Loire Valley: Exploring the Great Outdoors

Autumn is a glorious time of year to visit the Loire Valley, particularly for those who love nature in all its splendour and infinite variety. It’s no small wonder that the region is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, not only for its famous châteaux, but also for its natural beauty, remarkable ecosystem, and stunning array of wildlife and landscapes. Our team has come up some intriguing ideas to help you celebrate the season and give your visit a whole new twist. So whether you take to the sky or travel by water or on foot, get ready - you’re in for a treat!

The Loire Valley Seen from the Sky

Fasten your seatbelts! We’re about to fly over the Loire Valley for a view from on high.

Take a look at this spectacular video of the Touraine region shot from a drone: it will lead you over the Loire river, the cities of Tours and Chinon, past the châteaux of Amboise, Loches, Chenonceau and more. And maybe tempt you to take to the skies for a first-hand look at the Loire Valley from a new horizon. Over 15 different companies in the area provide you with a variety of options. Check out their offers and have fun deciding which to choose! 

Take a ride in a hot air balloon, a specialty of the region. As you lift off, you’ll be dazzled by the vast panorama that unfolds before your eyes – the Loire and its tributaries, its châteaux, vineyards, forests and verdant countryside. Your point of departure depends on the company you opt for, but you’re in for a surprise as you’re never quite sure where the winds will take you. 

Fly over the region in a helicopter and even make a parachute jump if you’re among the brave-hearted. Don a leather helmet and goggles and take in the sights from the front seat of a biplane or enjoy the silence of a glider as it carries you across the countryside. Learn to pilot a microlight and venture out in the cockpit of your own aircraft. Or chill out and float blissfully over the ‘Garden of France’ in a blimp, a new one-of-its-kind offer in France.

Ready for an adventure? The sky’s the limit in the Touraine. After all, you only live once!

For more information, or to book:  
Touraine from the sky
Hot-air balloon rides

Les Passeurs de Loire: Learn all about the River with Real Pros!
Want to travel at a slower pace, and listen to the gently lapping of the waves as the wind fills the sails? Take a boat trip down the Loire and through time in a ‘gabare, ‘toue’ or ‘futreau’, one of the traditional boats that used to ply the royal river back in the days when it was the hub of prosperous, bustling maritime trade.

Join Jean-Philippe, Rémi or Pascal for one of their daily tours on board the 12-passenger ‘Aigrette’ or the larger (45-passenger) ‘Grande Aigrette’, one of their two authentic Loire riverboats, based 30 km from Orléans. These three friends and expert guides will let you in on all the secrets of the Loire: its famously treacherous currents, its diverse landscapes and wildlife and magically shifting light. As the boat drops anchor on an island, you’ll get a close-up of the flora and fauna and maybe even see the beavers at work. 

The Passeurs de Loire also offers special weekly morning and evening outings, which will delight those with a passion for historical lore, photography, or the intricate art of fishing. 

The tours, which take place from April to Oct., are conducted in French but you can ask to have an English-speaking sailor as translator if you’re wary of your language skills! 

For more information or to book a tour, click here

Birdwatching in the Sologne with English-speaking Guides

The Sologne, just south of Orleans and only 1½ h from Paris, is a vast unspoilt region and a mosaic of different colours and landscapes: its forests, lowland heaths, woodlands and some 3000 ponds make it the home of hundreds of endangered species and a unique birdwatcher’s paradise.

Take a tour with the Association Sologne Nature Environnement (SNE), a regional volunteer-based environmental protection organization. You’ll be guided by a team of 3 highly-qualified and experienced English-speaking guides, who will show you just what to look for and where, be they purple herons, whiskered terns or short-toed eagles. You’ll enjoy the visit as much as they do!

Arm yourself with your binoculars, hide behind the trees and thickets and let yourself melt into the environment. If you’re patient and respectful, you’ll see marvels you’ve never seen before – not only birds, but as you hike across the countryside wildlife of all sorts, startling the deer that come across your path and maybe even spotting a royal stag or two.

For more information or to book a tour, click here