6 or 8 Day Ardeche Tour
This is a 7 night 8 day on which we canoe on the Loir, the Loire, the Creuse and the Cher rivers in the Loire region of central France.
We explore the valley of the Loire by canoe and visit many of the famous Chateaux and tase its famous wines and cuisine.
If you are a group of between 4 and 14 persons then choose your own dates and we will arrange it.
Our usual Tour size is between 4 and 7 guests with 2 guides.
If you are not a group of 4 then tell us your preferred dates and we will reserve that for you and try to rustle up others to make the tour viable.
4 people are required to run a tour. A tour of less than 4 can be run with a surcharge.
Fully Guided whilst on the river & trail
Full minibus support throughout
Transfer to & from Arrival/Departure point
All accommodation in B&Bs & small Hotels
All breakfasts, lunches and evening meals
Canoe on 4 different rivers
Canoe through the Chateau Chenonceau
Picnic on islands and enjoy a wild swim
Visit the Chateau where Leonardo Da Vinci lived
Visit several famous Chateaux
All canoes, paddles & life-vests
The price is €2415 per person.
Groups of more than 14 can be accommodated on special request. A private tour for 1 or 2 persons can be arranged with a surchage.
The tour meets & departs from Orléans TGV Railway station at about midday or at close regional airports by arrangement. Orléans is one hour from Paris by train. Local airports are at Poitiers, Tours and Paris Beauvais.
The rivers of the Loire valleys are flowing west towards the Atlantic Ocean at Nantes. The Loire itself is one of Frances longest at about 1000km, and is reputed to have 1000 Chateaux along its length. The Loir is a picturesque tributary of the Sarthe river which flows into the Loire. It generally flows parallel to the Loire and slightly north. The Cher is a tributary of the Loire that runs just south of it and joins it near Tours. The Creuse river is south of the Loire and runs through the Parc Naturel La Brenne.
The rivers are calm, if a little quick in places, with easy paddling through beautiful scenery. We can expect little more than riffles and no rapids. During the day we will find an island to take our picnic lunch on and if the weather is hot enough enjoy a wild swim or two. We will have plenty of fun weaving between the islands and should have plenty of opportunity for wildlife watching.
In the evenings we will be able to spend time visiting the small riverside towns where we are staying before out evening dinner together either at the hotel or out in the town. We will also keep an eye out for local events that often occur in these towns and villages during the summer months: fetes, concerts and the like. Before our canoeing excursion each day we will perhaps visit a local market to procure our picnic lunch for the day.
Of course throughout we shall stay at remote and beautiful places and enjoy the regional cuisine and the local wines.
We will pass several Châteaux on the river as we canoe by but we will also have the opportunity to visit many of the Châteaux in person. Those of note include the Chambord, Blois, Chenonceux, Chaumont, Amboise, and Clos Lucé (where Leonardo da Vinci lived).
Day 1. Arrival and first meeting.
You will be met at the Orléans TGV Railway station sometime around midday.
Alternative arrangements can be made for arrivals, such as at regional airports, by prior arrangement.
We will drive to Lavardin (1hr30mins) and stop here for a picnic lunch, get to know each other and go over the trip together. If it's warm enough we will have a wild swim in the Loir or take a walk around the beautiful hilltop town.
We will then have a 55 minute drive to our accomodation in Chateaudun, where we will stay for the evening.
Day 2. A paddle on the Loir
Today we will paddle the Loir river. In the morning we will have time to wander the town first, and perhaps visit the castle, before we drive upstream to Saint-Christope. We'll probably stop at Marboué for a picnic lunch and then paddle back down to Châteaudun (16.5km) taking our time to explore some islands, perhaps take a detour upriver on a sidestream or cool off with a wild swim.
After our paddle we will drive to Blois (about 45mins) to our hotel in the town. We will have time to wander the narrow streets around town before dinner in the evening.
Day 3. First day on the Loire.
Today we will travel up to Cavereau and paddle back to Blos (20km). We will have plenty of time to wild swim along the way as we explore the islands. We will stop for our picnic lunch on an island somewhere.
During the paddle we will pass the Château de Colliers, Church of Saint Dyé sur Loire (former port of Chambord), the village of Cour sur Loire and the Château de Menars.
After the paddle we will visit a local Château. The famous Chambord is close by, as are several others.
Tonight we will stay at the same hotel as last night.
Day 4. Second day on the Loire
Today we continue our paddle on the Loire and continue from Blois as we head to Chaumont (20km). Again we will be dodging islands, swimming and finding a private spot for our lunch.
We will paddle through Blois and pass by the Port de la Creusille, where you can see the traditional boats of the Loire.
Afterwards we will take the time to wander around the pretty town of Chaumont, again with its classic Château We are staying in a hotel in town so we have plenty of time to explore before dinner.
Day 5. Third day on the Loire
Again we continue our adventure down the Loire as we head towards Amboise (18km). More exploring of islands and such!
We will paddle beneath both the Châteaux of Chaumont sur Loire and the Châteaux Amboise.
At Amboise we will explore the Château and perhaps also the Clos Lucé which is the Château where Leonardo de Vinci lived out his last years.
We then have to drive to our hotel at Le Blanc in the Parc Naturel La Brennes on the River Creuse (90mins).
Day 6. A canoe on La Creuse
In the morning we will have time to explore where we are staying before starting our day on the river.
Today we are paddling La Creuse a pretty river running through the Parc Naturel. After a short drive upstream we will put-in at Scoury, paddle back to Le Blanc. This is an all day paddle and we will, as usual, find a spot for our picnic lunch and very likely a place for a swim or two.
After our canoe we will relax on the riverbank for a little while enjoying the local wines before a short drive to Chenonceaux (80mins) where we will be staying for the night.
Day 7. A paddle on the Cher
After a wander to explore our surroundings we will take to the Cher for a days paddle (18km) which finishes with a spectacular paddle beneath the Château Chenonceaux.
This really is a wonderful stretch of river and we will take all day to enjoy it with a sumptuous picnic half-way through the long day as well as perhaps a swim or too.
When we are finished we will go for a beer or a glass of wine or an ice-cream in a cafe which overlooks the final stretch of our days paddling. If possible we will find the time to visit the Château too.
We return to the same hotel we stayed in last night in Chenonceaux where we celebrate our adventures on the rivers of the region by having our final nights dinner together.
Day 8. Departure and Farewells
When we are ready we will drive for an hour and a half to the Orléans TGV Railway station for our return to Paris and beyond.
If time allows we can arrange to visit any of the Château we may have missed, or indeed anything else in the vicinity, before the train departure.
The Moulin de Segland, near Chateaudun
We stay here on our first night. The Moulin de Segland is 4km south of Chateaudun and on the banks of the river. It is an old mill-house with spacious rooms on the upper floors and a large pleasant living and dining room on the ground floor. We can explore the grounds by crossing the mill race to an island of the river. It is very pretty.
In the evening we shall take the short into Chateaudun for dinner.
Hotel Côté Loire, Blois
We stay here on our 2nd and 3rd nights.
The Hotel le Côté Loire is nestled back from the road that follows the bank of Loire, on the Place de la Grève (just a 2 minutes walk to the castle of Blois). It was built during the XVIth century.
Having got ourselves settled on arrival we will have plenty of time to explore the narrow streets of the town and find a restaurant.
l'Hostellerie du Château: Chaumont
We stay here on our 4th night.
L’Hostellerie du Chateau is situated in the charming village of Chaumont sur Loire, between Blois and Amboise in the centre of the Grands Châteaux circuit of Chambord, Blois, Amboise, Chenonceaux. The hotel is on the banks of the Loire, at the foot of the feudal Chaumont castle which dominates the valley
Manoir de la Presle, Le Blanc
We stay here on our 5th night.
Built between the 17 and 19 century, the manor of Presle is located in a peaceful area surrounded by a 5-hectare park. Along the river Creuse at the end of the property you can access the shops and discover the beautiful city of Blanc with its historical and cultural heritage.
La Roseraie, Chenonceaux
We stay here on our 6th and 7th nights.
This small, romantic, 18th-century-built hotel, sits in a very convenient location in the village centre, a mere 400m walking distance from the Château de Chenonceau.
What we see
France's lavish royal past is everywhere in the gentle landscapes of the Loire Valley. Hundreds of majestic châteaux and palaces follow the course of the country's longest river as it makes its way to the Atlantic.
The valleys exceptionally fertile land drew France's rulers during the 15th century, when they created ever more elaborate royal residences during the French Renaissance. The nobility soon followed, turning this so-called Valley of the Kings into a wonderfully over-the-top game of architectural one-upmanship.
Their gardens had to be just as ornate, notably the ones at Villandry and Chaumont-sur-Loire, home to one of France's biggest garden festivals which runs from April until October.
In the summer, the châteaux become magical in the evening son-et-lumière shows that light up their grounds in July and August.
These are some of the châteaux that we can visit on our tour.
Chateaudun where we stay on our first night
Chambord, just off the Loire, on our first day on the river
Blois, we stay in this town two nights.
Chenonceux, we canoe through this when paddling the Cher river
Chaumont, on the Loire where we arrive on the second day on the river
Amboise, on the Loire where we arrive on our 3rd day on the river
Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years in Amboise
Loire, a Cultural History by Martin Garrett
Gustave Flaubert called the Loire "the most French of French rivers." It is the longest river in France and the most varied in scenery and moods. Beginning as a mountain stream in the Ardeche, it issues, 630 miles later, into the Atlantic beyond the great modern port of St-Nazaire. Small and rapid at first, the Loire runs through dark volcanic hills; further downstream it becomes the broader, slower river of sandy islands, poplars and chateaux and of the vibrant cities of Orleans, Blois. Tours, and Nantes (the former capital of Britanny). It is lined with vineyards, forest, medieval fortresses, and flamboyant Renaissance palaces. And it is fed by countless tributaries, from rivulets to mighty rivers like the Allier, Cher, and Vienne. each with their own remarkable sights. Martin Garrett follows the Loire's course through cities and countryside. tracing its dramatic history from the days of feuding warlords and barons to the battles of 1940. Looking at the wide range of literature, art, and architecture created along its banks, he considers work that ranges from Du Bellay and Balzac to Virginia Woolf from Renaissance palace builders to Le Corbusier.
Loire, Brenne and Sologne (Crossbill Guides) by Dirk Hibers
The Loire valley lies right in the heart of France. The grand river Loire flows right through the centre of the region. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its high concentration of stunning castles and stately homes. This part of France is gentle in its topography, its scenery, its climate and, with the aid of fine wines and food, also its general pace of life. Perhaps less known is the fact that this region also supports a a large range of flora and fauna.
Two major natural areas within the region are the Brenne and the Sologne both of which sport hundreds of marsh-fringed lakes. These lakes together form some of France's finest wetlands, with large populations of Purple and Night Herons, Little Bitterns, Whiskered Terns, Black-necked Grebes and much more.
Because of these lakes and their rich birdlife, the region is well known amongst birdwatchers. But the avian interest extends far beyond the wetlands. The landscape is a patchwork of forests, heathlands, streams, unimproved, hedge-lined meadows and fields, where birdwatchers can meet with an extraordinary assemblage of birds. Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Short-toed Eagles, Little Bustards and Rock Sparrows which could make you believe that you are somewhere deep in Spain. Yet Middle-spotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Red-backed Shrikes and Ospreys add a flavour of the east or the north. Yet the Loire Valley is neither in the deep south nor in the north or east, but a mere two hours drive from Paris.
What goes for the avifauna holds true for the reptiles and amphibians (beauties like Green Lizard and Western Whip Snake), the flora (many orchids) and butterflies. The Loire and its tributaries is one of Europe's finest areas for dragonflies.
Illuminating, engrossing and full of surprises, The Discovery of France is a literary exploration of a country few will recognize; from maps and migration to magic, language and landscape, it’s a book that reveals the ‘real’ past of France to tell the whole story – and history – of this remarkable nation.
‘With gloriously apposite facts and an abundance of quirky anecdotes and thumbnail sketches of people, places and customs, Robb, on brilliant form, takes us on a stunning journey through the historical landscape of France’ Independent
‘Certain books strain the patience of those close to you. How many times can you demand: “Look at this! Can you imagine? Did you know that?” without actually handing over the volume? This is such a book’ Mail on Sunday
‘An extraordinary journey of discovery that will delight even the most indolent armchair traveller’ Daily Telegraph
A Concise History of France by Roger Price
This book provides a clear and well-informed guide to French history from the emergence of a strong state in the Ile-de-France in the early middle ages, to the trente glorieuses following the Second World War and the Mitterrand presidency. As such, it provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive study of French history available. Among the book's central themes are the relationship between state and society, the impact of war and such crucial questions as who possessed political power, how this power was used, in whose interests, and with what consequences. Roger Price examines the role of leading figures including Philip Augustus, Henri IV, Louis XIV, the two Napoleans, Clemenceau and De Gaulle as well as the lives of ordinary people. A rich entertaining guide for the student and general reader.
A Traveller’s History of France, by Robert Cole
The Traveller's History series is designed for the traveller who feels they need more historical background information on the country in which they are staying than can be found in an ordinary guidebook. For those who want to look deeper and discover more about the roots of France, its history and culture, in an enjoyable read, this is the book to choose. Designed for easy reference it is the key to unlocking the secrets of France. If you want to find about the mysterious Merovingian kings or the results of the last election; if you want to know when Chartres cathedral was built or how Napoleon rose to power or when and where Princess Diana died - you'll find it all in A Traveller's History of France.
'Undoubtedly the best way to prepare for a trip to France is to bone up on some history. The Traveller's History of France by Robert Cole is concise and gives the essential facts in a very readable form.' The Independent
'This little book is a very good idea indeed, a running commentary on the complexities, triumphs and tragedies of French history from the Lascaux Caves to the Pompidou centre. A must for tourists who want to know what happened where.' The Birmingham Post
'A brilliant idea from Gloucestershire publishers Windrush: a series of books which give a potted history of European countries. Ostensibly aimed at holidaymakers, the first on France, is an excellent introduction for anyone who wants an idiot's guide to a history that has so often intertwined with our own.' The Oxford Times