9 Days | 8 to 16 May, 2022France

You are invited to join us on this superb tour of the beautiful and historic Loire valley in France. This two-centre holiday is based in the cathedral cities of Tours and Nantes in the heart of the Loire valley, in city centre hotels.

As you would expect for a tour that visits this famous part of France, we see all the main attractions. We visit the magnificent Chateau Chenonceau with its many beautiful gardens and the hilltop fortress at Chinon.  We go wine tasting in Vouvray and we also enjoy a river cruise.

Those with a passion for railways are also well catered for. We cover three heritage railways (one steam, one diesel and one with both), with lunch provided on two of them, including a ride on a fabulous former Orient Express carriage. Additionally, both cities have their own tram systems, one of which is quite extensive. We use rail travel to visit places that are rail connected and have the use of a luxury coach where they are not rail connected.

For your convenience, this tour is a no-fly tour, with easy rail transfer between Eurostar and French TGVs in Paris, with a private coach arranged to take us from Nord to Montparnasse. At Tours, the hotel is within walking distance of the station.

Finally, to offer some extra luxury, the outward and return journeys on Eurostar and TGV are upgraded to standard premier or 1st Class for extra comfort.

If you have ever fancied visiting this part of France, this tour is probably the easiest way to see all the sights and get more than just a flavour of what is on offer to the visitor.

This tour is based on our renowned Douro Valley tours and should particularly appeal to anyone who has travelled with us in the past to the Douro.


Tour Manager: David  david@ptg.co.uk


Tour Highlights

  • No fly
  • Standard Premier on Eurostar, first class on SNCF (where available)
  • Two centres
  • Wine Tasting
  • Chateau d’Chenonceau
  • Private steam train ride
  • Vintage dining train
  • River cruise
  • Good, centrally-located hotels
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Sunday (D)

We meet at St. Pancras station at 09.15 for our journey (10.22 departure) via the channel tunnel to Paris Nord, travelling in standard premier class. David will meet you at Paris Nord and our coach will be waiting to take us across Paris to Montparnasse station where we catch our train directly to Tours and a short walk to our hotel. Tours is the ideal base for the start of our exploration of the Loire Valley. The cathedral city is flat and easy to walk around for us to visit the medieval heart of the city that has been so lovingly restored. Narrow streets, half-timbered houses with wooden posts carved with figures and scenes are just some of the wonders of this city. Inside St-Gatien Cathedral we find the marble tomb of Charles VIII, a 14th century fresco of St. Martin giving half his cloak to a beggar and beautiful stained-glass windows. In Tours there is also the tram that can be taken across the River Loire, over the ‘Pont Wilson’. The bridge is known as the ‘stone bridge’. It is a replica of the 18th century bridge which collapsed in 1978. We will be staying in a hotel that is within easy walking distance of the station and the historic centre. After check-in we will meet up for our welcome dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 2 Monday (B)

This morning we travel by train to visit the famous Chateau d’Chenonceau. The Chateau was unusually influenced and protected by several women over its history. In 1547 it was donated to Diane De Poitiers, the favourite lady of King Henri II. Diane De Poitiers created gardens which were among some of the most spectacular and modern at that time. The interior of the Chateau contains a fantastic collection of furniture and works of art. Each furnished room inside the Chateau has fresh flower displays that add to the luxury and charm of this magnificent Castle. We will see beautiful Flemish tapestries, the painting of ‘The Three Graces’ (all royal mistresses) and the ‘Gran Galerie’ that stretches across the River Cher. After the visit, our coach will take us the short distance to the charming small town of Amboise, overlooked by the imposing Royal Fortress. We end the day with a visit to a nearby wine producer where we will have the opportunity to try some of their excellent white wine from this wine-producing area.

Day 3 Tuesday (B,L)

Today we head north from Tours to Le Mans and change onto a local train to Connerré Beillé where we have a private charter on the picturesque line of Chemin de Fer Touristique de la Sarthe. Waiting for us will be a steam hauled vintage train which will take us on a 12 km ride to Bonnétable, the full length of the line. A light lunch will be served on the train as we start our return journey to Connerré Beillé. Depending on train times, you may have some time to visit Le Mans’ attractive historic centre, just a few stops on the tram from the station.

Day 4 Wednesday (B)

We travel along a quiet branch line out of Tours to the town of Chinon. We will meet our local guide for our walking tour through the town’s medieval streets. It was here in Chinon that Joan of Arc arrived in 1429 and where her transformation from peasant girl to the warrior-saint took place. The magnificent Royal Fortress of Chinon runs along the hill above the River Vienne at the crossroads of three provinces: Anjou, Poitou and Touraine. The fortress was built here around the 10th century. Henry II, Plantagenet Count of Anjou and King of England ruled England as well as the Loire Valley. From the 16th century, Chinon was no longer a royal residence and later the fortress fell into disrepair. In the late 19th and 20th centuries Chinon grew to the east, towards the railway station and to the north on the hill. Since 1968 restoration has been taking place in order to preserve its historic and architectural identity. After free time for lunch, we visit the fortress. Later we will meet at the station for our return journey to Tours.

Day 5 Thursday (B,L)

This morning we have a private charter on the Bas Berry preserved railway. We make our way to Valencay where our diesel railcar will be waiting to take us to Ecueillé (the steam loco is not permitted on this section of the line). From here to Argy, we travel behind the railway’s steam loco. We will stop off for lunch in a restaurant near one of the stations. Our coach will be waiting at Argy to take us back to the hotel in Tours.

Day 6 Friday (B)

We bid farewell to Tours and catch a train to Nantes. Nantes was once a major commercial harbour, the largest city in North-western France and the historic capital of Brittany. Nowadays it is a surprisingly pretty, interesting and vibrant city.  It is home to the largest and busiest tramway in France, opened in 1985. The Dukes of Brittany made Nantes their home, building the castle on the banks of the Loire. Most of the dukes and duchesses are buried in the castle, cathedral or abbeys. After time for lunch, we will take a cruise on the River Erdre and view Nantes from another aspect. The remainder of the afternoon will be free to explore Nantes at leisure. We will be staying in a well-located city-centre hotel.

Day 7 Saturday (B)

This morning we will travel by train from Nantes to Le Croisic. This is as far west as our tour will go as we now overlook the Atlantic. Today you have free time to explore this pretty French port. Look out for the salt flats that we pass through on the train. Why not make the most of the French cuisine and enjoy fresh fish or shellfish at one of Le Croisic’s many excellent seafood restaurants? Afterwards maybe dip your toes in the Atlantic or just stroll around this wonderful French seaside town. Later we take our train back to Nantes.

Day 8 Sunday (B,L)

We travel south from Nantes to the Chemin de Fer de la Vendée for our special lunch. Waiting for us will be a vintage diesel-hauled train which will take us on a 22 km ride to Les Herbiers. On board our restored Orient Express dining car, we will be treated to an excellent lunch with wine included. The train will pause on a viaduct so we can enjoy our lunch with uninterrupted view of the valley below. This is definitely one of the highlights of the tour.

Day 9 Monday (B)

After breakfast, we start our journey back to London using the TGV and Eurostar. All being well, we should arrive in London St Pancras at 17:39. David will leave the group after you have checked in to Eurostar at Paris Nord.

This is a relatively gentle tour, though you will need to be able to take your luggage between the station and hotel in Tours (3 – 4 minutes’ walk). The towns we stay in are fairly flat and we are in centrally located hotels in both.

Holiday Prices (per person)

2022                2024

From London St Pancras:      £1,875            £1,995

Joining in Tours:                     £1,650            £1,765

Single (main hotels) add:         £425                £490

Single (alternative) add:               £0                  £75


• £500

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted from, and back to, St Pancras

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  • Hotel Oceania L’Univers, Tours (5 nights)
  • Mercure Nantes Centre Grand Hôtel (3 nights)