On our recent family trip to Europe after visiting Paris, we decided to take a couple days to explore the French countryside. You should go! It was beautiful and I was surprised to find how many amazing things we found to do in the Loire Valley with teens.

After the craziness of the big city, seeing this side of France is a must… Here are my best tips from our family’s recent trip there.

Visiting Chambord castle Loire Valley France Family trip with teens.

The entire countryside of France was amazing and for a future trip I’d love to follow this itinerary and go north as well, but we were limited on time & had to pick one direction. I’m so glad we went south.

We started the trip by renting a car at the end of our Paris trip with teens and driving south through breathtaking scenery.

Loire Valley Itinerary With Teens

We only had a quick couple days to explore the countryside, but we followed our itinerary pretty good and were able to see a lot. You really only need a couple days here when traveling with teens. They enjoyed the castles and tours, but another day of the same would have put them over the edge into boredom.

Loire Valley itinerary family trip.

If you want to see our journey here is the Google map from Paris to Loire Valley with castle stops in between.

On day 3 we returned to Paris for our flight to Munich. I do wish we had been able to spend that day at Versailles, but our flight times didn’t allow it. If you can, this would be an obvious spot to hit up on the way back into town. I’ll have to save it for my next trip.

Best hotel in Loire Valley, Relais De Chambord.

Where To Stay In French Countryside

I wanted to stay near one of the castles, after doing research I found the Relais De Chambord which is a Hyatt property on the Chateau De Chambord grounds.

It was a beautiful!

We had a view of the castle from our room window, which was gorgeous. They have a wonderful restaurant on property, also with a view of the castle and an adorable market made up of buildings that have been there a very long time.

In the market we found wine tasting, a cheese shop and treats to keep our energy up.

If you go during certain times of the year, you can even take a farm tour to see where they make the milk and cheese sold here. The hotel was a splurge, but we got to stay on the castle grounds! And it was a perfect location for exploring the Loire Valley.

Castle tour with teens in France, which castles to see on a family trip.

Visiting Castles In France With Teenagers

Visiting a couple French castles was high up on my list. I ended up picking 3 castles to explore and my teens loved them!

Pro Travel Tip: When visiting castles as a family, try to find ones that have really different elements to keep everyone’s attention strong. 

We did a mix of tours and wandering on our own which works well for these types of activities with teens.

Château De Chambord

The first stop was just a quick walk from our hotel room. We booked a tour of the Chateau De Chambord which is one of the largest and most beautiful castles in all of France. It was also the inspiration behind the Beast’s castle in Beauty and the Beast which made it extra enchanting.

We booked the tour that included the horse show and grounds. It was fun to explore the grounds in full – they have a beautiful garden, moat and stables you can enjoy.

The horse show was a fun extra to see and even my teenagers enjoyed the moment to rest and watch as the characters acted out a scene from a sport many centuries old.

I especially loved the small chapel off of the castle and there’s a great little place to grab a lunch sandwich and enjoy the view once you exit the castle.

Double helix staircase and seeing the inventions in French countryside.

One of the things I was excited to share with my STEM loving teens during this trip was some of the earliest advances in engineering and design.

At Chambord, they have a beautiful double hex staircase in the middle that Leonardo da Vinci designed for the castle. We had fun posing on it and admiring the beauty. My son also taught me the design was the first double up/down design ever made, which we use in every city now for our parking garages!

Parent Tip: Don’t assume it’s you that will be doing all the teaching on your family trips with teens.

I’m always surprised how much I learn from mine big kids when they have the space and time to open up.

Things to do in the French countryside and our favorite castles to explore.

Château de Chenonceau

We also explored the Château de Chenonceau, which my daughter was excited about because of its history with powerful women and the very modern/forward thinking design at the time.

I also chose this castle because I read we could rent canoes on the river! It was closed while we were there because of a drought, but if you go when the water level is high enough, this would be a fun option for kids of any age.

They also have beautiful gardens and I could have probably spent all day at just this spot if I’d been alone.

Visit Leonardo Di Vinci's house in Loire Valley France.

Château du Clos Lucé

But alas, I was with my family and so after a short visit we headed to my son’s favorite stop of the day.

The last home of Leonardo da Vinci, the Château du Clos Lucé.

The Chateau has 40 recreations of some of his earliest inventions here, both inside and outside in the garden. This double decker bridge was our family favorite!

A great stop for my teenage son who is very into engineering and I was surprised how much we all loved seeing Da Vinci’s design works and inventions.

We also got to view his drafting room, old supplies, a few paintings. They even let us see the underground tunnel where he and the King would connect and deliver top secret projects.

It was really hot the day we explored here, which made the shady garden and little cafe they have on property even better.

This was also the best stop for stray cats, wandering peacocks and other random animals which my girl is always drawn to.

Visit Blois in France, things to do on a family trip.

Things To Do In Blois With Teens

We ended up in the very cute town of Blois for the afternoon/dinner and explore the town center on the way back. This was a fun stop because it has a very French countryside feel to it. Also centered around castle (we skipped exploring this one), but did find a few fun things to do in Blois with our teens.

Our first activity was to continue our favorite thing to do in Paris with teens, find great crepes!

We mapped it out to stop at the recommended best creperie in town – Le Comptoir de Mamie Bigoude Blois which was really great, although more American tasting than some of the ones in Paris.

The Blois stairs with my teenage daughter in France.

We got to walk around the town square and see the magic surrounding Chateau Deblois. My daughter and I found the beautiful Instagram stairs we had seen when planning the trip and stopped for photos.

Blois is a quintessential small French town, it was wonderful to leisurely explore after being in busy Paris for so many days.

Magic Tour Maison de la Magie

I read online that we shouldn’t miss the sound and light show at Chateau Deblois so I’m just gonna tell you this is probably for a much much younger crew. We could have missed this and been just fine. 😉

The actual tour inside the museum was interesting and we learned all about magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, who was born in Blois and was Harry Houdini’s inspiration.

My teens were laughing at the silliness of the show, but then again… we are used to seeing Las Vegas shows. Just keep your expectations in line, but it was cute and for a much younger crowd this would have been a hit.

Afterwards we had dinner outside at this beautiful restaurant.

Farm tour idea in France with family.

Visiting The Farms Of France

There are options in multiple locations to visit the farms out here in the French countryside. Although we didn’t line up an official farm tour, we did stop at a couple along the way.

There are multiple signs up as you drive beckoning tourists to stop and try a wine, or pet a goat. The entire road trip with our teens through the French countryside felt just like a fairytale.

Things to do in the French countryside with teens.

How To Get Around The French Countryside

We opted to rent a car for this part of our Europe trip. Knowing ahead of time that the castles are pretty spaced out from one another, it was best for our family trip to the Loire Valley with teens.

Some people opt to take the train down from Paris, but we found this would have forced us to do a group castle tour and we wanted to be in charge of our own exploring.

Tip For Traveling With Teens: Be on your own schedule as much as possible, it will lead to happier teens and a better trip.

Rent Bikes To Explore

We spent the first afternoon renting bikes bikes from the hotel and exploring the nature area around the castle. It was a fun way to explore and see up close what some of the backroads, old bridges and entrance gates looked like.

Road trip through France with teens on family trip, road trip snacks fun chips.

The next morning we unfortunately had to get up and leave the Loire Valley with our teens for good. I have a whole list of things that I wish that we would have been able to do… But it was a really great trip and I’m glad we didn’t over do it by seeing too much.

On the way back we stopped at one of the convenience stores off the highway to grab snacks. A fun travel thing we like to do with our teenagers is to try out new chips. Every country has it’s own particular flavors of Lays chips they sell. It’s always fun to try them out and see which are great and which are definitely no good.

The Paprika was a family favorite from this trip.

Have you been to the Loire countryside? If so I’d love to hear what you enjoyed seeing and doing there.

We left France and flew right into Germany, I’ll be sharing about that part of the trip soon.