The Loire Valley is a beautiful area of French countryside just south of Paris. With our backpacks in tow, we train traveled through the valley from Cheville to Orléans, then from Blois to Tours.
Orléans is, you guessed it, the city that New Orleans is named after. It was also home to Joan of Arc, and you can find statues and monuments in her likeness all over town.
While in Orléans, we stayed at the Hôtel Saint Martin and enjoyed some delicious French cuisine at the local restaurants.
Next, we bought a train ticket to Blois (pronounced BLah). We had reservations at the Hôtel & Restaurant Côté Loire, and it was one of our favorite hotels in France (minus the lack of A/C, which is pretty common in Europe). The house was built in the 16th century and was a short two-minute walk to the neighborhood castle.
The gentleman who owns the hotel was super friendly and spoke perfect English. The property had been in his family for generations. The hotel also had a top-notch restaurant, where I was able to order his grandmother’s recipe for foie gras. As you can see in the pictures below, the French know how to eat. He let us try and figure out the French menu ourselves before explaining what every item was in English. It was truly extraordinary service.
In addition to the town’s castle, or more formally referred to as Château Royal de Blois, there was also a Magic Museum. We toured both on the same day and had a fun time.
Next up we headed to Tours, which is a cool university town. This was one of Drew’s favorite stops on our trip. We stayed at the Hotel Colbert, and had a relaxing time shopping and eating delicious street food, which included pizza and Lebanese shwarmas (complete with French fries wrapped inside).
We went on a short bar crawl that evening where we spoke to a bartender who was telling us about IPAs. He said they were gaining popularity in France, but he knew they had been popular in America for quite some time.
Up next we continue southwest to Bordeaux, the heart of French wine country.