Walking and Chateaux in the Garden of France
Trip grade: Easy
Trip Dates: 9-16 October, 2017
Tour Cost: $3,190.00 per person, twin/share. Single room supplement $695.00
Accommodation: Comfortable hotels
Maximum group size: Only 10 places
Known as The Garden of France, and the Cradle of the French, The Loire Valley has long been famous for its beautiful countryside, its historic towns and villages, and the grand chateaux which are concentrated in the region. There are over 300 chateaux in the central Loire Valley which is also UNESCO World Heritage listed.
Our walks will take us around the ancient city of Loches and its colourful market, through farmland and forests to Montresor, one of the designated Most Beautiful Villages in France. We walk through the vineyards of Sancerre, through autumnal forest to some of the most important Loire chateaux and their extensive gardens. We will visit three of the most famous; Chambord, Villandry and Chenonceau on our walks and spend time in lovely Amboise where Leonardo da Vinci lived and died. Our final walk will follow part of the pilgrim route associated with St Martin of Tours and visit the mighty twelfth century Fontevraud Abbey, final resting place of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart.
We are going in early autumn so the heat and high humidity of summer will have passed. We can expect daily temperatures of around 15o – 20o C, ideal for walking, with cool to cold nights (perhaps 10o C).
Walking and Walking Terrain
The Loire has created a broad fertile valley with gently sloping hillsides. Our walks will mainly be in gently undulating country with the occasional short, steeper pinch as we cross a valley or climb to a view point or fortress. We will discover the visual, historical and cultural richness of this special part of France.
Tracks follow minor roads, canal paths, forest paths and across farmland. Walking surfaces are generally good.
We collect you from Gien this afternoon and transfer you to our small hotel. Settle in before a short walk around the old town, famous for its decorative pottery. Overnight: Gien. (D)
This morning we travel to Sancerre, famous for its white wines. The Medieval castle is in ruins but interesting C15th and C16th houses line the narrow streets. We walk in an area of wine-making villages about 5km from Sancerre.
In the afternoon we can also do another short walk about 30 minutes from Sancerre, at Briare, where a short canal and riverside walk takes us on to the Pont Canal, designed by Eiffel (he built the tower too). It is the longest canal bridge in Europe and looks like an elegant boulevard. Overnight: Gien (B)
Today we travel via Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire to visit the superb Romanesque abbey church, a place of pilgrimage since 672 AD when the relics of Saint Benedict were enshrined here.
We continue to Chambord to walk in the extensive Parc de Chambord, which is enclosed by a wall 33km long. Later, we visit the Chateau de Chambord, largest of the Loire Chateaux and designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Overnight: Chisseaux/Montrichard (B&D)
In the morning we walk to Chenonceau to visit the Chateau de Chenonceau, which spans the river Cher, and its formal gardens. Built between the 15th century and 1559, it is considered to be the loveliest of the Loire Chateaux.
In the afternoon we visit the chateau town of Amboise and a stroll through its attractive medieval centre. You may choose to visit the chateau or Clos Luce, the home of Leonardo da Vinci. Overnight: Chisseaux/Montrichard (B)
Today we travel to Villandry to the late Renaissance Chateau (1536) and its reconstructed gardens, built on three levels; the water garden, flower garden and kitchen herb garden – the worlds’ biggest. In the afternoon we walk through orchards, vineyards, farms and small villages near Azay-le-Rideau. Overnight Chisseaux/Montrichard (B)
Today we travel to beautiful Loches to experience its colourful morning market. Optional visit to the Royal Logis in the old town before walking near Montresor, one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. Overnight: Loches (B&D)
We travel to Fontevraud to visit the huge abbey, one of the largest in France. We can choose to follow part of the Chemin de Saint Martin de Tours, a pilgrims’ way celebrating this fourth century bishop and the path to Santiago de Compostela. Overnight: Loches. (B&D)
Our tour ends after breakfast. We transfer you to the main line stsion in Tours which has easy connections to Paris and points south. (B)
The Tour Cost Includes
Transfers between Gien railway station and our accommodation at the beginning of the tour,
Transfer to Tours railway station at the end of the tour
All local transport to walks, sites and visits,
Seven nights accommodation in comfortable hotels, en suite
Organised program of walks and visits,
Seven breakfasts(B), and four evening meals(D)
Admission to Chambord, Chenonceau, Villandry and Fontevraud Abbey
Lunches and three evening meals.
Optional visits and activities not included in this itinerary.
Travel insurance (required)
If you have any questions about the tour or would like to make a booking, please contact us.