When considering taking children on a boating holiday in France, a river cruise in the Loire Valley aboard Nymphea is a wonderful way to explore the many attractions this region has to offer. Learning how locks operate, visiting castles, an aquarium and a zoo, makes this not only fun for children and adults but it’s an education in itself.
Sunday, Day 1 - Moulin de Nitray
You are met at the designated meeting point and transferred to Nymphea where a "Champagne Welcome" awaits you at our mooring opposite the 17th century Moulin de Nitray. Dinner on board.
Monday, Day 2 - Moulin de Nitray to Larcay
A morning cruise through two locks takes us to the quaint town of Larcay where we moor under the weeping willows for lunch. Afternoon excursion to Amboise, where we visit the Mini Château and Aquarium Du Val De Loire. Set in 5 acres of landscaped park and crisscrossed by 6 railway lines of miniature trains, the model village has 45 miniature recreations of the finest chateaux in the Val de Loire region. The Aquarium has 40 pools displaying a diversity of aquatic life, including fish from the Loire, crocodiles from the Amazon and sharks from the deepest oceans. Return to Nymphea for dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 3 - Larcay to Vallet
After a morning cruise past no less than six private châteaux, we tie up opposite the hamlet of Vallet, a cluster of classic Tourangeau architecture grouped around its 18th century mill. We then enjoy Château du Clos Luce and its gardens, the last residence of Leonardo Da Vinci. Here you can discover his 40 fabulous machines, inventions that were 5 centuries ahead of their time, including his airplane, helicopter, parachute, car and tank, many of which are displayed in the landscaped gardens of the Château. If there is still time we visit Les Caves Monmousseau in Montrichard, cellars of the Monmousseau vinery. This is a 15km labyrinth of passages and deep caves which were once an old limestone quarry. Dinner on board.
Wednesday, Day 4 - Vallet to Chissay en Touraine
While cruising in the morning we may pull into the tiny landing stage next to Domaine de Château de Fontenay from where a two-minute walk brings us to their courtyard where we can taste their range of Touraine wines as an aperitif before lunch moored at Blere. In the afternoon we cruise under the 5 arch bridge of the impressive Château de Chenonceau and moor at Chisseaux. One can take a canoe from the lock before the castle, follow the barge and then explore the moat and arches of Chenonceau, before paddling upstream to rejoin the barge at its mooring. We can also visit St Aignan sur Cher to the ZooParc de Beaval, home to 4000 animals. Discover elephants, tigers, alligators, gorillas, tropical birds and much more including hourly marine animal and birds of prey shows to entertain you. Alternatively we can visit Château de Loches, a huge 9th century Castle, steeped in history and famous for its massive Keep. In August they hold a 4 day Medieval Spectacular with cannons, sword fighting, and crossbow making and firing. Upon our return we cruise upstream to Chissay en Touraine. We take dinner tonight in one of the local restaurants.
Thursday, Day 5 - Chissay en Touraine to Montrichard
A morning cruise takes us towards the troglodyte village of Bourré. We tie up at the lock and take a short walk to La Magnaneraie one of the more unusual troglodyde dwellings in the Loire Valley. The Coquillat family has grown up in this hillside troglodyte habitation, which has been in turn a wine cellar, quarry for the tuffeau stone, and lastly a silkworm nursery. After lunch we visit the Château de Chambord which is one of the largest castles in the world and certainly the largest in the Loire Valley. The first sighting will take your breath away simply due to the scale of it. There are daily tours and costumed tours for children with special audio guides. Surrounding the château is the Parc du Chambord, the largest walled game reserve in Europe, where wild boars and red deer roam freely and can be seen from one of the 4 game observatories. There is a twice daily equestrian dressage display in the grounds and further exploration can be done by bike, boat or horseback, all of which are for hire. Returning to the barge we cruise to Montrichard where we moor for the night. Dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 - Montrichard to Nitray
Following breakfast, a short stroll takes us to the heart of Montrichard, into the midst of one of the largest weekly street markets in Touraine. Additionally take time to explore the 12th Century Château de Montrichard and its Donjon constructed by Foulques Nerra overlooking the medieval town square. Then afterwards maybe spend some time on the "parc plage" a small beach at the yachting club where you can hire a canoe or "pedaleau" or go swimming. After lunch, Nymphea sets off downstream again, for another passage under the Château de Chenonceau where there is an outside children's play area, maze and canoeing. On arrival at the hamlet of Nitray there may be time to visit the Château de Nitray, a large winemaking estate with an exceptional architectural ensemble including a chapel, pigeon house and landscaped "English Rose Garden". Here you can enjoy an aperitif from their vineyards. Captain's "Farewell Dinner" on board.
Saturday, Day 7 - Nitray
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to the drop-off point near Tours.
- This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.
- The itinerary is in reverse direction on alternate weeks.
: For more information about this area, view our FRANCE: LOIRE VALLEY
page in our REGIONS
section of this website.
It's not how far nor how fast, it's the pleasure of the journey that keeps people coming back for more.
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