Guided Walking & Sightseeing at Chinon, France
Treasures of the Loire Valley
Code: LVLCLPrint page
Food & drink
Meadows & hills
Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
Experience the beautiful Loire Valley, famed for its fairytale chateaux, wine, good food and pretty river views. We’ll enjoy leisurely walking west of Tours from our base in the medieval town of Chinon, which offers an incredibly warm welcome and is dominated by its photogenic landmark castle.
- A full programme of guided walks with 2 options every walking day plus 1 full sightseeing day
- All transport to and from walks
- The services of experienced HF Holidays' leaders
- ‘With flight’ holidays include return flights from the UK and hotel transfers
- 7 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms
- Half Board – continental buffet breakfast and 3-course evening meal
In the heart of beautiful medieval Chinon, the 3 star Hotel de France is a renovated 16th century building which now provides stylish and comfortable en-suite rooms overlooking a pretty square of the chateau itself, all with their own unique character.
This family-run hotel combines comfort and warmth with tradition, all just steps away from the cobbled streets of a city with a tremendous historical and cultural heritage.
|Decorated harmoniously, the 29 spacious and air-conditioned rooms at Hotel de France each have their own unique character.
They are all equipped with modern en-suite facilities and fitted with lovely furniture as well as telephone, TV, hairdryer, room safe, minibar, complimentary toiletries and tea/coffee making facilities.
Free WiFi internet access is also available.
|There is a new attractive rooftop terrace with seating offering views to the castle above the town. Next to this is a new breakfast/dining room.
The family owns the hotel restaurant where our guests dine every evening.
Please note that this hotel does not have a lift.
Our holidays at Hotel de France are on a Half Board basis and include breakfast and evening meal.
Buffet breakfast is served from 7am and consists of a good selection of breads, fruit juices, cold hams and cheese, cereals and yogurts, dried and fresh fruit, as well as jams and honey, tea, coffee and cocoa.
The evening is a 3-course served to the table and ordered the evening before.
|Lunch (payable locally)
Packed lunches are available to order from the hotel but you can also walk just a few minutes to some local shops and purchase the ingredients for your lunch.
Each evening your walking leaders will tell you about the choice of walks for the next day and answer any questions you may have. During the evening you may like to join in an optional organised evening activity, such a a quiz, or just have a walk around the town.
One evening, we have arranged for a speaker to enlighten our groups over coffee, on the rich industry of this interesting region.
Our experienced leaders offer the choice of two different walks each day. Choose the option which best suits your interests and fitness
We provide flexible holidays. Choose easier walking one day and harder the next or just explore independently or relax around the resort.
Our leaders are friendly and welcoming making your holiday fun and sociable.
Easier walks: 4 to 6 miles (6.5-9.5km) on good paths, with some moderate ascent and descent. Up to 500ft (150m) of ascent in a day.
Harder walks: 6 to 8 miles (9.5-13km) on good paths, with moderate ascent and descent. Up to 800ft (240m) of ascent in a day.
Day 1: Arrival day
You should arrive at the hotel with time to settle into your room and perhaps enjoy a stroll around the area. On the first evening your leaders will explain more about the walks and there will be plenty of time to meet with your fellow guests.
Day 2: A fishing village and views over Chinon
Today we have a relatively easy day for both walks. Although longer than some of the other days, they are on very easy terrain with no time constraints as we shall be walking from the hotel and back to it.
The river Vienne, the major tributary to the south of the Loire, starts on the Plateau de Millevaches, an upland area in the Limousin region in central France. It is 363 km long (227 miles) and discharges into the Loire at Candes-St-Martin, only 18 km to our west. Today we walk along La Vienne to the old fishing village of Riviere. La Vienne, more peaceful than the Loire, offers us more chance of seeing wildlife: kingfishers, green woodpeckers and an abundance of large freshwater fish. Looking back to Chinon we can see the magnificent fortress where Joan of Arc came to seek the Dauphin, the future King Charles VII, on the heights above the Vienne valley. The church of Notre Dame in Riviere is well worth visiting.
The easier walk returns to Chinon passing through the first of the many vineyards we shall see this week.
The harder option heads away from the river before making its way up into the higher vineyards to reward us with magnificent views over Chinon and the countryside around.
Easier Walk: 6 miles (9.5 km) with 100 feet (30m) of ascent.
Harder Walk: 8 miles (13 km) with 300 feet (90m) of ascent.
Day 3: Sightseeing Day
The magnificent 16th century Chateau de Chenonceau and the town of Amboise are our destinations today.
There are many chateaux in the Loire Valley but Chenonceau is unique, with its graceful arches spanning the river Cher. It is an architectural fantasy land largely the work of several remarkable women, hence its alternative name the Chateau de Dames. Construction started in 1515 for Thomas Bohier, a court minister to Charles VIII, although much of the work was overseen by his wife, Katherine Briconnet. The arches and one of the formal gardens were added by Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henri II. After the death of Henry, his widow, Catherine de Medici, removed Diane from Chenonceau and completed the construction, adding the huge yew tree labyrinth. The interior is full of wonderful furniture and tapestries.
Amboise, the childhood home of Charles VIII and the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci, is pleasantly perched on the southern bank of the Loire. There are many sights to visit in this very busy town, in particular, Le Clos Luce, where Leonardo da Vinci lived from 1516 until his death in May 1519, and Amboise Castle, the Renaissance royal residence, steeped in history.
Day 4: Vines and the Loire
The soft limestone, or tufa, found in the Loire area is a highly porous, sedimentary rock composed of calcium carbonate, and is very soft. For many thousands of years, man has dug into the tufa to make shelters, burial places, storage spaces for goods and animals, and in recent times for the preservation of wine. Today we visit an enormous excavated cave to see the remains of a true troglodyte village. Modern humans have also cast their mould and built houses and cafés in the limestone.
A short journey west takes us to the village of Dampierre sur Loire for the start of our walks. Initially ascending to a fine vantage point, we will survey the Loire and vineyards over to the north. After visiting the caves we continue along the escarpment to the Eglaise de Parnay, on old church with shelter and good views.
The easier walk descends from here to the banks of the Loire and to the Bar La Gabelle for refreshments and pick-up.
The harder route continues along the escarpment to visit the Apple Tappers (time permitting) before making its way down to the Loire and the Bar La Gabelle.
Easier Walk: 4 miles (6.5km) with 200 feet (60m) of ascent
Harder Walk: 6 miles (9.5km) with 300 feet (90m) of ascent
Day 5: Free day
Each week there is a free day when no guided walks are offered. This is an ideal opportunity to relax around the hotel, walk independently or visit local places of interest. Some options for your free day may include:
Relax in Chinon; explore the charming cobbled streets and pop into some small interesting shops for some unique gift shopping. There are plenty of cafés to have a relaxing lunch.
Spend some time visiting this castle which dates back to the 11th century and has a rich history. From the watchtower there is a magnificent view across Chinon and towards the Vienne River. See the large trebuchet at the rear. Admission charge currently €7.
Boat trips operate on the Vienne River from Chinon on traditional boats. Check with the hotel for full information. Rates from around €11 to €25.
For information on Chinon please visit www.chinon-loirevalley.com
Day 6: Caves and wines
Travelling east for a few minutes takes us to a more hilly area and gives us the opportunity to visit a wine cellar in a true cave. We will stop and have a tasting experience in the dark, perhaps by candle light. The wines on sale are very reasonable but you must decide yourself if they are to your taste. We may well be a little slower after our experience but the bulk of the walk is finished by now and time will not be a problem. There is a bar at the end of the walk.
The easier walk starts at a winery on the main road from Chinon and goes south initially before turning east and to Cravantles-Coteaux.
The harder walk starts a little further south visiting an ancient dolmen in the village of Biancon. This massive structure Le Gros-Chillou is 15 metres long and 3 metres high. Sadly it does not reveal its former glory. We now head north and join the route of the easier walk into Cravantles-Coteaux. Both walks enjoy the same circular walk round Cravant-les-Coteaux.
Easier Walk: 5 miles (8km) with 400 feet (120m) of ascent
Harder Walk: 6 miles (9.5km) with 400 feet (120m) of ascent
Day 7: L’Abbaye
Founded in 1101 on the border of the provinces of Poitou, Anjou and Touraine, Fontevraud is the largest monastic city remaining from the middle ages. At the heart of the abbey are the effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II and Richard the Lion Heart, the darling of the Plantagenets. It served as a prison from 1804 to 1963. In 2000 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Fontevraud combines heritage, culture, lifestyle and hospitality, continuing the ambition desired of an ideal city by its founder.
Today’s walks allow a variety of choices. You may wish to do the easier option in the morning and visit the abbey in the afternoon, or opt out of any walks and spend the whole day there. The harder walkers initially walk to the abbey and then can either continue their walk or spend the afternoon visiting the abbey.
The easier walkers are dropped in the city, and the walk starts from near the abbey. It describes a circular clockwise walk through the surrounding villages, vineyards and forests before returning to the city centre for refreshments.
The harder walkers get off the coach in the hamlet of St-Germain-sur-Loire and pick up the GR3, the famous long distance path. This has a fairly steep ascent but soon becomes more level as it makes its way on good tracks through the ancient Foret de Fontevraud to the city. The walk continues by following the same circuit as the easier walk.
Easier Walk: 5 miles (8 km) with 400 feet (120m) of ascent
Harder Walk: 8 miles (13 km) with 700 feet (210m) of ascent
Day 8: Departure day
Please note that the itinerary outlined is provisional and could be subject to change. A finalised itinerary will be available at the resort and every evening your leaders will talk to you about the next day’s walks.
Chinon is located on the banks of the Vienne river, in the region called the Touraine, which is known as the "garden of France". It is in the Loire Valley, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
It is well known for its wines as well as its castle and historic town. Chinon played an important and strategic role during the Middle Ages, having served both French and English kings.
The winding streets up to the castle are lined with small shops, inns, and cafés. The cobbles and timber houses dating back to the 15th century give you a feel of its history. Along the streets below the castle walls are Troglodyte dwellings, some occupied and many used by wine merchants.
This town is an ideal base to visit the region which includes France's finest chateaux.
There are a number of local shops within a short walking distance of the hotel where you can obtain the basic necessities, ingredients for a packed lunch and plenty of gift shopping.
We recognise that everyone’s travel arrangements are unique, so all our holidays to Europe can be booked ‘with flight’ or ‘without flight’, giving you more flexibility and choice.
‘With flight’ holidays – the hassle-free option
Book your holiday ‘with flight’ from Gatwick to Nantes airport. For flight times and prices please see the Dates & Prices tab.
If you choose this option we automatically include return transfers between the airport and the hotel. The coach transfer takes approx 2 hours to the Hotel de France.
‘Without flight’ holidays – the flexible travel option
Alternatively, tailor your journey to suit you by booking your holiday ‘without flight’ allowing you the freedom to book your own flights from your local airport.
If you choose this option, transfers are not included in the price. However, below are some suggestions to help you reach your destination:
Transfers must be pre-booked. Please call 020 8732 1220 for more details
* Please note that HF Holidays is not responsible for your onward travel if you fail to meet the transfer coach
Read more reviews from feefo
Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person
- Double room for sole occupancy: £22.50 per night
- All transport to walks is included in the price of the holiday
- Allow €35 for the sightseeing
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person