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Take your pick from: 6 "véloroutes" and 10 networks looping through the Loire Valley, Touraine, Sologne, Perche and Berry ...

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The Loire Valley

The Loire Valley

The Loire Valley, where the Kings of France once lived and the French way of life took its first steps, strikes a perfect balance between nature and culture, tradition and modernity.

Listed as a World Heritage of Humanity by Unesco in 2000, the Loire Valley is home to astonishing landscapes, endlessly changing with the river's ebbs and flows, breathtaking panoramas and memorable encounters with the riverfolk.

Countless painters and writers have found inspiration in the captivating light that often bathes the River Loire, which is forever reshaping its bed – sometimes revealing lush green islands, and at others sand banks.

Follow the meanders of the royal river and visit each of the Loire châteaux, mediaeval fortresses and abbeys erected here and there in turn.

Soak up their royal histories, from Château de Sully-sur-Loire, which once accommodated the minister of King Henry IV, all the way to the fortress at Chinon, stopping off at the châteaux at Blois, Amboise, Chenonceau, Langeais or Villandry for example along the way.

The Loire Valley also displays a mosaic of charming towns and villages, including old bargees' villages now listed among "the most beautiful villages in France", as well as mediaeval towns lined with half-timbered houses.

For an outing that combines nature and culture, head out for a romantic stroll, a family day or fun with friends to one of a dozen or so mediaeval or Renaissance-style gardens, and feast your eyes and senses on their delectable vegetables and fragrant flowers.

Make sure you save time for a table feast too and treat yourself to some of the Loire Valley's local specialities. Just like the characters in Rabelais' novels, indulge in pork rillons and rillettes, fouace bread rolls, Loire pike-perch, goat's cheese, including the famous Sainte-Maure de Touraine, or poires tapées for a sweet pear dessert. Wash them all down with a good bottle of Chinon, St Nicolas de Bourgueil, Touraine, Vouvray ... take your pick!

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