What’s better than a girl’s trip?
As a woman, NOTHING, and I mean absolutely f’cking nothing!
Time away with your female tribe is immensely special and absolutely mandatory.
Every couple of years, I take a trip with my female tribe. This year (September), my eclectic and crazy femmes went to The Loire Valley, France and it was outrageously good.
So, what’s the best way to see the Loire Valley? Well…. you find a château and you fill that gorgeous monstrosity up with your favorite people. On this trip, we were 11 amazing ladies from Canada, the USA, England, Spain, and the Caribbean (the Bahamas, and St. Croix).
Let me break it down some more. There are loads of beautiful places to visit in France and loads of beautiful places to stay. With a group, you’re always best to rent a house or in this scenario an amazing château. You preferably want to be able to walk to a village. We were 1 km from the village of Langeais which was teeny but it checked all the boxes….boulangerie, chocolatiers, wine, and a medieval castle. You also want to be near things to do and there are lots of ways to fill your days in The Loire Valley.
Next you should rent a car. You’re going to need one to get around. Driving outside of Paris is easy and the roads are good. One of the gals, drove from the UK, and I rented a 9 pax mini bus. I suggest getting out of the mayhem of Paris and training to a smaller city such as Tours before picking up your car. Once in the Valley, all you need is a GPS and a list of castles, towns and caves (wine producers) to visit.
The Loire Valley
Also known as the “Valley of the Kings” because of the hundreds of castles. It sits 200 km southwest of Paris and is celebrated for its beautiful chateaus and wine.
The Loire river is the longest in France, and the valley is France’s 3rd largest wine region. Sancerre wines come from the eastern part of the Loire Valley, whereas Chinon Blancs & Pinot Gris are found in the west. Hands down, I prefer Sancerre wines and will write a dedicated post about our day spent in the medieval village of Sancerre. This is a must-do if you are in the Valley and a wine lover.
As mentioned, there are hundreds of chateaus sprinkled throughout the Loire Valley, and after viewing a few – you quickly understand why the French wanted to dismantle the power of the aristocrats and how the French Revolution came to be.
The grandest of the chateaus in size. This monstrosity is the “Mac Daddy”. Built-in the 16th Century as a hunting lodge by King Francis 1. It is the inspiration of the Beast’s castle in Beauty in the Beast. The exterior is a beautiful example of French Renaissance architecture. However, aside from the grand, double helix staircase designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, the interior is rather vacuous and not nearly as pretty as many of the other chateaus.
Built on a former 12th-century medieval castle site, this castle sits on an island in the middle of the Indre River. It’s not immense and huge like Chambord but rather quaint and dreamy. It actually has the most romantic feeling of the chateaus we visited. The interior is adorned with tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries and the rooms are decorated in neo-renaissance style.
Castle aside, the town of Azay-le-Rideau is pretty charming and worth a stroll around. We ended up missing the french lunchtime, and thus all the local restaurants were closed. So we ate at the cafe on the castle’s grounds which turned out to be great food and good service from our very tolerant waiter.
This one is really beautiful and my favorite. It’s known as “The Women’s Castle” due to the important role that women played in the history of the castle. This 15th Century beauty spans the banks of the Cher River and is unapologetically feminine in every aspect. It is currently privately owned and impeccably maintained. The art collection is impressive and the château is richly adorned in renaissance furnishings and fresh-cut flowers from the gardens. So very pretty.
This 14th Century Castle is less about the interior (a bit dull) and all about the gardens. There is the ornamental garden which is also called “The Love Garden”, and has 4 sections: Tender, Passion, Flighty and Tragic. There is a water garden with ponds and fountains. As well as a kitchen garden divided into 9 patches each with a different geometric motif. There are 40 species of veggies in the kitchen garden.
The medieval castle in Langeais isn’t much to see. It’s cool looking from a distance and has a working draw bridge. It dates back to the middle ages and ruins from the 10th century are still on the grounds. The royal fortress was rebuilt in the 15th century and that is what stands today. Most of the rooms are furnished and almost all are heavily tapestried. Did you know that tapestries were used to insulate walls? Makes sense, but not something I picked up on until visiting the Loire Valley.
Other Cool Stuff
Visiting castles and chateaus was lovely but it’s far from all we did. We lounged around our funky château and enjoyed the property….complete with our own fig trees! One rainy day, a bunch of us swooned over Patrick Swayze as we literally poured over Dirty Dancing while drinking wine. It’s so rare to have the frivolous luxury of time without the demands of “everyday life” dragging you away. So we took full advantage!
- We threw a theme night, “Birthday Party”, and celebrated all of our Birthdays with a hired chef and little gifts.
We shopped at the local farmer’s market on Sunday in Langeais.
We ate a lot, and I mean A TON of baguette(s), cheese, and charcuterie boards. This is kind of mandatory cause well, duh, we were in France!
We danced and laughed till we cried.
We gambled a little with a “Romanian” croupier and played some Bananagrams
We ate out a bit…but not that much. Breakfast was easy at home, and dinner was well…cheese and baguette with wine!
We played sports and walked the Valley.
We drank a little wine.
And then our week was over. Half of us returned home, and the other half went to Paris.
Paris was fast and furious, and so much fun. After saying our goodbyes to the gals that were leaving, I dumped the car in Tours and hopped on a train for Paris.
We stayed at an amazing flat right next to the Eiffel Tower. After a quick couple of bottles of bubbles to toast our arrival, we made our way to a cafe and wiled away the rest of the afternoon with more bubbles and snacks.
That evening, we ate at a wonderful Parisian restaurant recommended by a local friend who went to University with one of the girls. And then things got a bit late…and well….what happened in Paris….. stays in Paris. 😉
The next day I was determined to play French local, but I did allow myself to be dragged to the Louvre for the ‘cannonball’ run version early in the am. After that, we wandered the cities various quarters and loitered in a couple of Cafes before heading to the shops of the Le Marais. Making for a perfect day in Paris and a final day to an epic trip. ❤️
À votre santé mes amies! This trip filled me with such love and gratitude. Until next time. xx
Did you enjoy this post? Ever dreamed of a week away in France? Contact me and I promise to plan the bespoke trip of your dreams.