VISITORS to the Loire Valley are set for a magnificent autumn display this year after a hard spring and glorious summer have left the trees ready to burst into colour as they prepare for winter.
In just a few weeks and for a limited time, Mother Nature puts on one of her greatest shows: a fireworks display of orange, red, gold and brown as autumn colours take over the countryside.
Autumn is perhaps one of the best times to visit, when the vineyards turn shades of buttery yellows, burnt oranges and reds and the winemakers are busy with this year’s late harvest. Take in the view with a glass of wine, maybe at one of the many castles which dot the Loire, the longest river in France.
Similar displays are on show all over the northern hemisphere and editors at travel guide Lonely Planet have created a list of the most stunning autumn foliage destinations for lovers of the most melancholic and striking of the four seasons.
From the winegrowing regions of France to the mystic Huangshan Mountain in China, where every year Chinese tourists make a pilgrimage to Yellow Mountain where “wispy clouds” lend the forested mountain peaks an “ethereal” and exotic atmosphere, says Lonely Planet. Best time to visit: at sunrise.
In Canada, a train ride through northern Ontario takes visitors through “some of the most beautiful autumn foliage on the planet” to Agawa Canyon. And that’s not just a travel guide talking. The area also inspired Canada’s prominent landscape artists Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven who immortalised the region on canvas in the early 20th century. Best time to go: end of September to beginning of October.
When you’re not rooted to the ground tree-gazing at the ancient English woodlands of Gloucestershire, the Forest of Dean also offers a variety of activities such as mountain biking, treetop zipwires, kayaking, and castles in the vicinity.
There are more than 100 waterfalls in the White Mountains, New Hampshire, US, and panoramic views take on a Technicolor hue for visitors. There are miles of hiking trails and scenic drives that take visitors over covered bridges, past historic sites, through picturesque towns and villages all against stunning foliage. Peak foliage typically occurs from the end of September through the second week of October.
Other fall foliage viewing destinations include: Nara, Japan; Dandenong Ranges, Australia; Bishop Creek Canyon, California, US; Pitlochry, Scotland; Lombardy, Italy. For more, visit Lonely Planet.
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Photo: lain G très occupé/Flickr