Loire Chateaux Walks flyer - 8 nightsLoire Chateaux Walks flyerLoire Chateaux Walks is an seven or ten-night Loire heritage walking tour featuring a selection from the best of The Loire’s castles, troglodyte dwellings, vineyards and wines plus Fontevraud Abbey. Concise details on the tour can be obtained by downloading the 7-night tour pdf [left] or the 10-nighter [right]. Alternatively, read the tour description below and click through the sub-headings in the right-hand column for information on how to get to the start of the tour, accommodation, what’s included and prices.

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Please check out the independent customer reviews for the tour at the foot of the page!

Loire Chateaux Walks comprises light walking through the ‘Garden of France’ and along The Hexagon’s longest river. Enjoy its unique and multi-faceted heritage – fine architecture, ornate gardens and villages; Renaissance history and an abundance of water courses; wierd and wonderful troglodyte dwellings and, of course, a resplendent viticulture. It’s a series of perfectly-crafted days with never a dull moment, to be enjoyed from mid-April to mid-October.”

L

oire Chateaux Walks is the perfect mix of light walking and cultural immersion in UNESCO’s world heritage central Loire Valley. You will enjoy six or nine days of gentle walking, along a varied mix of trails, that facilitates your experiencing at first hand the many splendours of life along the most-blessed section of France’s longest river.

Loire Chateaux Walks starts in Blois [10-night version], capital of the department of Loir-et-Cher, where Joan of Arc once resided. It boasts a fine Renaissance Chateau, which was home to King Louis XII. Eleven days later you bid au revoir to La Loire in splendid Saumur, 100 miles to the west in Maine-et-Loire, with its imposing medieval castle or ‘chateau fort’ originally constructed in the 10th century by Theobald I, Count of Blois. Alternatively, the seven-night tour starts in Amboise, also home to its own fine Renaissance Chateau.

In between, you have the opportunity to… visit numerous chateaux [Renaissance and Medieval – see map below] as well as Europe’s largest monastic complex, burial place of none other than Richard the Lion Heart; appreciate the visual splendour of Villandry’s renowned and unique 16th century gardens; feast on some of the region’s distinctive troglodyte dwellings carved out of the local ‘Tuffeau’ limestone; gain the acquaintance of several other tributaries of La Loire and spend a half-day exploring its largest city, Tours, where the French pronunciation is considered neutral and the wine superlative.

So the objective of Loire Chateaux Walks is two-fold: half-day walks that ensure you have sufficient time to visit the castles and other manifestations of cultural heritage, rather than enjoy full day walks plus rushed visits in the late afternoon or the following morning. These castles are state managed so, in the land of the 35-hour-week, don’t expect them to be open before 9am or after 6.30 pm! In a sense, then, the walking is in many ways functional – a healthy prelude to get you into position for the day’s main activity and, to that effect, we include some short morning transfers to help you on your way.

Walking-Loire-Chateaux-departments-map
As usual, The Enlightened Traveller brings you the very best of accommodation to complement the trip every step of the way. With Loire Chateaux Walks, you choose between hotel stay including six excellent dinners, or the same carefully-selected mix of characterful hotels on a bed and breakfast/B&B basis. We highly recommend you opt for our chambres d’hotes du charme in Tours on the ten-nighter. Both the seven and the ten-nighter tours that include dinners also offer the chance to enjoy a luxury 4-star hotel, whilst the B&B hotel option replaces the 4-star hotel with either a recently-refurbished 2-star hotel (which cannot gain 3-star status as it has no lift/elevator) or another charming guest house subject to availability. Dinner options abound where they are not included: either eat in your hotel or select from the local options according to taste and budget.

Finally, as qualified students of French wine, it is difficult for us to describe our Loire Chateaux Walks tour without referencing some of France’s finest wines: you will be able to appreciate the best of the wines from the AOCs of Touraine and Saumur – Chinon, Cheverny, Vouvray and the Rosés de Loire that are so distinctive from the rather bland and over-acidic Loire offerings that find their way onto the shelves of the world’s supermarkets and wine stores. And whilst responsible walking means wine drinking is not to be encouraged during the day, our tour dossier provides you with ample insight into the Region’s appellations that will enable you to make an informed choice at dinner as to what will best complement your evening meals.

Loire Chateaux Walks facilitates your experiencing the unique heritage of the Loire Valley as very few others get to enjoy it – in other words, without the hindrance of driving or cycling. So forget the inflated car parking fees and queues, or the concerns over bike theft and punctures, and take complete control of your Loire Chateaux experience. You know it makes sense and are sure to become our informal ambassadors for years to come. 

    Extra nights can be added along the way to suit:
    There are two different formats:

    A.

    10-night comfort tour with 6 dinners and a 4-star hotel:

    £1425.00 Pounds Sterling or €1665.00 Euros
    [per person, shared double or twin-bedded room]

    What’s Included
  • 10 nights in 3-star hotels and one 4-star hotel¹.
  • 10 breakfasts and 6 dinners.
  • Luggage transfers and five people transfers.
  • Hiking Insight Notes™ that empower & make orientation easy
  • 1:50,000 scale maps – perfectly adequate for orientation in this low-relief region.
  • A comprehensive and themed vacation dossier featuring the chateaux and wines of La Loire.
  • Emergency telephone help-line service with native-English speaking backup from 8am to 8pm, 7/7.

¹ We book standard rooms in the 4-star hotel. Where they are fully booked, you will be given the option to either pay for an upgrade or opt for the nearby 2-star hotel at a reduced rate.

B.

10-night Comfort tour on a Bed and Breakfast/B&B basis with one or two charming guest houses:

£1175.00 Pounds Sterling or €1370.00 Euros
[per person, shared double or twin-bedded room]

    What’s Included
  • You stay in eight 3-star hotels and two chambres d’hotes du charme¹. 
  • 10 breakfasts, but no dinners. You can chose to eat in your hotel or local options exist.
  • Luggage transfers and five people transfers.
  • Hiking Insight Notes™ that empower & make orientation easy
  • 1:50,000 scale maps – perfectly adequate for orientation in this low-relief region.
  • A comprehensive and themed vacation dossier featuring the chateaux and wines of La Loire.
  • Emergency telephone help-line service with native-English speaking backup from 8am to 8pm, 7/7. ¹ Where the two chambres d’hotes du charme are unavailable, they will be replaced with a 2 and a 3-star hotel, respectively.

    What’s NOT Included in both tour formats

    Lunches & drinks
    Entrance fees into Chateaux, Abbeys, etc.
    Personal expenses and any extra transfers
    Hiking, personal and travel insurances
    Travel to Blois and from Saumur
    Single rooms – unless booked at single-person rate
    Note: This is a very popular tourist area, attracting visitors from all over the world and throughout the season. Early booking is thus advised.

    Where we are unable to accommodate you in the desired guest house or hotel on a particular night, you will be placed in an equivalent hotel or guest house, respectively. For example, if our guest house in Tours is fully booked on your available date(s), you will be placed in our preferred local 3-star hotel.

    Again there are two different formats:

    A.

    7-night Comfort tour with 4 dinners and a 4-star hotel:



    £1025.00 Pounds Sterling or €1195.00 Euros
    [per person, shared double or twin-bedded room]
    What’s Included
  • 7 nights in 3-star hotels and one 4-star hotel¹.
  • 7 breakfasts and 4 excellent dinners.
  • Luggage transfers and three morning people transfers.
  • Hiking Insight Notes™ that empower & make orientation easy
  • 1:50,000 scale maps – perfectly adequate for orientation in this low-relief region.
  • A comprehensive and themed vacation dossier featuring the chateaux and wines of La Loire.
  • Emergency telephone help-line service with native-English speaking backup from 8am to 8pm, 7/7.

¹ We book standard rooms in the 4-star hotel. Where they are fully booked, you will be given the option to either pay for an upgrade or opt for the nearby 2-star hotel at a reduced rate.

B.

7-night Comfort tour on a Bed and Breakfast/B&B basis with one or two charming guest houses:

£885.00 Pounds Sterling or €1035.00 Euros
[per person, shared double or twin-bedded room]

    What’s Included
  • 7 nights in six 3-star hotels and one charming guest houses¹.
  • 7 breakfasts.
  • Luggage transfers and three morning people transfers.
  • Hiking Insight Notes™ that empower & make orientation easy
  • 1:50,000 scale maps – perfectly adequate for orientation in this low-relief region.
  • A comprehensive and themed vacation dossier featuring the chateaux and wines of La Loire.
  • Emergency telephone help-line service with native-English speaking backup from 8am to 8pm, 7/7.
¹ Where the chambres d’hotes du charme is unavailable, it will be replaced with a local 2-star hotel.

What’s NOT Included

Lunches & drinks; and no dinners in ‘best of’ guest-house/hotel mix.
Entrance fees into Chateaux, Abbeys, etc.
Personal expenses and any extra transfers
Hiking, personal and travel insurances
Travel to Ambroise and from Saumur
Single rooms – unless booked at single-person rate
Note: This is a very popular tourist area, attracting visitors from all over the world and throughout the season. Early booking is thus advised.

Where we are unable to accommodate you in the desired guest house on a particular night, you will be placed in an equivalent hotel. For example, if our guest house in Amboise is fully booked on your available date(s), you will be placed in our preferred local 2-star hotel.

  • Visit four Renaissance chateaux and two medieval castles/chateaux forts;
  • Explore the magical 16th Century gardens of Villandry, the Abbey at Fontevraud [resting place of Richard the Lion Heart] and Tours, the region’s most important city;
  • Get to know three of the Loire’s tributaries – Le Cher, l’Indre and La Vienne;
  • Marvel at the Valley’s troglodyte dwellings;
  • Immerse yourself in UNESCO’s Garden of France and one of the Country’s top wine-growing regions, showcasing arguably the very best of French dry rosé wines. 
  • 7 or 10-night, self-guided, inn-to-inn tour
  • Start any day, beg. mid-April to mid-October
  • Tour starts in Blois or Ambroise and finishes in Saumur – convenient access and departure by train
  • Two accommodation formats
  • average 10 miles/16 kms per day.
  • We transport your luggage, you just carry a light day pack.
  • Excellent levels of character and comfort: 3-star hotels (or chambres d’hotes du Charme) with a 4-star hotel in Amboise for option A. ;
  • Choose from Comfort tour ‘A’ (with some dinners included) or Comfort tour ‘B’ (on a bed and breakfast basis) according to your tastes and preferences.
  • Option ‘A’ includes six or four diners for the 10-night or 7-night trips, respectively.
  • Option ‘B’ is on a bed and breakfast basis. You can decide whether to dine in or out according to your tastes and budget.
  • The Chambres d’hotes du Charme do not offer evening meals. Restaurants are plentiful and your hostess can advise.
  • Note: This is a very popular tourist area, attracting visitors from all over the world and throughout the season. Early booking is thus advised. 

  • Blois or Amboise SNCF station is 1½ to 2 hrs journey from Paris and 5 hrs from Lyon – see https://loco2.com/ for details.
  • Saumur SNCF station is approx. 2½ hrs from Paris and 5 hrs from Lyon.
  • Maritime climate moderated by Continental influences. hot, dry summers; mild and sunny spring & autumn
  • Bring plenty of sun-cream and dress accordingly – and carry 3 litres of water per person in your backpack!
  • You walk through The Garden of France on a mix of trails, alongside river banks, through woods and forests, across farmland and alongside vines, with very modest elevation gains or losses.

Loire Chateaux Walks map

 

Loire Chateaux Walks – Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Blois by train [10-night trip only] and hotel check in. Early arrival recommended so as to maximize time in the Chateau Royal and enjoy a walk around the adjacent gardens – followed by a saunter around town and your first look at The Loire river. Night in Blois.

Day 2

Blois to Chaumont

[10½ miles-17 kms, 4½ hrs]

Chateau de Chaumont

You are collected from your hotel and transferred a short distance out of town for your first hike along The GR3 as it wends its way along the left bank of the Loire to Chaumont via the Beuvron tributary – not to mention your first experience of Loire Valley wood-walking.

Night in Chaumont-sur-Loire

Day 3

Chaumont to Amboise

[10½ miles-17 kms, 4½ hrs].

Chateau Royal & Le Clos Lucé

A short transfer out of town and we climb to the giddy heights of 112 ms and enter the department of Indre-et-Loire before descending to l’Amasse, a small Loire tributary at Souvigny. Then its a mix of copse, wood and lost hamlets before arrival in Amboise. As well as the Chateau Royal and the Chapelle St Hubert, you can visit Le Clos Lucé – home of Leonardo da Vinci.

There is so much to see – why not stay an extra night?

Our 7-night trip commences in Amboise. Early arrival recommended so as to maximize time in the Chateau Royal and enjoy your first look at The Loire river.

Night in Amboise.

Day 4

Amboise to Chenonceau

[8 miles-13 kms, 4 hours]

The Forest & Allées of Amboise

A charming, bucolic hike through the Amboise forest en route to arguably the quaintest chateau and gardens of the whole week – with access secured via walking a series of the symmetrical allées, so common in these walking-oriented parts.

Night in Chenonceau.

Day 5

Vouvray to Tours

[7 miles-11 kms, 3 hrs]

Guinguette lunch?

You are transferred from Chenonceau to Vouvray after breakfast. A picturesque morning’s walk is followed by a memorable tour of…Tours, capital of La Touraine and important staging post along the Paris-to-Compostella pilgrimage route. There’s plenty to see [old quarter, cathedral, basilica, Musée de Beaux Arts] and we’ll even recommend the best place for lunch. Then see the rest of the highlights before retiring to your comfortable hotel, conveniently-placed for dinner and your onward journey tomorrow.

Our 7-night trip omits an over-night stay in Tours. Instead, you are transferred from Chenonceau to Tours after breakfast. You can spend two or three hours in the historic centre before continuing onto Villandry as per Day 6.

Night in Tours.

Day 6

Tours to Villandry

[12 miles-19½ kms, approx. 4 hrs]

Savonnieres-sur-Cher

You walk beside the Petit Cher and the Cher on route to Savonnieres, where the traditional flat-bottomed river boats abound. Then climb the 100 steps [we make it 110] to a fine ridge and passageway to the ancient village of Villandry, with its magnificent castle and ornate 16th century gardens.

Night in Villandry.

Day 7

Villandry to Azay

[8½ miles-13½ kms, approx. 3½ hrs walking].

Menhir Pierre aux Joncs

An easy-going half day’s walk through the Vallee du Vau on route to the quaint village of Azay with its Renaissance chateau lapped by the waters of the river Inde.

Night in Azay-le-Rideau.

Day 8

Azay to Chinon.

[7½ miles-12 kms, approx. 3 hrs walking].

Saint-Benoit-la-Foret

A short transfer after breakfast gets you to the start of the Route forestiere de Rabelais followed by the Allee Louis XI. The ledge walk from the outskirts of Chinon is worth savouring, which drops you conveniently at the front gates of Chinon’s magnificent medieval castle overlooking La Vienne river. This bijou village is also blessed with its fine red wine.

Night in Chinon.

Day 9

Chinon to Fontevraud-l’Abbaye

[8 miles/12½ kms, approx 4 hrs walking time]

Plantagenets’ rest

Hug the river Vienne for the first half of the trail to La Chaussee. Then kick out across the Vallee des Veaux and through the Fontevraud forest. Enter Maine-et-Loire, pass the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Pitie before arriving in sacré Fontevraud, resting place of two Plantagenet kings and queens of England, including Richard The Lionheart. Both Abbey and hotel are a treat.

Night in Fontevraud.

Day 1O

Fontevraud-l’Abbaye to Saumur

[12 miles-19½ kms, approx. 4½ to 5 hrs]

Terroir Troglodyte

A short transfer after breakfast takes you to the confluence of the Loire and Vienne rivers. You can visit the Chateau de Montsoreau [made famous by Alexandre Dumas] and a troglodyte wine estate before striding out across AOC Saumur-Champigny country. Plenty of fine belvederes await along the balcony route to Saumur, with its ‘chateau d’amour’ perched on a tuffeau slope.

Night in Saumur.

Note: option to split this last day in two so you can have more time to visit both Montsoreau and Saumur chateaux – please ask for details.

Day 11: Departure day – end of your Loire Chateaux Walks tour – Saumur has a gare SNCF, so onward travel by train is very convenient.

Independent testimonials about The Enlightened Traveller can be read here:

Loire Chateaux Walks 2023
4.2 Our Rating
Customer Score 4.5 (10 votes)
Pros
  • A light walking tour, with little elevation loss and gain, but bags of cultural heritage
  • Multi-thematic tour: architecture (castles, abbeys, churches, troglodyte dwellings), ornate gardens and wines of the Central Loire Valley
  • Personalise your tour length and accommodation type to suite your preferences.
Cons
  • The heat of the Loire Valley in July and August
  • The best times to walk the trail are April to June & September and October.
Theme
"A multi-faceted journey along France's favourite river with options to tailor-make the experience in advance as well as en route."
Comfort & Cuisine
Scenery & Trails
Overall rating
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