8 Best Places to Stay in the Loire Valley

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by Brittany Scott-Gunfield

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With so many wonderful places to visit, whether you’re on a 4 – 5 day road trip or having a short romantic getaway, it can be hard to choose between the best places to stay in the Loire Valley.

But unlike other regions, there aren’t so many big cities in the Loire to have a vibrant city break like you might have in Paris, Montpellier or Marseille; the Loire has charming towns and villages dotted all over the landscape amongst rolling hills and extravagant châteaux.

So, where are the best towns to base yourself in when exploring the Loire Valley? Here are our top 8 picks of the nicest towns and villages to base yourself in on any kind of visit to the Loire Valley, so you can have a great holiday no matter who you’re with or what you plan to do.

Best Towns to Stay in the Loire Valley

Families, couples, backpackers and solo travellers all have different needs when it comes to finding somewhere to stay in the Loire Valley; some will want to be surrounded by nature and have plenty of family-friendly activities to do, while others might feel more adventurous, or prefer the livelier side of urban life.

Each place will be looked at closely to determine what it has on offer and which place would be the best choice for each type of holiday.

Chataeau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley
Chataeau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley

Nantes – Best for City Amenities

Formerly the capital of Brittany, Nantes is located near the Loire River estuary towards France’s west coastline and has numerous activities and historic sites for visitors to enjoy.

Nantes is a relatively large city with an impressive castle, many museums, a botanic garden and peaceful walks along the riverside, so it really is a great place for all kinds of groups to stay in the Loire Valley.

There are many hotels for all budgets within the city, so finding a place to stay in Nantes is simple, and if you’re based close to the centre, the impressive 15th-century Château des Ducs de Bretagne, the buzzing Place Royale and the Loire River are all within walking distance.

However, Nantes is very accessible via public transport, with an extensive bus and tram network covering the city, so it’s a great place for people who are less mobile to visit.

The Château des Ducs de Bretagne is by far the top attraction in Nantes, the 600-year old fortification surrounded by a moat and now holding the Nantes history museum welcomes visitors for a modest fee to learn about the city’s long past, including the historic port, François II, the last Duke of Brittany and Nantes’ role in the North Atlantic slave trade.

You can learn more about the slave trade at the memorial to the abolition of slavery which has plaques detailing historic events of the period along the riverside.

Including the cultural centre, Natural History Museum, old Navy Destroyer turned museum and Art Museum, there are plenty of activities in Nantes for history and culture fans, as well as many nightclubs and bars that host Nantes’ dynamic nightlife.

What’s more, children and parents alike will love Les Machines de l’Île – a collection of giant mechanical animals, including an elephant inspired by Jules Verne, that takes up to 50 people on a short voyage around the park.

Where to Stay in Nantes

L’Hôtel – This 3-star hotel in the centre of Nantes is a great base while visiting the Loire Valley. They offer lovely rooms and there’s also a buffer breakfast available for guests each morning.

Okko Hotels Nantes Château – If you’re after a high-end stay in Nantes then this hotel is an excellent option. They have chic and modern rooms to choose from, a great location and plenty of great amenities for guests to enjoy.

Aparthotel Adagio Nantes Centre – This aparthotel in the centre of Nantes is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking for self-catering accommodation in the Loire region. There are several flats to choose from that come equipped with everything you may need.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Nantes!

City of Nantes
City of Nantes

Saumur – Best for History Buffs

Smaller than Nantes, Saumur is a calmer town, although still one of the best towns to stay in the Loire Valley, especially for wine connoisseurs and military historians.

Saumur has a charming town centre, overlooked by an old castle that has been repaired and reutilised many times over its thousand-year history, which is an extraordinary visit today thanks to its large collection of antiquities and horse museum.

You can also visit many wineries and have tours of local vineyards when staying in Saumur, as the region is famous for its white wine and crémant (sparkling wine) production. Saumur also has a regular Saturday morning market selling fresh local produce, and a much larger food and drink festival during August.

In July, visitors can enjoy a military parade of modern and traditional military vehicles that are usually found in the Saumur tank museum, a family-friendly event of great excitement for everyone with a historical interest.

Plus, just 40 minutes driving away from Saumur is the magical Château d’Ussé that inspired the story of Sleeping Beauty, well worth a visit for anyone staying in the area, and particularly entertaining for children as you can read the story accompanied by mannequins reenacting the scenes as you ascend the tower.

Saumur has a lot to offer couples on a quiet retreat in the Loire Valley who’d like to amble along the riverside and enjoy wine-tasting, but during summer, it’s one of the best towns in the Loire Valley to take the family to.

Where to Stay in Saumur

L’Escale de la Gare – This cosy hotel is a great option for mid-range traveller staying in Saumur. There are several delightful rooms to choose from along with a great location and easy reach from some of the best castles of the Loire Valley.

Hôtel St Pierre – This luxury hotel is a fantastic choice for more upmarket visitors to the Loire Valley. They have a great location for exploring the town and the region, plenty of opulent rooms and other amenities for guests.

Château La Marquise – Those who want to stay in a beautiful chateau in the Loire Valley will love this place outside of Saumur. They have gorgeous rooms to choose from along with amenities like a spa for guests to enjoy.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Saumur!

Town of Saumur
Town of Saumur

Tours – Best for Foodies

If it’s urban life you’re after, Tours is one of the best towns to stay in the Loire Valley, sandwiched between the Loire and the Cher Rivers. Not only does Tours have a unique gastronomy that you can uncover across the many restaurants and bistros across the town, but it also has a large young population thanks to its university, which has seen the nightlife thrive.

So if you want an energetic city break in the Loire, or to turn your holiday into a food and drink festival, then Tours is far and away one of the best towns in the Loire Valley.

There isn’t a great deal to do for children in Tours, however, during French summer holidays, many French towns and cities put on fairs and workshops in museums for the children to take part in, so they won’t be bored if you do take a trip to Tours.

There’s also an adventure centre just outside of Tours; Gadawi Park is a great place for the family to try climbing around in the trees, ziplining, escaping mazes and more, so you can have plenty of family fun.

However, the main attraction of Tours is the wonderfully diverse architectural styles on display in the city, making it the perfect place to wander the streets from Place Jean Jaurés to Place Plumereau, photograph the half-timbered houses and mediaeval façade of the Saint-Gatien Cathedral, and pay a visit to Tours castle and the Fine Arts Museum.

In the evenings, you can take advantage of the fantastic food scene, drinking local wines and eating rillette in the beautiful brasseries of the old town, or along the Loire River bank during Summer.

Where to Stay in Tours

Ferdinand Hotel – Located in the centre of Tours, this is a great hotel in the Loire Valley if you choose to base yourself in this cool city. They have a great location for exploring the area, a wonderful breakfast in the mornings and much more. 

Château Belmont Tours – Those looking for a high-end place to stay while they explore the Loire Valley will love this luxury hotel in Tours. They have a range of wonderful rooms on offer along with other great perks to enjoy. 

The People – Those looking for a great budget option will love this highly-rated hostel in Tours. Located in the city centre, they offer both privates and dorms along with great common areas and self-catering facilities.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Tours!

Town hall of Tours
Town Hall of Tours

Chinon – Best for Wine Lovers

Although not on the Loire River, Chinon is a pretty riverside village on the Vienne River with an enormous fortress, walking routes and wine caves, making it a great stop on a Loire Valley road trip, or a pleasant place to base yourself for a relaxed holiday in the Loire.

There are kayaks available to rent and enjoyable riverside walks, however, it’s not the best place to visit for families with young children, as there aren’t so many activities to entertain them.

Chinon’s 500m-long fortress was achieved over the space of 500 years, finally completed in the 1400s, and is a wonderful site to visit to learn about the military history of the area or take in the stunning aesthetics of the incredible architecture.

Visitors also enjoy the many quaint and unique churches and chapels in the town that showcase stunning architecture and art through wall paintings and stained glass windows, before heading off to one of the village’s many wine caves.

Chinon has a long history in the wine-making industry so it’s one of the best places to stay if you’re a wine fanatic. Grape vines have been grown around Chinon since the 3rd century BCE, and have thrived in the optimum climate provided by the Loire Valley as well as being carefully looked after by order of the many kings who resided in the Chinon fortress.

Although the region is known for its white wines and has been for many centuries, Chinon produces a broad range of wines, including exceptional red wines formerly prized by the English and Dutch traders in Nantes.

You can taste many of the wines on offer in the area in the caves, such as Les Caves Painctes, which you can explore on a guided tour with an opportunity for wine tasting at the end. Every Thursday afternoon in July and August, you can also go wine tasting in the fortress, with the local winemakers coming to show the tourists their wares.

Where to Stay in Chinon

Hôtel Rive Sud – Located in tranquil Chinon, this is a great choice for those looking for hip yet mid-range hotels in the Loire Valley. They offer cosy rooms along with a buffet breakfast available in the mornings.

Nature & Chateaux – Situated close to Chinon’s iconic fortress, this is a great place for those looking for a self-catering option. They offer both fully-furnished apartments and suites along with plenty of other amenities to ensure you have a great stay.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Chinon!

Chinon Fortress
Chinon Fortress

Blois – Best Area for Families

Blois is a beautiful small city overlooking the Loire River, with everything you need for a city break as a group of friends, a couple or a family with young children.

There are museums, a large ornate Gothic cathedral and a château in the city’s centre as well as many exquisite bars and restaurants if you want to stay in Blois for your trip. Or, if you rent a car, you can use Blois as a base and easily reach several other activities that are great for children and not too far away.

Within the city, Blois has a Magic and Illusion Museum dedicated to Robert-Houdin, a local magician, which has exhibitions and illusions on display for a wondrous excursion for children, and the enormous castle that superbly demonstrates four architectural designs from its 800-year history, as well as hosting the city’s Fine Arts Museum for the adults.

Blois Château also has a remarkable sound and light display on its façade in the evenings, showcasing the history of Blois in an entertaining way for the whole family.

There are several other châteaux within driving distance from Blois, but more excitingly for families, is the activity park in the heart of nature, Loisirs Loire Valley.

This large woodland has activities for all ages, with treasure hunts, archery, kayaking, parcours through the trees, and a boat ride with apéritifs, so you’ll never run out of things for the children. You can even take a short flight around the nearby countryside in an ultralight aircraft!

If the idea of taking flight sounds good to you, then you can also take a hot air balloon ride from Blois to the Chateau de Chambord with Compagnons du Vent.

Individual tickets are available as well as family tickets, but you can also rent a private balloon ride to celebrate a special occasion and make your journey more magical.

For those wondering where to stay in the Loire Valley, Blois is an excellent option, with many hotels available as well as campsites, many of which have small bungalows to rent, plus canoes and kayaks to take out on the Loire River.

Where to Stay in Blois

la Forge du Roy – Located only 300 metres from the Blois castle, this cosy hotel is an excellent mid-range option in the Loire Valley. They have an array of comfortable rooms to choose from, some even having their own terrace.

Maison Loire – This beautiful hotel poised in a historic mansion in Blois is a great place to stay in this little Loire Valley town. They have plush rooms to choose from along with a continental breakfast and a friendly resident pup!

Fleur de Loire – If you’re looking for luxury while in the Loire Valley, then look no further than this 5-star hotel. They have countless incredible rooms to choose from along with a myriad of luxe amenities to ensure you have the best stay possible.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Blois!

Château de Chambord
Château de Chambord

Sancerre – Best Area for Couples

Conversely, Sancerre is a stunning and quintessential French village, however, there aren’t many things to do for children, so it’s best to stay in Sancerre as a couple, or as an older group who want a relaxing time in one location.

Sancerre is a very picturesque location so well worth a visit if you’re staying in the Loire Valley, but staying there offers you the chance to mimic retirement and immerse yourself fully within a small community.

Wander down to the local bakery in the morning for your fresh baguettes and croissants, pick up your fresh produce at the local farmers market, and sample some local wines in Sancerre Château for your evening meal.

As well as getting the perfect opportunity to practise your French language skills, you can have a perfectly calm and enjoyable holiday within the winding streets of this small village with a mighty character.

Where to Stay in Sancerre

Le Panoramic – Set amongst a vineyard, this is a great hotel for an escape in Sancerre. They have great rooms to choose from, an on-site swimming pool and restaurant and a range of other perks for guests to enjoy.

La Place B&B – This hip bed and breakfast is a great choice for those looking for a romantic getaway in Sancerre. Each room has its own sitting area, a wonderful terrace, and a great breakfast served daily.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Sancerre!

Centre of Sancerre
Centre of Sancerre

Amboise – Best for Castles

Amboise is one of the best towns in the Loire Valley to visit; regardless of how long you intend to stay in the area, you can’t go to the Loire and miss Amboise.

Amboise Château itself is a stunning building with neatly arranged grounds and an incredible history, but the main attraction to the town is Close Lucé – the house of Leonardo da Vinci.

For a small fee, you can walk around the house that the legendary artist and inventor inhabited from 1516 until his death in 1519, as well as peruse his workshop, complete with drawings, designs and miniature figurines to demonstrate the incredible number of projects he was working on.

What’s more, in the gardens of the small château, a team of experts have recreated life-size models of da Vinci’s work, so visitors can see how different items function, from water transportation devices to bridges and much much more! Da Vinci’s house is a fun and interesting visit for everyone.

Amboise also makes a great place to stay in the Loire Valley for families as it has a miniature museum! You can walk among 45 tiny replicas of Loire châteaux, complete with mechanical mini cars and horses to bring the lovely little Loire to life. Families can also enjoy camping on the Île d’Or in the centre of the Loire River and relaxing on the small beaches in Summer.

Couples may prefer to stay in hotels, of which there are plenty in Amboise, so you can easily visit the charming Chanteloup Gardens and admire the spectacular views of the Loire Valley from the magnificent 40-metre high 18th-century pagoda. There’s also a treasure hunt in the grounds to entertain the kids!

If you’re staying in the Loire for more than a few days and rent a car, you can also drive for just 25 minutes from Amboise to reach the awe-inspiring Château de Chenonceau, one of the most famous and beautiful castles in the region.

Where to Stay in Amboise

Le 31 B&B Amboise Centre – A historic bed and breakfast situated in the centre of Amboise, this is a great base for those looking for an intimate stay in this lovely town. They have a few plush rooms to choose from along with a great breakfast served each morning.

Chateau des Arpentis – If you’re looking for a castle stay in the Loire Valley, then you can’t go wrong with this chateau. Offering beautiful rooms, there is also an on-site swimming pool and gorgeous grounds to explore.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Amboise!

Chateau d`Amboise
Chateau d`Amboise

Cheverny – Best for a Hidden Gem

When you start researching for places to stay, Cheverny might not even come into your radar, but it’s a charming small town just South of the Loire River. It’s not so easy to reach so you’re best off renting a car at the airport before heading down to Cheverny, but once you’re there, it’s sure to delight.

Within Cheverny’s centre, aside from the quaint streets that transport you back in time, there’s a magnificent castle that draws thousands of visitors each year.

The 17th-century castle has wonderful formal gardens to explore and discover the beautiful sculptures of Gudmar Olovson, as well as a cafe in the Orangerie, and several splendid rooms to visit that showcase the amazing interiors that the château has had for hundreds of years.

But the château grounds expand more than the gardens, with the Parc du Château de Cheverny on the outskirts of the town.

This incredible park provides the perfect setting for peaceful walks and picnics, as well as having rowing boats to take you around the park from April to November. However, you can’t miss out on walking down the Cedar tree-lined avenue through the park that’s over 150 years old! Moreover, in one of the castle’s buildings, you can find a Tintin exhibition!

While the little ones will definitely love exploring the world of Tintin, adults will surely lean into their playful sides while visiting the interactive exhibition with models and recreations of the laboratory of Tintin’s scientist-sidekick Professor Calculus.

In the centre, you can also find the lively Jazzin’ Cheverny, a concert venue that hosts fantastic live bands, with a full summer schedule that the whole family can enjoy.

There are many hotels around Cheverny, as well as campsites, so you might prefer to stay a little further out into the countryside for an adventurous holiday, or make it extravagant and stay in the nearby Château de Troussay, the smallest chateau in the Loire that you can visit or rent!

Where to Stay in Cheverny

Au coeur des châteaux – This cosy B&B is an excellent choice if you’ve chosen Cheverny as a base while visiting the Loire Valley. They offer an array of cosy rooms, a great location along with a tasty breakfast each morning.

Château de Troussay – If you’re looking for a rustic and historic place to stay in Cheverny, then this is a great option. They have a range of cosy cottages available and you can also enjoy free, guided tours of the castle.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Cheverny!

Chateau de Cheverny
Chateau de Cheverny

If you’re wondering where to stay in the Loire Valley, there are plenty of options, but hopefully, with our guide, you’re able to pick out the spots that best appeal to you and your loved ones. Happy holidaying!

Are you visiting the Loire Valley? Have questions about these towns? Let us know in the comments!

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Brittany Scott-Gunfield

Brittany is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Colchester, England, she is slowly but surely travelling the world as a digital nomad. She loves to hike around different landscapes and has a deep love for travelling around France (and elsewhere in Europe).

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