Photographs courtesy of Loire Valley Tourism
Known as “the garden of France,” the Loire Valley region of France draws in visitors thanks to its iconic chateaux like Chambord and Chenonceau, world-famous wine including Sancerre, and quintessential French art de Vivre present throughout the region. Located just a quick drive or train ride from Paris, the Loire Valley flourishes in the summer months with events including nighttime illuminations at the chateaux, live music, garden festivals, and, of course, Bastille Day celebrations. Visitors can catch a spectacular sound and light show each summer evening in the courtyard of the Château Royal de Blois, which tells the unique history of the city through an immersive experience on the façade of the château. On the first weekend of July, visitors can experience the Nights of a Thousand Lights at Château de Villandry, in which the chateau is illuminated with 2,000 candles.
July is also the perfect month for a bike ride along the Loire a Velo, a traditional boat ride under the arches of Chateau de Chenonceau, or an outdoor drink at one of the many Guinguettes (open-air cafes with live music on the banks of the Loire).
Le Fleur de Loire
On June 13, 2022, a new 5-star hotel and gastronomic restaurant opened in the town of Blois, called Fleur de Loire, helmed by two-Michelin-starred Chef Christophe Hay. A lifelong project from Hay, the new property aims to offer an oasis of tranquility that promotes the riches and heritage of the Loire region, while also promoting eco-responsible values.
Housed in a 17th-century building designed by the brother of King Louis XIII, the hotel offers the feel of a refined family home. The Fleur de Loire features 44 rooms (including 11 suites), a gourmet restaurant, a bistro, a pastry kiosk, a swimming pool, and a state-of-the-art Sisley branded spa set to open in early July 2022. Hay’s restaurant showcases the best of the region’s unique terroir, including produce from local farmers, local truffles, wine from Cheverny, meat from the chef’s ranch, and herbs and vegetables from the on-site garden.
The grounds and gardens are designed by landscape designer Raphaëlle Chéré, with a commitment to a sustainable, eco-responsible approach, while Caroline Tissier will oversee the interior design.
Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire
Located just a 20-minute drive from Blois, the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the International Garden Festival this year, from April 21 to November 6, 2022. The festival has been a major destination for contemporary creation and landscape design since 1992, acting as a breeding ground for new talent. This year’s theme is centered around the “ideal garden,” questioning our current relationship with nature due to global warming, urbanization, and more. This year, designers were encouraged to showcase their innovative visions by using new materials, new plants, new techniques, and more.
The anniversary coincides with the opening of Le Bois des Chambres, the first-ever hotel that opened at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. The property, designed by architect Patrick Bouchain, offers 39 uniquely designed rooms and suites as well as a gourmet restaurant. Located in a restored farmhouse, in addition to original architectural creation, each room has a different theme dedicated to the nature that surrounds the hotel. The property also features original artworks on display throughout the hotel.
Just an hour and a half drive southeast of Blois lies the medieval city of Bourges, Villa Monin is a new exhibition space dedicated to the famous Monin gourmet syrups, the space offers a cabinet of curiosities around flavors and aromas, an immersive tour of the syrup production, cooking classes and workshops led by chef Thierry Finet, as well as a syrup tasting bar. Local Bourges confectioner Daniel Mercier also offers a chocolate-themed tour within the space.