There are more than 100 castles in France's Loire Valley, encompassing Orléans, Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Nantes, Saumur, Tours and beyond. Stretching along the Loire River, these royal châteaux are filled with fascinating history, opulent gardens, and breathtaking Renaissance architecture.
Before winter hits, take advantage of France's stunning autumn scenery by renting a bike and pedaling along the Loire à Vélo bike path to the castle(s) of your choice. On a recent crisp fall morning, we biked along the Cher from Tours to Château de Villandry and spent the afternoon strolling through the gardens, picnicking by the swan-filled pond, and exploring the castle-palace's interior. Villandry is famous for its gardens -- they look like they're straight out of Alice and Wonderland.