The Loire - River of the Kings
The Loire, France's most fabled river, is our companion for this Walk through the historic garden of France. Crossing undulating countryside and fertile riverbanks, we encounter a royal abbey, privately owned châteaux, vineyards and orchards, underground passageways and troglodyte caves. We dine on traditional local produce, visit a mushroom farm, sample the sparkling and still wines of Saumur, play locals at the ancient game of boules de fort and enjoy a delightful dinner on board a traditional barge on the river Loire as we watch the sun set. In Chinon we discover a medieval fortress where Joan of Arc met Charles VII and we visit Fontevraud, the royal necropolis of the Plantagenet family: Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lion-Heart, and the only mixed monk and nun community in France. Nearby we enjoy strolling through a charming medieval floral garden.
Walk Rating: Easy to Moderate. Orchards, vineyards and woodlands, some hills. 9-11 miles walking per day.
US$4195.00 per person double occupancy
US$4195.00 per person double occupancy
Walk begins in Saumur, with arrival at Saumur Railway Station and ends in Marcay, with departure from Tours Main Rail Station.
Rendezvous with The Wayfarers in Saumur for the short journey to our hotel, situated on the banks of the Loire and in the centre of this historic town, one of the Jewels of the Loire Valley. After our Introductory Talk and aperitif in the Hotel, we wander through the age-old streets to the Welcome Dinner in a charming Auberge in the Cathedral Square.
After a short transfer we take a gentle walk back along the river towards Saumur, taking in the elegant Romanesque Basilica of Cunault and stopping for lunch in an ancient limestone cave. We are served traditional « fouées » - warm hollow rolls filled with beans, mushrooms, butter and goat's cheese, before visiting the mushroom and snail farm. Then we follow the Loire river bank to a famous winery where we sample the sparkling wines of Saumur before walking back to the hotel or taking a ride in the minibus. We dine under the lit-up battlements of the Chateau.
This morning we transfer by bus to Montreuil-Bellay to start our walk. After crossing fields and woods, we arrive at the elegant castle of Breze for a picnic lunch and visit the mysterious and fascinating underground passageways. Then we stroll through forests and vineyards to Champigny and Souzay, a reputed wine-producing area, and finish our afternoon with a wine-tasting in a troglodyte cave or in the private house of a Cavalry General. We transport you back to your hotel in Saumur to have dinner in the hotel restaurant under the Chateau.
We stroll through Saumur, the equestrian capital of France, visiting the French Cavalry and the renowned Cadre Noir Museum. A meandering riverside path brings us to lunch in a troglodyte house and then we continue our walk along the Loire, crossing vineyards and villages, to our next hotel in the pretty village of Montsoreau, the 'Marine de Loire'. In the evening we take a short walk along the river to Candes St Martin at the confluence of the Vienne and Loire rivers, for dinner on board a traditional Loire 'gabarre' or barge, while we sail along gently, watching the sun set over the river.
After a hearty breakfast overlooking the Loire, our walk takes us past a soap factory and on to the magnificent 12th century Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, final resting place of Richard the Lion-Heart and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the only known mixed monk-and-nun community (historically ruled over by an Abbess of Royal blood). After a guided visit of the great Abbey and its grounds we lunch in the village. We then wend our way back to Montsoreau to play the ancient game of Boules de Fort with the local villagers, and back to the hotel. We have dinner in a wonderful gourmet restaurant, two minutes walk from the hotel.
We leave Montsoreau on foot for a gentle hike beside the River Vienne, passing the village of Candes with its 12th century church. We then travel on a traditional boat to the medieval city of Chinon, where we explore the massive medieval fortress, the historic meeting-place of Joan of Arc and Charles VII. A stroll through the cobblestone streets of Chinon, brings us to our lunch rendezvous. Our options for the afternoon are a visit to the charming privately-owned gardens of Chateau du Rivau or a free afternoon relaxing at our last hotel, the beautiful Chateau de Marcay, a restored 15th century chateau set in a glorious vineyard. After a relaxing swim in the lovely hotel pool, our gourmet Farewell Dinner is served on the terrace or in the splendid panelled dining-room of the Chateau.
The Wayfarers will provide a transfer to the station in Tours, from where it is only a short train journey to Paris, that most romantic of cities.
This itinerary represents a typical Walk. We prepare itineraries well in advance of the trip and therefore we reserve the right to make changes due to weather, local events or other circumstances - but always to improve the experience of our guests.
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Hotel La Marine de Loire - Wednesday & Thursday
9 quai de la Loire
This stylish and charming boutique hotel is located in the center of the pretty riverside village of Montsoreau. The bedrooms are all different, lovingly decorated in soft, muted colors with whitewashed beams and nautical touches recalling the village's past as a navigation route on the Loire. Each room is equipped with a private bathroom, air-conditioning, hairdryer, TV, minibar and Wi-Fi connection. Further hotel facilities include an indoor heated swimming pool and full service spa with various massage treatments available.
Chateau de Marcay - Friday
A 15th century fortress, Château de Marçay embodies the grace and grandeur of The Loire Valley. Now a luxurious hotel surrounded by 30 acres of beautiful grounds and private vineyard, it has been wonderfully restored with the interior decorated to a high standard blending wood panelling, sumptuous fabrics and period furniture. The bedrooms offer every modern comfort including cable/satellite TV, telephone, hairdryer and minibar. This hotel is renowned for its refined cuisine which is further enhanced by the elegance and charm of the dining hall. Wi-Fi internet access is available in the common lounge rooms and there is a lovely outdoor swimming pool.
This hotel list is a provided as an example. We may use different hotels of the same quality and style on specific trips. The Wayfarers will notify confirmed travelers of any changes to the hotels.
Before & After
- Visit Saumur famous for its white wines and headquarters of the French Cavalry.
- Many opportunities for open country horseback riding.
- Explore more of the world-famous Loire châteaux and the magnificent gardens in the region: jardins a la francaise and jardins remarqueable.
Early and late summer is a very pleasant, sunny season in The Loire region with average daytime temperature of 63°F (17°C) with mid-day peaks reaching 75°F (23°C). You are likely to need a sweater or light jacket in the evenings. The Loire is dominated by the variations of western weather that characterise the whole of Western Europe. Weather fronts usually approach from the west and can bring anything from light clouds to a steady downpour so you need to bring good quality rain gear.
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Are there any hidden costs?
Our Vacations do not include the cost of air or rail fares to and from the destination or tips for your walk leader and manager.
How large are the Groups?
Our maximum group size is 16, but groups average between 8-12 people.
Will I feel welcome as a single traveler?
Yes! Our walks are the perfect environment of comfortable camaraderie for the single traveler.
Can you accommodate special diets?
How physically fit do I have to be to do a Wayfarers Walk?
If you are in good health and reasonably fit you will be comfortable participating in a walk.
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