Things to do in the Loire Valley

For Children

There are numerous lakes with beaches, playgrounds and boating in the area – a great (and cheap) way of spending a hot day!

Doue Zoo or La Fleche Zoo – We are lucky to be near two of the best zoos in France.  Doue is set in an old quarry pit, with habitat set into caves and deep pits, while La Fleche is more open – and has recently installed guest lodges within the animal enclosures.

Terra Botanica – A bit like the Eden project in the UK, but this one is in Angers and has more in the way of rides to entertain – our daughter enjoys the Walnut Mono-Rail, where it’s up to the parents to do the pedalling!

Puy-de-Fou – Voted the Number One theme park in Europe.  It’s a hour and a half to get to, but wow – is it worth the effort!  In fact, it’s worth just coming to France to see this!

Futuroscope – A theme park based upon multimedia, cinema and audio-visual techniques. It has 3D and 4D cinemas along with many other attractions and shows – it’s hard to describe, but great if you’ve got older children (+8) and about 1 hour 15 from the gites.

Saumur Forest Adventures – Zip wires and swinging through the trees – great for older children and adults as well.

For the Family

Fabulous chateaux, many that kids will love.  We have some of the most famous right on our doorstep.

You are right in the heart of Chateaux country – and this is a selection of the best, closest and most interesting.

Breil  – Parc du Chateau de Lathan – Right on your doorstep, very cheap to get in and a lovely way to spend a few hours wandering around the grounds.  The kid will love the underground grotto, which brings you up in different parts of the garden.  You may need to ring the bell to give the owners your money!  (5 mins walk.)

Gizeux – Ten minutes from the gite – head to Parcay-les-Pins and then on to Gizeaux.  Once a 16th century art school and they are busy restoring the frescos painted onto the walls by the students.   A Chateau that is off the beaten track, but one of the most endearing. (10 mins)

Langeais – A medieval fortress guarding the Loire – so battlements, drawbridge, turrets and the oldest castle keep in France.  Children will enjoy the tree house in the grounds.  Nice Creperie just around the corner and a lovely chocolate & coffee shop opposite. (20 mins)

Chateau de Breze – South west of Saumur, the Chateau is famous because all of the really interesting stuff is underground, with a complex of underground caverns and rooms where the present occupants’ ancestors first lived – before they built the Chateau on top. (35 mins)

Villandry – The last of the Renaissance Chateau built in the Loire Valley and now home to world famous gardens, so quite a busy place in peak season.  If gardening is your thing – this is a must! (35 mins)

Azay le Rideau – Famous for its idyllic position on a lake and probably one of the most recognisable.(45 mins)

Usse – The inspiration for the author of Sleeping Beauty – dreamy turrets and terraced gardens, with a distant view of the River Loire. (45 mins)

Chenonceau – Probably the most magnificent, with an arched gallery built across the River Cher and the busiest.  So arrive early and then picnic in the grounds before the busses start arriving later in the day! (1 Hour 10mins via Autoroute)

Angers – If you’ve decided to spend a day in Angers  then the Chateau is worth visiting.  It’s a medieval fortress overlooking the Maine river and surrounded by winding old streets.  Inside is the tapestry of the Apocalypse a large medieval set of tapestries and the oldest medieval tapestry to have survived intact. (1 Hour)

Chinon – A castle overlooking pretty medieval Chinon, with connections to the English Kings (Henry II & Richard the Lionheart) and where Joan of Arc met the French king before taking the war to the English.  So lots of Joan of Arc references around the Chateau and the town below! (40 mins)

Chateau de Riveau – Just north of Chinon if you have younger children then this is great.  The Chateau is a small fairytale castle and the beautiful grounds continue the theme with giant objects, climbing frames, sculptures and quirky things for the kids to discover.  One of the few Chateau that has a restaurant inside the grounds. (50 mins)

In and around Saumur

Our nearest large town – a beautiful Loire riverside town with an imposing Chateaux perched high above.  The town is famous for horses, the cavalry, tanks, sparkling wine, mushrooms & Troglodytes (caves).

Cadre Noir stables – Saumur is home to France’s national riding school, the Olympic horse eventing teams and the Cadre Noir – a troop of horses trained to perform complicated manoeuvres.  The stables at St Hilaire/St Florent are open to visitors and the shows attract hundreds of people from around the world.

Bubbly Houses – All along the road from Saumur to Gennes, running along the Loire are the Saumur wineries that make the Crement de Loire – the white, rose and red bubbly that Saumur is famous for.  Made exactly the same way as Champagne – so fill your boot up if you have room!

Fontevraud Abbey – The largest renovated Abbey in Europe – burial place to Henry II and Richard the Lionheart of England and spiritual home to the Plantagenet Kings that ruled England up until Tudor times.  The kings of England for over three hundred years originated from here in Anjou in the Loire Valley.

Musee du Champignon – Saumur is France’s third biggest producer of mushrooms and so there is a museum dedicated to the mushroom.  Head into the caves to find out – especially good if it’s a rainy day!

 Parc Miniature – Pierre et Lumiere – Next door to the mushroom museum, Pierre et Lumiere is a set of caverns within which are miniature stone sculptures of the region’s most famous landmarks.  If you’re heading out this way, the road towards both the mushroom museum and Pierre et Lumiere passes by a number of large wineries including Ackerman and Bouvet Ladubay, both famous for their sparkling whites.

Cavalry Museum – Saumur’s horse riding heritage stems from the Cavalry School that existed here before the French Revolution.  Cavalry officer training is still conducted in the centre of the town and there is a regiment of Dragoons stationed at Fontevraud – so Saumur is still a military town.  The Museum reflects the shared history.

Tank Museum – Le Museum des Blindes reflects the modern cavalry and has over three hundred tanks of which over one hundred are on display – one of the largest collections in the world.  The winery, Louis de Grenelle is just up the road so there is somewhere else to go after or during!

Pretty Villages – Around Saumur there are pretty riverside villages that are worth seeing – the best are Montsoreau, Candes St Martin, Turquant and Le Thoureil

Cycling

We are surrounded by marked cycle routes and because our roads are so empty it’s the perfect place for a cycling holiday.

Local Restaurants

Bar du Musee, Parcay les Pins.  Our nearest bar/café and our friends Darren and Louise will give you a warm welcome – just let them know where you are staying – they know it well!  FREE WIFI.

Le Bouff’tard, Hommes (14kms).  One of our favourites with a great menu ouvrier which includes wine but not coffee.

L’Oree des Bois, La Breille les Pins (14kms).  More of a gastronomique restaurant with a formal atmosphere but very high quality fair – one for the evenings.

Café de la Gare, Linieres Bouton (9 kms).  Always busy for lunchtime, with a buffet self-serve starter (as much as you want) and choice of 2/3 main courses.  Price includes wine, cider, coffee and cheese!

La Chaumiere, La Pellerine (7 kms).  A similar set-up to Café de la Gare, but 2km closer and quieter.

Le Pelican, Vernantes (10kms).  Offers both a Menu Ouvrier at lunchtime and a more formal environment in the evenings.  Lovely high quality food.

Moulin Bleu, Bourgueil (18kms).  If its sunny there is a lovely terrace with views over the Bourgueil vineyards.  No Menu Ouvrier but a nice menu that represents the local area.

Saumur (25kms) – The large town of Saumur has many restaurants to choose from.  Just ask us and we can provide recommendations and directions.

Hutopia – In July and August for something less formal try the campsite in the evenings at Hutopia – on the road to Rille.  From 6pm every night you can get pizza, tapas style bits to share and steak and chips.  There is also a little playground for children next to the eating area.

For Adults

  • Wine tasting, reds, whites, rosés and sparkling varieties
  • Local markets on five days of the week
  • Visit the cities of Le Mans, Tours or Angers
  • Tennis in the local village
  • Golf at Chateau des Sept Tours and Baugé
  • Marked walks through forests, vineyards, open countryside and along rivers
  • Wine towns of Saumur, Bourgueil and Chinon

We provide you with lots of information in your gite and living locally we are on hand to book events on your behalf or provide you with further information.  We want you to make the most of your stay and really appreciate our part of the Loire Valley.