The Perfect Loire Valley Day Trip from Paris

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by Brittany Scott-Gunfield


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The Loire Valley is a beautiful area of France, with numerous magnificent châteaux dotting the vineyard-filled countryside lining the calm Loire River that’s perfect for kayaking. But you don’t have to spend a week in the Loire to enjoy it; to get a feel for the area, you can have a great Loire Valley day trip from Paris to get out of the city and into the real France.

By train, bus or car, you can visit a château, taste the crisp white wine the area is known for and spend time in one of the most intriguing museums in France: da Vinci’s House. And you can do it all in just one day!

How to Get from Paris to the Loire Valley

There are several ways to reach the Loire Valley from Paris, depending on how much freedom you want, who you want to travel with and whether you mind arranging your day out based on public transport schedules. Let’s look at a few options in detail.

By Organised Tour

If you want to take a day trip from Paris to the Loire Valley but don’t want to organise everything yourself, or you’d like some company, there are some excellent Loire Valley tours.

On this full-day tour or this full-day tour you will be taken on a comfortable coach from central Paris to some of the highlights of the Loire, including the magical Châteaux of Chambord and Chenonceaux, including wine tasting as well as a stop in the lovely town of Blois.

Or if you’re looking for a more intimate tour this small group tour or this guided tour will skip Blois and head to the famous Château and quaint town of Amboise where you can also visit the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. This way you can see some of the most iconic Loire Valley castles.

You can also organise a private tour if you prefer a more personalised tour.

It’s hard to fit all of the highlights into one day in the Loire Valley, but these tours do a good job and can be a great option instead of travelling alone.

Château de Chambord
Château de Chambord

By Train

There are several options to get to the Loire Valley from Paris by train, but by far the easiest is to the city of Tours.

This journey takes just over one hour, and there are trains leaving Paris Austerlitz and Montparnasse Stations approximately every half an hour throughout the day, so this is the best way to do your day trip from Paris by public transport.

There are also regular return journeys to Paris from Tours main station Gare De St-Pierre-Des-Corps, with the last train around 10.30 pm. You can view train schedules here.

Once you’ve arrived in Tours to start your day trip, you can take trains to most of the locations on our itinerary, however, taking local buses may be easier. Or, simply enjoy a day trip to Tours, as there’s plenty to see and do within the city.

If you do travel out of the city, you can head back to Paris from Amboise or Blois-Chambord via Orléans – although the last trains back are before 8 pm so try not to lose track of time.

The last stop on our itinerary is Chenonceaux, to get back to Paris, you’ll need to take the train back to Tours first, although this journey just takes 25 minutes.

By Bus

Bus isn’t the most practical way to reach the Loire Valley from Paris as it can take from 3 to 3 and a half hours from Paris Bus Station to Tours. So if you want to make the most of a day trip to the Loire Valley, you’ll have to get up early and get back late so you don’t spend your whole day on the road.

However, travelling by bus is the cheapest option to reach the Loire, with tickets to Tours under 10 euros, and many buses making the journey each day at all hours, so you’re not stuck travelling at inconvenient times. You can view bus schedules here.

Bus rides to Blois are slightly more expensive, but it does cut your journey down to 2 and a half hours to save you a bit more time on your day trip.

Cathedral in Tours
Cathedral in Tours

By Car

Driving is the easiest way to spend one day in the Loire Valley as a day trip from Paris, as you have the freedom to travel on your own schedule. However, you’ll want to leave Paris relatively early and get back late if you’re travelling during weekdays, as the traffic around Paris can be a nightmare.

Most of the time it’s manageable, however, when there are roadworks – as are common outside of the holiday season in France – navigating the roads to leave the city can be a bit complicated.

Google Maps has live traffic information, so it can be more useful than your car sat-nav for avoiding traffic, as well as avoiding toll roads.

There are many toll roads in France, which explains why the roads are in excellent condition, however, if you want to keep the cost of your trip down and take the scenic routes, you should avoid the main routes out of Paris.

The easiest way to reach Tours from Paris for the start of your day trip to the Loire Valley is to head towards Orléans on the A71 and turn off to Tours on the A10. However, this is a toll road and can cost you up to €36.00.

The best way to avoid it is by taking the N20 through Châteaudun, followed by the N10 to Tours. You should also be aware that Paris has a low emissions zone to reduce pollution, so some cars will be given an extra charge for driving through. Bear this in mind before bringing your own car or renting one from Paris.

Usually, the journey takes around 2 and a half hours from Paris to Tours, and there are car parks all over the city. Parking Relais, for example, is located in the centre of Tours and is open 24 hours, so you don’t need to worry about rushing back to your car in the evening.

If you need to rent a car for your time in France, you can browse Rentalcars.com which compares prices across major companies.

Loire Valley Day Trip Itinerary

There’s plenty to see in the Loire Valley, so ideally you’d spend a week or more in the area rather than just have a day trip.

However, since it’s so close to Paris, if you want to nip down for a glimpse of a château and a sip of white wine, you can structure your day to make the most of a day trip to the Loire Valley from Paris by sticking to one area – perhaps around the famed Chateau de Chambord.

If you have a car, the journey will be a lot easier as you can move around as you please, but it is possible to reach each location via train and bus.

Our Loire Valley day trip itinerary will take you from Tours to Chenonceaux, which is just a distance of 40 km, so you can easily drive there in a day, as well as take the train, bus, or even taxis to make the most of your time.

Tours

Arriving by train, bus or car into the centre of Tours, start your morning wandering around the old town. These beautiful city streets lined with colourful half-timbered houses make a wonderful backdrop for a morning stroll as well as a quick breakfast in a patisserie or little café.

Amble from the delightful Place Plumereau to the extravagant Basilica of Saint Martin via the Tours clocktower before heading for more sightseeing to see the wonderful architecture of the Tours Opéra and taking a stroll along the Loire River to see the 11th-century Château de Tours – one of the beautiful Loire castles.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Tuesday to Sunday, you can enjoy the large Tours street market where you can try the local speciality nougat and dried pears while perusing the fresh produce and seeing the locals go about their business.

Town hall of Tours
Town hall of Tours

Vouvray

One of the most important activities to do while in the Loire Valley, whether you’re there for a day trip or a week-long holiday, is wine tasting, and there’s nowhere more iconic than Vouvray. The town itself is rather small but is surrounded by vineyards, châteaux and caves where the locals have been making wine for centuries.

Take a bus, taxi, guided tour or drive to any of the fantastic vineyards for a great experience tasting the crisp whites and sparkling wines that Vouvray is famous for.

Visit the spectacular Musée de la Vigne et du Vin du Château de Moncontour, just 3 minutes driving from Vouvray centre for a wine experience like no other, tasting and learning about the local wines in the Château’s museum.

10 minutes north of Vouvray, you can have a more unique local experience, visiting the 26-hectare vineyard of Vigneau-Chevreau and exploring the troglodyte caves where the wine is aged and you can taste the local produce.

All wine-tasting experiences will provide a spittoon if you need one, or make sure you have a designated driver for the rest of your day trip.

Amboise

Arriving in Amboise we approach lunchtime, so either pick up a sandwich in a bakery in the centre to keep moving quickly, or stop in one of the many excellent bistros, restaurants, brasseries and fine dining restaurants for a great experience of the Loire cuisine.

But Amboise is by no means just a food stop; it’s one of the many must-see places of the Loire Valley – and for good reason! Depending on how much time you have, you can choose from two spectacular sites in the town to visit: Amboise Château or Leonardo da Vinci’s House.

Built in the 11th century and turned over to the crown in the 15th, Amboise Château is an incredible sight to behold from the town centre as it sits on a hilltop, overseeing the land and watching out for approaching attackers.

Decorated in the Renaissance style, Amboise Château was once the royal residence of famous French kings, notably François I, who invited da Vinci to live and work for the remainder of his life in a beautiful home just 400m away.

Wander around the castle and its grounds, and make sure to stop over in the château’s chapel, where da Vinci was laid to rest 500 years ago.

Perhaps more exciting than the King’s residence, is that of the legendary Italian artist and creative Leonardo da Vinci.

Da Vinci lived in the Château du Clos Lucé for just 3 years, although these were perhaps some of his most active years as an inventor for the King, as he designed everything from bridges to water transportation devices and war machines.

Inside the house, you can see where the artist lived upstairs, while on the lower floor, you can see small recreations of da Vinci’s designs amongst his drawings and plans, and videos explaining how each creation worked.

The most exciting part of the da Vinci property is located in the grounds. As you walk around the large wooded grounds with a river flowing through, you’ll come across recreations of da Vinci’s paintings hidden away in the treetops, as well as life-size models of his inventions.

Walk across the bridges, step inside the wooden tank and play with the many other intriguing inventions that the creator was working on for the King of France.

You could easily spend a few hours here, but keep an eye on the time as there’s one more stop on your Loire Valley day trip itinerary.

Chateau d`Amboise
Chateau d`Amboise

Chenonceaux

Just a 20-minute drive south of Amboise is one of the most beautiful and iconic châteaux of the Loire Valley: the Château de Chenonceau.

The huge castle stretches out over several arches onto the Cher River and is as remarkable to look at as it is to learn about as you explore the interior rooms. You can organise tickets here.

The Château de Chenonceau has changed hands many times in its nearly 600-year life, although almost always remaining in the hands of powerful women of France, from Diane de Poitiers to Catherine de Medici to Louise of Lorraine, each of whom made their own mark on the château.

Having fallen into disrepair in the 19th century, the castle became a military hospital before being restored and opened for visitors all across the world to explore and learn of the long history of the wives, mistresses and daughters-in-law of the Kings of France.

Wander through the great hall and large ornate rooms designed by Catherine de Medici, and stop by the dark, funerary chamber of Louise of Lorraine where she mourned her husband, before wandering around the incredible topiary in the castle gardens.

Depending on how much time you have left, you can stop by the town of Chenonceaux for dinner, or start to make your way back to Paris by train or bus via Tours or Blois, or drive back on the country roads to avoid the tolls near Orléans.

Château de Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau

Where to Stay in Paris

La Planque Hotel – Mid-range visitors to the French capital will love this cosy hotel. Located in a great central area perfect for day trips, they have a number of lovely rooms to choose from along with breakfast available each morning. Click here to check availability

Hôtel Jardin de Cluny – Those after a luxury option in Paris will love this chic hotel in the Latin Quarter. Whether you’re looking for a great base in the city or a good jumping-off point for some day trips, they have plenty of plush amenities to enjoy. Click here to check availability

My Maison In Paris Montmartre – These apartments in Paris’ Montmartre neighbourhood are an excellent choice for those after a self-catering option in the French capital. There are a range of flats to choose from that come equipped with all you may need during your time in the city and its surroundings. Click here to check availability

The People Paris Marais – If you’re looking for a great hostel in Paris will love this centrally-located option. They have both private rooms and dorm beds available and there’s also breakfast on offer in the mornings. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Paris hotels!

The Loire Valley is bursting with fun, historic and cultural activities, but fortunately, lots of the highlights are concentrated in a small area so you can have an excellent day trip to the Loire Valley from Paris, without spending too much time travelling.

Are you planning to visit the Loire Valley? Have any questions about this day trip? 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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