The great wealth of the Loire Valley probably lies in the variety of its landscapes. I cannot hide the love I have for this multifaceted region. For the incongruous walker that I am, strolling through these lands exhilarates me. Following the waterways and observing the architecture of the castles have kept me busy for entire summers.
Hiking in this region means walking along the towpaths on the banks of the Loire, Cher, Indre and Vienne rivers. It also means walking along the vineyard paths on the hillsides, bordered by white tufa cliffs. Above all, you discover some of France’s finest châteaux, as well as the country’s love of fine living, food and literature.
During this itinerary, you explore between the Loire, the last wild river in France and the Cher, the Indre and the Vienne, its soothing and peaceful tributaries. All are punctuated with stories that folk have shaped over the centuries. On the paths that branch out from the region, you’ll make many discoveries. From the winegrower who passes on his knowledge from generation to generation, to the hidden silhouettes of the great fortresses, your walk will always be full of culture. Treat yourself to a visit to the châteaux of Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Chinon or Langeais, which are just a few of the many you will come across.
To prepare for this 150-kilometre (93 mi) loop, I was inspired by marked trails like the GR 3 or the GRP de Châteaux en Château between the Loire and the Cher. To avoid busy roads, I’ve taken the liberty of proposing a section of the Loire à Vélo route.
As I mentioned earlier, the region is also known for its excellent food and fine wine. Don't hesitate to stop at the wine producers around Chinon. In the villages, try the rillons (grilled pork belly with duck fat and vouvray) or the fouées (small balls of bread baked in the oven and filled with meat and/or cheese) from some of the renowned restaurateurs.
I recommend starting in Tours, as the city is easily accessible. From Paris or Bordeaux, there are plenty of TGV trains. If you wish to shorten your journey or return earlier, you can also find stations served by the TER lines throughout your itinerary.
All seasons are good for hiking in the Loire Valley. However, bear in mind that summers can be very hot, making the hillier walks quite tiring.
The range of accommodation and places to eat is as varied as it is comprehensive. Whether you’re a camper with a stove or prefer to stay in a bed and breakfast with a good meal, you’ll always find something to suit.
Don’t forget, you’re about to walk through a territory renowned as a Mecca of French literature. Many great authors found their inspiration, or even lived in some of the châteaux in the region. On your route, you find the Châteaux de Montsoreau which, in 1846, inspired Alexandre Dumas' novel ‘La dame de Montsoreau’. Further on, in Ringy-Ussé, you’ll discover the châteaux that inspired Charles Perrault for the tale of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, published in 1697. The walk is a great opportunity to dive into their works.
Enjoy your walk!
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Last updated: March 5, 2023
Here you are at the start of a 150 kilometer loop between the Loire, the Cher, the Indre and the Vienne. Shoes on, I suggest you start this itinerary from Tours station, which I voluntarily classify as a remarkable building in the city.
Today, you are going to Savonnières, sixteen kilometers from Tours…
During this second stage, I suggest you visit one of the jewels of the castles of the Loire Valley: the Château de Villandry. But first, take the time to enjoy your breakfast at one of the excellent bakeries in Savonnières. Also, do not hesitate to observe the village church, a real curiosity by the…
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With a distance of almost 30 kilometers, this third stage is one of the longest of your tour.
To start, I suggest you take a tour of the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau and its iridescent gardens. Count between one and two hours for the whole thing. Then, before leaving the city, stop at the Saint-Symphorien…
For this fourth stage, get lost in the alleys of Chinon, in search of medieval souvenirs or in search of the royal fortress. In both cases, you will be transported to another world, loaded with fascinating historical anecdotes. Charles VII, Joan of Arc or Richelieu: they are illustrious historical figures…
During this small and fifth stage, I invite you to return to the banks of the Loire, at the level of the picturesque town of Montsoreau. To do this, take the time to visit Fontevraud Abbey if you have not already visited it the day before.
Then head towards the forest bordering Fontevraud-l'Abbaye. Shortly…
During this long sixth stage, I suggest you leave the hiking trails for a while to follow the Loire à Vélo route.
On leaving Candes-Saint-Martin, follow the gentle and quiet roads that border the Vienne. In Savigny-en-Véron, take a look at the church built during the previous century. On a clear day…
This penultimate stage is intended to be rather short. In this sense, if you did not take the time to visit the Château d'Ussé the day before, do not hesitate to take a tour before picking up your backpack.
On the way, you continue to Langeais (your stage for the day) on the Loire à Vélo paths. For lunch…
Here you are on the last stage of this great loop in the heart of the Loire Valley. Departing from Langeais, this day is one of the longest with almost 30 kilometres.
The route that I propose takes you back on footpaths, marked by the iconic yellow lines of the PR routes. Along these trails that go up…
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