France’s Loire Valley is a fairytale dream come true. Dotted with storybook villages, bucolic scenery, elegant châteaux, and expansive vineyards, entering the Loire Valley may make one feel as if they have traveled back in time hundreds of years to enjoy France as it once was.

It is no wonder why the Loire Valley extracts such a sentiment. The kings of France flocked to the Loire Valley in the heyday of the Renaissance and transformed this “Garden of France” into a showcase of monarchy and money – a mark that still lives on today. More than 1,000 châteaux d’agrément (pleasure castles) from the era await the discerning traveler, each one more extravagant than the last. Curated gardens, swan-filled moats, hand painted frescoes, and spires of elegance reflect the finest remnants of the 16th century’s renowned opulence.

Traveling with Ker & Downey to the Loire Valley means experiencing the region like royalty. Gilded castles and private chateaux open their doors to you, allowing you to stay in complete luxury and to wine and dine with counts and countesses whose esteemed lineage can be traced back several centuries.

Following the Loire River from Anjou on the west coast to Orléans in the east, just south of Paris, travelers will find the region’s charms at their most concentrated. Icons such as Chenonceau, Cheverny, and Chambord, while frequently visited, are not to be missed.

Chenonceau, named The Castle of Six Queens, is perhaps the most romantic with its grand black and white limestone gallery and location spanning the Cher River. The Cheverny Castle, on the other hand, is frequently regarded as the most splendidly furnished chateau in the whole of the Loire Valley. This classic gem is still owned by the Hurault de Vibraye family who has lived within its walls since the 15th century, and guests of Ker & Downey may even be honored with a formal invitation to lunch with the Marquis de Vibraye himself. Then there are the 400+ chimneys and double spiral staircase of Chambord, a perfect retreat en route to and from Paris.

Further north travelers will find Le Mans, famous for both its legendary 24-hour race and for being the birthplace of the Plantagenêt dynasty, later kings of England. Surrounded by the longest and best-preserved Gallo-Roman walls in France, dating from the third century, this medieval town offers a true “time tunnel” experience so much so that it often serves as the setting for historic films.

Allow Ker & Downey to personalize your next Loire Valley foray with a range of lovely chateaux, historical discoveries, charming scenery, sleepy towns, and idyllic gardens and vineyards fit to your tastes.