The Loire Valley region of France

The Loire Valley region of France has always been popular with British tourists thanks to its beautiful natural scenery, historic towns and impressive collection of castles and fine country homes. The departement of Indre-et-Loire is no exception and has many attractions that first-time visitors to the region should ensure are included in their itinerary.

History lovers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the chateaux in Indre-et-Loire, but there is one example which stands out amongst all the others; the Chateau de Chenonceau. Inside you can find the usual collection of fine art and period furniture while the extensive gardens are perfect for exploring in the French sunshine.

What makes Chenonceau so different is that it is actually built over a river, supported by a series of arches. You can get some excellent photographs from the riverbank of the castle and its reflection or take a boat trip right up the foundations and even through the arches themselves.

Other impressive castles include the Chateau de Villandry, one of the most popular in the country and well known for its landscaped garden and fascinating history. Children will be entertained by the maze in the garden while Mum and Dad can appreciate the architectural beauty of the building itself.

The main city in the Indre-et-Loire region is Tours, a green city often referred to as “The Garden of France”. Many of the best parks and open spaces are free to visit, including the botanical gardens.

The French are very keen on the sport of cycling and the residents of Tours are no exception. If you are visiting Indre-et-Loire around October head to the town on the day of the celebrated Paris-Tours cycling race. Not only can you enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of cyclists travelling at high speed, but there are various musical and cultural events held at the same time.