Loire Valley walking vacations

Walk where Joan of Arc marched, where armies gathered, and where kings once sped by in carriages. There are some 6,800km of hiking trails around Tours, and five GR routes (Grande Randonnée – long distance walking routes through Europe) that pass through the Loire Valley. A walking vacation will allow to experience the little wonders you might miss by bike or by car. As you walk along the river bank, the startling silhouette of an enormous chateau-topped town will come into view on the horizon. But you might not notice it at first, because you’re looking at the roses blooming among the vines, or admiring a poppy field.
The French word ‘balader’ – to stroll – is very appropriate in the Loire. Wandering along the river is the perfect inter-chateau activity.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Loire Valley or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

What do walking vacations in the Loire Valley entail?

Walking vacations in the Loire Valley generally last a week, and can be done point-to-point with luggage transfers. You can easily do a self guided tour, since the routes are simple to navigate. You’ll get maps and comprehensive route directions so you won’t be led astray.

Each day you’ll usually walk between 15 and 20km. Even if you’re not particularly used to walking, if you’re in sound physical shape then the daily walks are perfectly doable. What’s more, you’ll break up the strolls with some lovely sights – including a whole heap of attractive chateaux. A week-long walking itinerary gives you the chance to pop in on one practically every day.

There are vehicle transfers to cut down some of the walking on some days. On others, you’ll set out straight from the hotel. You’ll only need to carry a day bag as a support vehicle transports your luggage – and you might also find they’ll transport any wine purchases you make, too.

Much of the accommodation is in family-run historic hotels. You’ll be surprised how many of them have swimming pools – so you can refresh after your rambles in the warmer months. Walking vacations tend to run between May and October, when the weather is best.

Where to go on a walking vacation in the Loire Valley?

A circular walk beginning and ending in Chaumont is an easy introduction to the area. For the most part, you’ll be strolling on level ground taking in the Cher river and the Loire. From Chaumont (and its pretty, garden-circled chateau) you can easily reach the Caves des Roches, Montrichard and Chenonceau (with its bridge-like chateau). On the way back, you’ll also visit Amboise, before returning to Chaumont. There are at least five chateaux along the route, and a few more in the area.

How easy is it to navigate?

Following a river is fantastic for gentle hiking, as it’s guaranteed to be flat most of the time, and it’s easy to find your way. It’s hard to get lost when towns are marked by enormous chateaux and churches. Walking itineraries follow major routes at least some of the time, and these are brilliantly signposted: the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route needs no introduction, whilst the GR routes are marked with a red and white horizontal stripe. It’s sometimes comforting to know that you’re walking a main trail.

What’s the terrain like?

Donna Webber from our specialist supplier Headwater, talks terrain in the Loire Valley:
“Our walking vacations typically follow grassy tracks and gravel paths along the banks of the rivers Loire and Cher, but we also take you through fertile vineyards, open fields and sleepy villages for fantastically scenic yet flat walking!”
Written by Eloise Barker
Photo credits: [Page banner: Daniel Jolivet] [Top box: Daniel Jolivet] [What does it entail?: Suavemarimagno] [How easy to navigate?: couscouschocolat]
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