How to Plan a Loire Valley Day Trip from Paris
The Loire Valley, in Central France, is a wonderful area to explore. Follow the Loire River whilst visiting pretty medieval towns, awesome Renaissance châteaux, and tasting great food and wine.
Although the Loire Valley is best explored on a weekend getaway from Paris or – even better – on a Loire Valley Road Trip, the Loire Valley is relatively close to the French capital, so it is possible to get a glimpse of this wonderful region on a Loire Valley day trip from Paris. Actually, a day trip from Paris to Loire Valley – self-guided or with a guided tour – is one of the most popular day trips from Paris!
The Loire Valley is one of the most visited places in France. Here are some things to know when planning a day trip to Loire Valley from Paris to make the trip a smooth and memorable one.
The Loire Valley is one of the most popular day trips from Paris. Click here for the list of best day trips from Paris
Best Castles to Visit on Your Day Trip to Loire Valley from Paris
In the Loire Valley, you will find some of the most beautiful French castles to visit. Most of the Châteaux de la Loire were built during the Renaissance, so they are very different from the castles near Paris like the Palace of Versailles, Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, or Château de Pierrefonds.
If you don’t know what castles to visit during your Loire Valley day trip, this list of Best Loire Valley Castles may be helpful. For a Paris to Loire Valley day trip, we recommend choosing only 1 or 2 castles.
If you want to visit the Loire Valley on a day trip from Paris, don’t waste your time waiting in line to buy the castle tickets. Below we list the Loire Castles you will need advance tickets for and have added links to our favorite trusty providers for your convenience.
TIP: Save money with the combo passes Leonardo da Vinci Loire Valley Pass (Château d’Amboise + Clos de Lucé + Château de Chambord) and Loire Valley Châteaux Pass (Château de Blois + Château de Chenonceau + Château de Chambord).
Best Towns to Visit on a Paris to Loire Valley Day Trip
Beaugency is a small town set along the Loire River in the Loiret department. It has a pretty medieval center and some interesting sites, such as the old bridge over the Loire River or the 15th-century Château de Dunois.
Situated on the edge of the Loire River in the Loir-et-Cher department, Blois was in the past home to the French Kings. Visit the Royal Château of Blois – a must of the Loire Valley – and explore the old town, with beautiful medieval architecture and interesting sights.
Amboise is a pretty small town in the Indre-et-Loire department. It is best known for the Royal Château d’Amboise, home to King Charles VIII, and for the Clos de Lucé, the residence where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life. If you want to visit both sites, buy this convenient bundle Château d’Amboise + Clos de Lucé and save money.
Wine Regions to Visit on a Day Trip from Paris to Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is not only about Renaissance châteaux or medieval towns. A day trip to the Loire Valley can also be an opportunity to discover and taste some of France’s most prestigious wines, like Coteaux du Layon, Chinon, Sancerre, Saumur, Bourgueil, Fiefs Vendéens, or Vouvray.
If you are looking for lighter wines, the Loire Valley’s vineyards are right up your alley. There are great selections of lighter red wines, delicate, fruity white wines, sweet rosés, and a large production of sparkling wines.
If you are based in the French capital and looking to experience the wine culture of France, consider a Loire Valley wine tour from Paris, or just visit one of the many wineries in Loire Valley yourself on a self-guided wine tour.
Best Wineries to Visit in the Loire Valley
All these Loire Valley wineries offer top-rated tours and tastings in French and English. A visit to these wineries is also a great opportunity to buy excellent wines directly from the producers. Book your visit online in advance.
- Domaine Thierry Cosme – Vouvray
- Domaine Les Pièrres d’Aurèle – Touraine
- Domaine Cahterine et Michel Langlois – Pouilly Fumé
- Domaine Jean-Marc et Mathieu Crochet – Sancerre
Check out this map of the Loire Valley with the best wineries to visit pinpointed.
How to Get to Loire Valley from Paris
A day trip Paris to Loire Valley is possible. However, the options are very limited, especially if you want to travel to Loire Valley from Paris by public transportation. Here’s how to get to Loire Valley from Paris on a day trip.
1. Loire Valley Tours from Paris
Loire Valley tours from Paris are the most comfortable and effective way to visit the Loire Valley for a day. Sit on the van and enjoy the landscape without having to worry about directions, transfers, or train connections.
There is a good variety of Loire Valley tours of all sizes, mainly focused on the most famous Loire Valley Castles. Some of the tours only include transportation and entrance tickets whilst other tours also come with lunch and wine tastings.
>> This small-group tour by minibus is consistently rated 5/5 and covers Château de Chenonceau, Château d’Amboise, and Château de Chambord with a wine-tasting in Amboise. You and you cannot do better than this on your own! – Click here to book this Loire Valley small-group tour
>> Welcome Pickups offers customized day tours from Paris to Loire Valley. You can visit all the places from the suggested list or pick only the ones you like. During the stops, you can do whatever you want and as long as you want within the overall time limit of the trip.
>> If you are more interested in wineries than castles, check out this Loire Valley wine tour from Paris which explores the wine regions of Pouilly and Sancerre with wine tastings with a local expert guide.
2. Paris to Loire Valley Day Trip by Car (self-guided)
This is the best and most flexible option to visit the Loire Valley on a day trip from Paris, but if you don’t have your own car, it is not very interesting to rent a car only for this day trip.
The Loire Valley by car is a good option to explore the towns or Loire Castles off the beaten path or the Loire Castles not well connected by public transportation.
Here are some driving distances and times to the best Loire Castles near Paris:
- Paris to Château de Chambord: 1h 48min
- Paris to Château de Blois: 1h 45min
- Paris to Château d’Amboise: 2h 09min
- Paris to Château d’Azay-le-Rideau: 2h 39min
- Paris to Château de Villandry: 2h 30min
- Paris to Château de Chenonceau: 2h 26min
- Paris to Château de Chaumont sur Loire: 2h 04min
Usually, the Loire Valley Castles have their own car parks (paying or for free) near the castle entrance. Parking is definitely more complicated in towns or small cities like Amboise or Blois.
3. Paris to Loire Valley Day Trip by Public Transportation (self-guided)
If you want to travel from Paris to Loire Valley by train, your best bet is the areas around Amboise and Blois. Both places have a few direct train connections for Paris day-trippers, and with good planning, you can combine both with a bus trip from Blois to Chambord.
Here’s the list of train distances and times for reference:
- Train Paris – Blois: 1,5-2h one way (direct or via Orléans)
- Bus Blois – Château de Chambord: 30min one way (check out the bus schedule)
- Train Paris – Amboise: 2-2,5h (direct or via Orléans)
Tips for Your Day Trip Paris to Loire Valley
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE LOIRE VALLEY
A day trip to Loire Valley during the shoulder seasons (spring or fall) is ideal because there are fewer tourists, and the gardens are especially beautiful with the first blooms or under the fall colors.
In the summer, the best Loire Valley Castles see the crowds (skip-the-line tickets are highly recommended), and you may enjoy the visits less. However, summer is also the season of many beautiful festivals in the Loire Valley towns. Some of the Loire Castles also host music festivals, garden festivals, or sound and light night festivals.
Winter is the less interesting season to visit the Loire Valley, and some of the lesser-known Loire Castles may be closed to the public. However, in wintertime, skip-the-line tickets are not necessary, and you can enjoy the best Loire Valley Castles without the crowds.
LESS IS MORE
Choose only 1-2 Loire Castles to visit for your Loire Valley day trip from Paris. Consider an average of 1-2 hours of visit per castle but some of them have such beautiful grounds that you could easily spend the full day on it!
For the perfect day trip from Paris to Loire Valley, try to combine small towns, Loire Valley Castles, and food and wine tasting. Guided day tours are usually good at doing this.
TRAVEL LIGHT, WITH GOOD WALKING SHOES
Bring good walking shoes, you are going to walk a lot! And don’t forget your refillable bottle of water to keep you hydrated.
A camera is a must! Some châteaux, like Château de Chambord, don’t allow tripods in. You are warned!