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Fall in France: Beautiful foliage and great wines in the Loire Valley

loire valley
What better way to welcome Fall than surrounded by beautiful foliage and sipping a glass of crisp white wine? Once the stomping grounds of kings and nobles, the Loire valley is an ideal place to head during the autumn months. The garden region of France is the perfect temperature in the Fall, and with the changing leaves set against the Chateau backdrop, you won’t be sorry you came to the Loire during the autumn months.The same forests that were once the hunting grounds of French kings ignites into an inferno of fall colors. Plus, with many of the summer tourists gone, you’ll have a lot more peace and quiet as you tour the famous chateaus and stop in at the Loire’s famous vineyards.
The Loire Valley is known around the world for its delicious wines, which should absolutely not be missed on any trip down this valley. The Loire is most famous for its whites, which can be the perfect accompaniment to a fall foliage tour. Its whites are distinctive, fruity and well-rounded, a perfect companion to a brisk, sunny day and changing leaves. Wine tours and tastings are a popular way to spend the day in this region and many smaller vintners offer tastings and tours of their small cellars (caves en francais).

The Loire has been dubbed France’s Hudson Valley for its New England quality foliage. The valley ignites in a sea of beautiful goldens, fiery reds and exciting oranges in the autumn months. The winding Loire River, rolling hillsides and colorful landscape makes this area one of the most beautiful places to experience foliage in the world.You could easily be happy picking up a few items at the grocery store, a fresh baguette and a great bottle of chilled white wine for a pic-nic among the leaves. Or, stay at a comfortable gite or chambre d’hote and relaxingly admire the scenery with a glass of wine from your balcony.
If you are a wine connoisseur (or just like to drink it), Fall also means harvest time for vineyards. The Loire typically has a later grape harvest than some of the other regions of France (like in Provence), with grapes usually being picked from late September through October. The harvest season makes fall an ideal time to see the vines heavy with fruit or workers gently picking grapes from their vines. While harvest time is sometimes not the ideal time for wine tours (winemakers are busy and stressed with their annual harvests), there are some vineyards that offer special harvesting tours. Domaine du Closel at Savennieres (close to Angers) offers a “Harvest Adventure” wine tour. Two weekends at the end of September and the beginning of October, this vineyard opens its doors to wine enthusiasts and allows them to take part in the exciting annual harvest.
Here’s some other links to help you plan a fall trip to France. And if you need any other info, holler on Twitter – I’m at @WhyGoFrance!

Photo: JPC24