Road Trips

Loire Valley Road Trip – Map & Itinerary

11/06/2020

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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 from Orléans to Chinon will take you through some of the main sights this region has to offer, allowing you a few days to unwind and enjoy good food, wine, and a slower pace of life. Go on reading for the Loire Valley map and the description of the itinerary.

This 5-day Loire Valley Road Trip is one of the most beautiful road trips in France. Click here for the best road trips in France.

Loire Valley Road Trip 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.

You can also extend this Loire Valley itinerary by adding more châteaux. Check out the list of best Loire Valley Castles for inspiration.

If you fly to Charles de Gaulle airport, you can pick up your rental car at the airport and start this Loire Valley road trip from there. The drive CDG Airport – Orléans takes less than 2 hours (200 km).

Another alternative is to take a train from Paris to Orléans and then pick up your rental car in Orléans.

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PRACTICAL INFO | DRIVING IN FRANCE

Practical Info

Getting around France by car

If you are hitting the French roads for the first time, have a look at our Driving in France Guide.

We recommend booking your car with RentalCars.com.  This site is great because it takes all of the major rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, etc, and more and does the comparison of prices for you.  This helps to ensure that you get a great price without all the time and work.

>> Browse the Car Rental Companies operating in France

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Road Trip in the Loire Valley Map

Road Trip in Loire Valley Map Made with Google My Maps

Click here to view this Road Trip in Loire Valley Map on Google

5-Day Road Trip in the Loire Valley Itinerary

Day 0 | Arrival to Orléans

The first stop of this Loire Valley 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 flowered garden where you can relax with your favorite drink.

For dinner, we recommend De Sel et d’Ardoise (44, rue du Faubourg-Bannier), a small contemporary bistro proposing seasonal cooking that owes much to the organic vegetables supplied by market gardeners from the area.

If you prefer a more central place to eat, then head to one of the restaurants along the Quai de la Loire. Some of them have the option to dine on the terrace.

Day 1 | Orléans – Chambord

Morning in Orléans

Before hitting the road, spend the morning visiting Orléans. This is a very dynamic city that over recent years has engaged in major conservation projects aimed at revealing all its former splendor. 

Orléans is also the city of Joan of Arc, the lady who, on the 8th of May 1429, played a decisive role in the liberation of the town, at the time occupied by the English. The famous seat of the city was decisive for the unity and independence of the country.

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

Château de Chambord - Loire Valley

The next stop of this Loire Valey itinerary is the beautiful Château de Chambord. Commissioned by King François I, this 16th-century château – one of the top castles in France to explore – 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 was also a demonstration of 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

Evening and night at Relais de Chambord

For a unique night in the heart of the Loire Valley, book a room at Relais de Chambord on the castle grounds.

Located in heart of the Domaine National de Chambord, where King Francois I used to hunt, get ready to taste the 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.

Click here to book your night at Relais de Chambord

Day 2 | Chambord – Blois

Morning in Chambord

With a beautiful hotel like this one, there’s no need to rush. After a good French breakfast, take the time to explore the Domaine de Chambord, with a surface (5,440 Ha) equivalent to Paris!

The best way to explore the Domaine is by bike, and that’s what we did. With more than 20km of paths open to the public, you can also decide to do a hike in the forest or explore the Cosson River that borders Chambord on a self-drive boat (no license required).

Afternoon in Blois

Blois - Centre-Val-de-Loire

After exploring the Domaine de Chambord, drive to Blois where you will spend the night. For your night in Blois, Hotel Louise de Savoie is a good option: 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 7 French Kings! The building has 4 wings built in 4 different architectural periods: Gothic, Flamboyant Gothic, Renaissance, and Classical.

Click here to buy your tickets to Château de Blois

For dinner, try Sel et Poivre (9 rue du Chant des Oiseaux), a family restaurant in the Old Town with a charming decor et delicious French food.

Day 3 | Amboise

From Blois, head to Château de Perreux where you are going to spend the next two nights. The 18th-century Château de Perreux is one of the most beautiful chateau-hotels in Loire Valley. Located in a beautiful park just outside of Amboise, it is a great base to explore Amboise and other beautiful châteaux nearby.

Click here to book your stay at Château de Perreux

The small town of Amboise in central France 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.

Just outside Amboise, there’s Château du Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci’s home in France until his death 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. 

Fancy some wine tasting? Les Caves Duhard, in Amboise, has good wine tours with tastings. The oldest wine we had was bottled in 1975!

For a unique dinner by the Loire River, head to Volupia Wine Bar a local bar-restaurant in a ‘guinguette’ spirit with a troglodyte wine cellar. You order from the bar inside the cave and sit on picnic tables and lounge chairs by the river as the sun sets, it is magical. 

DID YOU KNOW? In medieval times, the stone used for building the villages and castles in the area was mined from the mountains creating a massive network of underground caves and galleries. Over the centuries, the caves were used for wine aging, mushroom farming, and shelter during the World Wars. Today, some of these underground caves are still used as wine cellars, restaurants, or workshops.

Day 4 | Château de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau

Spend the fourth day of this Loire Valley road trip at Chenonceau – an easy drive from Amboise – to visit Château de Chenonceau and its grounds. Château de Chenonceau is one of the most beautiful castles of the Loire Valley with a fairytale setting spanning in 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 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 upon this beautiful castle.

Click here to book your tickets to Château de Chenonceau

Admire Château de Chenonceau from another point of view

Hot-Air Balloon Ride - Châteaux de la Loire
Balloon ride over the Châteaux de Chenonceau – Photo courtesy: France Montgolfières ©

A visit to the Château de Chenonceau inside is a must but you can also decide to visit the Château from another point of view 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 decide to see the château (and the Loire Valley) from the sky at sunset on a hot-air balloon with France Montgolfières. We flew with them – not in the Loire Valley but in Fontainebleau – and it’s a once in a lifetime experience that we recommend. You can check our review here.

Drive back to Château de Perreaux for dinner and a last drink in the garden.

Day 5 | Château de Villandry – Chinon

Day 5 of this Loire Valley road trip visits Château de Villandry and the medieval town of Chinon, where you are going to spend the last night. In Chinon, book at Hotel Diderot a beautiful 17th-century property with cozy rooms and a wonderful terrace-garden with a fantastic collection of English roses.

Morning at Château de Villandry

Château de Villandry

From Amboise, drive to Château de Villandry, another must-château of the Loire Valley. Château de Villandry was the last castle to be built during the Renaissance period in the area.

Whilst its interiors are magnificent, this château is especially famous for its lush gardens featuring labyrinths, fruit-bearing trees, vegetable patches, grapevines, and grass courts. There’s also a number of flower gardens to get lost into.

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 banks of the Vienne River, at the foot of a high cliff crowned by its imposing fortress, Chinon is a medieval masterpiece with its towers and keeps. The view of the Royal Fortress of Chinon from the bridge over the Vienne will take your breath away.

Outside the recently restored fortress, the charm and the sublime always operate, and it is a wonder to wander aimlessly through the medieval streets of this charming town. 

Surrounded by the vineyards of the Loire Valley and well-known for its wine and local produce, Chinon is also a paradise for foodies. Choose your favorite restaurant-terrace and enjoy a glass of Chinon wine paired with Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine goat cheese; or perhaps you want to taste truffles or rillettes made from fish from the Loire?

So, what are you waiting for? Book this Loire Valley road trip today!

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