The Loire Valley, about an hour south of Paris, is known for its wines – mostly a softer, lighter rosé or white but also some vibrant reds – as well as for its castles. You could spend weeks visiting all the wineries and castles – or longer. But be sure to stop in to see the Villandry castle gardens. Villandry (www.chateauvillandry.fr/en/) was built during the Renaissance (mid-1500s) and is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles or so) west of Tours. You can of course drive, but the real beauty is how the entire valley of castles and the river is connected with a well maintained and incredibly well-signed and paved path called “The Loire on Bike” (La Loire à Vélo). A superbly detailed website (www.cycling-loire.com) gives you all kinds of maps and information and the ride along the river and through the countryside is spectacular.
A must-visit: France’s Villandry castle gardens
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