Enjoy an active autumn holiday in France's Loire Valley with canoeing, kayaking, boat tours and river cruises, or cycling along marked trails. Pack up your car and hop over the Channel with Brittany Ferries.
Canoeing & boat trips
Canoeing or kayaking is a popular way of exploring the Loire Valley and its beautiful landscapes. Skim silently along the Loire, Vienne, Erdre and Cher rivers, staying the closest you can be to the water, getting up close to the valley’s wildlife and pausing to explore the rivers’ deserted islands. Many visitors enjoy camping along the banks or stopping for picnics and passing beneath the arches of Chenonceau on the Cher is a thrilling experience. The Parc naturel régional de Loire-Anjou-Touraine offers nine themed itineraries ranging from 10-22km in length, punctuated by picturesque towns and villages such as Tours, Montsoreau, Candes-Saint-Martin, Saumur, Chinon and Île-Bouchard. Canoes and kayaks can be hired from numerous activity centres or from major towns including Saumur and Chinon.
For an even more relaxing waterborne journey, hop aboard one of the Loire’s traditional flat-bottomed boats (gabarres, toues or fûtreaux). All the boats can be admired in the Observatoire de Loire in Blois, at Port de la Creusille where they are built and renovated, or at the Musée de la Marine de Loire in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire
Bikes are an ideal form of transport for exploring the Loire Valley’s autumn colours – and they’re in perfect harmony with its varied landscapes, châteaux and vineyards thanks to the numerous cycling routes criss-crossing the area. The best-known of them, La Loire à Vélo runs along the river from Cuffy near Nevers all the way to the estuary in Saint-Brevin-les-Pins on the Atlantic coast. It covers a total distance of 800km, clearly marked, secure and fully adapted to the needs of cyclists (with bike hire places and accommodation en-route), as well as being child-friendly.
There are many others routes too, so simply choose one and enjoy exploring the Loire Valley at your own pace, taking in all the sights along the way.
The abundant oak and waterways and access to the port city of Nantes made the Loire Valley an ideal area for the establishment of tanneries. As tanning was such a noxious trade, it was historically carried out on the outskirts of towns or villages. It could take 24-30 months to transform raw hide into leather; skins would arrive at a tannery to be soaked in water before being pounded, scoured, stripped of hair and softened. The only institution of its kind in France, the Musée du Cuir et de la Tannerie (Leather and Tannery Museum) in Château-Renault is set in an old tanner's workshop founded in the 16th century. Guided tours are available on request.
Get there with Brittany Ferries
The best way of exploring the Loire Valley is in the comfort of your own car, packed with everything you need. Sail direct to Brittany or Normandy from Poole, Portsmouth or Plymouth with Brittany Ferries and head on down to the Loire Valley.
Plan your trip to the Loire Valley with Brittany Ferries.