Planning Your Time
More than a region in the usual sense, the Loire Valley is just that: a valley. Although most sites are close to the meandering river, it's a long way—225 km (140 miles)—between Orléans, on the eastern edge, and Angers to the west. If you have 10 days or so you can visit the majority of the destinations we cover. Otherwise, we suggest you divide the valley into three segments and choose the base(s) as time and taste dictate. To cover the eastern Loire (Chambord, Cheverny, Chaumont), base yourself in or near Blois; for the central Loire (Amboise, Chenonceaux, Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau), base yourself in or around Tours; and for the western Loire (Ussé, Chinon, Fontevraud, Angers), opt for pretty Saumur.