Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
The Loire Valley in Central France is a fantastic area to explore by car. Spanning some 270 kilometers that follow the Loire River, this beautiful region boasts stunning landscapes of vineyards, forests, and castles.
This 5-day Loire Valley road trip itinerary from Orléans to Chinon will take you through some of the main sights this region has to offer. It will allow you a few days to unwind and enjoy good food, wine, and a slower pace of life. Read on for the description of this Loire Valley itinerary which comes with a Loire Valley map with all the stops and suggestions on where to stay in Loire Valley with a car.
This road trip Loire Valley is one of the most beautiful road trips in France. Read more about road tripping in France:
Loire Valley Itinerary Overview
- Start: Orléans
- Finish: Chinon
- Duration: 5 days
- Suggested Route: Orléans – Blois – Amboise – Chinon
- Total distance: 240 km, 4 hours drive in total
- Regions covered: Centre-Val-de-Loire
- Best for: châteaux, medieval towns, food, and wine.
Check out our Loire Valley Trip Planner for the best time to travel to the Loire Valley and other tips. You can also extend this Loire Valley driving itinerary by adding more châteaux. Check out this list of the best Loire Valley Castles for inspiration.
If you fly to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), you can pick up your rental car at the airport and start this Loire road trip from there. The drive from CDG Airport-Orléans takes less than 2 hours (200 km) – Click here to rent a car at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
If you want to visit Paris first, take a direct train from Paris Gare d’Austerlitz to Orléans and then pick up your rental car in Orléans. The journey from Paris to Orléans by train takes 1hr 7 min.
If this is your first trip to France, check out our tips for hiring a car in France.
Road Trip Loire Valley Map
5-Day Loire Valley Road Trip Itinerary
Day 0 | Arrival in Orléans
The first stop of this Loire road trip is Orléans, where you will spend one night. For your stay in Orléans, we recommend Hotel des Cedres, located just a 10-minute walk from Orléans’ historical center. This beautiful hotel offers well-equipped, spacious rooms and a flower garden where you can relax with your favorite drink.
Day 1 | Orléans – Chambord
Morning in Orléans
Before hitting the road, spend the morning visiting Orléans. Over recent years, this dynamic city has engaged in major conservation projects to reveal all its former splendor.
Orléans is famous as the city of Jeanne d’Arc, known as the ‘Maid of Orléans’ and a French heroine who, on the 8th of May 1429, played a decisive role in the town’s liberation from the occupying English. Jeanne d’Arc managed to lead the French troops victoriously against the English armies, lift the siege of Orléans, and lead King Charles VII to the coronation in Reims, thus helping to reverse the course of the Hundred Years War.
The list of interesting things to visit in Orléans includes:
- The Cathedral of Sainte-Croix
- The historical center
- The banks of the Loire River
Afternoon at Château de Chambord
The next stop of this Loire Valley itinerary is the beautiful Château de Chambord. Commissioned by King François I, this 16th-century château is one of the top castles in France to explore. Château de Chambord is the most impressive castle in the Loire River and a jewel of French Renaissance architecture.
Designed for the King’s hunting and pleasure trips, Château de Chambord also demonstrated his political and cultural power in Europe. The château has an original central double-spiral staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci and beautiful French-style gardens to explore – Click here to book your tickets to Château de Chambord
TIP: Save time and money with the Loire Valley Châteaux Pass, a combo ticket to the top three châteaux of the Loire Valley: Château de Chambord, Château de Chenonceau, and Royal Château de Blois, all included in this Loire Valley road trip
Evening and night at Relais de Chambord
For a memorable night in the Loire Valley, book a room at Relais de Chambord on the castle grounds. Located in the heart of the Domaine National de Chambord, where King Francois I used to hunt, get ready to experience French Art de Vivre in this boutique hotel with a restaurant and wellness area. The well-equipped rooms are tastefully decorated and come with views of the Château, the Cosson River, Saint Louis Square, or the forest.
Day 2 | Chambord – Blois
Morning in Chambord
With a beautiful hotel like this one, there’s no need to rush. After an excellent and leisurely French breakfast, take the time to explore the Domaine de Chambord. The grounds here have an area of 5,440 hectares, which is equivalent to the city of Paris!
The best way to explore the Domaine is by bike, and that’s what we recommend. With more than 20km of paths open to the public, you can also hike in the forest or explore the Cosson River that borders Chambord on a self-drive boat (no boating license required).
Afternoon in Blois
After exploring the Domaine de Chambord, drive to Blois, where you will spend the night. For your night in Blois, the Hotel Louise de Savoie is a good option with a central location, comfortable rooms furnished with traditional furniture, and optional private parking.
Blois is a beautiful city with remarkable architectural and cultural heritage. Its Old Town is very compact, and you can easily explore it on foot. In Blois, don’t miss to visit the Château de Blois, the Loire’s finest in-town château and home to seven French Kings! The building has four wings built in four different architectural periods: Gothic, Flamboyant Gothic, Renaissance, and Classical.
TIP: From April to September (and the days around the All Saints holiday), see the history of France come to life in a unique way with this sound and light show at the Château de Blois. The ticket to the show also includes entry to the Château de Blois.
Day 3 | Amboise
From Blois, head to Château de Perreux to spend the next two nights of this Loire Valley trip. The 18th-century Château de Perreux is one of the most beautiful chateau-hotels in the Loire Valley. Located in beautiful parkland just outside Amboise, it is a great base to explore Amboise and other beautiful châteaux nearby.
The small town of Amboise is compact and easy to explore on foot. Amboise is best known for its 15th-century Royal Château, where King François I grew up. The château features magnificent royal chambers, underground passageways, and a beautiful garden with great views of the Loire River – Click here to buy your tickets to Château d’Amboise
Just outside Amboise, there’s Château du Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci’s home in France until he died in 1519. Leonardo da Vinci came to live in Amboise in 1516, invited by King Francois I, who became his patron. The house has a small museum displaying working models of his designs.
TIP: Buy this bundle Château d’Amboise + Château du Clos Lucé and save money! You can also discover Leonardo Da Vinci’s French connection with this convenient Leonardo Da Vinci Loire Valley pass, which includes skip-the-line tickets to Château de Chambord + Chateau d’Amboise + Château du Clos Lucé.
Fancy some wine tasting? Les Caves Ambacia (56 Rue du Rocher des Violettes, Amboise) has suitable wine tours with tastings. Carved out by cave dwellers in the 16th century, the Caves Ambacia have hosted a wine merchant since 1874!
DID YOU KNOW? In medieval times, the stone used for building the villages and castles in the area was mined from nearby mountains, creating a massive network of underground caves and galleries. Over the centuries, these caves were used for wine aging, mushroom farming, and shelter during the World Wars. Today, some of these underground caves are still used as restaurants, workshops, and wine cellars. Les Caves du Père Auguste is another beautiful example of underground caves-wine cellars. Located 10km from Amboise, it offers wine tours and tastings.
Day 4 | Château de Chenonceau
Spend the fourth day of this Loire Valley scenic route at Chenonceau – an easy drive from Amboise – to visit Château de Chenonceau and its grounds. Château de Chenonceau is one of the Loire Valley’s most beautiful castles, with a fairytale setting spanning the River Cher.
Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of King Henry II, created much of the castle and the wonderful “Garden of Diane.” Upon the King’s death, his widow Queen Cathérine de Médicis took the castle as her own and built the gallery over the River. The gallery now contains an exhibition that shows the roles that the Queens and mistresses of Kings had in this beautiful castle – Click here to book your tickets to Château de Chenonceau
Admire Château de Chenonceau from another point of view
A visit to the interior of the Château de Chenonceau is a must, but it’s worth viewing the château from other perspectives for more magnificent views.
Take a boat trip to see the château from the water. Canoë Company proposes different boat tours, guided or self-guided, with different itineraries.
You can also see the château (and the Loire Valley) at sunset from a hot-air balloon with France Mongolfières. We took a similar trip with them over Fontainebleau, and it was an incredible experience that we recommend! You can check our review here.
Drive back to Château de Perreaux for dinner in the restaurant and a last drink in the garden.
Day 5 | Château de Villandry – Chinon
Day 5 of this Loire Valley route visits Château de Villandry and the medieval town of Chinon, where you will spend the last night. In Chinon, book a room at the Hotel Diderot, a beautiful 17th-century property with cozy rooms and a wonderful terrace garden with a fantastic English rose collection.
Morning at Château de Villandry
From Amboise, drive to Château de Villandry, another must-visit château of the Loire Valley. Château de Villandry was the last castle to be built during the Renaissance period in the area.
While its interiors are magnificent, Château de Villandry is especially famous for its lush gardens featuring labyrinths, fruit trees, vegetable patches, grapevines, and courtyards. There are also several flower gardens to get lost in.
Take the time to visit the castle and the gardens before driving to Chinon, the last stop of this Loire Valley itinerary – Click here to buy your tickets to Château de Villandry.
Afternoon and night at Chinon
Casually stretched out on the Vienne River banks, at the foot of a high cliff crowned by its imposing fortress, Chinon is a medieval masterpiece with its keep and towers. The view of the Royal Fortress of Chinon from the bridge over the Vienne River will take your breath away.
Visit Chinon, the last stop of this Loire Valley drive. Outside the recently restored fortress, Chinon is a truly charming and sublime place to visit, and it is a wonder to wander through the medieval streets of this lovely town.
Surrounded by the Loire Valley’s vineyards and well-known for its wine and local produce, Chinon is also a paradise for food lovers. Choose your favorite restaurant terrace and enjoy a glass of Chinon wine paired with Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine goat cheese, or perhaps you’ll want to taste truffles or rillettes made from fish from the Loire.
After lunch, spend a lovely afternoon at Château de Minière, a château-winery with a fascinating history and a great selection of wines. The château offers tours of the château grounds in French and English, and its wine tastings always have great reviews.
So, what are you waiting for? Book this Loire Valley road trip today!