The best way to start your stay in the Loire Valley is by getting to know the river itself. A living highway, the river gives a rhythm and a continuity to the whole region.
Boating on the Loire
For over 30 years now, the Maison de la Loire in Saint-Dyé-sur-Loire, has been offering visitors a chance to discover the river in all its different aspects and many moods - its fauna, flora and culture, entertainment for the whole family, walks with titles like "The teeth of the Loire" where you'll get to know more about the wild beaver, twilight canoe trips (every Friday from May to September), the "eco PatriLoire" walking trail, a descent of the Loire by kayak with a guidebook and nature camps for 8-16 years. A cornucopia of ideas
Visit the Observatoire Loire, a brand-new fun and educational feature at the gates of Blois, near the green Parc des Mées and the Loire à Vélo cycle path. Games, re-enactments and observational exercises trace the history of the river through the centuries.
Sports and alternatives...
When your eldest likes nothing better than a mad dash around the football field, while the rest of you would rather watch, there's one pastime you can all enjoy together - kayaking with Loire Kayak.
From the classic canoe-kayak to the novel stand-up paddle fashion, the "megacraft" (a raft for up to eight people), and the "bike kayak," there are as many ways to navigate the river as there are to take the cycle path (husky sled anyone?) There's something for all tastes and all ages to get out and enjoy the natural surroundings.
And to end your day on the water, you'll find that a boat trip in the evening is a a magical experience, as the last rays of the sunset play on the day's ripples. If you're sleeping in one of the impromptu summer bivouacs on the islands of Chaumont-sur-Loire, it becomes a really privileged moment.
Walking in the forest
At the gates of Sologne country, between Contres and Cheverny, the Monde d’Ossyane combines an unusual place to stay with hiking trails, accompanied by donkeys. Discover the hidden trails of the Sologne, between forest and the lakes, for one night, for one day, or a whole holiday.
The camping site “L’Heureux hasard” has 5 pitches, 3 caravans, 9 tents and 2 cabins.
"Our driving concept is back to nature - there's no electricity or water on the pitches, only in the facilities. We have small kitchen with electricity, and even WiFi at the reception desk" explains Sabrina Clamens, creator of the concept. Open from June until mid-October, when the stags begin their calls in the woods.
Swimming in a natural pool
When the weather's nice and warm, why not cool off in a clear, pure pool among the meadows surrounded by oak trees. The natural pool at Mont-Près-Chambord is a unique feature, where water is filtered by entirely organic processes, 100% natural, with no chlorine or chemicals!
Each day, one and a half times the volume of the pool is renewed through a filtration pond where reeds, planted on a bed of volcanic rocks and Loire river bed gravel provide a clear and natural water source. Quality is monitored very closely to ensure comfort and safety.
Snacks and picnics
How about a picnic in the forest or on the banks of the Loire, along the “La Loire à Vélo” cycle path, near Saint-Dyé-sur-Loire, or between Blois and Chaumont-sur -Loire? You'll find "Windows on the Loire" specially designed to see the Royal River through the lush vegetation at Ménars, Saint-Denis-sur-Loire, La Chaussée-Saint-Victor, Candé-sur-Beuvron and Vineuil.
From the port of La Creusille in Blois, you'll see the royal city of Blois, its Cathedral of Saint-Louis, the château and the Maison de la Magie, but also the curch of Saint-Nicholas (formerly the abbey of Saint-Laumer), whose two impressive spires pierce the sky over the countryside.
Summer is the time of low water - islands and sandbanks appear as the currents ebb and flow. At the end of the season, not far from the majestic pathways leading up to Chambord, you'll be able to hear the roar of rutting stags among the tawny autumnal colours.