The lure of the Loire – chateaus, gateaus and tasty treats – it’s an irresistible combination. Some things are made for each other. Peaches and Cream. Cheese and wine. Chateaus and gateaus (castles and cakes). Which got me thinking about the best places in the UNESCO listed Loire Valley where you can feast like royalty – restaurants in castles or in the shadow of castles. Chefs who make dishes you’ll remember long after you’ve tasted them. Famous local wines, vegetables grown in castle gardens, historic dining rooms local specialities and irresistible sweet treats. Enjoy a taste of the Loire Valley…
Travel with your taste buds to Touraine, Loire Valley
For an authentic taste of the Loire Valley, add these delicious addresses to your itinerary and take a gastronomic journey of the French Valley of the Kings with these scrumptious recipes…
Chateau du Rivau
The Chateau du Rivau is a medieval fairy tale castle with magical gardens and a delicious restaurant. Its beautifully restored royal stables are thought to be the oldest in France – Joan of Arc arrived here in 1429 in search of a horse to carry her to battle. The rooms of the castle are beautifully furnished and embellished with an extraordinary art collection and regular exhibitions. The 14 fairy-tale like gardens at the foot of the château are a classified “Remarkable Garden of France” and house monumental works of art and an impressive collection of more than 460 varieties of roses, carefully selected for their scents. Read more about the Chateau du Rivau
EAT: While you’re there, the chateau has a lovely restaurant: Jardin Secret of Château du Rivau. On sunny days, you can dine outside in the heart of those scented rose gardens under a magical canopy. Vegetables are cultivated at the chateau farm, and wine is produced in their own vineyards. Products are locally sourced and exquisitely presented by Chef Nicolas Gaulandeau who offers innovative cuisine inspired by the Rivau garden and nature.
Tourraine speciality: Truffles
Black truffles flourish in Tourraine, growing at the feet of oak, hazelnut and even lime trees and local restaurants love to use this homegrown products.
Recipe for Brouillade aux truffes de Touraine – posh and scrumptious scrambled eggs and truffles!
Chateau de Chenonceau
The white façade of this exquisite château is reflected in the water of the Cher river, spanned elegantly by its famous gallery. Visit the gorgeous gardens and wander the rooms that are filled with most beautiful floral bouquets and rich furnishings. Read more about the Chateau Chenonceau and take a virtual visit.
EAT: Treat yourself to a memorable meal – and a choice of fabulous fromages from one of the best cheese platters I’ve ever seen. The Orangerie restaurant at the exquisite Chateau de Chenonceau is exceptional. I would go back there just for the cheese alone. Plus there are wonderful local wines. Here you’re in the heart of the AOC Touraine Chenonceaux appellation. Gourmet dishes (make sure you leave room for dessert) and a memorable setting make this a top notch dining experience…
Tourraine speciality: Macarons
Typical of the Touraine, recognisable by the legendary round shape, Cormery’s macarons are one of the oldest cookies in France!
Want a taste at home? Try the baker’s recipe: Cormery’s macarons by Pascal Debaud at the fabulous bakery Aux Vrais Macarons in Cormery
Chateau de Chambord
Turrets and towers galore. 400 rooms. 70 staircases and a park that’s bigger than inner Paris. This really is a castle on a grand scale. Read more about the Chateau de Chambord and take a virtual tour here.
EAT: Just a stone’s throw from the entrance of the French Renaissance glory of the Chateau de Chambord lies a 4 star hotel with a superb restaurant. Grand Saint-Michel restaurant has a fabulous terrace area. Here you can sit and sigh over the sight of that magnificent castle just 50 yards away, as you eat and drink. Inside is chic and contemporary country house style. Fresh, local, traditional – gourmet food is the order of the day.
Tourraine speciality: Nougat of Tours
Unlike the famous chewy nougat of Montélimar, Nougat of Tours is actually a cake. And it’s seriously scrumptious. Recipe for Nougat de Tours cake.
Royal Fortress of Chinon
The royal fortress sits majestically watching over its domaine, located high on the banks of the river Loire, right in the centre of the city. Built in 945 by Theobald I, Comte De Blois it has been a residence for both the French and English royal families. A highlight for the visitor is the lofty “gate” tower built in 1200. In the 14th century it was raised to make room for a clock. Gaze out from the viewing platform over the glorious town and countryside.
EAT: Loved by the locals, Le chapeau Rouge, in the centre of Chinon serves traditional and gourmet cuisine featuring locally sourced and seasonal produce. Chef Christophe Duguin is a local food ambassador making use of local and seasonal products wherever possible and his dishes are simply irresistible. www.touraineloirevalley.com/restaurants/au-chapeau-rouge-chinon
Tourraine speciality: Saffron
Did you know that saffron is produced in the Tourraine area? Just a few pounds of “red gold” is produced each year, one of the most expensive spices in the world! It’s popular in the kitchen, but it’s used for perfumes and dyes as well. Saffron also has anti-depressive qualities promotes digestion, regulates stomach functions and is also said to have other health benefits.
Chef Dugiun’s Touraine special recipe: Roasted scallops with saffron butter sauce
Discover what to see and do in Touraine, Loire Valley: TouraineLoireValley