paris excursion to the châteaux of the loire

by Sharon Santoni


Continuing my new series bringing you ideas for days out and excursions within easy reach of Paris

chateau de chambord

Driving down to the Loire valley to visit the châteaux makes for a great trip.  It only takes about two  hours to drive down to the château of Chambord so it can be done in a day, but  it’s worth staying overnight and visiting more of the beautiful Loire valley while you are there.

When I visited Chambord recently, I didn’t have time to drive to any of the other châteaux, but I was happy to stay overnight at  La Maison d’a Coté.


The hotel is home to the Michelin starred French chef, Christophe Hay, who is about to open his second restaurant, with more hotel rooms,  in the tiny village of Montlivault, just a few minutes from Chambord.

Christophe trained in France and has worked in the United States too.  We chatted after the meal about the passion that he puts into his work.    He sources the fresh fish, vegetables and herbs personally, and his dishes are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to eat.


The kitchen opens directly onto part of the dining room and if you wish there is even a dining table partly integrated into the kitchen, where Christophe serves his guests who like to watch the magic happen before their eyes.

La Maison d’a Coté, a great address for châteaux hopping!


In less than one week I shall be flying to the States for the start of my book tour.  I am so looking forward to this, to meeting so many people and seeing so many wonderful venues.

Today I’d like to highlight the final three venues of the tour.

On the 29th June, I shall be in Kansas City at Nell Hill’s, the beautiful home décor store created by Mary Carol Garrity .   Mary Carol has written many books and is a true influence in interior design, it will be a privilege to meet her and her team

If you would like to attend the event, you can RSVP here

logo nell hill's

By the 30th June I shall be in California at the fantastic French antiques store of Sarah Anderson, Château Sonoma.   I have heard so much about Château Sonoma that I am impatient to see it in person.   All the event details can be found HERE

logo chateau sonoma ca

Which brings us to my last venue, in Fullerton CA, where I get to see Jeni Maus’s brand new store, Found Shop.     Jeni and I are good friends but this will be the first time that we meet outside of France!    I know all about her sure eye when it comes to buying, and I’m looking forward to seeing her store.

If you want to come too then you can find the RSVP here


And finally I am proud to be sponsored for the tour by my friends at

Atelier Vertumne, home to floral art in Paris.  Merci beaucoup!

logo atelier vertumne paris









david terry June 16, 2016 - 11:47 pm

First of all, Sharon………..your book tour sounds like great fun (I suppose you’ve seen my response to the news about your going to my old haunts at High Hampton, in Cashiers, NC?).

Secondly?……yes, the Loire Valley is chock-a-block with chateaus and other intriguing, beautiful sites. One of my most amusing memories is of the first morning I went to breakfast at Herve’s parents’ house outside of Tours. This was my first trip to France. We discussed the various things we might do before and after Herve’s brother’s wedding (the reason for the trip).

I’ve been an avid gardener my whole life…. and, so (predictably enough) I breathlessly asked if we just might, maybe, perhaps POSSIBLY arrange a visit to Villandry?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! (as though it were on the other side of the moon).

I still recall that moment when Herve and both of his parents exchanged “Does this American guy know ANYTHING?” glances…….and his mother kindly told me how to walk there from their front door.

In any case, I hope that you have the delightful book tour that you deserve. I bet you meet a lot of old (albeit via the blogworld) friends and make a ton (literally so) of new ones.

Best wishes,

David Terry

Sharon Santoni June 19, 2016 - 12:08 am

Hi David, thank you for your message, and I hope that you received my mails 🙂

Villandry should certainly never be missed!

Colleen Taylor June 16, 2016 - 11:52 pm

What a magnificent châteaux & the restaurant looks divine. I can’t wait to see the photos of your book tour in the US. It sounds so exciting & I just know you will love each & every minute of it. X

Sharon Santoni June 19, 2016 - 12:10 am

thank you Colleen, I’ll try to post regulary on instagram during the tour


Our French Oasis June 16, 2016 - 11:59 pm

Just looking at these photos made me hungry. I love restaurants where you can see what is going on in the kitchen and the chateau looks beautiful. It’s one area of France that despite having lived here on and off for years that I hardly know at all, perhaps now the children are a little older, I should change all of that, amazingly they now love exploring local chateaux here in the Charente Maritime, so maybe now is the time to venture further afield!

Sharon Santoni June 19, 2016 - 12:11 am

It’s always worth going the extra mile for an exceptional meal 🙂

Hope you’re having a good summer


Judy June 17, 2016 - 12:05 am

The chateaux looks divine! I am so enjoying your book, I picked it up from Barnes and Noble on Wednesday and have just sat down with tea and am savoring every word and picture. What a delight! Wish you could make a stop in Connecticut. Thank you for providing me an exquisite look into the lives of your girlfriends. Judy

Sharon Santoni June 19, 2016 - 12:12 am

I also wish I could go to Connecticut Judy, it simply wasn’t possible to include all the places I would have liked to visit

Thank you for your kind words about the books

Leslie in Oregon June 17, 2016 - 4:38 am

Best wishes for a delightful, invigorating and smooth book tour! May it be the first of many all around the United States, Leslie

splendid market June 17, 2016 - 9:50 am

Thank you for this “how to”, it really helps to get a passionate, personal perspective as I think of places I want to explore for our french base. Best of luck on your tour! Do you want to hop up to Seattle? I have some ideas of places you could go for a signing. lmk
x, ~ebh

Sharon Santoni June 17, 2016 - 12:39 pm

Hi Emily

I’m glad you liked the how to. I would have loved to come to Seattle but will have to wait for the next trip !



Taste of France June 17, 2016 - 10:03 am

Such a good idea to encourage people to see more of France than just Paris. With the TGV, you can go pretty far in a short trip. The Loire is truly magical. I particularly liked Angers, with its Apocalypse Tapestry. There are so many things to see and wonderful places to stay.
Best of luck with your book tour. It sounds like fun.

Sheila in SF June 17, 2016 - 12:59 pm

Only have been to Paris once but your information about other areas to visit is helpful and interesting. Hope to return one day. Look forward to your visit to Sonoma!

Meg Veno June 17, 2016 - 2:08 pm

Sharon, both of your recent blog posts are so very inspiring…all of them are actually for I do not miss reading a single one! I sincerely wish that I had enough time in each day to pen messages responding to their influence on my own aesthetic, the beauty they depict in this often cold hard world and the love they reflect for what you do. I wish you were coming to the East Coast on your book tour! If you would ever have the inkling to squeeze in or add on a visit to the barn at Life’s Patina, we would welcome you with open arms! I will be emailing you concerning you brocante tours and coming solo to buy for my barn venue.
Thank you so very much Sharon for pursuing your passion and sharing it with us!

Sharon Santoni June 19, 2016 - 12:15 am

HI Meg, your barn looks amazing and I would have loved to include a stop there on the tour.

Let’s hope this tour goes well and I can come back to the East coast another time.

And maybe we’ll meet before then in Normandy!


LA CONTESSA June 17, 2016 - 4:27 pm

I WILL THERE!!!!!!!!!

LA CONTESSA June 17, 2016 - 4:28 pm

I WILL BE THERE Is what I meant to say……….in SONOMA!XX
NOT enough coffee yet!

Mary Anne June 17, 2016 - 4:58 pm

Sharon, I follow you faithfully and only wish that you would have included touring in Canada. Unfortunately I cannot get to the USA tour sites. All the best.

Nancy June 17, 2016 - 6:15 pm

Sharon, my friend and I are planning to be in Fullerton to meet you…..can’t wait!!

Bebe June 19, 2016 - 4:59 pm

Chambord is a fascinating place. Very masculine. Francis I’s hunting place. The stables are adjacent – I could hear them working with an anvil when I were there – and horses were said to have occasionally been brought inside. The scale of this “chateau” is very large.

I visited by myself early one morning. Went up and walked the roof. Beautiful views.

A strange, majestic place. I had the odd feeling I’d been there before. Ever had that?

Mercedes June 19, 2016 - 6:17 pm

Oh how I love the Loire! Thank you always adding interesting details – I will make a point of visiting La Maison d’a cote on my next Loire trip.


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