Loire Valley activities

As sometimes happens in planning a trip, we ended up with a few more days in the Loire valley than we need, but not enough to add an entirely new area to visit. So --after getting our fill of chateaus, etc., what recommendations do you have for other things to do in this area. Any particularly great wine places you have discovered, or hiking, or biking? We will have a car.
Thanks

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
657 posts

Bourges, not far east of the chateau country, has a wonderful cathedral. The zoo at Beauval, http://www.zoobeauval.com/, is supposed to be among the best in Europe. La Rochelle, on the coast SW of Tours, was the Huguenot stronghold in the 16th-century religious war, see Ina Caro's "Paris to the Past" for a descriptive chapter. Chartres is not far north of the Loire. Any of these could be a day trip, maybe La Rochelle would be better overnight.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
666 posts

You don't say which side of Tours you're staying on, or if it will be peak season. But note that there are some "special" chateaux, like Chinon, which is in ruins (and a really nice old-town walk), La Bourdaserie, which has extensive tomato variety and Dahlia (in season) gardens. At the big chateaux, there are sound and light shows in the summer, and candlelight "illuminations" a few evenings, if you can find the dates out enough to plan around them. To the west, there's the nuclear plant in Chinon (! no tours), the "Trogodyte" cave visits. Vitré is pretty and historic. Would you drive as far as St. Malo or Dinard (in season, too dull off-season)? You said you don't want to change regions, but a dismally frequent topic here is "How Can I Visit Mont St Michel on a one-day runout from Paris?" Do it now, if you haven't already.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3194 posts

Bike riding in the Loire would be very fun. That's what I'm gonna do next time. There's also hot air balloons! I can't think of a better place than the Loire to have that once in a lifetime experience.

Posted by Jean-Paul
indianapolis
159 posts

S+R, of all the places we visited, we LOVED two castles in particular. Chaumont sur Loire, and Loches. Chaumont sur Loire is gorgeous, fun, relaxing, energizing, nice nice nice... It's enclosed by gates and isn't connected to a village... some tourist shops below it so count on eating before going...look it up online. Loches is a childhood dream-come-true castle/village. We really should have spent twice the time there, and we were there for the day. There are multiple castles there all in one area, ruins and fortresses, a great walking village with food/novelties/etc/boulangeries/etc. Enjoy your visit!