Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

La Chartre-sur-le-Loir

One can easily be forgiven for confusing France’s Vallée du Loir with the Loire Valley. After all, the neighbouring regions’ names are remarkably similar—but that’s about where the resemblance ends. While the Loire Valley is a popular spot on the tourist trail best known for its exquisite castles and being home to cities like Orleans and Blois, Vallée du Loir is where those in-the-know go to escape the hustle and bustle.

Located just two hours by train from Paris, the region is a favourite spot of weekenders wanting to get in touch with nature and breathe in the fresh air. With rolling hills, vineyards, trails and charming, historic towns there are plenty of activities to satisfy visitors looking for a relaxing city break. Here are some ideas for fun things to do in Vallée du Loir.

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

La Chartre-sur-le-Loir

1) Kayak under a castle

In the Loire Valley you can canoe under a castle….in Vallée du Loir you get to kayak under one. The town of La Fléche has a town hall which actually used to be a medieval castle and a dungeon, dating back to the 1400s. Overlooking the Loir river, its reflection casts quite a spell in the water.

La Fleche

Rent a vessel from Canoë/Kayak La Flèche, and start the journey by paddling under the historic Carmes bridge, where you can see the old Poil-de-Reux flour mills and the Luneau port. You’ll continue past the castle and through narrow waterways lined with low-hanging walkways and vines dripping from stone walls, making for an enchanting scene before you eventually circle back to the more wide-open part of the river.
Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

2) Ride an eBike

No trip to France is complete without enjoying a picnic, so pick up some fromage and vin then hop on an eBike. The bicycles are available for rent in places such as the tourist office in La Chartre-sur-le-Loir, and are outfitted with a special motor to make pedalling up hills easier.
Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France
Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France There are numerous marked bike pathways throughout Vallée du Loir, including the 16 kilometre La Route de Jasnières (“the route to the wines”) which starts in La Chartre-sur-le-Loir and winds through a handful of adorable villages, then past farmyards and sunflower fields before arriving at a panoramic viewpoint. It’s the perfect place to uncork that bottle of wine, which you can enjoy while gazing out at an idyllic scene of vineyards framed by a bright-blue sky. Bon appetit!
Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France
Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

3) Go wine tasting

Speaking of wine, there are plenty of places to please your palate in Vallée du Loir. This is France, after all. There are about two dozen winemakers in the region, with the focus being on the appellation of Jasnières, a dry and fruity white wine along with Coteaux du Loir.

Click here to book a fantastic wine tour through the Loire Valley
Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France
Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, FranceStop in at Domaine des Gauletteries, a family-owned operation where you can tour their underground wine caves (called a “troglodyte” cellar). The winding passageways have been used for centuries, and one could argue it’s where the term ‘man cave’ was coined since men used to hole up there and drink together.
Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, FranceNo visit is complete without sipping their signature wine, then picking up a bottle (or three) as a souvenir.

4)  Visit Chateau du Lude

Chateau du Lude has quite a claim to fame: it’s been lived in by the same family for more than 250 years. Those lucky enough to explore the richly decorated interior will come across modern family photos—a stark contrast to the traditional oil paintings of past rulers that adorn the walls in most other castles.

Chateau du Lude. Loire Valley, France

Chateau du Lude

Chateau du Lude. Loire Valley, FranceOriginally a fortress, features such as a drawbridge, dry moat and underground passageways still remain despite Chateau du Lude’s conversion into a residence, and visitors are welcome to explore those spots along with the gardens, mazes and stables. Today, the main attraction is the annual Garden Festival (Fête des Jardiniers) which takes place during the first weekend in June, and includes gardening seminars and the chance to make sweet jam in the chateau’s gorgeous old kitchen.Chateau du Lude. Loire Valley, France
Chateau du Lude. Loire Valley, France

5) See the troglodyte houses

Both Vallée du Loir and the Loire Valley have troglodyte houses, which are homes that were dug right into the cliffside. Dating back to the 11th century, the troglodyte houses came about not only to escape war, but also because they were low-maintenance. The cave dwellings would look like any other traditional house with their brightly coloured doors, kitchens and front yards, were it not for the fact that the actual walls date back millions of years—and the roof is rock or grass.

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

A troglodyte house

There are places throughout the area where you can tour an entire village, and some people still live in the homes to this day. In fact, a couple are even listed for rent on airbnb.

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

A troglodyte house

6) Explore the countryside

Since the Vallée du Loir is all about the city escape, most visitors naturally end up in the countryside at some point. Along with activities such as the aforementioned cycling paths, there are also riding trails to tackle on horseback, canoeing or kayaking from Vaas, or walking through the thick forests. A rather unique activity is to head to Carnuta, where the Maison de l’homme et de la Foret museum is based. There, you’ll meet staff from the national forest organization and drive to the nearby Berce forest at dusk to listen for the deer cry, and likely enjoy a breathtaking sunset.

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Sunset in the Berce forest

PRACTICALITIES:

How to get there: Vallée du Loir is easily accessible by road or train from Paris, with the gateway typically being Le Mans. You’ll want to rent a car if you plan on visiting multiple areas throughout the region, as there aren’t public transportation options linking all of the areas.

Where to stay: Base yourself in the picture-perfect town of La Chartre-sur-la-Loire, which is popular with artisans like antique dealers and ceramists. The Le Grand Moulin B&B is exceptional, with an unbeatable location, gorgeous views, and rooms to fit all group sizes. Plus, you’ll get to say you slept in a chateau!

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Le Grand Moulin

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Le Grand Moulin

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Lunch at Le Grand Moulin

If you’d like to stay closer to La Fléche, stay at the charming La Villegiature. The B&B is owned by a lovely couple, and each room is decorated differently.

Globe Guide explored Vallée du Loir as part of the #FranceNature challenge in collaboration with Atout France and Air France. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:

La Batelière sur Loire: The boat hotel in Loire Valley, France

Canoeing to a castle: An epic visit to France’s Château de Chenonceau

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15 Responses

  1. noel says:

    This looks lovely,I would be right up there kayaking up to that chateaux…well actually I would practically do everything you mentioned. The last time I was in this region was over 20 years ago – need to go back again.

  2. Fiona Maclean says:

    I have to confess I thought you’d misspelt ‘Loire’! – I know France quite well and I’ve never heard of Valle du Loir. I love the look of the troglodyte houses and Domaine des Gauletteries and le Grand Moulin looks perfect to me!

  3. Shweta says:

    Is this place for real? Looks lovely. I would love to visit and kayak and go for wine-tasting. Thanks for the recommendation on where to stay. Have pinned this post for future travels.

  4. Carol Colborn says:

    Vallée du Loir would indeed be a great weekender from Paris. We will be in Paris for a week so we will just do a day trip and see those troglodyte houses!

  5. Punita Malhotra says:

    Loire valley of France is such a delightful region. We went chateau hunting and it was one of our most memorable experiences in the country. The landscapes and the tiny villages take your breath away.

  6. Indrani says:

    Good list of activities!
    I really want to see troglodyte houses, very fond of ruins and old architecture. Kayaking and e-bicycle too sound interesting.

  7. Renata Green says:

    The way you are describing it – the rolling hills, the vineyards, the old french structures – it does sound like the perfect daytrip from Paris when looking for something more traditional French. Next time in Paris, I will go there, it looks very peaceful and beautiful.

  8. Paige W says:

    When I was a teenager I went to the Loire Valley to tour different castles, but I had no idea just how much there was to do in the Loire Valley! The troglodyte sound fascinating! I’ve never heard of those in France before and they look like a place fairies would live. I’d also love to kayak under the castle. I wonder if you can do that below Chenonceau as well?

  9. Megan Jerrard says:

    France’s Vallée du Loir sounds fabulous, and a great day trip option from Paris, even though it seems like you would want to spend at least a couple of days. Thanks for differentiating between here and the Loire Valley – I’m probably one of those who would have initially confused them. We’re big outdoors people, so I love that you can combine culture with the outdoors, and kayak under a castle! And I’ve always thought they should invent motorized versions of bicycles – I’m totally all for biking the rolling hills now with those ebikes!! SUCH a stunning region, and OMG I WANT to get to Chateau du Lude – actually I want to win the lottery and live there!! There wasn’t a for sale sign up was there :D!!!

  10. Suruchi’s says:

    France’s Vallée du Loir Looks lovely. Thanks for making us understand that it is different from Loire valley. I will love riding through countryside; riding an e bike; kayaking through castle and watching annual festival at Chateau Due lude.

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