Nantes ~ St Nazaire ~ Angers ~ Loire Chateaux

Rising in the Massif Central, the Loire River is France’s longest waterway, winding its way over 630 miles to the Atlantic coast at Saint-Nazaire. A river cruise here is characterised by an array of elegant chateaux that have been home to French royalty and nobility for centuries, as well as fascinating medieval towns and the famous Loire Valley vineyards, of course.

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Typical Loire Cruise Itineraries

All Loire river cruises begin and end in Nantes, a charming city that is worth the trip alone. Once the seat of the Dukes of Brittany, you can explore their impressive castle, the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne, the city’s charming medieval quarter and one of the tallest cathedrals in France. That’s not to mention the glorious riverside boulevards, top class restaurants, lively bars and cultural attractions.

Embarking on your cruise, you will most likely travel downstream first to visit Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic coast – an atmospheric port that is full of maritime history with Europe’s largest ship yard to explore.

Cruising up river past Nantes, you soon arrive at Ancenis, an ancient medieval town complete with a stunning castle that has its origins as far back as 934. This is also the heart of Muscadet country, so a tasting tour to one of the historic wine producers of the area is a must.

Bouchemaine is the gateway to the fabled Chateaux of the Loire Valley. There are more than 1,000 within reach for a day trip. The closest to Bouchemaine, however, is probably one of the best. Chateau d’Ussé is quite literally the fairy-tale castle, being the fabled inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty with its cream stone and enchanting turrets and steeples. Chateau Azay-le-Rideau is a spectacular sight, being set on an island on the river Indre, while Chateau de Villandry is quite rightly known for its amazing gardens.

Medieval cobbled streets and the bustle of bars and restaurants are the order of the day in Angers. The 13th century Chateau d’Angers houses the world’s largest medieval tapestry. There’s wine tasting to be done here too, with Muscadet, Anjou and Samur wines all produced nearby, as well as Cointreau liqueur.

With some of France’s finest and grandest châteaux, world class wine tasting and fascinating history all around, a barge cruise on the Loire River has something to delight and entrance everyone.

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