France’s Loire River valley is known for its stunning scenery and historic chateaux. French Kings and Nobles came to the Loire Valley to hunt and relax and they left an indominable mark on the region.
Often when we think of the Loire Valley, we think of the Grande Damme chateaux that made it famous (Azay le Rideau, Chenonceau, Chambord, Villandry, etc.). However, the hidden gems are worthwhile to seek out. The trip I’m about to share is off the beaten path.
DAY 1: NANTES – CLISSON
From Paris, arrive in Nantes via TGV and transfer from the train station to Clisson, in the heart of Nantes vineyards. (driving distance: approx. 25 miles – 3o minutes)
Check-in at Hotel in Clisson: Hotel Villa Saint Antoine Best Western – 3* In this very small town this is the best option available – hotel has been recently renovated. It is a 3* hotel so rooms are basic but nice – some rooms have nice views of the medieval Castle.
Guided walking tour of Clisson (1 hour)
Clisson is a medieval town with Italian influence: spend time visiting and castle and strolling along its romantic little streets.
Dinner at the restaurant “De la Vallée” in Clisson (Walking distance from hotel)
Overnight at hotel
Day 2: cLisson –nantes vineyards – MONTSOREAU – fontevraud
Morning departure for visit and wine tasting at Château de la Cassemichère – We are in the heart of Nantes vineyards where the Muscadet white wine is produced. The owner and winemaker personally welcomes visitors; however, he only speaks French so an English-speaking guide/ assistant is always needed. For this reason, this venue is perhaps more suitable for groups and less for individual travelers.
Lunch in a local restaurant: “Auberge de la Gaillotière”
This inn is in a former wine cellar among the vines. It offers delicious, authentic cuisine.
Transfer to Montsoreau (driving distance: approx. 75 miles – 2 hours)
Winetasting on the Loire river on board of a «Toue Cabanée» (a traditional Loire cabin boat).
The cruise is relaxing, it lasts a couple of hours and it is combined with wine tasting. Boat captain (and owner of a wine domain in the area – you will taste his wines of course!) speaks basic English so again some kind of English-speaking guide or assistant is needed.
Transfer to Fontevraud Abbey (driving distance: approx. 2 miles – 10 minutes)
Guided visit of Fontevraud Abbey (1 hour)
The Abbey was founded in 1101 by Robert d’Arbrissel, an itinerant preacher, campaigner for the poor and reformer. It was designed as a “unique foundation”. It is different from other religious establishments since it was led by abbesses throughout its history (36 in succession).
Check-in at Hotel Abbey of Fontevraud -4*
This is a special venue as the hotel is in the abbey complex (specifically inside the Saint-Lazare priory, formerly one of the four abbey monasteries). There is a perfect balance between the great history and heritage of the place and the sleek, modern, minimalist design of the hotel. Guests staying here will also be able to admire and visit the Fontevraud Abbey at night (closed to external visitors at night).
Dinner and overnight at Hotel
DAY 3: fontevraud – saumur – brissac – angers
Morning departure for visit and wine tasting at Gratien-Meyer wine cellars near Saumur
In the Loire Valley, in the heart of the Saumur region, you’ll find several producers from fine Brut de Loire wines, which are stored in the famous tuffeau (Tuffa) cellars. The visit is fun and very easy to follow even for those that are not wine experts.
Drive along the wine route by vintage cars by Retro Emotion
This was probably one of the highlights of the trip: driving a vintage car is a great way to explore and enjoy the scenery and the beauty of Loire Valley. The vintage cars can be either hired with a private driver or for a self-driving trip. The trips will be following a route which will be designed together with clients and considering their interests and schedule.
Lunch in a local restaurant: “La Table de la Bergerie”
The restaurant is in the middle of the vineyards. The refined cuisine is based on local produces and served with home-made wines, including grand cru Quart de Chaume. The chef, David Guitton, trained with Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon, before he met and married the winemaker’s daughter.
Proceed with the visit of the Chateau de Brissac
Standing higher than all other royal châteaux, Brissac deserves its nickname of “Giant of the Loire valley”. Acquired in 1502 by René de Cossé, the first Count of Brissac, today it is the residence of the 13th duke. Visitors can also admire the castle’s spectacular decorations and the breathtaking Belle Époque operatic theatre is something not to be missed!
Continue to Domaine du Closel for visit and wine tasting
This family property is one of the main estates of the AOC Savennieres Grand Cru of the Loire Valley and renowed for the quality of their wines. There are many options available to visitors: from a guided tour of the grounds and the vines to a wine tasting workshop followed by lunch or picnic in the chateau gardens.
Transfer to Angers and quick guided tour of Angers city center (1 hour)
Stroll in the city center, including the old city and the main square (Place du Ralliement). No visit to Angers is complete without a visit to the Castle and the Apocalypse Tapestry.
Check-in in Angers: Hotel d’Anjou 4*
This property is ideally situated in the city center. It challenges the stereotype of a chain hotel from the moment you enter this elegant upgraded 19th century building.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel