7 nights and 8 daysEnjoy this tour to the Loire Valley in central France, a region that is renowned for its gentle countryside, vineyards, forests, rivers and numerous châteaux. This leisurely touring holiday of the Loire Valley gives you ample opportunity to explore the famous landscapes and hidden gems of this delightful region, bursting with Renaissance châteaux, mediaeval strongholds, and vineyards.Click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested French touring holidays.Start your touring holiday by arriving by Eurotunnel in Calais, or by plane in Paris. Drive to the first of your three hotels, the Château de Noirieux, a superbly restored edifice set in extensive parkland and overlooking the River Loire, a short distance northeast of Angers. Capital of the Anjou and cradle of the Plantagenet dynasty, Angers and its famous Apocalypse Tapestry makes for an interesting excursion. From here, drive through tranquil landscapes punctuated by stately châteaux and fields of vines of the Parc Naturel Régional Loire Anjou Touraine en route to your second hotel set just south of Chinon. Stop off perhaps in the delightful town of Saumur, set between the Loire and Thouet rivers and renowned for its famous vineyards and Cadre Noir riding school. The Château de Marçay is an enchanting building, dating back to the 12th-century, and is the perfect setting from which to visit mediaeval Chinon, birthplace of Richard the Lionheart. From Marçay, drive north, past the stunning château of Azay-le-Rideau and towards the cathedral city of Tours and the villages and towns at the heart of châteaux country – Amboise, Cheverny, Blois, Chenonceaux. Your last hotel, Château de la Boudaisière, is a unique château with fine gardens and parkland in Montlouis-sur-Loire, not far from Chenonceau. With gourmet restaurants accompanied by the finest local wines, your stay in the Loire is certain to delight. From Amboise, drive back to Calais or Paris for the return journey to the UK.PRICESPrices for a self-drive holiday from £1090 per personPrices for a fly-drive holiday from £1130 per personWhat's included:•Three nights’ bed and breakfast at the Château de Noirieux near Angers•Two nights’ bed and breakfast at the Château de Marçay near Marçay•Two nights’ bed and breakfast at the Château de la Boudaisière near Montlouis-sur-Loire•Self-drive – Eurotunnel return from Folkestone to Calais •Or Fly-drive - British Airways flights (London to Paris return) and hire of a group A car for the duration of the holiday
Day-by-Day ItineraryDAYS ONE TO THREEDrive south to Angers, where you will spend three nightsIf Calais is your point of arrival, begin this touring holiday by driving southwest through Pas-de-Calais, past the impressive landscape, half-timbered farmhouses, and fin de siècle towns of Normandy, and into the rolling hills and fertile ground of the Loire Valley, the garden of France. Just a short distance from the banks of the river itself, sits the historic town of Angers. Your hotel, the Château de Noirieux is the perfect introduction to the high-ceilinged elegance of the Loire châteaux. From here, branch out into the neighbouring area to uncover the châteaux nestled between the hills. A number of prestigious châteaux are open for tours, including the Château de Brissac, the home of the 13th Duke of Brissac. This particular tour leads you through the Duke’s collection of antique paintings, the unique private theatre commissioned by the Duchess in the 19th century and dedicated solely to opera, and finally into the Château’s wine cellar, where you will be invited to taste the wine produced on the Duke’s estate. The Château of Angers itself is the ideal spot to take in views of the whole town, while strolling around the beautiful aromatic landscaped gardens, not to mention the Apocalypse Tapestry kept within its walls. Venture into Nantes to the enormous Château des Ducs de Bretagne. Its combination of 15th century, 17th century, and Renaissance architecture pays testament to how this imposing structure has developed over time. While these châteaux may be some of the most historic and impressive in Angers’ immediate vicinity, a number of smaller châteaux are open for wine-tasting sessions; some wines to look out for are Saumur-Champigny, Coteaux-de-l’Aubance, Coteaux-du-Layon, and the famous Coulée-de-Serrant. For a relaxing break from exploring, sit back on one of the Loire de Lumière cruises around some of the 300km of navigable waterways in the region. Loire de Lumière offers a range of cruises, from wildlife tours to cocktail cruises. DAYS FOUR TO FIVEDrive to Marçay, where you will spend two nightsLeave the Château de Noirieux bright and early on your fourth day to make sure you have time to stop off in Saumur on the King’s Valley Route to see the 11th century Château de Saumur, formerly a fortress, manor house, town governor’s residence, prison, arms and ammunitions depot, and now housing the museum. On the bank of the river Vienne sits Chinon and the Chinon Fortresse Royale, dating back to the 10th century and the legend of King Arthur. Popular wine-tasting spots include La Cave Montplaisir, the Cave Painctes for specifically Rabelais wine, and the Château de Coulaine for the local speciality, Chinon Blanc. On the edge of the Chinon Forest, sits the Château d’Ussé, so elegant in its architecture and positioning that it inspired Charles Perrault’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Or, to witness something very unusual, in the context of the French château tradition, tour the remarkable underground fortress at the Château de Brézé, sometimes called a château within a château. A short drive west will bring you to the Cultural Encounter Centre of Fontevraud Abbey, one of the greatest monastic cities in Europe. Again, tied into the Plantagenet dynasty, this vast and beautiful building is a popular residence for artists looking for divine inspiration, and plays host to a number of concerts and exhibitions throughout the year. Your hotel, the Château de Marçay, is surrounded by the patchwork fields of the Loire region; peacefully tucked away from the hustle and bustle of nearby cities, it is still within easy reach of those nearby châteaux that drive this tour of the Loire.DAYS SIX TO SEVENDrive to Montlouis-sur-Loire, where you will spend two nightsRe-join the river Loire as you head toward Montlouis-sur-Loire and the nearby city of Tours. Your hotel, the Château de la Boudaisière is just as elegant as its predecessors, priding itself on the produce of its grounds and the beauty of its gardens. Spend your evenings eating home-grown produce, including some of the 400 varieties of tomatoes grown in the vegetable garden, in the Bar Tomates. During the day, seek out more of the Loire’s best châteaux. The Château de Chenonceaux, known sometimes at the ‘Ladies Castle’ due to its string of female owners, such as Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitier, is not to be missed. This château offers an extensive art gallery and a collection of exquisite Flemish tapestries, as well as wine-tasting opportunities. You can dine in L’Orangerie, the on-site restaurant, or relax in the tea rooms, before exploring the wax museum or enjoying a boat ride. In the warmer summer months of July and August, night strolls around the castle and its grounds are very atmospheric, particularly with the backdrop of music by Arcangelo Corelli. To further witness the appeal of the area throughout history, spend an afternoon looking around the Château de Clos Lucé, burial place to Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s Garden captures the birth of da Vinci’s inspiration, as well as displaying a series of working models of his designs. For a taste of modern art, wander around the gardens of the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, observing the numerous interesting sculptures. The city of Tours itself has a lot to offer in the way of heritage, with its three perfectly preserved old neighbourhoods: old Tours, the quartier Saint-Julien, and the quartier de la cathédrale. In Montlouis-sur-Loire, we recommend finishing your trip by visiting the Domaine de la Taille aux Loups to taste the local wine; specifically the dry and fizzy Moeleux wines so renowned in the Montlouis region.DAY EIGHTReturn to Calais or Paris for your return journeyAfter spending the morning soaking up the last of the French sun, drive back north to either Calais or Paris for your return to England.Driving times for this touring holiday:Calais to Angers: 4 hours 40 minutesParis to Angers: 2 hours 45 minutesAngers to Marçay: 1 hour 10 minutesMarçay to Montlouis-sur-Loire: 1 hour 10 minutesMontlouis-sur-Loire to Calais: 4 hours 55 minutesMontlouis-sur-Loire to Paris: 2 hours 35 minutes
Below is some information regarding each of the hotels featured in this touring itinerary. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations - please contact us for full details.Château de NoirieuxAngersThe Château de Noirieux is a superbly restored château and manor house. The buildings of this four-star Relais and Châteaux member consist of a manor house dating from the 15th Century, now converted into spacious and very comfortable bedrooms, and the château itself, dating from the 17th Century, refurbished in the 1920s and again in the last couple of years, housing the public areas and several bedrooms. You approach the Château de Noirieux along a drive and then through an avenue of horse chestnut and walnut trees. The attention to detail in the decoration is noticeable throughout; in the cosy lounge with its open fire place, the bar and the elegant restaurant. There is also a terrace outside the restaurant where meals are served in fine weather. The Michelin-starred restaurant continues to gain a well deserved reputation, the chef being Gerard Côme. There is an open-air swimming pool, a Jacuzzi in the pool house, cycles, a tennis court and table tennis. There is a ground-floor bedroom with wheelchair access in the manor house. All bedrooms are extremely comfortable and have private bathroom, telephone, television with satellite channels and mini-bar (there is no lift). The Château de Noirieux is highly recommended for luxurious short breaks or long, relaxing stays. Find out more here.Château de MarçayMarçayThe Château de Marçay near Chinon is a superb four-star château hotel, built in the white-blond stone typical of many of the châteaux of Touraine. The hotel is absolutely enchanting both in terms of its breath-taking secluded and natural location and the quality of accommodation it offers. The Château de Marçay originally dates from the 12th Century, although the main building is in fact 15th Century. During a painstaking renovation programme, it became a hotel in 1971. The Château de Marçay enjoys a splendidly tranquil and rural setting in its own grassy parkland, with views onto the cornfields, sunflower fields and vineyards around it, while in the distance you can see rooftops of a local village. There are extensive lawns and terraces to the rear of the hotel where drinks are served in fine weather and there is also an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court. The interior of the Château de Marçay is spacious, serene and charmingly furnished. There are two very comfortable lounges where open fires roar in the winter under a blond stone chimney, a TV lounge, a bar and, of course, the restaurant. The elegant Michelin-starred restaurant is divided into two rooms, one decorated in hues of pink and the other in shades of blue. Rich fabrics complement the white stone walls and the dark timbers of the ceiling. The 30 bedrooms at the Château de Marçay vary enormously in size and location: some very spacious ones are in the main chateau itself and some are located in a wing of the château on two floors (these are more recent but offer a marvellous combination of stone, beams, terracotta floors and extremely comfortable furnishings). All rooms have private bath or shower and wc, telephone and television, and there is a lift to three floors in the main building of the Château de Marçay.Find out more here.Château de la BourdaisièreMontlouis-sur-LoireIn the heart of the Loire Valley, the 55 hectare estate of the Château de la Bourdaisière offers spectacular grounds made for exploration. Within this expanse of land, the 14th-16th century castle exudes regal charm. Divided into hotel and grounds, the former is justly named Hôtel de Charme and each of the 29 individually-decorated guestrooms is designed around their varying dimensions. Fourteen of the rooms are located in the chateau itself, with its three apartments available for families and larger parties, while Choiseul Lodge houses 12 rooms including an apartment. In sight of many of the rooms, the immediate surroundings of the castle feature pristine lawns and the manicured shrubbery of a formal garden. Such order gives way to wilder and freer terrain, where guests can discover many varieties of trees and the like: spot the 76 varieties of fruit trees, 180 varieties of dahlias and the 150 vegetables of the kitchen garden. Meanwhile, the 650 different strains of tomatoes in the Tomato Conservatory are a magical sight and feed the menu of Bar à Tomates, an open-air kitchen where guests dine on strictly fresh, home grown and local produce sourced within a 250-kilometre radius. The simple flavours drawn from the kitchen garden are sculpted into unusual dishes full of natural flavours that belong to the region. Recreate the dishes yourself after participating in cookery classes and learn how to grow organic produce from the estate’s gardeners. Other facilities at Château de la Bourdaisière include a heated outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court, a fitness circuit and a horse riding club. You can also indulge with massages, reflexology and shiatsu. Equidistant between Tours and Amboise, this is a great base for exploration.Find out more here.
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