Just a two-hour drive from Paris (an even shorter trip on the high-speed TGV), the Loire Valley is one of the most beautiful sites in France. Carved by the beautiful Loire river, the fertile valley is oft considered “the Garden of France.” It was here where the Renaissance monarchs built extraordinary chateaux- like Chenonceau, an architectural monument of graceful beauty. You could easily spend a few days biking or biking between chateaux, and stopping for wine tastings at vineyards along the way.

But perhaps the most extraordinary way to ogle these monuments is by hot-air balloon. Art Montgolfières is the specialist for such excursions in the Loire Valley, their brilliant red balloons soaring high over the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Loire Valley.

As you climb over 500 meters from the ground, you’ll marvel at the birds-eye view of the landscapes: the meticulously landscaped gardens of the chateaux, the rolling green pastures and vineyards, the mighty Loire river, and of course, the chateaux like Chenonceau, the world-famous monument which actually straddles the river Cher. Built like a bridge over the river, with the currents washing beneath the castle, the Chateau de Chenonceau is not to be missed on a trip to the Loire Valley. And the best way to see it is from the sky above!

Art Montgolfières offers a number of different flights. Choose “Sologne” and you’ll drift over the Loire and Cher valleys starting from Cheverny, the chateau that’s said to have inspired Tintin’s fictional castle. A one-hour excursion for two people is priced from 399 euros. Other options include flights through the Touraine, where you can see the chateaux of Amboise and Chaumont-sur-Loire, and also a flight over Saumur. For more information, visit www.art-montgolfieres.fr

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