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Loire Valley

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1 800 735 2478

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Rémy Giraud
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Grand Chef at the Domaine des Hauts-de-Loire
I invite you to join me in a journey along the water, between the châteaux of the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site

Born in the Vendée, I arrived in the Loire Valley with my wife in 1986 with the intention of spending a couple of years here. That was over 25 years ago. I obviously like the châteaux of the Loire! The splendour of some of the estates and their settings make them the perfect place to relax and get away from it all. I also love the wild Loire river. Whenever I have a little free time, I like to go there to fish or kayak. I also like working in my garden – I grow a nice collection of herbs, but I also enjoy growing flowers. I escape from the town and its stresses by going to the surrounding forests to look for seasonal mushrooms. Is it any wonder that this region is known as the “Garden of France”? A garden which continues every day to fill me with enthusiasm.

Relais & Châteaux proposes its Routes du Bonheur for your inspiration: they are suggestions of itineraries that you can adapt to your preferences and desired experiences. Our advisors are at your disposal to individualise your routes and help you make reservations at our properties.
Example for a four-night stay from €932*
* Minimum indicative rate per person, subject to availability, on the basis of a double room with double occupancy, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner (menu, without beverages) in the properties suggested for the itinerary.
Activities on site and nearby must be reserved by you.

My Route du Bonheur
First stage: two days, one night

Grand Hôtel du Lion d’Or

Nature is an endless source of inspiration to be translated into emotions
Grand Hôtel du Lion d’Or
This fine hotel has been in Didier Clément’s family for more than fifty years. It offers guests a contemporary feel in a Renaissance setting. Built in 1774 by a friend of King François I, this Renaissance-style hôtel particulier was for many years the residence of the town magistrate. The grand chef’s cuisine is a refined and subtle mixture of seasonal ingredients. Give in to his desserts, before withdrawing to one of the hotel’s lovely rooms.

On the route...

Chocolats Max Vauché

It is in the little village of Bracieux that Max Vauché produces his delicious chocolates. I admire his ethical practices and the idea that he processes his cocoa beans himself. Next to his laboratory, he has set up a small museum dedicated to chocolate and the production process. During a tasting session, make sure to try his “Larmes du cerf” and “Malices du loup”.

Max Vauché

Château de Cheverny

This was the inspiration for the famous Marlinspike Hall in The Adventures of Tintin. The estate has belonged to the same family for over six centuries. At certain times, the Orangerie hosts charming exhibitions as well as sales of old masters.

Château de Cheverny

Château de Chambord

Built in the 16th century, the Château de Chambord is the jewel in the Loire Valley’s crown. You must visit at least once in your life, to lose yourself in its 440 rooms (90 of which are open to visitors). I like to ride my bike along the forest paths which branch out from the château, or go jogging there in the early morning. This is the largest enclosed wooded park in France. But that is another story...

Château de Chambord

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : GIRAUD

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Stage 2: one night, one day

Domaine des Hauts de Loire

A lush green setting full of history
Domaine des Hauts de Loire
“A family atmosphere” – this is what springs to mind when I’m asked to describe this splendid estate. Our team has worked together for years now, serving our clients who appreciate the serenity of the estate and the tranquility of the Loire Valley. This old hunting lodge, tucked away inside a vast estate, is something rather special. From the rooms to the cuisine, it is chic, but never stuffy, with welcoming staff. And then there is the pleasure of sharing a meal together…

Close to the property...

Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival

I never miss this festival, which started in 1992. I use what I see there as inspiration for my own garden. Prestigious landscapers and gardeners come from all over the world, reinterpreting the very idea of a garden and the world around us. You can take part in “conversations sous l’arbre” [“conversations under the tree”] as well as illuminated night-time tours. I sometimes leave the festival with flowers or plants, but always with plenty of ideas!

Chaumont-sur-Loire

On the route...

My personal favourite: Bar-net fishing

With a doctorate in the ecology of migratory fish, my friend Philippe Boisneau is one of the few remaining fishermen who use the bar-net fishing method on the Loire. Between March and May, he mainly catches shads. Once the net is stretched out, it blocks nearly three-quarters of the Loire. You can see him at work from the riverbank between Onzain and Amboise. I buy shads, zander and pike from him, as well as the small fish which we serve fried in our restaurant. If you bump into him, he is a fascinating man!

Navigate under Chenonceau

What could be nicer, in summer, than renting a small boat and drifting down the Cher under the splendid Château de Chenonceau? This might be the most pleasant way to discover this masterpiece, built on the water in 1513. You can escape from the crowds and get up close with its history.

Chenonceau

Château de Noizay

This is both a historic site and a modestly-sized castle. It is here that in the 16th century, at Noizay, the Duke of Guise fought against Protestants who wanted to abduct King Francis II. You get to discover this story on the castle’s stained-glass windows. Noizay is both a cosy and splendid establishment. An ideal stop to rest and discover young chef Sébastien Hervé, whose cuisine intelligently highlights the region’s products and wines. After coffee, be sure to visit the very beautiful park and one of the castle’s nineteen rooms.

Château de Noizay

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : GIRAUD

Calling from another country ? Click here

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Stage 3: one day, one night

Les Hautes Roches

Happiness on the rocks
Les Hautes Roches
The owner, Philippe Mollard, has pulled off a really impressive feat with this highly unique hotel. Believe it or not, the spacious and luxurious rooms were, just a few years ago, caves! Carved into the rock, these caves were once the homes of monks from the neighbouring abbey. Today they welcome guests in search of an unusual experience. It is the perfect place to stop off and appreciate chef Didier Edon’s excellent cuisine. The hotel looks out over the Loire.

Close to the property...

Terre exotique

This is the shop where I buy my spices. Located in Rochecorbon at 61 quai de la Loire, this shop is a veritable Ali Baba’s cave. I particularly like their floral infusions, salt pearls and their caramel sugar. Just three of the many reasons to visit this world of spices.

Terre Exotique

Sample some Vouvray

This is one of the oldest producers of Vouvray. Founded in 1893, the Maison Brédif possesses superb cellars, which were dug into the tuffeau stone in the 10th century. During your visit, make sure to try the excellent classic and sweet Vouvray wines. The Maison Brédif belongs to the Baron de Ladoucette.

De Ladoucette

On the route...

Villandry gardens

I keep coming back to this garden, which is unique in Europe. Between March and November, these gardens à la française offer an ever changing array of colours and perfumes. You can wander through these delightful gardens as you please. They contain some 40 varieties belonging to 8 botanical families. What more is there to say?

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : GIRAUD

Calling from another country ? Click here

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Stage 4: one day, one night

Château de Noirieux

Experience the unique charm of the Anjou region
Château de Noirieux
In the heart of the Anjou countryside, overlooking the Loir, the Château de Noirieux is a true oasis of calm. Anja and Gérard Côme manage this vast 9-hectare estate, where elegance rhymes with fragrance, right up to the bedrooms, which are all delicately scented with a different perfume. Major renovations in 1989 restored the estate to its former glory. This unique place, harmonious and serene, holds a stone altarpiece which is listed as a historic monument as well as a splendid marquetry piano by ?rard.

Close to the property...

Château d’Angers

It is not the Loire, but the Maine river which flows alongside the imposing medieval fortress of Angers. In the shadow of its 17 towers of shale and tuffeau you will find the largest known medieval tapestry, the Apocalypse Tapestry, with 70 scenes woven over more than 100 metres!

On the route...

Le Cadre Noir

Imagine a site of 300 hectares, home to some 400 horses and dozens of professional riding masters. The Cadre Noir de Saumur is a sort of Relais & Châteaux for horse riding. This is an absolute must for horse lovers, who come from far and wide to admire the work and the shows put on by the National Riding School and the Cadre Noir.

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : GIRAUD

Calling from another country ? Click here

Texts : © Guides Gallimard