An evening wine tasting in the Loire Valley? Yes, please!

What do you think of when you imagine visiting France? If, along with the glorious food and scenery, it’s the splendid wines of the Loire Valley that come to mind, you’re in for a treat.

Since 2016, Chateau Chenonceau has hosted an evening’s wine tasting each summer in the Chateau and its manicured gardens, and the best news? There are lots of wines to try, and it’s open to all.

What better way to decide which Loire Valley vintage is your favourite than by trying them all? The producers of the Touraine Chenonceaux wines come together each year at the ‘Degustation sous les etoiles’ (Wine tasting beneath the stars), held mid-July at Chateau Chenonceau.

Wine producer tents outside Chateau Cehnonceau, Loire, Valley, France

What happens at a degustation?

Producers set up their pitches under individual white canopies outside the Chateau, and some in the Gallery of the Chateau itself. Most offer both red and white wines, some offer organic wines, and others also offer locally made baguette slices and bottles of water, in case you need to pace yourself!

Inside Chateau Chenonceau

The only room open to visit in the Chateau during the evening event is the Gallery, rather appropriately, since Catherine de Medici renovated it in the 1500s to be the ultimate venue for glorious Royal parties. Visitors are not able to combine the tasting evening with a thorough tour of the other rooms (probably wise given some of the lethal staircases and historic artwork…)

Wine tasting in the Gallery of Chateau Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France

Chenonceau gardens at night

Outside, the manicured gardens stretch elaborately either side of the Chateau. Diane’s Garden, named after Diane de Poitier, King Henry II’s mistress, and to whom he gave Chateau Chenonceau in the mid 1500s (that must have irked his wife Catherine), is the larger of the manicured gardens and stretches east along the riverfront. Catherine’s Garden is the more intimate garden stretching west from the Chateau. Classical music plays in Catherine’s Garden during the wine-tasting evening, setting a magical scene.

Is Chateau Chenonceau’s desgustation sous les etoiles expensive?

The evening has a special entry fee of €6 and you need to buy a ticket from one of the machines by the entrance. Just inside the grounds there is a tent offering ‘degustation’ glasses for a €2 deposit. They are marked with an image of the Chateau and the words ‘Degustation sous les etoiles,’ and make a nice souvenir, so I suspect most of the deposits don’t get reclaimed.

For just €6 entry fee, visitors can taste as many of the different wines as they wish, while also enjoying a magical evening visit to the Chateau, which is beautifully illuminated at night, and it’s manicured gardens in which the delicate scent of roses and beautiful classical music hang in the still summer evening air. For the ultimate Loire Valley wine-tasting experience, Chateau Chenonceau’s annual ‘Degustation sous les etoiles’ is not to be missed.

Chateau Chenonceau, view from Diane’s Gardens, Loire Valley, France

Useful info

  • What to wear – the event does not require formal attire but I recommend comfy shoes as there is little seating available and lots of uneven ground.
  • What to bring – as little as possible, not only will you have to carry it all night, but security conducts bag searches, and the less they need to search the better!
  • How to get there – Many visitors to the Loire Valley hire a car to explore the region, but you can also get trains to Chenonceau station from Tours and Paris.
  • Where to stay – The closest accommodation options are in the village of Chenonceau, just behind the train station, but other nearby options include Civray de Touraine and Chisseaux.

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