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.