.

    Amboise, Loire Valley

    While its chateau is Amboise’s main calling card, the former residence of Leonardo da Vinci is also a big draw for its 50-plus display of his designs, which spill out into the gardens. The grounds also host the annual European Festival of Renaissance Music in September. More than just a museum piece, Amboise is also a gastronomic destination with excellent restaurants. 

    Angers, Loire Valley

    Angers is an enchanting blend of history and modernity, with its hilltop medieval castle looming over a cluster of lively bars and restaurants. History fans should check out the 14th-century Apocalypse tapestry at Chateau d’Angers, a grand masterpiece depicting the Book of Revelations, and gawp at the incredible mix of Roman and Gothic architectural styles of Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d’Angers.  

    Getting Around

    Flights

    The gateways to the Loire Valley are Nantes and Tours, which both have international airports served by airlines from various UK airports. CityJet, easyJet and Flybe fly direct to Nantes from London City, Gatwick, Liverpool, Manchester or Southampton, while Ryanair runs between Tours and Manchester or Stansted. 

    Ferry

    Alternatively, Brittany Ferries and DFDS Seaways connect Portsmouth, Plymouth or Dover with Brittany, Normandy or Calais. You can also take a high-speed train with Rail Europe from London to Tours, Angers and Nantes (via Paris), with local services connecting to Orléans, Saumur and Chinon. From Tours, trains connect the main cities and buses run to the major chateaux, although we recommend hiring a car for ease and flexibility. 


    Car rental

    The easiest way to visit as many of the Loire Valley chateaux as you can, within the shortest timeframe possible, is to hire a car. Note that parking at the main attractions may incur a small charge. 


    Trains

    Rail Europe has high-speed trains from London St Pancras via Paris to Tours, Angers and Nantes, with local rail network TER SNCF servicing towns in the area, including Orléans, Saumur and Chinon. 

    The Loire Valley is well connected by a rail network: the Interloire line runs between Orléans and Nantes (continuing onto Le Croisic), stopping at Beaugency, Blois, Amboise, Tours, Saumur, Angers and Ancenis. 

    From mid-June to mid-September, the Train Vélo Loire system allows passengers to board Interloire trains with a bike. 


    Buses

    Touraine Fil Vert regional buses connect several smaller Loire Valley towns, including Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceaux, Chinon, Langeais, Noizay, Villandry and Vouvray. 

    Buses connect Tours and Nantes to the major chateaux, but hiring a car can be more practical. 


    Bicycles

    The Loire à Vélo cycling route is an easy and enjoyable way to explore the Loire Valley, with 800km of well-marked trails. Don’t be misled by the name of the region; the ‘valley’ is in fact very flat. Pick up a free guide from tourist offices, or download material (including route maps and bike-hire details) from the website.

    Bike-rental shops can be found in most towns, usually at train stations and hotels, and sometimes even in restaurants. Daily rates are about €13 to €15, but they go down the longer you hire the bike.

    Top tips

    • If you want to cycle the Loire Valley, Détours de Loire allows you to hire a bike in one town and drop it off in another for a nominal fee.

    • Anticipate spending around one to two hours in each chateau, although factor in more time for exploring the gardens (especially at Villandry, Cheverny and Chaumont).
    • If you plan to visit more than two chateaux during your trip, it may be worth buying a Pass Chateaux to keep costs down. 
    • Try to visit early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. 

    City tram with a rainbow flag emblem of LGBT in Anges, France

    From the blog...