Friday, 23 October 2020

Fairytale Chateaux in the Loire Valley


We hear the expression 'fairytale chateau' bandied about liberally in gushy touristic promotional literature, but in some cases the description is literal. At least two chateaux in the Loire Valley were the inspiration for two of the most famous fairy tales by Charles Perrault. It is well known that the Chateau of Ussé is associated with the story of Sleeping Beauty, but what is much less well known is that the chateau of Chaumont provided the backdrop for Cinderella. On our tours we specialise in the quirky and little known histories. Of course we give you some well known background, but our tours are always spiced up with intriguing tales that have mostly been forgotten by others.
 
Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire. Touraine Loire Valley. France. Photo by Susan Walter.
Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire.

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 October 2020

Wildlife Spotting in the Loire Valley



The Loire Valley rich in wildlife but without a guide it isn't always very easy to see. Many species in the forest are shy and don't allow people too close. 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, red squirrels are very secretive and most people never see them. It's impossible to get really close, but if we are lucky one of these adorable critters will pause long enough for a photo.

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 October 2020

Door Furniture in the Loire Valley


Many people collect door fittings, either physically or more commonly, by photographing them. These people love the Loire Valley because the range of splendid and unusual door knobs, hinges and knockers is just about endless. One of the most popular is the so-called 'Hand of Fatima' style, featuring a woman's hand. We will be sure to tell you the somewhat unsatisfactory history of this distinctive door knocker if we pass a suitable door while you are with us.

So-called 'Hand of Fatima' door knocker. Indre et Loire, France. 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, 11 October 2020

Fields of Golden 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 -- and we are happy to confirm that this is true.

Sunflowers and Citroen Traction Avant. Touraine Loire Valley. France. Photo by Susan Walter.




Anyone who books for July 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, 7 October 2020

Joan of Arc in the City of Tours


Joan of Arc is a household name, and most people have a good idea of who she was and what she did. But they associate her with the City of Orleans, without realising that much of her story happened in Tours, Loches and Chinon -- all places that we do chauffeured or walking tours. Joan is a fascinating character, thoroughly deserving her international contemporary fame. We love to tell people some of the detail of her life and take them to places that she would still recognise.

The premises where Joan's armour was made.
The premises where Joan of Arc's armour was made in Tours.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 3 October 2020

Australians in the Loire Valley


Well there is us at Loire Valley Time Travel, for a start! Susan and Simon both grew up in Australia. But at the Chateau of Cheverny they have some other resident Australians on the estate. They add a charming touch of exoticism to the beautiful grounds. The Black Swans floating serenely on the river at the bottom of the garden are native to Australia.

Black Swan at the Chateau of Cheverny. Loir et Cher. France. 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, 29 September 2020

Shop Where the Chefs Shop in the Loire Valley


Because we live locally we shop at our local markets. We are very lucky to live within striking distance not only of one of the best outdoor farmers markets in the area, but also have an organic market garden with a farm shop right on our doorstep. We are very pleased to report that we've seem Michelin starred chefs shopping there too. For a really authentic shopping experience, let us take you market shopping. Even if you are staying in a hotel and not self-catering, visiting local farmers markets is a real pleasure. We know all the stall holders and producers and would be delighted to introduce you.

Shopping at an organic market garden, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Shopping at an organic market garden in the Loire Valley.

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, 25 September 2020

Wartime Reminders in the Loire Valley


There are reminders of the Second World War all over the Loire Valley. The many forests made ideal hideouts for Resistance groups, and those in isolated farmhouses and small villages were often willing to help. There are graves and memorials all over the place, each one with a particular and moving story to tell. One such is in the middle of nowhere, and just looks like an empty field surrounded by forest. And it is, and that's why it was chosen as a parachute drop site. Nearby is the village where the local headmaster was a brave and resourceful Resistance fighter, who ultimately paid with his life. In the other direction, hidden deep in the forest, is the remains of a camp, where Resistance fighters lived in secret for months at a time. This simple memorial, and the sites it is linked to are remarkably evocative. If you are interested in visiting some of these forgotten places, let us know and we can design a tour for you, either chauffeured in one of our Citroens that date from this period or a 'follow the leader' style convoy where you drive your own car and follow us.

Memorial to a WWII parachute drop site, Indre.  France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Lunching in a Village in the Loire Valley


Imagine coming around a corner to a view like this and finding out that the building on the right is where you will be having lunch, prepared by a keen young chef who has recently taken up the concession on the converted barn in this charming historic priory. He's worked in some big name restaurants and now he's ready to branch out for himself. The village is one of thousands in the Loire Valley, with similar precincts of old buildings, and similar restaurants that usually serve lunch only, using local seasonal ingredients. The Loire Valley is popular with up and coming young chefs because good produce is right at their doorstep, and real estate is affordable.

Le Louroux, Touraine Loire Valley. France. Photo by Susan Walter.

Why not spend your day like a French local, and eat in a restaurant inspired by local traditions, using the best local produce. We make sure we are always up to date on where the best lunch spots are. 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, 17 September 2020

Masks Must Be Worn Inside the Loire Valley Chateaux


To help keep everyone safe it is a requirement of entry that you bring your own mask with you and you must wear it at all times when inside a historic chateaux. Masks are not provided at the door, but hand sanitizer is. You will also be reminded to keep your distance from other visitors. All the chateaux are limiting entry numbers to enable people to stay safe whilst Covid19 is still a threat. This can sometimes result in the disappointment of being turned away at busy times.

Wearing a mask inside a historic chateau. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Visitors wearing masks inside Chenonceau.

Freelance guides are not always allowed to work inside the chateaux at present either. Because the current circumstances make it impossible to offer the level of service that our travellers have expected in the past, we have decided to take a break. We think that next year it will be clearer what can and can't be done on one of our personalised tours, and everyone will have become more used to the need for individuals to take public health seriously. Travellers will have had time to develop new good habits, and expectations will have shifted accordingly. We hope that you are planning your dream trip to France for next year or the year after and will turn to us for assistance in achieving it.

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, 13 September 2020

Christmas at the Loire Valley Chateaux


Many of the Loire Valley chateaux are open throughout the winter and in December they put on the most extraordinary displays of Christmas decoration. Of course, the Chateau of Chenonceau is a particular master of this, with creative and unusual displays in every room. Their regular floral arrangements are stunning enough, but at Christmas time they really take it up a level. If you are wondering whether you should come during the winter, let us persuade you that it is a good decision.

Christmas table decoration at the Chateau of Chenonceau, 2019.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 9 September 2020

Striking a Chord in the Loire Valley


If you are musically inclined then one of the most remarkable artefacts on display in the Loire Valley is the house organ in the library at the Chateau of Candé. You've probably never heard of the Chateau of Candé, or its remarkable past occupants, so you might miss out on a real treat. We are happy to include this little known gem in one of our tours going to the west of Tours, so let us know if you are interested.

The console of the house organ in the Chateau of Candé.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 5 September 2020

Never Crowded in the Loire Valley


You would think that an amazing looking place like this would be a major heritage tourist attraction. But in fact it is always eerily quiet and empty. We have never encountered anyone else on the site when we've been there. We pass this impressive medieval priory often when we are touring with travellers. If you want somewhere safe and quiet where you can appreciate some little known history and architectural styles ranging from the medieval to the modern, let us know and we will include a stop here in your itinerary. And to make it even more enticing, there is a great new restaurant just been taken over by a talented young chef in the complex.

Priory of Le Louroux. Touraine Loire Valley. France. Photo by Susan Walter.

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, 1 September 2020

Learn About Black Lives at the Chateau of Chenonceau


One of the most interesting displays at the Chateau of Chenonceau is also one of the most unexpected. During World War One the Chateau was a hospital, and it is clear from the photographic archive that black soldiers were treated here. We have also been told that black soldiers were also here during World War Two, and that the Chateau played a significant part in them gaining safe haven. We don't know their names usually, nor what happened to them afterwards, but there is a surprising and virtually unknown history of young African men passing through the Chateau in wartime. Their stories will be included in your tour of the Chateau of Chenonceau with us.

Archive photo of French and African soldiers at the Chateau of Chenonceau when it was a hospital in the First World War.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
French and African soldiers in the hospital at Chenonceau. The nurse is a member of the Menier family, who still own the chateau today.

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, 28 August 2020

Travelling in Style in the Loire Valley


The Loire Valley lends itself to an elegant form of transport like the Citroen Traction Avant. Imagine the fun you could have motoring through the countryside, from chateau to chateau, and stopping off for a vintage style picnic.

Champagne picnic with a Citroen Traction Avant.  France. 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, 24 August 2020

A Little Known Memorial in the Loire Valley


After the Second World War a sculptor named Paulette Richon made a number of monuments to those killed in the War. Nowadays, she is virtually unknown, as are the events she was memorialising. But she happened to live in the same village as us, so we have come to know about her story.

The memorial in the photo is to commemorate the liberation of one small town in the Loire Valley, and honour the Resistance fighters who lost their lives so close to the end of the war here. They are buried in the local cemetery, but the memorial is sited at one end of the bridge they fought so determinedly to defend.

Memorial to Free French Forces sculpted by Paulette Richon, Descartes.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

This may be small scale local history, but we believe sharing it with our clients enriches their tour, and we hope they are as moved as we are by the lives we recall and weave their stories into the bigger history.

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, 20 August 2020

Take a Break With a Walking Tour in the Loire Valley


We are predicting that this will be the year of holidays taken in your country of residence, and road trips will rule. We rely on foreign anglophone travellers so it's going to be particularly challenging for us to get through this period while the Covid19 is being managed by closing the borders. We hope that there are plenty of people like us already in France, expatriates and immigrants, who will be travelling when and where they can. Some of you might make it to the Loire Valley and if you do, we'd love it of you stop off during your road trip and do a walking tour with us. Somewhere small, little known but still packed with surprising histories from royals to servant girls. We can bring it all alive for you. And if your thing is nature and photography, then we have walks for that too.

Loches.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 16 August 2020

Market Shopping in the Loire Valley With Covid19 Restrictions


One of the best experiences we offer is a chance to walk through a lively and much loved local farmers market in the Loire Valley. Lots of travellers want to see this authentic slice of French life, and we know just the market to show you. You don't have to be in a position to shop -- in small country towns there is always time to simply admire the produce and chat to the producer (who will be delighted to tell you all about what is special about their fruit or cakes or farmhouse cheese or handwoven rugs or whatever wonderful local delicacy it is that they make). We know the producers personally and we shop at the market, regularly buying their excellent products. We can tell you how it is prepared and which Michelin starred chef we saw buying it too.

Shoppers at the market in Loches. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Shoppers queuing to buy strawberries from a popular local producer in mid-July 2020.

Nowadays there are some changes at the market of course, to keep everyone safe and well. You must wear a mask, and keep your distance from other people in line. But people have adapted well and the market retains its bustling ambiance. A lot of people would rather shop here, outdoors, than go to the supermarket.

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, 14 August 2020

Visiting Chateaux Great and Small in the Loire Valley


Today would have been the second day of touring with American clients. We had planned to show them our favourite hidden gem in the Loire Valley, and the absolutely unmissable and best known chateau of the area. It's a nice combination of a chateau that all your friends will have heard of and envy your visit, plus something much more off the beaten track and exclusive. Then we round off with a visit to a really friendly organic winery that makes very drinkable sparkling and still white wine from the most important local grape variety, Chenin Blanc.

View from a tower on the citadel at Loches. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The view from one of the towers on the citadel of Loches.

Chateau of Chenonceau. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Chateau of Chenonceau.

Sparkling wine maturing in a troglodyte cave. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Sparkling wine maturing in a troglodyte cave.
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, 13 August 2020

Some Highlights of the Loire Valley in a Day


Once again we should have been working today. A lovely couple from the US had booked us to see some chateaux and wineries.

Amboise. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Amboise.

We would have picked them up in the lovely town of Amboise, then gone to see the Chateau of Cheverny, with its authentic interior and friendly pack of hounds.

Chateau of Cheverny. Loir et Cher. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The back of the Chateau of Cheverny.

Lunch would have been in a really authentic workers restaurant in Cour-Cheverny that you never hear English spoken in, serving traditional simple local dishes.

Hounds in the kennels at the Chateau of Cheverny. Loir et Cher. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Hounds in the kennels at the Chateau of Cheverny.

Then after lunch a visit to a winery on the edge of town where they grow the local speciality Romorantin variety of grape. There are only 20 producers so this is a wine you will see nowhere else. All of it is sold locally.

Wine at Domaine de Daridan, Cours-Cheverny. Loir et Cher. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Wine at Domaine de Daridan.

Then we were going to spend the afternoon in the wonderful gardens of the Chateau of Chaumont. Both the permanent gardens and the temporary gardens created for the long running annual garden festival are a joy -- contemporary, creative, and always with an element that you could incorporate in your own garden at home, as well as many pieces of whimsical contemporary sculpture.

Installation in a festival garden at the Chateau of Chaumont. Loir et Cher. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Installation in a festival garden at the Chateau of Chaumont.
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, 8 August 2020

Guided Visit to Chenonceau in the Loire Valley


Chenonceau is by far the most popular site in the Loire Valley to visit, and the third most popular heritage site outside of Paris. There is a good reason for that. It offers lovely surrounds for anyone who just wants a pleasant day in a fabulous setting. But we know that lots of you like a more indepth understanding of a place like this, and this is where we can work with you. If you want to know more about the women who lived here or where the most intriguing graffiti is, we can help you. If you want to know how tapestries like the ones at Chenonceau drove the economy in their day or how the family who currently own the estate saved people in both World Wars, we can help you. Just ask us to include Chenonceau in your personalised tour with us. We would be delighted to do so and you will have made the perfect choice.

Chateau of Chenonceau.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 4 August 2020

A Sign That Summer is Nearly Over in the Loire Valley


How quickly half the year has gone, even though many of us felt like life had come to a standstill! Just as we are about to experience a summer heatwave, the young swallows are signaling that the season is nearly over. They were born in barns all over the Loire Valley just a few months ago. Now they are gathering on the wires and chattering amongst themselves. They are preparing to travel far away, south to Africa. But don't envy them -- their journey is physically arduous and full of dangers. They would not travel unless they had to -- and they do, for they will not survive the winters here, with nothing to eat and inclement weather.

We hope we will be welcoming back both them and you in the spring of 2021.

Juvenile swallows gathering on electricity wires prior to migrating. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


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, 31 July 2020

The Other Mont Saint Michel


Mont Saint Michel is the second most visited heritage attraction outside of Paris, and most definitely not in the Loire Valley (we can only lay claim to the third most visited heritage attraction...*) but you will sometimes see a sort of link to MSM in our area. Once upon a time, the famous monastry island lent its name to a brand of workwear in France. Both the island and the workwear are household names in France, even though nowadays the clothing company makes more fashion oriented gear. In the 19th and 20th centuries they often advertised using painted signs on the sides of buildings and some of these survive as ghost signs. If you are a fan of ghost signs, let us know and we will be sure to point some out to you as we travel through the villages of the Loire Valley.

Mont Saint Michel workwear (bleu de travail) ghost sign.  Indre et Loire, France. 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.


*The Chateau of Chenonceau is the third most visited heritage attraction outside of Paris.

Monday, 27 July 2020

The Loire Valley -- a Land of Historic Floods


The Loire Valley is a land of rivers big and small, and with all that flowing water comes beautiful scenery but also historically a risk of flood. All over the Loire Valley there are flood markers showing just how astonishingly high the rivers can get. When you tour with us we will be sure to point out any flood markers we pass. It isn't hard for your imagination to picture how far the surrounding buildings, fields, factories and gardens were inundated and how devastating that must have been.

Flood markers in Tours.
Flood markers on Pont Wilson, over the Loire in Tours.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 23 July 2020

Masks Are Required in the Loire Valley


As a condition of reopening after the Covid19 lockdown eased in France, the Loire Valley's historic chateaux had to devise a one way visitor route, provide hand sanitizer and insist that visitors wear masks inside the chateaux. For vehicles carrying paying passengers that did not install a perspex screen between front and back seats all occupants have to wear masks. Now the government has gone further and masks will be required in all enclosed spaces and many public spaces such as street markets. Masks are not supplied at the entrances to buildings -- it is expected that everyone carries their own mask with them, and many French people are choosing to wear washable cloth masks.

Shoppers wearing cloth masks in the market at Loches. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Shoppers wearing cloth masks in the market at Loches, mid-July 2020.

Because we have concerns about how travellers' expectations can be managed we have decided not to take tours at the moment, and probably not for the rest of this year. However, we know that many people are planning for next year and so we are too. By that time everyone will have become more accustomed to the 'new normal' and it will be clearer what can and can't be done. So if you would like to book for next year, we would be delighted to discuss your personalised itinerary!

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, 19 July 2020

The Restoration of Notre Dame de Paris


I'll be honest -- Notre Dame de Paris was not somewhere I was ever particularly interested in -- until the fire. Then it immediately became fascinating! There are so many opportunities for conservators, heritage professionals and materials scientists to learn about the building, research the effects of the fire and develop ways of repairing the damage.

In purely technical terms, the fire at Notre Dame was quite typical of any fire in a heritage building. What is different is the emotional bond people from all over the world have to the structure. Whilst this generated a lot of funds for the restoration, it probably does not help the scientists, curators and heritage professionals tasked with the work to do their jobs in the way that they might choose to. Some of the decisions about the repairs are going to be political, and the most obvious case in point is the spire.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Notre-Dame Cathedral Paris, in 2002.

The benchmark for the repair and conservation of heritage monuments is the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (sometimes referred to as the Venice Charter of 1964). It's a short (4 page) easy to read document. And Articles 9, 12 and 15 have something to say about what should happen in the case of complete loss of an element of a monument. That something is definitely not to simply recreate the lost element as is going to happen with the spire of Notre Dame. In fact, the Charter indicates that where you must replace, whilst the replacement must fit in terms of scale and style, it must clearly be differentiated from the original material. A common interpretation of this is that it should be the best possible quality but clearly contemporary to when the work was done. This allows respect to be given to modern artisans, shows that the building has a timeline, and above all, prevents the visitor from being deceived.

It seems to me that the decision to recreate the spire of Notre Dame as it was before the fire has been taken as a matter of expediency and because of a sort of romantic sentimentality about the building. The spire those alive today knew and loved was itself a somewhat fanciful addition to the Cathedral, created in the 19th century by the indefatigible heritage architect, Eugene Viollet le Duc. His creation was an interpretation of what the battered 13th century spire would have looked like, before it was removed for aesthetic and safety reasons decades earlier.

Frankly I think a great opportunity has been lost to appropriately pay our respects to a grand old building by giving it a spire that will showcase modern materials, techniques and style. A great shame.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Follow the Leader to Chambord and Beyond


Citroen Traction Avant at Domaine des Hauts de Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Previous clients who stayed at the delightful Domaine des Hauts de Loire.

We should have been working today, but the Mexican family that we were due to meet at their luxury hotel have postponed their trip to this time next year. Let's hope things have settled down by then and travel is once again safe, comfortable and possible.

Detail of the roof of the Chateau of Chambord, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The highlight of any visit to Chambord -- exploring the roof.

After taking in the highlights of the magnificent and enormous chateau of Chambord, we were going to lunch at a great little restaurant in Cours Cheverny, where a husband and wife take sometimes unlikely local ingredients and never fail to create a veritable feast. Once we had eaten our fill it was to have been on to the Chateau of Cheverny, to enjoy their ever friendly welcome and appreciate the original interior of the 17th century chateau. To finish off the day we were going to visit the unmissable Chateau of Chenonceau, a glorious place full of history from the Renaissance to the present day.

Starter of pigs ear and beetroot, Chez Madeleine restaurant, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
This may be a pigs ear and some beetroot, but trust us, it was delicious! (Chez Madeleine restaurant, Cours Cheverny).

Because the Mexican family was rather numerous, they were going to drive themselves in their hire car and follow us in our modern car. We call this sort of tour a 'follow the leader' tour, and it's a good compromise when there are too many in a group to fit into our classic Citroens. So if you are travelling in a group of more than 4 people and have your own transport, don't hesitate to ask us about a tour. We can do it!

Chateau of Cheverny (rear view), France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The lovely rear view of the Chateau of Cheverny.

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.

Chateau of Chenonceau. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The Chateau of Chenonceau, forming a bridge across the Cher River.

Friday, 10 July 2020

A Classic Citroen Amongst the Sunflowers


We know that many travellers like to time their visit to the Loire Valley so that they get to see fields of sunflowers. That means coming in July for their peak, but the last week of June or the first week of August there will be some showing too. Every year we scout the local area to find the best sunflower fields that, crucially, we can stop beside for some photos.

Sunflowers reflected in the bonnet of a classic Citroen. Touraine Loire Valley. France. Photo by Susan Walter.

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, 6 July 2020

Humble Architecture in the Loire Valley


Not every building in the Loire Valley is a chateau. But that's OK, because even the little old humble vernacular buildings that may once have housed animals or stored tools are charming. And touring with Loire Valley Time Travel, rather than a coach company, enables you to see these buildings too, and stop to photograph them.

Vernacular building in a hamlet.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 2 July 2020

Prehistory in the Loire Valley


The Loire Valley is a land of milk and honey (quite literally) and often referred to as the 'Garden of France' because of all the food crops that are grown here. It's a great place to live, and always has been, even back in prehistoric times. The evidence of our ancestors' lives is all around us, with dolmens and flint tools sprinkled all over. Not only was the place full of wild food, but the perfect material to make all your tools and weapons abounds here. It was a centre of flint tool making, specialising in high quality flint blades. The cores that the blades were cut from are so commonly found that people use them to decorate their walls. If you have an interest in the prehistoric, let us know and we'll be sure to include something from the Neolithic Age in your tour.

Neolithic flint cores used to make blades, decorating a house.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 28 June 2020

Hardly Anybody Visits the Loire Valley


Maybe you don't believe me that hardly anybody visits the Loire Valley -- after all, there are all these famous chateaux. But it's true. The figures show that the Loire Valley only gets a third of the visitors that Provence gets, and half that of Normandy. If you are interested in travelling responsibly and safely, then we would recommend the Loire Valley. There are lots of activities to do outdoors, only a couple of chateaux receive uncomfortable numbers of visitors, and even then it's only on a few days of the year. Restaurants have lovely outdoor terraces and there are charming picnic spots. It means that you can enjoy your vacation without having to constantly worry that you are putting your health at risk.

Chateau of Chenonceau.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 24 June 2020

Living With Less Choice in the Loire Valley


Restaurants are open again, after their enforced closure during the Covid19 crisis in France. But they are having to manage with some necessary public health restrictions. This means the tables are further apart, which means fewer diners at each service. There is no tradition of double services here for either lunch or dinner, so nobody is rushed out the door so the table can be set again. Restaurants here must manage in other ways. One way they are doing this is reducing waste by no longer offering a la carte, but only offering set menus, usually daily changing to take advantage of seasonal ingredients. For French diners, this is perfectly acceptable as they are used to it. Many workers restaurants already do this for their good value traditional lunches, and there is already a strong existing culture of anti-wastage in the hospitality industry here. But now Michelin starred gastronomic restaurants are joining the trend too. For travellers it can be a really authentic experience to do as the French do every day, and trust the chef to serve them what is good on the day. It saves time, food waste and the risk of multi-page menus that are handled by dozens of people. Now the waiter can just tell you what is being served today and you get to enjoy truly local seasonal food just like a French person does. (And don't worry -- if you really don't like something, or have allergies, the chef will suggest something else for you.)

Gastronomic meal at a small restaurant.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Pork main course at a small gastronomic restaurant that we use often.

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, 20 June 2020

Take a Private Tour in the Loire Valley


The travel industry is predicting that tourism is going to be increasingly based on small group private tours. Luckily for us, that's what we've always specialised in, so we know all the great places that small private groups can go. Naturally we will visit the renowned chateaux that you've all heard of, but we will equally focus on small unknown sites. They are just as full of history, just as photogenic, but it's a chance to visit somewhere quiet, where you can relax and explore at your own pace.

Travellers on a private tour.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 16 June 2020

History From the Outside in the Loire Valley


Everyone will be wanting to avoid the crowds and maintain social distancing for some time to come since Covid19 changed our lives so dramatically. It's a dilemma though if you are in Chateaux Country and you want to visit the famous chateaux. There are bottle necks inside, and small rooms that could be packed with people. How can you visit them, have a fulfilling experience, learn about the chateau and stay safe all at the same time? The answer is book one of our 'History from the Outside' tours. We will go into the chateau grounds, which are unfailingly magnificent in their own right, and from the gardens take in all the aspects of the chateau. You will learn all about the characters who lived here, how they influenced the life of the chateau, the nation and even the world. You'll learn about changes in architecture, fashion, diet, transport, medicine and particularly how women's lives waxed and waned in importance and influence over the centuries.

Chateau de Chenonceau.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 12 June 2020

A Visit to Chenonceau During the Covid19 Restrictions


Recently we paid a visit to the Chateau of Chenonceau, who have reopened under strict new regulations to counter Covid19.  Although we can't take travellers there at the moment, we were keen to see for ourselves how they were coping. We were not disappointed -- they've made sensible and professional changes to the visitor route and the sanitation protocol. Hand sanitizer is provided in foot operated dispensers at key locations, masks must be worn and visitors must adhere to the designated route. Staff are on hand to help, happily answering questions and directing any visitor who strays. The florists are working two days a week to continue to provide the amazing displays inside the chateau. Photographers are quickly learning that there are very low visitor numbers so they can take their dream photos from all angles without too much danger of including an unwanted body. We were able to chat extensively with our contacts at the chateau and get a feel for how its going (very well, considering, with some new things working so well they will keep them). Susan was told that she was the only guide who has been to see the new arrangements so far, which we found surprising.

New disinfectable handrail and hand sanitizer station at Chenonceau during Covid19 restrictions.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
The new temporary disinfectable hand rail up the stairs, and a hand sanitizer station at the top.

We will keep you posted on developments and will be sure to let you know when we are able to start taking travellers to see this wonderful chateau again. 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, 11 June 2020

A Tour of the Chateaux of Chenonceau and Cheverny in the Loire Valley


Chateau de Cheverny.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Chateau de Cheverny.

We should have been working today, but our American clients had to cancel their trip to France due to the Covid19 crisis. Here is a glimpse of what we would have been doing with them.

The kennels at the Chateau of Cheverny.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
The kennels at the Chateau de Cheverny.

We would have met our clients at their hotel before driving to Cheverny. Cheverny is unique amongst the well known chateaux for being the only one which retains its original decor, and their pack of hounds is a treat for dog lovers.

Lunch was to have been taken at a relais style restaurant before leaving for the Chateau of Chenonceau, the 'must see' chateau of the Loire Valley and once home to Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers. On our way out we would have walked through beautiful gardens.

We would have finished the tour with a visit and tasting at a 1000 year old wine cave.

Chateau de Chenonceau.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Chateau de Chenonceau.

Wine tasting in Vouvray.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Wine tasting in Vouvray.

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, 10 June 2020

A Tour of Loches and Montresor


The market in Loches.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
The market in Loches.

We should have been working today, but our American clients had to cancel their trip to France due to Covid19. Here is what we would have been doing.

Saint Ours church, Loches.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
The historic 11C church of Saint Ours in Loches.

We would have started at Loches, a pretty town with a fine medieval/early renaissance chateau and a great market on Wednesdays. We were to lunch at a stylish restaurant near the town centre before travelling to Montresor, one of the most beautiful villages in France, and its chateau. We were then going visit a small family run wine estate to meet the winemaker and taste his wines.

Chateau de Montresor.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Chateau of Montresor.

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.

Tasting the new wine in AOC Touraine.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Tasting the new wine at a small AOC Touraine estate.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Half Day Guided Visit to Amboise


As well as doing chauffeured tours in our classic cars, we will also meet you at a chateau and do a guided walking tour.

Royal Chateau of Amboise and Eglise Saint Denis: the residence of kings and the resting place of codebreakers, €150 for 2 people (€30 per person supplement for larger groups) .
This walking tour visits the Royal Chateau of Amboise and the Eglise Saint Denis. The chateau is a well known architectural and historical gem which dominates the small picturesque town. The nearby Saint Denis's Church houses some extraordinary funerary monuments, whose true history is not widely known, even by the locals.

Amboise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Amboise.
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.