see + do
Loire Valley see + do
Littered with châteaux and traversed by numerous rivers, the Loire Valley owes its extraordinary architectural heritage to its abundance of game. The Plantagenet and Valois monarchs built themselves imposing castles here, and even after they acceded to the throne in Paris, the gentry still preferred to spend time in their favorite hunting territory. Soon everyone who was anyone had to have a château there, built from the sparkling white limestone of the Loire river banks. However, there's more to the Loire than just châteaux: Medieval churches, troglodyte villages, and vineyards dot the countryside. Since 2000, a 174-mile stretch of the Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire in the east and Chalonnes in the west has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of its unique combination of natural and cultural landmarks. The increasingly popular bike route La Loire à Vélo traces much of that area.