My road trip in France was not like any road trips, it actually lasted for a full week. Allowed me to discover different regions of the Country. And mostly made me fall in love more with France’s culture, history gastronomy and above all richness and beauty.
This Country that I consider as my second home didn’t fail to impress me all over my trip. Each region had its Charm and surprises. While In my first article I told you about my unforgettable journey in the French Normandy, Here I am writing my second part of this trip.
And where was that? Well after exploring 4 Beautiful cities & wonders in the Normandy we decided to hit the road towards the Brittany Region and end our road trip in Central France in its iconic Loire Region.
You might be wondering, what did she like more?🤔
I honestly can’t answer this question!😅 Am sorry for that but yeah actually this is a trap question. All the regions are different and unique and each one of them has something special to offer. But Well I will at least give you something.
Don’t go on such a Road trip and miss out neither The Mont Saint Michel in the Normandy nor Saint Malo in Brittany. I would say those two regions were the highlight of my trip😊
Now this being said, I suppose we are all ready to go on this second part of my trip. Oh but before that, if you haven’t yet read my first part, make sure you do!
Here is your link: My road trip in France: The Normandy region. And now that we are all set,
Lets explore together the French Brittany & Loire Region.
1- Saint Malo
After spending a nice time in Mont Saint Michel, we hit the road towards the Brittany Region. And in only 1h drive we arrived at destination. We were there at the Port City of Brittany, the well known Saint Malo. However there was not a big shift in the scenery as we were still on the coast of the English Channel, Saint Malo took me by surprise.
Although I was born and raised on the Mediterranean coast and lived by the sea and those sceneries my whole life, this city has a charm that didn’t fail to catch me.
A bit of history
Saint Malo is a historical city whose roots go back to the Roman Empire time. Built on a naturally defensive position the city’s location was always strategic. While the construction of the city’s walls fortifications began in the 12th century, Saint Malo’s importance as a seaport was developed in the 16th century. In fact the town became a major key port for all the ships coming from the North sea and the English Channel.
My trip experience
I remember getting there by late afternoon which left us quite some time to discover part of the area and enjoy its down town at night. This city is a real summer destination, as you can enjoy the beach, the port the sea food in some warm cool weather and the walk in its beautiful streets. So I would highly recommend it in high season. Also for you to do the same as I did spend a night there in order to enjoy all the city’s landmarks & experiences.
Ramparts of Saint Malo
The Saint Malo Ramparts are the symbol of the city and the most impressive landmark. By being super unique and remarkable they became the identity and pride of the city. Constructed by the end of the 17th century, the ramparts measures around 2km and are accessible from different points of the city.
This was actually the first thing I have done once there. We walked round the ramparts by the afternoon and enjoyed the wonderful overlooking view over the sea, the harbor and the fort. I also enjoyed checking out the historical canons planted there aiming towards the see.
The access is for free and I advise you to have a walk along the medieval ramparts towards the Norther stretch. Why is that? Because while you will be enjoying a glimpse of the old city you will be reaching the historical national fort.
Île du Grand Bé & Fort du Petit Bé
Both islands are reachable provided we are at low tide. So if you’d like to go there, it needs to be in low tide season. Make sure to check that previously online or by calling the tourist office. We don’t want you to get trapped on the island! Once the tide rushes, the passageway will be inaccessible for about 6hrs.
The Grand Be
Situated in the mouth of the Rance River, you can spot the Grand Bé tidal island from the walls at saint Malo. The walk towards the Be is unique and pleasant. You simple need to watch your steps and at around 100m you’re there. Is it only an island? No its not! If you walk there you will have access to an old fortress and to the tomb of the famous French writer Rene de Chateaubriand.
The Saint Malo Fortress
What formerly was a prison built back in the 16th century, still stands today proudly on a top of a rock overlooking the see. The fortress actually has four round towers and includes a museum that is dedicated to famous mariners from the region.
I am actually a fan of Old towns and especially the medieval ones. The walk in those narrow cobbled streets is always pleasant. The beauty of this old town remains in the combination of the traditional architecture and the beautiful outdoor terraces and cafes. Some of those actually overlooks the beach and gives you the opportunity to relax by the see. It is nice both during the day and the night and also offers some beautiful historical landmarks. What are the most important ones?
This is the centerpiece of the city and one of its main landmarks. This Roman Catholic cathedral has witnessed harsh battles during the world war II and was badly destructed. Its original structure that was built back between the 12th and 18th centuries was completely renovated.
Tip: If you step inside you will notice a mosaic plaque on the floor. This is the spot where Jacques Cartier received his blessing before his ‘trip of discovery’ to Canada in 1535.
Saint Malo Castle : Duchesse Anne
This castle was built between the 15th & 18th centuries by the Duchess Ann of Brittany to ensure their safety and govern ship over the city of Saint Malo. If you are a history lover, don’t hesitate to check it out. It also houses a History museum that displays the life & history of the city.
Tip: If you go there make sure to go on top of the lookout tower that offers magnificent views over the old city.
Eat Local Cuisine
The walled city wont only impress you by its history and magnificent landmarks, its beautiful beaches and cool vibes. But it will surprise you by its rich and delicious cuisine. You can’t visit Saint Malo and don’t allow yourself to have the full culinary experience.
What kind of food am I talking about?
- Well first and mostly: Sea foooood!! If you are a fan of the sea treasures you should definitely eat some fresh oysters or local fish. And if you want my recommendation, try this one😊 It’s in Place de la Roulais and called La Fourchette de Leonie.
- The Brittany’s sweets! You can’t visit Saint Malo and don’t try their savory crepes served with different toppings. Trust me super yummiiii! And if you wish to eat some while walking the Rampart, check out “the Crêperie Le Corps de Garde”. They will serve you the best crepes in a cool and entertaining atmosphere.
- Finally the well known Cider! I have heard of it before but never tried it. But since its a specialty of the region, Well I had to🙈 It felt weird at first but then I end up liking it. Pair it with an apple pie or the delicious crepe.
Have a Brunch in the well known BERGAMOTE!😍 And yes it is what you see in the picture, and I can promise you it tastes even better! Make sure to reserve in advance as the place is always full.
For a good afternoon Tea paired with some delicious desserts, try Thimothy. It has a cool cozy ambiance and offers big parts of dessert😋
Le Chalut is one of the best town’s restaurants. I would suggest that you try its Lobster.
Saint Malo’s “grand Rue” is known for its beautiful cafes and delicious creperies. I would recommend that you have your afternoon coffee in one of those cafes. Keep this name on your list: “the Crêperie des Lutins” a small but magical restaurant.
Our last destination in this road trip in beautiful France was in the Loir-et-Cher region in Central France. We went straight to the Capital of this region called Blois. Situated on the Loire River at northeast of Tours, Blois city hides between its walls and along its streets, a great history and some King’s tales.
A bit of History
By the early Middle Ages, Blois city was the seat of its powerful counts, from whom descended the Capetian kings of France. Unfortunately, this area was hardily damaged during World War II. Many of the ancient buildings between the château and the river were destroyed, but beautifully renovated.
My suggestion for you
Have a morning walk in the down town and enjoy its different landmarks and landscapes, then make sure to have lunch in one of its restaurant terraces. Surround yourself by the beauty of this medieval city while relaxing and enjoying a great meal. End your day by an afternoon visit to its famous Castle.
The down town walk
The historical center of Blois has a distinctive old-world atmosphere. Simply by strolling down the streets of the city you get the feeling of being projected to a magnificent book of history. The town is known for its various Gothic and renaissance building. The houses’ architecture is one of a kind.
Make sure to walk by “Vieux Blois” that has fascinating half timbered houses and many narrow streets. Allow yourself to get lost in those streets and admire the uniqueness of this architecture. After all the city was baptized as the City of Art! And trust me the “Vieux Blois” is the reason why.
Saint Louis Cathedral
The famous Gothic Saint-Louis Cathedral, the declared gothic historical monument since 1906. Standing on high ground in the old town, at the northeast of the Castle, the Cathedral overlooks the city and add a special charm to the scenery.
Tip: Don’t leave without checking out the 18th-century Ancien Evêché, that serves today as the Town Hall and its surrounding magical gardens.
Jacque Gabriel Bridge
Now this might not be as prestigious as the Charles Bridge the iconic bridge of Prague. But it really reminded me of it. It was built to replace a medieval structure and a chapel that collapsed in a flood back in 1716. The bridge consists of 11 arches with wide spans of around 20meters.
The walk there is mesmerizing and the view is catchy. Try to make your walk around sunset for those magnificent pictures.
Although Blois Castle is not the most impressive one of the Loire Region, it is still one of the top attractions of the Loire Valley. Built between the 13th and 17th centuries, the majestic Royal Palace of Blois has a glorious history.
A quick description
The castle’s architecture belongs to the Renaissance art. It is a Marvelous masterpiece that houses galleries and a Museum of fine arts. One of the most famous wings is the Francis I wing that features a richly decorated octagonal staircase.
When you finish your tour within the Castle that could take about 45min of your time, make sure to have a walk in its Royal Gardens. Those were created by King Louis XII and filled with various types of beautiful flowers. I remember being impressed by the assortment of roses. And hey its entrance is for free!
Here are some tips for you!
- There is a 45 minute Sound & Light show every evening during spring and summer. It is very entertaining and designed in a cool delightful way.
- If you’d like to have a fine dining in a prestigious Michelin-starred restaurant, here is your address: L’Orangerie du Château.
Tip: If you are spending some time in Blois and like magic, head to the House of Magic. This is a unique museum devoted entirely to magic and considering it as a performing art.
- You can spend a minimum of 2 days in La Loire area known for its Palaces.
- I would suggest that you sleep in Blois, and Make your day trips from there.
- Whatever you chose to to do, don’t miss out the chance to discover the most impressive castle of them all: The Chambord Castle.
In our last day, before hitting our road to Paris, we checked out from Blois and headed to our last stop. And what was that? The most impressive Palace of all Loire Palaces, The Chambord Palace. The drive was about only 20min as we were already in the Loire Region.
The Palace is really very unique with its Renaissance architecture that it allows you to travel through time. A time of great medieval traditional history, a time of glamorous life, a time of KINGS.
Address: Château, 41250 Chambord, France
This one really took me by surprise. I was amazed by the beauty and Grandeur of what I say. I felt like entering one of the Disney Princess’s Castles. It is Glorious, it is a beautiful piece of art. The whole scenery is a Masterpiece! I felt happy and excited as if I was a child driven into a fairytale.
- Make it an early visit to the Castle, in order to enjoy the maximum of your day because it gets busy.
- If you want to live the full experience of what Chambord has to offer, consider spending a day there.
- I would also suggest that you rent a bike and have a ride in the forest. Chambord is in fact the largest walled and enclosed park in Europe. Don’t miss out the chance to see some beautiful wild animals.
- Make sure to be wearing something comfortable as you will be walking a lot especially in nature.
An iconic beautiful palace inside out. The interior will impress you and the view from its balconies will take your breath away. You will get the feeling that you are on an island. The View from top of the Palace with the waters at its feet and this beautiful 360 degrees landscape is truly one of a kind.
And what about the interior of the castle? Well some scholars believe that there was Leonardo’s Di Vinci influence on Chambord’s Architecture. And what can it be more beautiful and elegant than the work of a genius?
Allow yourself to wander in the palace’s hallways and prestigious rooms. Discover all its treasures history and beauty. I remember what marked me was the deer’s head used as portraits of art in the hallways. And while the castle is beautiful inside out, the work of the genius remains in its one of a kind main internal stairs.
The palace most iconic feature is its “double helix staircase”. You don’t find this everywhere, you will be descending the stairs and others visitors ascending without crossing each others paths.
Like almost all castles, the Chambord castle offers a marvelous view from its balconies. Make sure to go to the top balcony and have a look on the stunning domain. This is when you will really get to feel the grandiose of this Masterpiece.
The palace ultimate experience remains in its surrounding beautiful gardens and its lake. Have a stroll in the narrow paths of the gardens and don’t fear to lose yourself. Don’t forget to take those majestic pictures of the Castle with its reflection by the waters.
While you can access the Gardens for free, the admission fee to the castle is around 11 euros.
The experience at Chambord Palace
The trip to Chambord is not limited only to the Castle Visit. The Chambord domain has everything for you to spend a full enjoyable day in the area. The activities are countless and the fun is inevitable. Yes you can enjoy many activities and go on different experiences at Chambord, my only advice to you is to plan your trip there on a beautiful warm day.
So what activities am I talking about?
The Chambord Park
It is actually a forest! The Castle is surrounded by the largest natural environment of about 13500 acres. It was walled, and by that became the biggest park in Europe. Yes you heard me right! The park is almost the size of Paris itself and its there with its amazing fauna & flora. So go ahead and take a closer look to the wild life.
Numerous activities awaits you either in the close surroundings of the castle or in the forest itself. So you can start by taking a small cruise at the foot of the castle. And if you have your bike or rented one, go on a pleasant ride in the gardens towards the park. Horseback ridings are also offered there and of course you can always go on a hike. You can either follow a trail or customize your own hike.
Tip: There is also a show of the traditional combats combats of the Renaissance.
Now this might look surprising I was surprised myself. Chambord actually launched manufactured products from the park itself. You will find many displayed items for sale in the souvenir shop under the name of “Château de Chambord”. And well not only one item! They have a range of products from honey to wooden objects and key chains. And lately they started producing their own wine.