Traveling off-season to popular tourist destinations can be a smart move for several reasons. Firstly, it can save you a lot of money. During peak travel season, prices for flights, accommodation, and activities skyrocket due to high demand. However, traveling off-peak can take advantage of lower prices and potentially save hundreds on your trip.
Secondly, traveling off-peak means fewer crowds, which can enhance your overall travel experience. You can avoid long lines at popular attractions, have more room to move around and take photos, and enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere. Chris and I love traveling off-peak to popular tourist destinations so we can save money, avoid crowds, and experience a destination in a more unique and authentic way - and this is exactly what we did on our recent (March 2023) trip to The Loire Valley, France
Why we love to Travel
It gives us the opportunity to explore new places and gain new experiences. It broadens our perspective, allowing us to see things from different perspectives than what is available in the UK or our local area.
We also love to meet people from all over the world who may have very different cultures than ours, but who share common goals: making friends, finding love and happiness, raising families, running businesses...
Why the Loire?
Simply we follow this brilliant business on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/manoirdejouralem/ and had it on our wish list for ages..... we know that looking 'off the beaten track' means you'll usually be flying into smaller, cheaper airports - in this case, Nantes. By setting up 'tracking flights' on Skyscanner to destinations on our wish list, we get to see when the fares fall and it becomes a great 'deal'.
The Anjou Region of France
The Anjou region of France is located in the centre of the country, just south of Paris. The Loire Valley is a picturesque region known for its stunning landscapes, charming towns, and historic chateaux. The area stretches along the Loire River, from the city of Orleans to the Atlantic coast, and is often referred to as the "Garden of France" due to its abundance of vineyards, orchards, and gardens.
The Loire Valley is home to some of France's most famous chateaux, including Chateau de Chambord and Chateau d'Amboise. These magnificent castles were once the homes of French royalty and are now open to the public for tours and visits.
In addition to its chateaux, the Loire Valley is also famous for its wine. The region produces a variety of wines, including Sauvignon, Chenin, Sancerre, Muscadet, and Pouilly-Fume.
The Loire Valley is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The region boasts numerous hiking and cycling trails, as well as opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and golfing. Simply put - it's stunning!
Where we stayed
In the stunning B&B of https://www.instagram.com/manoirdejouralem/
Our room, Le Roi, was more than we could have anticipated.... large; luxurious; king-size comfy bed, the most beautiful bathroom I've stayed in (walk-in shower, stand-alone bath, separate toilet). Detail, detail, detail which is the theme of this business..... small fridge with complimentary water and beers, coffee pods and Nespresso machine and UK Freeview box too!
Breakfast was a relaxed and delicious affair with a selection of breads, cold cuts, cheese, fruit, yogurt and hen eggs from their free-roaming brood. Relaxed and leisurely - the perfect start to the day.
They offer a Table d'hote option: 3-course homemade meal with an aperitif; bottle of wine and water for just 30EUR pp
Situated in a peaceful hamlet, and a short drive to a truly wonderful quintessential French Town: Brissac comprising of cafes, charcuteries, boulangeries, curated shops, and a beautiful Chateau well worth a visit.
Our 4-night itinerary
We like to relax as much as explore our new local environment when we travel…. Our weather forecast was sun and showers (which secretly I love because rain= baths/book/ chill right?!)
We hired the smallest car we could and shopped around (through Quidco too to earn money) we ended up with a Fiat 500 for £105 for 4 nights. This enabled us to visit local cities such as Angers, Samur, and local villages and Chateaux.
France is brilliant for affordable set-price menus. We enjoyed 3-course lunches for 15 EUR, a glass of wine 1,70 EUR, and Cafe au lait for 1 EUR
Wine tasting in most vineyards is free - with no obligation to buy wine. We enjoyed free tastings, a tour and lots of wine chat in a lovely spot on the Loire River VinoValley. It’s actually expected that you ask to try cheese, charcuterie, and other deli items before purchasing - which in my eyes = free food and buying food you actually like!
Traveling off-season also meant that many Chateaux were cheaper to visit; menus in restaurants, not July / August eye-watering prices, and the thing we loved the most…. No crowds; no traffic and in many places we went…. No people! Wandering around a beautiful Chateau and an art exhibition being the only ones there was a real treat! Not having to book tables in advance and not daring to be late allowed for more spontaneous and leisurely days…. It was just simply lovely to really take in the beauty of the region without all the hecticness that descends in Summer
And no day was not complete without a long hot soak in the beautiful bath at the B&B, before heading downstairs for a sumptuous 3 course feast, with an aperitif and wine cooked by the hosts. No travel. No formalities. My idea of heaven!
Return flights for 2 Stansted - Nantes:
Outbound Wed pm. Inbound Sun afternoon £75 (we only ever travel with hand luggage. Learning to pack efficiently saves ££££)
Car hire: £105
Accommodation: 4 nights B&B, 2 x Table D’hotes £716 (we stayed in the most expensive room)
Car parking Stansted: £56
Dinner at https://www.authoureil.fr/
Lunch at https://lacivelle.com/
and without doubt - where we stayed Manoir de Jouralem