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Loire Valley

Last month we rented a car and made a trip down to the Loire Valley, which is a few hours south of Paris. We stayed in a little town called Amboise and had a great weekend visiting chateaus and seeing the country. The Loire Valley is known for it’s chateaus but with our time and kids tagging along we only made time to see two. First we visited Chateau Chambord, which was very large and beautiful (reminded me of Downton Abbey!) It has a really amazing staircase that I didn’t take pictures of but it was beautiful.

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Then we visited Chateau Chenonceau which was built over a river. It was my favorite and still had Christmas decorations up, so it felt cozy. The castles of course were really beautiful but they both had beautiful gardens and grounds. It was chilly out but we were bundled up and spent a long time walking around outside. I can see how it would be really great to visit in warmer weather. At the end of the trip we stopped by Leonardo Da Vinci’s home and went to Zoo Beauval for a few hours which was a really great little zoo nearby.  It was a perfect short little getaway with kids. I can’t wait to see more someday. Have you ever visited the Loire Valley? What were your favorite chateaus?

photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day


  1. Jeanelle @ Glocal Girl

    February 8, 2012

    I was at Chateau Chambord for my birthday last summer! My boyfriend’s family lives in the Loire Valley (in a small town called Meung) and I loved every minute of it… its like a step back in time! Nice to see you enjoyed your little getaway 🙂

  2. Lea

    February 8, 2012

    Great website and great post… but chateaux not chateaus, or even better Châteaux 😉

  3. Jon

    February 8, 2012

    Well at least you saw the two best Chateaux on your visit here to the Loire.

    “Great little zoo” You must of seen some big zoos – I think Beauval is the second biggest in Europe 🙂

  4. Misha

    February 8, 2012

    How amazing. Storybook amazing, for sure…

  5. pigeon pie

    February 8, 2012

    Oh how incredible! I’m moving to france with my husband in 6 months and things like this just leave me frothing at the mouth with excitement!

  6. abby

    February 8, 2012

    it DOES remind me of downton abbey!i would half expect to discover o’brien and thomas scheming in the back somewhere or mr. bates in the hallway with anna! haha- very beautiful; must be unforgettable memories for your family.

  7. penny

    February 8, 2012

    OH! Your photos make me ache to travel again. After twins and then a happy ‘surprise’ third, five international plane tickets has proved prohibitive! My husband and I used to love taking off for a month at a time and just taking the train place to place. Thanks for the post. My kids loved looking at the castles…..until we can do it in person photos will have to suffice.

  8. Hannah @ Sparrow + Spark!

    February 8, 2012

    Love these pics, they are very atmospheric. The Loire valley is really beautiful.

  9. rachael

    February 8, 2012

    fancy penguins!

  10. Rebekka

    February 8, 2012

    Wow, this one has left me speechless. I had no idea LDV had a home like that. Amazing!!!!! I know your children are very young, but I can’t help but believe that at least some of the French joie de vivre will be lodged in their subconsciousness for the rest of their lives 🙂

    Oh, also, thank you for posting about my house portraits a couple of weeks ago…what an honor!



  11. whitney

    February 8, 2012

    wow. the photos are fantastic. i’m sure your visit was too. were your children entertained? or did they just run around?

  12. Amy

    February 8, 2012


  13. Caddy

    February 8, 2012

    It looks lovely. I don’t think I’ve been to the Loire Valley I’m unsure because I drove through France from Nice to Paris in a bus in 3 days and know we stopped over in several places (shame I can’t remember much as I was ill and sleeping it off quite a bit). But it looks lovely! I love the garden maze and that photo of that endless stream under the trees.

  14. Jjanga

    February 8, 2012

    Soooo beautiful! I wish I could just go visit such a beautiful valley so easily!

    xoxo, Jjanga

  15. Priscila

    February 8, 2012

    I love that area, especially Amboise and the DaVinci exhibits in his house. We spent a whole day there. Wonderful.

  16. Seriously Sassy Mama

    February 8, 2012

    I am officially jealous!

  17. Jill

    February 8, 2012

    Beautiful pictures! Looks like a lovely place to visit. Also, love your coat!
    Have a great day,

  18. Corina

    February 8, 2012

    I have wonderfull memories of a visit to the Loire Valley many many years ago. If memory serves me correctly the double spiral staircase at Chambord was designed by Da Vinci? Love your blog 🙂

  19. The New Diplomats Wife

    February 8, 2012

    I did this trip with my parents a few years ago and even though it was April, the weather looks like it was pretty similar. The chateaus are gorgeous but that weather makes you realize that living in such a ginormous space was no picnic before central heating!

  20. Rocio Pérez

    February 8, 2012

    Thank you for the photos and the comments. I want to go with my family (three kids) this summer and seeing your photos I think it´s going to be a really nice trip.

  21. Amanda Jane Jones

    February 8, 2012

    Oh wow…this looks so dreamy!

  22. leah

    February 8, 2012

    How wonderful to have such a great photographer with you everywhere you go, documenting all these precious mommy moments. I love every single picture, and now have some serious (but non-resentful) travel envy!

  23. rhiannon

    February 8, 2012

    these photos are so amazing and gorgeous!!

  24. Staci @ My Friend Staci

    February 8, 2012

    This brings back so many memories! Looks like you and your family had a wonderful time.

  25. Candace Prokopets

    February 8, 2012

    Oh these are just beautiful! I love all the details you share. Makes me wanna go book a trip! Hopefully…one of these days.

  26. Emily

    February 8, 2012

    Absolutely stunning, and you’re right– it is like Downton Abbey! Would love the chance to see all of these beauties one day.

  27. Rose

    February 8, 2012

    Wow. I must buy a real camera. Looking at these photos makes me realize my iPhone is just not cutting it anymore.

  28. It’s a shame you didn’t make it to our end of the Loire — we tweeted you to come for a tasting at the château! Hope you’ll be back soon! We have lots of fascinating sights only minutes away (Chinon: where Joan of Arc visited, Fontevraud: where Richard the Lionheart is buried).

    The Château du Petit Thouars
    37500, Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, La Chaussée

  29. Desiree

    February 8, 2012

    OHHH I love the Loire Valley! I went after college and visited quite a few chateaus, DaVinci’s home, and a lot of wineries. Such a beautiful area of France and I loved seeing these photos!

  30. sunray

    February 8, 2012

    Thanks to your Instagram feed, we are going to visit both of them this May! 🙂

  31. OhAbigail

    February 8, 2012

    Lovely post! I visited the same area a couple of years ago with my family. We had a lovely time, loved the Macaron and tea stops almost as much as the scenery!

  32. Danae

    February 8, 2012

    Beautiful! It seems as though you had both places to yourselves. How nice!

  33. Suzanne

    February 8, 2012

    Thanks for taking us with you on this dreamy tour! The atmosphere was absolutely perfect – damp, dreary, but totally magical.

    Hello, Downton! 🙂

  34. Amy P

    February 8, 2012

    When I went to Europe, I liked the zoos better than the chateaux and castles…what can I say?! They’re just so neat!

  35. Judy

    February 8, 2012

    You probably rued the fact that it was a rainy day at Chateu Chambord, but I love the picture with the blue umbrella.

    The smaller, um, “house” on the right side of the road in the Chateau Chenonceau pics is probably some sort of dwelling for distant relatives, but I’d choose to live there over the big one in a second! Most, most favorite I ever saw!

  36. Notes from Holly St.

    February 8, 2012

    the chateau’s look absolutely magical! would love to visit someday.

  37. LARY @ Inspiration Nook

    February 8, 2012

    Love this! You make my “dream trip” to France bigger every day 🙂

  38. Melissa

    February 8, 2012

    Gorgeous! I wrote an architectural history research paper on the Chateau Chambord in college and would love to actually visit someday!

  39. the trendy frog

    February 8, 2012

    Good pictures!
    🙂 Kisses from Spain

  40. Jessica

    February 8, 2012

    I was at Chenonceau a few years back and absolutely loved it! It was warm and beautiful that day – I can still remember standing on one of the balconies looking out over the gardens and just thinking how lucky I was to be there. Can’t wait to get back to France! Your blog inspires me to pick and move to Paris myself… it’s always been a dream of mine. Thank you for your lovely posts!

  41. Alexa

    February 8, 2012

    Goodness it is just lovely! 🙂

  42. Sarah @ Designsgood

    February 8, 2012

    What a lovely trip. I think it’s soo cool that you’ve introduced your young family to so many wonderful experiences!

  43. Jess

    February 8, 2012

    Your pictures always make me dream of going back to France! <3

  44. Amanda A.

    February 8, 2012

    Chenonceau was my favorite, definitely – there is just something so magical about it being suspended over that river. I studied abroad in Paris in college and we got to spend our first month living in Tours, which is thirty minutes from Amboise and an enchanting little town all its own. These pictures make me ache to return with my husband and one day, our future children. Love your tips for traveling with kids, too – you make everything seem so manageable 🙂 Bisous!

  45. Christina

    February 8, 2012

    I was able to visit the Loire Valley about 7 years ago. It really was that beautiful. I, too, went to Chambord and Chenonceau. How I would just love to live there…

  46. mes bijoux

    February 8, 2012

    I’ve never been at that part of France (my nickname is french, but I’m from Barcelona, but I looove France so much…) I hope that we could visit it nearly, because as I see from your pictures it is so beautiful.

  47. Jessica

    February 8, 2012

    Why doesn’t America look this cool??

  48. House Decorator

    February 8, 2012

    Very lovely chateau. It’s like from a fairy tale scene. Enchanting and beautiful.

  49. kristen

    February 8, 2012

    oh, i would just love to go there!!!!! how lovely.

  50. Cheryl

    February 8, 2012

    Wow! beautiful! So Pride & Prejudice 😉

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