Decanter travel guide: Loire Valley, France

Fancy a Sleeping Beauty château with your crottin? Fiona Sims picks some of the food and wine highlights of the Central and Upper Loire.

Loire Valley travel guide: Where to stay, shop, eat and relax

Accommodation

Château de Noizay

An impressive manor house set back from the Loire just a 10-minute drive from Amboise, where young chef Sébastien Hervé is making his mark. chateaudenoizay.com

Hôtel Anne d’Anjou

On the banks of the Loire in the heart of Saumur, the location and the view over the town’s imposing chateau couldn’t be better. hotel-anneanjou.com

Hôtel Côtes des Monts Damnés

Jean-Marie Bourgeois’s chef son Jean-Marc and wife Karine run this boutique hotel in rural Chavignol, serving superb crottin tagliatelle. montsdamnes.com

Michel Redde’s Roulottes

Live among Pouilly vines in one of the Redde family’s roulottes – old-style caravans given a 21st-century makeover. roulottes-de-campagne.com

Restaurants

La Cuisine de Georges

A one-man show from chef Jacquelain Pujole in Tours, who cooks, serves (and washes up after) his brilliant, bargain, no-choice menu. lacuisinedegeorges.com

L’Auberge du Val de Vienne

Chef Jean-Marie Gervais is a big man around these parts and can turn out a posh plate of food, but it’s the menu du jour that makes hearts sing in Savilly. aubergeduvaldevienne.com

Le Pot de Lapin

Chef proprietor Olivier Thibault presides over the bar with its bowls of andouillettes at this gem of a Saumur bistro, with a well-chosen wine list. +33 (0)2 41 67 12 86

L’Herbe Rouge

Owned by natural winemaker Thierry Puzelat and his wife Cécile, this restaurant with rooms (three two-bedroom apartments) in tiny Valaire offers delicious bourgeois cooking and a thrilling wine list. restaurantherberouge.com

Shops

La Maison Hardouin, Vouvray

Make time for a pit-stop at this legendary artisanal charcutier in downtown Vouvray – famous particularly for its andouillettes and its rillons, both cooked in the local wine. hardouin.com

Maison des Vins de Loire, Tours

Swing by for an aperitif of four tasting samples (€4) from the sampling machines, and collect information on vineyard and cellar tours. touraineloirevalley.co.uk

Activities

Château de Brézé

Worth a visit just to see the 20m dry moat, but it’s the network of underground passages and the fortress, chiselled out of the tuffeau, that will make your jaw drop. chateaudebreze.com

Château Royal d’Amboise

A staggering number of kings and queens have lived (or stayed) here, from Henry III to Catherine de’ Medici and Charles VII. Leonardo da Vinci spent his last days here and is buried in the chapel. chateau-amboise.com

Loire boat trip

Glide up the Loire and watch the birdlife on a traditional flatbottomed toue, still used by a handful of local fishermen to catch plentiful perch and eel. From €14 for 1 .5 hours, +33 (0) 2 47 95 80 85, bateauamarante.com

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