Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Loire Valley: The Châteaux Trail Self-Guided Walking
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Highlights

  • Enjoy easy-going walking in the heart of the Loire; the ‘garden of France’
  • Admire the historic Châteaux of Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry, Chinon, Amboise and Chenonceaux
  • Walk the most scenic sections of the GR3 trail from Chinon to Amboise
  • Indulge in classic French cuisine; confit de canard and full-bodied local red wine
  • Relax in carefully selected charming hotels and guesthouses

Discover the magnificent Loire Valley on foot and visit the historic and opulent Châteaux de la Loire. Once the favourite hunting ground of France’s nobility, aristocrats and royalty, the Loire is brimming with these fascinating relics of a bygone time. Walk from town to town past vineyards, along peaceful forest trails, quiet country roads and riverside paths.

Start in the medieval town of Chinon, and meander your way along the GR3 following the red and white blazes to Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry and Tours, before making a detour to Chenonceaux. Wander alongside the Cher river and through the woods to reach the charming town of Amboise; the former residence of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Spend your evenings enjoying exceptional local cuisine such as rich beef steak, marinated duck, warm goat’s cheese salad and sweet Tarte Tatin. Enjoy a glass of locally produced wine and toast to another fantastic day of exploration while soaking up the French culture and atmosphere that make the Loire one of France’s most loved regions.

Day 1 Arrive Chinon

Located on the banks of the Vienne river in the heart of the Loire Valley, Chinon is easily accessible by train from Paris (approx.4 hours). Take some time to wander the cobbled streets which are lined with boutique shops, traditional boulangeries and patisseries as well as cosy cafés. History buffs will enjoy a visit to the Château and its gardens. The ancient fortress dates back to the 11th century and was the preferred residence of Henry II of England and the meeting place of Joan of Arc and Charles VII.


Overnight: Chinon


Day 2 Transfer to Saint-Benoit-la-Fôret and walk to Azay-le-Rideau

After a leisurely breakfast of buttery croissants, homemade jams and rich coffee, a short transfer (10 mins) will bring you to the trailhead. Enjoy the sound of the birds and the scents of the forest as you follow the GR3 trail through peaceful forests and countryside.


Arrive in Azay-le-Rideau with its spectacular Renaissance Château. Seemingly floating in the Indre river, its turreted façade is simply magnifique. Spend the evening enjoying a glass of local Saumur rouge over a decadent dinner fit for royalty.


Walk: 16 km, 90m Ascent, 130m Descent


Overnight: Azay-le-Rideau


Day 3 Walk to Villandry

Leaving Azay-le-Rideau and the river Indre behind, follow a mixture of quiet country roads and trails through hamlets, forests, fields and vineyards. Enjoy a panoramic view over the confluence of the Loire and Cher rivers just before reaching Villandry – the perfect place to enjoy a picnic of crusty baguette and fresh  ‘Selles-sur-Cher’ cheese. Arrive in Villandry, a small town mostly known for its magnificent Château and its unique gardens. With 6 distinct gardens of ponds, fountains, colourful flowers and vegetable patches, wandering the labyrinth of gardens is a true delight.


Walk: 13.5 km, 80m Ascent, 80m Descent


Overnight: Villandry


Day 4 Walk to Tours

Walk to the pretty town of Savonniéres, located on the banks of the Cher. From here, the trail follows the river as it meanders its way to Tours. The path is flat and open, allowing far-reaching views of the surrounding Loire valley. Sandwiched between the Cher and Loire rivers, Tours is dominated by an impressive Gothic Cathedral and a lovely, car-free centre lined with half-timbered houses. Another attraction is the indoor market, also known as the ‘Ventre de Tours’ (belly of Tours), this is a great place to get closer to French gastronomic culture, and to partake in the great French market tradition.


Walk: 19 km, 60m Ascent, 60m Descent


Overnight: Tours


Day 5 Transfer to Chenonceaux, walk to Amboise

Today starts with a transfer (30 mins) from Tours to the village of Chenonceaux. A visit to the famous Château is in order, known as the ‘Château des femmes’, the castle has been defined by a succession of women who painstakingly oversaw the building, design, embellishment, renovation and protection of this renaissance masterpiece. Particularly unique are its arches which span the river Cher. Follow a riverside path and then a forest path to the town of Amboise, your base for the next two nights.  


Walk: 20 km, 100m Ascent, 120m Descent


Overnight: Amboise


Day 6 Free Day in Amboise

Amboise is the jewel in the Loire’s crown. Its medieval charm and important place in history makes it a popular stop for visitors to the Loire. The main draw is of course its Château, the residence of French kings from the 15th to the 19th century, and also the last resting place of Leonardo Di Vinci, who was invited to live in Amboise by King Françoise. Other attractions include the Château du Clos Lucé, Da Vinci’s former residence, and the town’s twice weekly riverside market (Friday and Sunday). Or simply spend a day relaxing on a sunny terrace at the foot of the castle reflecting on a wonderful week of walking and discovery.


Overnight: Amboise


Day 7 Onward Travel

Check out of your hotel after breakfast and begin your onward travel. From Amboise, you can travel to other French destinations and airports by train. If you have more time to explore, why not consider one of our other  walking adventures in France?











Accommodation

Spend 6 nights in 3* hotels and high-quality guesthouses. All of our accommodations are hand-picked and offer a warm welcome to walkers. You will find an example of the accommodation we normally use below. If these accommodations are not available we will use an accommodation of a similar or better standard than those described.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is available to solo walkers but a solo walker supplement is payable.

Single rooms and double rooms for single occupancy are available should someone in your party wish to have their own room, again a supplement is payable.


Meals

6 Breakfasts are included in the cost of your trip. In the larger hotels, breakfast is buffet-style with various options available. Expect a continental  breakfast with bread, jams, pastries, yoghurt and muesli available. In guesthouses, breakfast will normally be served at the table and again will consist of fresh baguette, croissants, pain au chocolat, butter and homemade jams, and occasionally cold meats, cheese and fruits.   Dinners and lunches are not included so you have the freedom to choose from what’s on offer each day. You can find bakeries and shops in each town to stock up on food for your hikes. There are plenty of options for dinner each night, either at your hotel or in nearby restaurants.

Food is synonymous with French culture and your week in the Loire is as much a gastronomic journey as it is a walking one! Expect rich dishes of confit de canard, steak, hearty salads and creative dishes made from seasonal and local produce.

If you have any dietary requirements please let us know at the time of booking.


 



 

 

 



Hotel Diderot

This simple, family-run hotel from the 17th century offers a calm elegance in the city of Chinon. The Hôtel Diderot, with its courtyard garden and white limestone walls, is a 12-minute walk from Chinon Royal Fortress.



 

 

 



Hotel Biencourt

Within a few metres of the elegant Chateau Azay le Rideau, this 16th century property was formerly a school and is now a comfortable 3* hotel. Only a stone’s throw from cafés and restaurants, you’re never far from a relaxing refreshment.



 

 

 



Le Haut des Lys

The friendly team at Haut des Lys are ready to welcome you to this highly rated 3* hotel. Relax in the peaceful sculpture garden, which features a hot tub - perfect for relaxing tired muscles after a day of walking!



 

 

 



Maison Jules - Tours



Maison Jules

A luxury guesthouse set in a charming 19th century mansion in the heart of Tours. The house has five guest rooms, all individually decorated and distributed over two floors, accessed by an antique staircase. On sunny mornings, a traditional French breakfast can be taken in the garden.



 

 

 



Manoir du Parc - Amboise



Manoir du Parc

Gaelle and her family have created a wonderfully peaceful ambiance in this high-quality guesthouse. Located in a quiet spot, it’s hard to believe it’s only a 5 minute walk to the Château of Amboise. There are tea and coffee making facilities in the room as well as wine glasses - so why not enjoy a glass of locally bought wine in the garden? The perfect way to spend an evening in France.

Availability

You can start your adventure on any day of the week between the start of April and the end of October. The shoulder months of April and October may be considerably quieter than the summer months, with fewer restaurants and amenities open, but for those looking for a quieter experience this may be ideal. August is the busiest month in France for holiday making, so expect a vibrant atmosphere in the towns along the way.


Grade & Terrain

This tour is rated easy-moderate. You will be walking between 13.5 and 20 km each day, but the ascent/descent is negligible, making for quick progress. This allows for a short day of walking and plenty of time in the afternoon to explore the Châteaux and towns along the way. You will be walking on a combination of paved trails, forest paths, grassy paths and quiet country roads. At times you will be sharing wide paths with cyclists.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

All of the walks are way-marked and we also  provide you with turn-by-turn instructions for each walk, maps and access to our GPS smartphone navigation app, so you will have no problem finding your way.


Baggage Transfer

Bag transfer is included in the cost of this tour. Your bags will be transferred between your accommodation as per your itinerary. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example proper rain gear, sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes good waterproof gear, walking shoes/boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.


Getting to Chinon

Most international airlines fly into Paris Charles De Gaulle. From here, take a TGV (Train á Grande Vitesse), France’s intercity high speed railway service to Saint Pierre des Corps (2 hours). Then take a local train via Tours to Chinon (1.5 hours). There are also TGV’s leaving from Paris Montparnasse should you be staying in Paris before heading to the Loire. For more information and guidance, check: www.sncf.com/en



Getting from Amboise

From Amboise you can travel by train to any other French destination, or back to the CDG airport.


 


 

 


 

Included

  • 6 nights accommodation in 3* hotels and high-quality guesthouses
  • 6 breakfasts
  • Bag transfers as per the itinerary
  • Transfer on day 2 and day 5
  • Detailed information pack, route notes, maps and access to our navigation app
  • 24/7 support from our UK office

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Chinon and from Amboise
  • Entrance into the Châteaux and other attractions
  • Dinners & Lunches
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Single room supplement(s) if applicable
  • Solo walker supplement if applicable
  • Additional nights before,during or after the holiday

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised so that we can secure the best accommodation options for you.

How fit do I need to be?

This tour is rated easy-moderate. You will be walking between 13.5 and 20 km each day, but the ascent/descent is negligible, making for quick progress. This allows for a short day of walking and plenty of time in the afternoon to explore the Châteaux and towns along the way. You will be walking on a combination of paved trails, forest paths, grassy paths and quiet country roads. At times you will be sharing wide paths with cyclists.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per the itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.

What equipment do I need?

Your detailed information pack will be sent to you after you book. This has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

You can use public transport or a local taxi to continue to your next overnight stop. Your accommodations will be able to help with arrangements, or we are able to assist you from our UK office. 

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lf you require more information before booking, please contact us on

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Macs Adventure - Head Office: Skypark 5, 45 Finnieston Street, Glasgow, G3 8JU, UK

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