- Sunset dinner on a traditional river barge
- Gourmet cuisine and fine wines
- Play boules with local villagers
- Stay in a 15th-century chteau
- Wine tasting in a troglodyte cave
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 chateaux, 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.
Sunday Overnight: Hotel Saint-Pierre
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.
Monday Overnight: Hotel Saint-Pierre
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 «foues» - warm hollow rolls filled with beans, mushrooms, butter and goat's cheese, before visiting the mushroom and snail farm. Then we walk to a famous winery where we sample the sparkling wines before walking back to the hotel or taking a ride in the minibus. We dine under the lit-up battlements of the Chateau.
Tuesday Overnight: Hotel Saint-Pierre
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.
Wednesday Overnight: Hotel La Marine de Loire
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.
Thursday Overnight: Hotel La Marine de Loire
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.
Friday Overnight: Chateau de Maray
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 chteau 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.
(Single Supplement $595.00)
Departure: St Pierre des Corps Rail Station
Hotels - Where we stay
This charming hotel combines original architectural features, antique furnishings and rich fabrics with the sophistication of a luxury boutique hotel. It has a fabulous position on the banks of the river and is located in the heart of the town, conveniently positioned for guests to walk out and dine in the local restaurants. Each bedroom is individual in style and includes air-conditioning, TV, phone, hair dryer, minibar and WiFi internet access.
La Marine de 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.
Chateau de Marcay
A 15th century fortress, Chateau de Marcay 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.
Start planning your trip
What Is Included in the Price of My Vacation
- Full-time services of two staff - a Walk Leader and Walk Manager
- A backup vehicle for resting walkers and moving luggage
- Comprehensive Travel Information Package and Reading List
- Diverse itineraries with an emphasis on history, geography, culture, peoples, flora and fauna
- Demonstrations, wine tasting, admissions to museums and historic sites
- All ground transfers (ferries, cable cars, trains, etc.)
- Maps and unique souvenirs to commemorate your trip
- First-class accommodations with cultural and historical interest
- All meals - with choices - (Special dietary requirements? No problem!)
- Wine with dinner
- On-trail snacks and refreshments
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants