Sunday, 30 January 2011

A Wild Orchid Paradise

One of the best kept secrets of the Touraine is how many species of wild orchid grow here. Of the 44 species recorded, about half - some of them rare elsewhere - are easy to see if you know what habitat they prefer. At Loire Valley Time Travel we benefit from Susan's expertise in this field and it is not uncommon to see 10-12 species on a two hour walk with her.

The rare Mueller's Helleborine can be seen in a few places.
We offer orchid walks in May and June (and late April or early July if the season is favourable). These are for groups of 2-6 people, using your own transport to follow Susan to two different sites. All of the sites are privately owned, and in some cases special access has been granted for these walks.

The cost is €50 per group and it is essential to book at least 48 hours in advance.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

I only have four days in Paris

Some people are lucky: they can take long holidays that allow them time to explore and decide from day to day what they want to do, but the rest of us have to plan a holiday and do as much as we can in a short time. This is why when planning a trip many people use a travel forum to ask questions recommending hotels to use and places to see.

Many times on the forums you will see answers like "a week is not enough to see everything Paris has to offer, don't spend your time travelling elsewhere". Even if you only have four days in France and want to see a winery or the Loire Chateaux don't allow them to put you off: it's your holiday and you should be seeing what you want to see.

Loire Valley Time Travel are here to plan your day away from the noise and bustle of Paris. Travel on a train for an hour, and in about the same time as it would take you to reach Versailles you can be in the rolling countryside of the Loire Valley.

Email us if you are in Paris for a short time, and we can show you something of what the rest of France can offer.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Taking Time to Explore

When you book a one day tour with Loire Valley Time Travel we like to plan so that you don't spend too much time in the car. This allows you more time to stop and enjoy how peaceful the area is, a perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle that is Paris.

This is why our most popular tour combines the Chateaux of Chenonceau and Montpoupon. The two chateaux are only a short distance from each other, which allows us time to appreciate some of the pretty villages we drive through and the rolling countryside of the Loire Valley. Along the way we visit a pre-historic burial mound, a World War Two war memorial, and other reminders of the lives of ordinary people during the long history of this area.

If you are interested in more than just the big houses of the Loire Valley, email us and we will plan a day that introduces you to some of the lesser known sites that many other people just miss.

Friday, 21 January 2011

A Reminder of some of our Special Offers

First of all, a reminder that our 2011 prices are the same as they were in 2010. This applies to all excursions, whether custom made or a la carte.

Our Chenonceau and Montpoupon trip is proving as popular this year as it did last year. It is a good introductory circuit for people who have not visited the Loire valley before, and is available every day of the year except Christmas and New Year's day. For a couple of weeks at the end of December and January the chateau at Montpoupon is closed, but we substitute the chateau at Amboise. This trip is 460 Euros for two people, starting in Tours. As always, we will have lunch in a friendly family run establishment, and there is time for a winery visit at the end of the day.

From March until the middle of November our Cars, Cheese and Chateaux tour is available, visiting the museum and chateau at Valençay. This tour is show in more detail here, and can be booked at a cost of 530 Euros for two people. The day this time starts in Chateauroux.

Our Valentines special is also still available: read about it here.

If you have any questions about our tours, please contact us, either on any of the phone numbers shown on the right of this page, or by email.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Valentine's Day Romance

There are some truly romantic stories associated with the Loire Valley, and on this tour Loire Valley Time Travel aim to introduce you to some of the great love stories of the medieval and renaissance ages.

Of course, this can be done on any day of the year, but why not make it a special Valentine's Day tour for you and the person you love?

The tour includes a visit to the chateaux of Chenonceau and Loches, all entry fees, transport to and from St Pierre des Corps station (or your hotel in the region), lunch, and services of a driver and guide. The price is 530 Euros for two people.

If you are interested about learning more of the lives and loves of the French kings, email for more details.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Reduced Mobility? You can still visit the Loire Chateaux

Chateaux are difficult places to explore for people who have trouble with stairs: none of the chateaux of the Loire Valley have lifts (elevators), and some of the staircases are narrow and winding. An added problem is that even before you encounter stairs, the walk to many of the chateaux from the carpark can be quite long.

The back seat of Célestine is a most
comfortable place for anyone to sit!
Although we don't claim to have the perfect solution to these problems, we believe we have an itinerary to suit people who are mobile, but find walking distances (and stairs) difficult. The tour will take you to the chateaux of Montpoupon and Cheverny. We have chosen these chateaux as both have easy access from the carpark, and very wide, easy to climb staircases. Even if these stairs are too difficult, the ground floor levels of these chateaux hold plenty of interest.

At all times we will be available as an arm to lean on, and we also carry walking poles in the car, just in case.

If you have any questions about our tours, please contact us, either on any of the phone numbers shown on the right of this page, or by email.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Why a Traction Avant?

When Loire Valley Time Travel was in the planning stages we spent a long time thinking about the vehicle we would use for the tours. Most companies use either minibuses to carry 8 people at a time, or modern luxury cars - usually a Mercedes - for smaller groups. When we decided to concentrate on private tours we started looking for alternative to the car every other company used to help us stand out from the crowd.

A couple of times we had been driving around France, and seen Traction Avants on the road. The presence of the car and the way it turns heads wherever it goes was instantly obvious, and the appeal of driving such an iconic car through the French countryside was irresistable.

It was only after buying Célestine we realised just how loved these cars are. People we don't know will often walk up to us and start a conversation with "my uncle had one of those", or ask to take a photo. An added bonus is that it isn't just about looks - the legroom is amazing, and the ride really comfortable. For more information and photos of the car, we have a page on our website.

If you want to be the centre of attraction wherever you go in the Loire Valley, email us and ask about a tour. You never know - you may end up in a local's photo album!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Tour de France

This tour has now been booked

On the 8th of July 2011 the Tour de France will be passing close to the chateaux of Chenonceau and Montpoupon. This gives us the opportunity to offer a really very special day in the Loire Valley to one group of travellers.

The day will be based on the tour of Chenonceau and Montpoupon which we offer every day, but will include a two hour interlude to watch the passage of the "caravan" and riders of the Tour de France. At the moment we cannot offer a complete itinerary for the day as the timing of the passage of the Tour de France has not be issued. If previous year's experiences are to be believed we estimate that the Tour will pass through the area a couple of hours after lunch, thus giving us the opportunity to visit Chenonceau, lunch in a relaxed style, then move on to see the Tour de France before, if time allows, visiting Montpoupon and a winery.

If the Tour passes the area earlier, we will prepare a luxury picnic lunch to eat at the roadside in one of the beautiful villages of the area.

Remember, our tours are for a maximum of three people, so if you are interested in this once in a lifetime opportunity to visit chateaux and see one of the world's greatest professional sporting events, email us. The cost of this very special tour is 500Euros for two people, including pick up at Tours (St Pierre des Corps) station, lunch, and entry to the chateaux visited.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Part of the Community

Here at Loire Valley Time Travel we are aware that sometimes newcomers have problems being accepted in a community. We have always tried to be involved, where possible, in the life of our small town. We always suggest, where appropriate, that people visit the village, not just because we live here and like the place, but because we can give them a small window into what life is like in rural France, seen through the experiences of people who are living it.

It was therefore gratifying that yesterday we were given medals at the Maire's annual presentation, welcoming us to the community, and acknowledging the effect of our blog in presenting Preuilly sur Claise to the world.

If you would like to visit a small French country town and discover for yourself some of what life in France could be like, email us.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Orchid Tours

At Loire Valley Time Travel we have a wide range of interests and expertise. Apart from having a passion for history, Susan is also a qualified field taxonomist, with a particular interest in orchids and insects. This means that in addition to the chateaux of the region, we can also show you the natural beauty of the area and identify the flora and fauna. The Loire Valley is a World Heritage area because of its history, the historic buildings, and its natural environment.

Early purple orchids and cowslips
This coming spring could be a good year for seeing wild orchids in the Touraine: already there are plenty of young orchid plants evident in meadows and on the roadside. These will be at their best throughout May and June, and Susan is an expert in finding them. In a two hour session it is common to see 10 species of orchids, numbering well over a thousand blooms. These tours were very popular last year, so booking early is advised.

If you book a day tour or a two day break in the Touraine we are always keen to point out the native plants and animals.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Some Dates for your Diary

If you are thinking of visiting France this year there are some dates you might like to write into your calendar. Public holidays in France are held on the date they fall on rather than the following Monday, so quite a few of this year's holidays are on a Sunday.

1 May Labor Day (Fête du premier mai)
8 May WWII Victory Day
(Fête de la Victoire 1945; Fête du huitième mai)
14 July Bastille Day (Fête nationale)
15 August Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1 November All Saints Day (La Toussaint)
11 November Armistice Day (Jour d'armistice)
25 December Christmas Day (Noël)
Why not book a holiday in the Touraine and visit a small French town for Bastille Day with us? There may not be military parades, but there will be a flaming torch lit procession around town behind a band, then fireworks and a dance, lasting late into the night. The past 2 years visitors have enjoyed the celebrations with us, commenting on how much they valued the chance to party with ordinary French people in a small community.

Email us, and we will help you plan a week or weekend with us in the beautiful south Touraine.