The Loire Valley is one of the most adored regions of France. With its fairy-tale châteaux and breathtaking scenery, it’s not hard to see why. And getting to the Loire Valley by train couldn’t be easier with France’s high-speed TGV and Intercities trains. Whisking you from Paris to Tours or Orleans in just over an hour, the trains in France get you where you want to go. In this post, we give you tips for some of the top destinations in the Loire Valley and how to reach them by train − of course!
Things to See & Do in Orléans
Just an hour away from Paris by train, the town of Orléans is surrounded by Châteaux, gardens and wineries. And home to residents with plenty of savoir-faire. Consider a local peasant girl named Joan of Arc, who took her “divine guidance” to lead the French army to several victories during the Hundred Years’ War. Ultimately captured and burned at the stake at the ripe age of 19, today, this Maid of Orléans is considered a national heroine of France.
Visitors to Orléans can find reminders of Joan everywhere, including the Gothic Cathédrale Ste-Croix, where two golden leopards protect her pedestal. The Joan of Arc Museum reconstructs her life story and dedicates an entire floor to the yearly celebration the city holds every May 8th.
This is just the beginning of your journey into the Loire Valley. Take the 90 minute train ride to Tours, the perfect base for discovering the area’s shining examples of chaââteaux and gardens. Chenonceau is the second most visited castle in France after Versailles. Amboise was home to Frances I and Leonardo DaVinci. And Chambord isn’t just a raspberry-flavored liqueur, but a near-perfect example of French Renaissance architecture.
Train Travel Information:
You can take the train from Paris to Orleans. Travel time is approximately 1 hour on an Intercities train. Fares start at $20 per person.
Things to See & Do in Tours
Want to learn French? It’s been said that Tours, in the châteaux-rich Loire Valley, is where the purest form is spoken. As if the language weren’t beautiful enough, those in Tours apparently have that certain je nais se quoi when it comes to their linguistic prowess.
Although Tours doesn’t have any of its own châteaux, the city isn’t without its own charms. Called “Le Jardin de la France” thanks to its many parks, be sure to also visit Tours’ original medieval district, le Vieux Tours and la Place Plumereau, a square with busy pubs and restaurants.
For such a small geographic space, you’ll find a bounty of beautiful palaces surrounded by gardens. Nobility, the famous and the infamous, took advantage of the landscape in the Centre region, building castles of majestic proportions.
Just 25 minutes away you can visit the iconic Château Chenonceau. Chenonceau is built on the river Cher, where the unique beauty of its architecture reflects in the water. The Château is famous for its incredible gardens and art collections.
Train Travel Information:
You can take the train from Paris to Tours. Travel time is approximately 1 hour, 28 minutes on a high-speed TGV train. Fares start at $38 per person.
If you are already in the Loire Valley, you can hop on the train from Orleans to Tours, it’s about an hour away, or just 20 minutes from Amboise. You can purchase train tickets for these trips, or use a France Rail Pass.
Things to See & Do in Amboise
Amboise, just 20 minutes from Tours, was home to Leonardo DaVinci and who, as a guest of the king, came to live here in December 1515. Built on a promontory overlooking the Loire River back in the 11th century, it is the site of the first formal French garden.
It has often been noted that Amboise has the most Italian flair compared to all of the Loire Valley cities. Amboise is a serene, easygoing town not to be missed on your journey through the Loire Valley.
Many travelers appreciate the shopping areas as well as the esplanades located along the docks of the Loire, the best place to take in fantastic views of the river. A few of the must-see attractions include the royal castle, Clos-Lucé (where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last days), and the Chanteloup Pagoda.
Amboise is also the host to one of the largest markets in the area. The market is open every Friday and Sunday morning.
Train Travel Information:
You can take the train from Paris to Amboise via Orleans or St Pierre Des Corps. Travel time is approximately 1 hour, 35 minutes on a high-speed TGV train and local service. Fares start at $34 per person.
Final Thoughts on Visiting the Loire Valley by Train
The few cities mentioned in this blog post are just some examples of the amazing palaces and sights you’ll find in the Loire Valley. With Tours as your base, you can easily access the majesty of this region in just minutes thanks to an efficient train service. Don’t wait any longer, get your train tickets or France Rail Pass now to visit the Loire Valley by train. Or, perhaps look into the Loire Valley Day Tours offered by Rail Europe. And please, if you’ve visited this region, share your experience with us below in the ‘comments’ field!