Tailormade tour Chateaux of the Loire rail-drive tour France

8 nights/9 days

Angers • Chinon • Amboise

This rail-drive tour to the Chateaux of the Loire Valley and the Touraine features a region that is renowned for its gentle rolling countryside, vineyards, ancient hunting forests, wide rivers and numerous châteaux, both mediaeval and Renaissance. You stay in three chateaux or historic house hotels, each giving access to a wide range of cultural sites and activities.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,960 per person.

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to the Chateaux of the Loire Valley


Amboise • Visit Chateau Chenonceau • Visit Saumur • Angers • Visit Villandry • Visit Abbaye de Fontevraud • Vineyard visits • Visit old town of Tours • Visit Azay-le-Rideau • Go to a Son-el-Lumiere • Chinon

Day by day

Your rail-drive touring holiday of the Chateaux of the Loire starts with a Eurostar journey from London to Paris, a change of stations in Paris and then the high-speed TGV from Paris to Tours, at the heart of the Garden of France. If you leave London about 09.30 hrs you arrive in Tours about 15.00 hrs. You collect your hire-car from the station and your first stay is at Amboise, just to the east of Tours and about 40 minutes’ drive. You stay in Amboise for three nights.

You have two full days to explore this part of the Loire Valley. There are numerous places of importance to visit within a very short drive. Amboise, on the banks of the river Loire, is home to the Chateau d’Amboise, a 15th century residence of Charles VIII and where you will find the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. Nearby is the Chateau du Clos Lucé where Leonardo Da Vinci lived. In the grounds are displays of working models of this designs. Not far from Amboise is the Château de Chenonceau, known sometimes at the ‘Ladies Castle’ due to its string of female owners, such as Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers, is not to be missed. This château offers an extensive art gallery and a collection of exquisite Flemish tapestries, as well as wine-tasting opportunities. You can dine in L’Orangerie, the on-site restaurant, or relax in the tea rooms, before exploring the wax museum or enjoying a boat ride. In the warmer summer months of July and August, night strolls around the castle and its grounds are very atmospheric, particularly with the backdrop of music by Arcangelo Corelli. Whilst in Amboise, you may want to visit the capital of the region, Tours. It is an ancient university town and this region purports to speak the ‘purest’ form of French. The old town is a delight with its narrow streets and tall, gabled, half-timbered houses. The Cathedral of Saint Gatien dates from the 12th century but most of it is obviously flamboyant Gothic, completed about the same time as the Chateau de Chenonceau. In Montlouis-sur-Loire, we recommend visiting the Domaine de la Taille aux Loups to taste the local wine: the dry and fizzy Moelleux wines from this region.

This is really a day to explore the north bank of the River Loire and there is lots of see along the way, from fortified towns with the mediaeval chateaux, such as at Luynes and Langeais, to the vineyards at Bourgueil. This might also be the day to visit the Chateau of Villandry. Your stop for tonight and the next day is just to the north of the town of Angers.

Just a short distance from the banks of the river itself, sits the historic town of Angers. A number of prestigious châteaux are open for tours, including the Château de Brissac, the home of the 13th Duke of Brissac, where you see the Duke’s collection of antique paintings, the unique private theatre commissioned by the Duchess in the 19th century and dedicated solely to opera, and finally into the Château’s wine cellar, where you will be invited to taste the wine produced on the Duke’s estate. The Château of Angers itself is the ideal spot to take in views of the whole town, while strolling around the beautiful aromatic landscaped gardens, not to mention the Apocalypse Tapestry kept within its walls. Venture into Nantes to the enormous Château des Ducs de Bretagne. Its combination of 15th century, 17th century, and Renaissance architecture pays testament to how this imposing structure has developed over time. While these châteaux may be some of the most historic and impressive in Angers’ immediate vicinity, other, smaller châteaux are open for wine-tasting sessions; some wines to look out for are Saumur-Champigny, Coteaux-de-l’Aubance, Coteaux-du-Layon, and the famous Coulée-de-Serrant. For a relaxing break from exploring, sit back on one of the Loire de Lumière cruises around some of the 300km of navigable waterways in the region.

Your journey today includes a mixture of castles, abbeys and wine. Set off along the King’s Valley Route and cross to the southern side of the Loire to see the 11th century Château de Saumur, formerly a fortress, manor house, town governor’s residence, prison, arms and ammunitions depot, and now housing the museum. Nearby are the troglodyte caves the Loire valley is famous for. Not far from Saumur is the Abbaye of Fontevraud, with its strong Plantagenet connections. You can see the effigies of Richard the Lionheart and his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine here. From here it’s a short drive to your next stop, amid the fertile land south of Chinon, fields of vines and sunflowers and orchards. You stay here for three nights.

On the bank of the river Vienne sits Chinon and the Chinon Fortresse Royale, dating back to the 10th century and the legend of King Arthur. Popular wine-tasting spots include La Cave Montplaisir, the Cave Painctes for specifically Rabelais wine, and the Château de Coulaine for the local speciality, Chinon Blanc. On the edge of the Chinon Forest, sits the Château d’Ussé, so elegant in its architecture and positioning that it inspired Charles Perrault’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Or, to witness something very unusual, in the context of the French château tradition, tour the remarkable underground fortress at the Château de Brézé, sometimes called a château within a château. Nearby is the gem of a chateau at Azay-le-Rideau, built on an island in the Indre River, under the patronage of King Francois I. It combines French tradition and Italian innovation and typifies the style of architecture that developed in the 16th century.

You return your hire-car to Tours this morning to take the TGV back to Paris, with a change of stations, and then the Eurostar from Paris to London. There is a service that leaves Tours just after midday and you arrive in London just after 16.30 hrs.

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,960 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRBR05

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to the Chateaux of the Loire Valley

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,960 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRBR05

Our prices include ● Eurostar standard class London to Paris return, and TGV second-class Paris to Tours return
● Hire of a group B car for 8 days
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Traditional double room at Le Choiseul, at Amboise
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Manor House double room at the Château de Noirieux near Angers
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Château de Marçay near Chinon
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel
● Transfers in Paris

Additional information Driving times for this touring holiday
Tours to Amboise 40 minutes
Amboise to Angers 2 hours
Angers to Chinon 1 hour 30 minutes
Chinon to Tours 50 minutes

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to the Chateaux of the Loire Valley

Highlights of the Loire Valley

Cultural highlights include wines and wine vinegars, wild mushrooms - (visit the mushroom museum), the Troglodyte caves, and local art exhibitions.

Festivals in the Loire Valley

Son et Lumiere in the chateaux in the summer months. Summer festival in Chinon in August.

Climate of the Loire Valley

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 7.8, Feb: 6.8, Mar: 10.3, Apr: 16.1, May: 16.4, Jun: 23.6, Jul: 25.8, Aug: 24.5, Sep: 21.1, Oct: 16.2, Nov: 11.2, Dec: 7.0. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

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