4 weeks after our trip to Mexico City, Ke and I headed to France! Just like our trip to Mexico, we had planned this trip to France before I was pregnant. I was about 2 months pregnant at the time and unfortunately was hit hard with morning sickness. Despite the nausea and lack of appetite, I still had a ton of fun and love looking back on these photos. In total we spent 6 full days in France, 2 in Loire Valley and then 4 days in Paris.
Our first day in Loire Valley was more like half a day since we were traveling straight from the Paris airport. We landed around 11am and immediately went to pick up our rental car in the heart of Paris. We felt extremely ambitious and did the 3 hour drive to Loire Valley right after an international flight…it was rough and we probably will never do that again haha.
Château de Pray
The #1 thing I wanted to do in Loire Valley was stay in a chateau. After researching dozens of options, we decided to stay at Chateau de Pray* in Amboise. Loire Valley is HUGE so we tried to find the best place that felt somewhat central to most of the popular chateaus and castles.
Chateau de Pray also has a Michelin star restaurant which we enjoyed on our 2nd night in Loire Valley – we made reservations when we first booked the room. Overall, this place was amazing. The rooms were so cute yet modern, the service was phenomenal, and there is even a pool and lovely grounds to explore.
After checking in and relaxing in our room for an hour, we headed out to explore Amboise. We spent the night walking around Amboise and then found the cutest little restaurant for dinner called Restaurant l’Ilôt. This place was sooo delicious! They have very few tables and a reservation is highly recommended. We didn’t make one in time so we showed up right when they opened and was able to get the last remaining table for the night. The food was mostly prepared in a small little cooking area right in the middle of the dining room, it felt almost like being invited in someone’s home.
The next day, we squeezed in some popular chateaus. We went to the following chateaus in the order below and did like a loop around Amboise. In all, it was about 3-4 hours of driving but it was filled with such pretty sites of the small towns.
Château de Villandry
Our first stop of the day was Chateau de Villandry. We got here around 9:30am and because it was off season, we encountered very little people and crowds. It doesn’t hurt that this chateau is massive! It’s famous for its incredible gardens that surround the chateau. You can get a ticket for just the gardens or also tour the building. We did both, starting with touring the chateau before spending a good hour just walking around the gardens and mazes.
Next we drove here to Chateau d’Usse, about 30 mins away. This castle is known as the Sleeping Beauty castle because its said to have inspired the author as well as Walt Disney when creating many of the Disney castles. The “sleeping beauty” exhibit inside was a bit silly but the castle itself was gorgeous. We explored the grounds and gardens as well as spent some time at a nearby cafe.
Our next stop was Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau. Not only is this chateau absolutely gorgeous (having a moat sure doesn’t hurt), but it’s also surrounded by a much bigger town than the first two. We grabbed lunch here and also spent some time exploring the surrounding shops and small streets. My morning sickness was really bad around this time of day but luckily this was where I discovered caesar salad and lemonade really helped to settle my stomach 😛
Château de Chenonceau
Our last chateau of the day was hands down my favorite in Loire Valley. Château de Chenonceau is sooo beautiful, its a must see. I had so much fun touring the inside because I loved daydreaming about the people that used to live here. It probably had the most well maintained interior of all the chateaus we visited that day.
In addition to the interior, the grounds are just stunning. Over the years, the chateau was slowly built out to bridge itself over the river. It also has multiple gardens to explore and a pretty fancy restaurant. If I ever have a vow renewal ceremony, I’d love to have it here haha.
First Taste of France
I’m so happy we spent our first couple of days in France getting to explore Loire Valley. Despite our lack of French skills, everyone was so nice and we didn’t have much difficulty getting around or ordering food. Despite my morning sickness and inability to savor all of the delicious wines, I still had a blast sightseeing, stuffing my face, and daydreaming about owning my own chateau 😀
*This post contains an affiliate link to a hotel I stayed at, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using the link.