Unique Loire Valley France Travel Experience

Are you looking for a unique travel experience in the Loire Valley in France?

Are you heading to the Loire Valley in France for some luxury travel? Are you interested in a unique Loire Valley France experience? During a recent visit to the Loire Valley in France, I came upon a very interesting site- what appeared to be dwellings carved into the cliffs overlooking the Loire River.  As I floated down the quiet river, gazing up at the cliffs in awe, my guide informed me that there were, indeed, dwellings carved into the cliffs many centuries ago.  Surprisingly, these dwellings, called troglodytes, continue to be used today.  Cut from the soft, golden tufa stone cliffs, the troglodytes could best be described as resembling caves.  How did they get there? This is an excellent question!

What is the history of troglodyte dwellings and are they still used?

Let’s not forget that as the French citizens became restless, the kings of France departed their castles in Paris for what they believed to be the safety of the Loire Valley and of course, they needed accommodations that were “fit for a king”. As a result, the Loire Valley is home to some of France’s most beautiful castles and many of these castles were built from the golden tufa limestone.  The stone would be quarried from around the Loire Valley and taken to build these castles,leaving carved out areas or caves behind.  The caves were perfect for a family to use–they had the benefit of being a bit cooler in the summer and protecting the inhabitants from the elements in the winter.  At present, these troglodytes can be seen along the tufa cliffs as you explore the Loire Valley in France. Some of my favorite examples of troglodytes can be found in Saumur, which is also world-renowned for its white wines.  I would suggest that you stop in Saumur to explore this interesting architecture as well as some of their very fine wine caves.

You can stay in a luxury troglodyte hotel!

Many clients are interested in experiences that are one-of-a-kind.  May we suggest a stay in a troglodyte hotel?  A fine example of a lovely, luxury hotel that also offers an opportunity to experience this unusual architecture first-hand is the four-star (4*) Les Hautes Roches, which is located between Vouvray and Tours. This hotel, which is perfectly located for touring, allows you to sleep like a king but experience something new and unique.

Loire Valley castles made of luminous tufa stone

Now that you are in the Loire Valley and you have seen these interesting dwellings, where can you find some examples of the castles built with this warm stone?  Some fine can be found throughout the Loire Valley.  The Chateau de Chenonceau, which is also known as the “Ladies’ Castle”, is one of the best examples of building with this porous limestone.  Also notable is the Chateau de Brézé in Saumur.  Travel back in time into Brézé’s underground fortress and hear the tales of the lords and ladies and those who served them who resided here.  Don’t forget to try the wine offerings at Brézé as well!

Have I piqued your interest in the Loire Valley?  Please feel free to contact us at SVP Tours for a customized tour of the beautiful land of castles and kings, the Loire Valley.  While there, allow us to arrange for a private visit of some troglodytes and castles and perhaps even a wine tasting or two.  If you can dream it, we can make it happen!

Happy holidays!

Troglodytes along the Loire River

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Christmas Markets in France

Bonne Année and Joyeux Noel- Christmas market time!

It is holiday time in France, which is a very special time.  As families prepare for the Christmas festivities and feasts, they are also enjoying the traditional Christmas markets.  This is one of the many European traditions that I would love to see here in the United States!  Famed throughout Europe, Christmas markets are a “must see” if you are in France in December.  Known as the “Marché de Noel”,a visit to these markets makes you feel like you are stepping into a storybook. Beautiful twinkle lights shine over the cobblestone squares as the local producers sell their wares under little wooden stalls that are built for the occasion. Christmas cakes, gingerbread and mulled wine (“vin chaud”) beckon you to taste them.  Unusual decorations and crafts make perfect presents for friends and family. This is also a wonderful opportunity to restock your wine collection so keep your eyes open for some amazing French wine!  Some Christmas markets feature parades, bands and sound and light shows.  They are certainly a sight to see!

Although many of the larger markets are in northern France in places such as Lille and Strasbourg, they can be found throughout France in places like  Toulouse, Reims, Colmar, Bordeaux and  Avignon. Although there are only a couple weeks remaining before the Christmas markets bid us “adieu” until next year, there is still plenty of time to experience this wonderous French tradition.  If you can dream it, we can make it happen.

Experience the wonder of the Christmas markets in France

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