Saturday, 16 November 2019

Vegetables at Villandry


One of the most charming things about a visit to the famous gardens of Villandry is that visitors are offered any excess produce. Learn about this and other little secrets of the Loire Valley when you take a tour with us.

Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Fungi Foraging in the Loire Valley


Autumn is the season for going out into the forests of the Loire Valley and foraging for fungi. Many local people are adept at finding the often well camouflaged mushrooms, and because we at Loire Valley Time Travel have lived in the area for a long time, we have picked up a lot of knowledge about wild mushrooms.

The grounds of the Chateau of Azay le Rideau can offer an opportunity for an impromptu fungi lesson. This fine crop of mushrooms are Shaggy Ink Caps, considered a great delicacy in the Loire Valley and they popped up in the chateau grounds in October during a rainy spell. Most foragers make them into risotto. If you visit at the right time you could learn how to confidently identify and cook this species which is safe to eat, as well as lookalikes that are not so edible or have interesting medicinal properties.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 8 November 2019

The Most Magnificent Chateau of the Loire Valley


It is generally accepted that the most magnificent chateau in the Loire Valley is the unfinished royal hunting lodge at Chambord. The roofline is unquestionably stupendous and the setting suitably grand. We don't offer it as a visit in any of our standard tours for logistical reasons, but we are happy to work with clients to create a customised tour which includes it.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Wildlife Spotting in the Loire Valley


The Loire Valley is home to some impressive wildlife but without a guide it isn't always very easy to see. We love nature as much as we love history and food, so we are always happy to stop for a bit of wildlife spotting when there is an opportunity. For example, in the autumn, the Red Deer stags will be roaring in the forests and fighting for the hinds. It's not safe to get too close, but if we are lucky one of these magnificent beasts will amble by.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

A Gardener's Delight in the Loire Valley


This photo was taken in May in a small village between the town of Loches and the most famous of the Loire chateau, Chenonceau. Chédigny is most famous for its roses and has a very popular rose festival, but the wisterias and lilacs peak before the roses have really got underway. We visit the village so often with our cars that we are treated almost as residents, which means we can drive along the road shown in the photo, something most visitors do not get the chance to do.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Chédigny can be visited as part of our Loches-Chenonceau tour (the first tour on this page). Email us or contact us using our contact form to book a tour that takes you places many other people never get to see.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Have you Tried Rillettes de Tours?


Ask anyone who grew up in the Touraine what their favourite local dish is and they will say rillettes de Tours (pulled pork terrine). Everyone was delighted that this regional delicacy was awarded Indication Geographique Protegee certification a few years ago. This means the authentic dish can only be made within a certain geographic area around Tours.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

It is made from pork cooked slowly for many hours which is then pulled into strands by hand, mixed with simple seasonings and local Vouvray white wine then pressed into a terrine, all according to an age old recipe. Sometimes it is served scooped from a large terrine, sometimes it comes in little round pots. Real gourmands, like Balzac, who affectionately dubbed it 'brown jam', eat it with a spoon straight from the pot, although in restaurants it will be served with toast.  An average of 300 tonnes are made annually by the 20 local certified artisanal producers. With the certification guaranteeing quality and authenticity, the producers are confidently expecting sales to increase in the future.

If you think this sounds delicious (it's a great alternative if you don't like liver patés) and would like to sample some yourself, please email us and we will design a day that includes gourmet treats.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

See the Sunflowers in the Loire Valley

Lots of clients tell us that one of their hopes for their day in the Loire Valley is to see fields of golden sunflowers. They've usually been told that July is the season for the glorious sunflower fields stretching to the horizon. This is true, but not for the first week of July, and occasionally we get someone who has booked just that little bit early, only to be disappointed. It's sad.

Célestine by a field of sunflowers.
Photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.But anyone who books for the last 3 weeks of July or the first week of August is guaranteed a treat. The sunflowers will be out and proud!

If you want to see the sunflowers in all their glory, let us design a tour that meanders from chateau to chateau through sunlit yellow fields.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

A Magical Christmas Tour in the Loire Valley


Thinking of coming to the Loire Valley for Christmas but worried that everything will be closed? Do not fear. Several Loire Valley chateaux are open on Christmas Day itself, and most are open throughout winter. The six chateaux that participate in the Noël au Pays des Chateaux (Christmas in Chateaux Country) programme put on an even more splendid display than usual. They are simply stunning!

Photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.

In the past we haven't offered tours in our classic cars in the winter, but if you would like a Christmas tour of Chenonceau combined with a visit to a winemaker to buy your Christmas bubbly view our Special Christmas Tour. In addition, Susan is very happy to meet you at one of the chateaux and spend a couple of hours making sure you see the highlights. You can email us or use our contact form to book your date and time. For other tour ideas please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

What is the best Season to Come to the Loire Valley?

If you are reading this blog then you are likely planning a holiday to France and will want to choose the best time of year to visit.

Not many people choose the winter months, because they think the weather will be cold and damp and the days are short. However, at Christmas time we offer a magical tour to see the decorations at Chenonceau, and February is often one of the most spectacular months, with clear days and bright blue skies that are a photographer's heaven. Spring is a favourite time for many, with gardens bursting into colour again, and orchids and cowslips flowering on the roadsides. Remember that this is the wettest time of year here though and be prepared with a lightweight raincoat for the sudden showers.

In February the light is perfect for capturing architectural details
Photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.Summer is when we get the most reliable weather, usually with dry warm days for weeks on end, but rarely getting unpleasantly hot so air conditioning is not required. Of course, July and August are when most people visit the Loire, so you might like to avoid the crowds and come in the autumn. The countryside is mellow and golden and September rivals May as the most beautiful month to visit.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Going Underground in the Loire Valley


Many travellers have heard of the troglodyte caves in the Loire Valley, but they don't quite know how to access them. We include going underground into such a cave in almost all our tours, so if you want to know more about their history and are curious as to how they are used now, let us know and we can take you to some really interesting examples. Especially on a hot summers day, going underground in the Loire Valley is a very nice way to spend an afternoon!

Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Viewing Villandry


What could be nicer than a warm autumn afternoon spent at the famous gardens of Villandry? They are at their peak at that time so photographers, gardeners and designers can be inspired by their magnificence.

Photographed by Susan, private guide for Loire Valley Time Travel. Tour the Loire in a classic car.

If you would like to add this wonderful garden to your itinerary, email us or use our contact form. and we will gladly create a day out in the Loire Valley customised for you.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Take the Fast Train and a Slow Car


Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

If you come to the Loire Valley as a day trip from Paris it makes sense to catch the efficient and reliable fast train (TGV) from Paris Montparnasse to Tours Saint Pierre des Corps. It takes about an hour and no road vehicle can match that. Once you are here you can relax and enjoy touring in style in our classic Citroen Traction Avants. They are not really that slow, by the way, and easily do the speed limit on the provincial roads we will be travelling. But you will feel that we are transported back in time, to the days of elegant and comfortable touring.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Unicorns in the Loire Valley


What are the chances of seeing a unicorn when you visit the Loire Valley? Well, of course, they are rare, but if you choose knowledgeable local guides like us, you have a better chance than most. We photographed this one quite close to where we live.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

When Would You Rather Visit the Loire Valley?


Most people know that July and August is peak period in the Loire Valley, with the well known chateaux crowded with visitors from all over the world. So when would the best time to come be? May, June and September offer many advantages -- nice long days, gardens at their peak, and the French themselves not yet on holiday. The only thing you have to watch out for is the series of long weekends and public holidays in May and June. It's always best not to clash with them as they can end up being even busier than the summer if the weather is good.

April can be a very rewarding time to come, with early spring flowers providing colour but the trees still bare and allowing otherwise hidden views to appear. The weather is often not optimal, and Easter sometimes tricky to negotiate, but overall, we would highly recommend visiting in April if you like a quiet and atmospheric visit to a chateau.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Security at the Chateaux


Only the most popular chateaux in the Loire Valley have security lines where you have your bag searched. At Chenonceau the security staff are professional and friendly (and surprisingly furry...). You can expect your bag to be visually searched, scanned with a metal detecting wand and occasionally there will be a cat scan operating. We can skip the line for tickets, but nobody skips the security line. Fortunately for small groups like ours there is never more than a few minutes of waiting in the queue.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Avoid the Crowds in the Loire Valley


Sometimes you don't have a choice about when you travel, but if you do, then it's always good to avoid peak times (July, August, and the holiday weekends in May). The busier chateaux can be crowded inside, and sometimes operating on a restricted access basis, which means you could stand in line to enter, in the hot sun, for more than an hour. If you are coming during peak times, then opt to visit less well known places. We will always be happy to design a tour of little known gems in the Loire Valley.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 13 September 2019

How Do You Want to Travel in the Loire Valley?


Would you rather travel by coach with a couple of dozen other travellers or are you more interested in small scale transport, something a bit different? Travelling by classic car in the Loire Valley is a completely different experience to travelling by coach. We can visit different places, and interact with the locals in a totally natural and positive way. Coachloads of tourists descending on the popular visitor attractions are an increasing problem all over the world. Don't be the sort of traveller who contributes to this behaviour, and you will be welcome everywhere.

Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Glorious Wisteria in the Loire Valley


This photo was taken in May in a small village between the town of Loches and the most famous of the Loire chateau, Chenonceau. Chédigny is most famous for its roses and has a very popular rose festival, but the wisterias and lilacs peak before the roses have really got underway. We visit the village so often with our cars that we are treated almost as residents, which means we can drive along the road shown in the photo, something most visitors do not get the chance to do.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Chédigny can be visited as part of our Loches-Chenonceau tour (the first tour on this page). Email us or contact us using our contact form to book a tour that takes you places many other people never get to see.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Try the Loire Valley's Favourite Dishes


Ask anyone who grew up in the Touraine what their favourite local dish is and they will say rillettes de Tours (pulled pork terrine). Everyone is delighted that this regional delicacy has recently been awarded Indication Geographique Protegee certification. This means the authentic dish can only be made within a certain geographic area around Tours.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

It is made from pork cooked slowly for many hours which is then pulled into strands by hand, mixed with simple seasonings and local Vouvray white wine then pressed into a terrine, all according to an age old recipe. Sometimes it is served scooped from a large terrine, sometimes it comes in little round pots. Real gourmands, like Balzac, who affectionately dubbed it 'brown jam', eat it with a spoon straight from the pot, although in restaurants it will be served with toast. Last year 300 tonnes were made by the 20 local certified artisanal producers. With the new certification guaranteeing quality and authenticity, the producers are confidently expecting sales to double in the future.

If you think this sounds delicious (it's a great alternative if you don't like liver patés) and would like to sample some yourself, please email us and we will design a day that includes gourmet treats.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Christmas in Chateaux Country


Thinking of coming to the Loire Valley for Christmas but worried that everything will be closed? Do not fear. Several Loire Valley chateaux are open on Christmas Day itself, and most are open throughout winter. The six chateaux that participate in the Noël au Pays des Chateaux (Christmas in Chateaux Country) programme put on an even more splendid display than usual. They are simply stunning!

Photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.

In the past we haven't offered tours in our classic cars in the winter, but if you would like a Christmas tour of Chenonceau combined with a visit to a winemaker to buy your Christmas bubbly view our Special Christmas Tour. In addition, Susan is very happy to meet you at one of the chateaus and spend a couple of hours making sure you see the highlights. You can email us or use our contact form to book your date and time. For other tour ideas please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Goats Cheese Tasting in the Loire Valley


Our favourite artisan goats cheesemaker is based in the Loire Valley. Although he sells most of his cheese in speciality cheese shops in Paris, we can get to taste the cheeses at his premises. In addition he will explain how the cheese is made and matured to produce the different styles and flavours. It's a fascinating process and he is very knowledgeable about all aspects of cheese making and retailing.

A client from New York tastes goats cheese with the cheesemaker in the Loire Valley.
Photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. Tour the Loire in a classic car.

If you would like to know more about Loire Valley cheeses email us or use our contact form. We will design a tour that includes plenty of cheese and you can meet a French artisan cheesemaker.
More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Famous Statue gets a New Home in the Loire Valley


The Loire Valley has been home to several internationally reknowned 20th century sculptors, and their works can be found in several unlikely places in the area. Most recently, a sculpture by Alexander Calder has found a new home in Amboise. Over the past few years it has moved around a bit, but now seems to be installed in a very nice location in this picturesque town. A bit of modern amongst the medieval, forming a rather pleasing contrast, and a reminder that these historic towns have a timeline -- they didn't just stop evolving 500 years ago.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 19 August 2019

New Attraction at Chenonceau


The Chateau of Chenonceau is getting busier and busier, with 900 000 visitors a year. Most of these are concentrated over the summer holidays and inevitably there are queues to get in to the chateau interior. The chateau management recognise that this is a problem and are working at making other elements of the property wonderful attractions in their own right. To mark the centenary of World War One a very moving display using material from the hospital that the family funded and ran for the duration of the War was installed in the stables. This year, to commemorate the 500 year anniversary of the birth of Catherine de Medici, an apothecary has been reinstated in the stables, where Catherine's original was once housed. It is very grand and engaging, and means that even if you don't get into the chateau itself, you will have had a thoroughly worthwhile visit.

Photographed by Susan Walter.   Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Drink Rose from the Loire Valley


Have you seen those worrying reports that there is a shortage of French rosé? Oh no! Summer parties just won't be the same. Never fear though -- the shortage is really just in Provence. Here in the Loire, our rosés are just as delicately flavoured, just as delicious as a chilled picnic and lunchtime tipple. And we have some special distinctive varieties that you won't encounter anywhere else in France. Several of the winemakers we visit make wonderful rosé and you can have the pleasure of meeting the family who makes the rosé you will taste and buy when you join us for a tour. One of the nice things about the Loire Valley wine industry is that it is almost entirely small estates, run by separate families. They don't have big industrial production that allows them to export and advertise internationally, so they remain a local secret.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

How to Look Like a Local in the Loire Valley


Want to look like a local in the Loire Valley? Carry a baguette under your arm and walk purposefully. Everyone does it, as you can see from this photo, taken a couple of years ago in our village. Get other hints and tips on looking like a local when you join us for a tour.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Drive Off Into a Loire Valley Sunset


The sunsets in the Loire Valley can be gorgeous. Don't miss out! Book your holiday in this magical region of France now!! And we will help you have the best time!

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Cheverny Puppy Love


The hounds at the Chateau of Cheverny are adorable. We love going to visit them, and they like being a tourist attraction. Although they are big dogs they are gentle and soppy with dog loving visitors, and with each other. We would be delighted to include them on your itinerary and tell you their history.

Photograph Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Ghost Signs in the Loire Valley


Are you a fan of ghost signs? We are, and the Loire Valley is rich in these old advertising messages painted on to the sides of buildings. We photograph every one we see and would be delighted to share any on our route with you. They offer such a fascinating glimpse into the past.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Reflections in the Loire Valley


The Loire Valley has lots of water. There's all the rivers -- not just the Loire, but it's tributaries, like the Cher, the Vienne and the Indre. Then there are small man made lakes and fish ponds. On a still day the reflections are proper mirror images. A photographer's heaven.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Who Needs Sunflowers in the Loire Valley?


The sunflowers are a big attraction for many of our travellers, but don't be too disappointed if you miss them. The wild flowers in the Loire Valley can be stunning too. Check out these ox-eye daisies in profusion. We could also see vast swathes of poppies, and wherever we can, we will stop for photos. You couldn't do that on a bus tour.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Truffles in the Loire Valley


January is peak season in the Loire Valley for black truffles. They start appearing in late November, through to late February, but according to our local contacts, January is when the best quality is available. The price is around €1000/kg to members of the public at the specialist truffle markets. Along with truffles you can buy all sorts of other gourmet products at these special seasonal markets.

Tuber melanosporum photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

New Garden at Chenonceau


The Loire Valley chateaux are not stuck in a timewarp. They evolve all the time. New at the Chateau of Chenonceau is a whimsical new garden, created by their Head of Botanics as a tribute to the British garden designer Russell Page. The garden is partly based on drawings done by page for the Menier family, who have owned Chenonceau since 1913. Garden lovers all know about the famous potager at Villandry in the Loire Valley, but anyone who has visited agrees that the grounds of Chenonceau contain some very lovely gardens too.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

500 Years of Gardening at the Chateau of Chenonceau


The kitchen and cutting garden at the Chateau of Chenonceau was originally established by Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henri II of France. It has been continuously producing fruit, vegetables and flowers for 500 years. Today the fruit and vegetables are used in the well regarded Orangerie restaurant, nearby in the grounds. The flowers are used in the extraordinary floral creations displayed all over the interior of the chateau. Gardeners and florists alike love this chateau.

Photograph Susan Walter.   Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Old terracotta greenhouse seedling pots of the sort used before plastic pots were available. These are likely to be over a hundred years old, carefully stored as part of the chateau's heritage.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

An Animal Loving Chateau in the Loire Valley


All over the grounds of the Chateau of Chenonceau there are signs that the management and staff love animals. There are horses in the carpark, donkeys in a field and a sign at the entrance telling dog owners to respect the resident ginger cat, Noisette. Dog owners are also informed that if they choose to leave their dog in their car rather than bring it in to the chateau on a lead, they risk having their car windows broken if the staff think the dog is suffering. On a more amusing note, there are speed limit signs warning drivers that hedgehogs and cats may be crossing. We think this chateau, and others, such as Cheverny, are a delight for animal loving visitors.

Photograph Susan Walter.   Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Tours, Gastronomic Centre of the Loire Valley


Tours is one of the officially designated Cités des gastronomie (Gastronomic Cities) in France, along with Dijon, Lyon and Paris Rungis. If you love food, Tours is a great place to come. It sits in the centre of the 'Garden of France', so called for centuries, not because the Loire Valley has beautiful ornamental gardens, but because it is full of market gardens. That's much more important from a French perspective! Tours and the surrounding area where we take visitors has many, many restaurants dedicated to serving traditional dishes made from fresh local ingredients. Our tours include lunch in one or other of these restaurants.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Vegetables at Villandry


Many of our clients want to see the famous gardens at Villandry. You don't have to be a keen gardener yourself to appreciate the full effect of the colours and patterns here, all cleverly achieved with vegetables and box hedging. We are often asked if the chateau uses their homegrown produce in their café. The answer is no, but if you would like to find out what really happens to all the vegetables and how they manage the garden, book a tour with us. The answers will surprise you.

Peppers grown in the Villandry gardens.
Visit the finest gardens in France with a private guide for Loire Valley Time Travel. Tour the Loire in a classic car.

If you would like to see for yourself this wonderful and inspiring garden, email us or use our contact form. and we will gladly include it in your itinerary. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Where is Ludovico Sforza?


Historic sites evolve all the time as we learn more about them. This year in the small town of Loches, a place in the Loire Valley that punches above its weight historically, the focus has been on finding the grave of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan and great patron of Leonardo da Vinci. Ludovico was a prisoner at Loches when he died in 1508, and there is no monument to mark his tomb. We have been following the archaeological dig closely, so when you tour with us you can be sure to get the latest and most intriguing news from the site.

Photograph by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Listening to the Wine Sing in the Loire Valley


Yes that's right. Singing wine is a thing. If you take a tour with us in October just after the grape harvest you might be lucky enough to be invited to listen to the new harvest fermenting in its barrels. It makes a singing noise that skilled winemakers can use to judge where the process is at.

Visit award winning wine makers with a private guide for Loire Valley Time Travel. Tour the Loire in a classic car.

If you would like to be privy to the secrets of a French boutique winery, email or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

How Chateaux Can Rise From the Ashes


Chateaux and other heritage sites are like phoenixes. Many will have suffered a seemingly devastating fire at some point in time. These fires are almost always tragic accidents, these days caused by something associated with renovations such as electrical faults or the presence of flammable materials like solvents. After the shock, it very quickly becomes apparent that the building can and will be reconstructed -- often better than before. In the Loire Valley these events are used to ensure early career conservators and artisans are exposed to an exceptional opportunity to further their training. At Loire Valley Time Travel we are very keen to ensure that our clients understand how important this is and that disasters like fires always have another, more positive story to be told.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Fire Risk and the Loire Chateaux


As you can imagine the devastating roof fire in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris has focused the minds of heritage professionals everywhere. At Loire Valley Time Travel we've always included information about how the chateaux are managed, not just for fire but for general wear and tear. So if you didn't realise before how fascinating and important the subject is, perhaps you do now, and we will be happy to give you an insight into the challenges of opening these great buildings to the public.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Chenonceau and the River Cher


The Chateau of Chenonceau famously sits in the river Cher, so it is a constant challenge to manage the stability of the building as the water levels rise and fall with the seasons. In years like 2016 it was flooding in June which threatened the chateau, with the highest water levels in 60 years. But in April of 2019 it was the opposite problem, with lack of rain over the winter causing record low levels.  Learn more about the dangers, the vigilance required and the traditional methods of ensuring the building is safe on a tour with us.

Photograph Susan Walter.   Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

How to Find a Private Guide in the Loire Valley


The best way to find a private guide or tour operator in the Loire Valley is to do an internet search with the key words 'private guide' and 'loire valley'. You will pick up a few independent guides and a number of aggregator sites with a search similar to this. The aggregators are not tour operators, they are simply providing a platform which brings information about many guides into the same space, for ease of comparison and choice, and they act like an agent booking a service. One of the most well known is Viator (part of TripAdvisor and Expedia).

Photographed by Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.

Our advice is to check out the aggregator sites (ie the sites which list lots of guides and act as a central booking service) but don't necessarily book with them. They all charge a commission, so you will pay more if you book through these sorts of sites (usually about 25% more). If you see a guide you like on an aggregator, try to find their own website. That way you will be able to contact them directly. Guides and tour operators usually have Facebook pages or write personal blogs, which can give you a lot of information about the themes and geographical area they cover.

Not only will it be cheaper if you contact them directly but you will be able to engage in a real dialogue with the guide, so they know what you are really interested in and you can be sure they are someone you would like to work with to create a tour. Good guides will personalise their tours for private clients. If you are nervous about booking a stranger directly and do want to use one of the booking sites, make sure you choose one which will allow you to have a dialogue prior to booking with your guide. Also choose a booking site that will act as a mediator between you and the guide if something goes wrong. This doesn't happen very often, but when it does you don't want to be dealing with a booking site that is only interested in getting its commission.

At Loire Valley Time Travel we recommend you book us directly, or, if you prefer, book Susan W through Tours by Locals.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Creamy Christmas Cheese in the Loire Valley


November is a busy time for our favourite goats cheese producer in the Loire Valley. He is preparing for Christmas and must carefully age and turn hundreds of cheeses so they will be perfect from mid December to the early New Year. He sells most of his product in speciality cheese boutiques in Paris, but we are lucky enough to have him on our doorstep and he lets us visit with cheese loving clients throughout the year.

Jean-Luc turning creamy Christmas cheeses.
visit award winning cheesemakers in the Loire Valley with Susan, private guide from Loire Valley. Tour the Loire in a classic car.Time Travel

If you love cheese email us or use our contact form. We will design a tour that includes a visit to Jean-Luc and you can taste his cheese for yourself. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 24 May 2019

New Interiors in the Chateau of Azay le Rideau


Following the enormous task of restoring the exterior of the Chateau of Azay le Rideau the curators have completely refurbished the ground floor 19th century rooms dedicated to the last private owners, the Biencourt family. Using photographs showing how the Biencourts furnished, decorated and occupied the spaces the curators have recreated a series of comfortable, fashionable 19th century interiors, ranging from drawing room to billiards room, dining room to sitting room. Let us show you the very splendid result and tell you how it was achieved.

Photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Chateau of Azay le Rideau Restoration


Over the past couple of years the beautiful Renaissance chateau of Azay le Rideau has been restored inside and out. Learn how the work served to train apprentice masons, carpenters, roofers and metal workers so traditional construction industry skills are maintained in the Loire Valley. We have a background in heritage management and conservation and know the project manager who co-ordinated this extraordinary 16 million euro project. We can give you insights into the conservation of this and other Loire Valley buildings that other tours cannot offer.

Photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.
The chateau halfway through restoration, in 2016.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Looking to the Future of Notre-Dame


Fires in historic buildings under repair are nothing new. In fact, big restorations are a known risk factor. Everything that can be done is done to protect against fire, but sometimes tragedies happen. After all, we can't choose not to repair centuries old buildings -- they would fall down if there was no intervention. So it's a risk we have to take, and it is a situation visitors have to accept if they want to be able to see these buildings in the future. Don't think of scaffolding as ruining your photos, think of it as an opportunity to learn more about heritage building conservation, with an experienced and professional guide such as Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel.

Often, like at the Chateau of Azay le Rideau, under scaffolding for two years while the roof, attics and upper courses of masonry were carefully conserved, repaired and replaced where necessary, it all goes according to plan and the building is unveiled looking more beautiful than ever, and fit for a couple more centuries.

Sadly, sometimes it all goes horribly wrong and there is a disaster such as happened at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. In both cases however, the outlook is the same and is a positive one. We have an extraordinary opportunity to train new conservators and artisans in the care and maintenance of historic buildings. With Notre-Dame there is a heightened sense of the importance of the project because of its iconic status, but the heritage professionals who care for her are totally up for the challenge.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Sunflower Season in the Loire Valley

Lots of clients tell us that one of their hopes for their day in the Loire Valley is to see fields of golden sunflowers. They've usually been told that July is the season for the glorious sunflower fields stretching to the horizon. This is true, but not for the first week of July, and occasionally we get someone who has booked just that little bit early, only to be disappointed. It's sad.

Célestine by a field of sunflowers.
Photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.But anyone who books for the last 3 weeks of July or the first week of August is guaranteed a treat. The sunflowers will be out and proud!

If you want to see the sunflowers in all their glory, let us design a tour that meanders from chateau to chateau through sunlit yellow fields.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

When to Visit the Loire Valley

If you are reading this blog then you are likely planning a holiday to France and will want to choose the best time of year to visit.

Not many people choose the winter months, because they think the weather will be cold and damp and the days are short. However, February is often one of the most spectacular months, with clear days and bright blue skies that are a photographer's heaven. Spring is a favourite time for many, with gardens bursting into colour again, and orchids and cowslips flowering on the roadsides. Remember that this is the wettest time of year here though and be prepared with a lightweight raincoat for the sudden showers.

In February the light is perfect for capturing architectural details
Photographed by Susan, private guide from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com. Tour the Loire in a classic car.Summer is when we get the most reliable weather, usually with dry warm days for weeks on end, but rarely getting unpleasantly hot so air conditioning is not required. Of course, July and August are when most people visit the Loire, so you might like to avoid the crowds and come in the autumn. The countryside is mellow and golden and September rivals May as the most beautiful month to visit.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Visiting the Chateau of Chaumont sur Loire

There are always fun ideas for gardeners at the Chaumont International Garden Festival, held in the grounds of the chateau there. The Festival has been running for over 20 years, inviting garden designers to create small gardens based around an annually changing theme. The budgets tend to be relatively small and so there is plenty that the home gardener can take away and easily achieve in their own garden.

Susan from LVTT and Australian client Louise
demonstrating a clever 'not a mirror'
arrangement in a 2012 Festival garden.
Photographed by private guide for Loire Valley Time Travel. Tour the Loire in a classic car.The gardens often have a humorous or fantasy twist to them, but they are also serious about putting the right plant in the right place. These are not typical show gardens, in that they have to survive from April to October. Occasionally a garden will be so good it is kept permanently and that is a real testament to the designer and their knowledge of plants.

Recently the chateau acquired another 10 ha of land just beyond the area the Festival takes place in. Work on the landscaping was undertaken in 2012 and a wonderful new landscape scale garden is now open for public visiting.

If you want novel ideas for your garden, or are keen to see where garden design in France is heading, email us and we will design a tour that includes the International Festival of Gardens at Chaumont, as well as other notable gardens in the area, such as the world famous Villandry.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.