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.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

What Has it Been Like Being a Tour Operator in the Loire Valley During the Covid19 Crisis?


The Covid19 crisis has hit the French tourist industry very hard. As small independent tour operators, we have not worked since March, and don't expect to for the rest of this year. It's a bitter pill to swallow, because our bookings were already well up on the previous year and we looked all set for a great year meeting all sorts of interesting and engaged travellers. But it was not to be. The chateaux and restaurants were all ordered to close in mid-March, and all of April, May and June's tours were cancelled (and those in the second half of March). Even after the lockdown eased, it is still not practical for us to work. Our clients are English speakers, mostly American, and France's borders remain closed to people who are not European residents. Guides are not allowed inside the chateaux, masks must be worn everywhere, restaurants must adjust to a new way of operating and so must we. At this point we don't know if we can deliver our tours still booked for the rest of the year (for a start, our clients may simply not be able to get to us, even if we can get to the chateaux now).

Luckily we have been well supported by the French government, who have been providing easy to access monthly income support since March, and we understand this will continue as necessary until the end of the year. Wisely, the government has decided that it doesn't want businesses to cease operating altogether, just temporarily, and in order to facilitate that they are funding a minimum income for a million small businesses like ours. Also luckily, in our particular case, we are completely debt free, and thus in a stronger position to ride out the downturn than some of our friends and colleagues.

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

We hope that you will be spending your time planning your travel, and that you will consider booking one of our unique and personalised chauffeured tours sometime in the not too distant future. You can be sure that you will be very welcome in the Loire Valley and you will not regret choosing a place so full of history, great food and wine, and friendly, knowlegeable, local guides to make sure you experience the best of this lovely area.

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 June 2020

A Tour For Travel Agents in the Loire Valley


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.

Once again, we should have been working today. This time it was to have been with a pair of delightful travel agents who were scoping out the area. They wanted a feel for the area and a few highlights. Plus one of them had a personal reason for wanting to visit -- her grandfather had been stationed near Tours in World War I and she was curious to see anything that remains of that time here.

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 had engaged in a lively and friendly email exchange at the beginning of the year to establish what we were going to do together. They informed us they had some food allergies, so we reassured them that we would discuss this fully with the chef at the restaurant we were planning to use. Also that chefs do most definitely take food allergies seriously (despite of all the stories you might hear about French chefs being very intolerant of their diner's requirements). We told the clients what we knew about the American camps along the Cher and in Tours and suggested that a visit to Chenonceau would give an insight into that period. The World War I hospital there is very evocative and there is some great graffiti on the soft limestone walls of the chateau which was clearly done by convalescing soldiers.

Beetroot and pigs ear starter.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
An unusual starter of beetroot and pigs ear served by one of our talented chef partners in Cour Cheverny. It was delicious!

As Chenonceau was on the itinerary, it made sense to pair it with Cheverny, so that they got to see two of the most glamorous chateaux. That meant that instead of a winery, we would visit our favourite goats cheese maker to round off the day.

Goats cheese tasting.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Our goats cheese maker partner Jean-Luc conducting a tasting.

We were really looking forward to meeting our two clients as we had enjoyed corresponding with them so much. Sadly, we all missed out -- and they will miss the French Open too -- another of their planned destinations. We are all looking forward to arranging something else for next year.

Memorial to WWI American Supply Service troops based at Tours.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Rather unlikely memorial to WWI American troops in Tours.

If you would like us to take as much care over designing your tour as we did with these travel agents, then 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, 31 May 2020

Visiting Small and Little Known Sites in the Loire Valley


Adapting to the post-Covid19 situation not everyone is going to feel comfortable visiting the great and well known chateaux of the Loire Valley no matter how well they are run and how carefully they look out for visitors wellbeing. We understand if you want to visit smaller less touristy sites. These are the sites we pride ourselves on knowing well and we've always loved them. For more than a decade we've been encouraging travellers to come to Loches, the lovely small medieval town in the south of the Touraine Loire Valley. But there are other fascinating small chateaux too -- Fougeres sur Bievre, completely empty but so perfectly preserved at the transition between medieval and renaissance; Candé, built at the dawn of the renaissance, but home to a series of remarkable characters in the 19th and 20th centuries; and Rivau, with its stupendous garden and fairytale looks. Let us know which takes your fancy and will be a worthy substitute for Chenonceau, Chambord or Amboise in your holiday photos and memories.

Chateau de Fougeres sur Bievre. 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.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Wearing a Mask While on a Tour in the Loire Valley


At the moment the law requires that everyone in the car wears a mask when on a tour with us. The masks can be washable homemade cloth ones, or disposible surgery style ones. It's a bit weird at first, but you will soon get used to it. We made our own but a local contact has been making some very pretty hospital approved ones if we need extras. It crossed our minds to have some Loire Valley Time Travel themed masks made, with our logo on, to give to travellers to use on the day and to keep. What do you think? Would you like a mask with a classic Citroen and a castle on it?

Making homemade masks during the Covid19 crisis.  Indre et Loire, France. Photograph of Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Susan making and modelling washable cloth masks.

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, 23 May 2020

Mysterious Tower in the Loire Valley


Normally we aren't completely flummoxed by even the oddest objects and constructions, but this one has us beat so far. It's a tower with a lantern on top, but what was it for? Who built it? It appears to be 19th century, and by its position we would guess it's associated with the industrial site directly opposite on the other side of the river. But even our usual knowledgeable sources can't enlighten us as to its function and we haven't been able to dig up anything even with extensive searching.

Perhaps we will include it in your tour and maybe you have some ideas about what it could be.

Mysterious tower opposite paper mill, Buxeuil.  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, 19 May 2020

Slow Tourism in the Loire Valley


With the effects of Covid19 going to be felt for a long time, we predict that Slow Tourism is going to experience a boost. We've long been advocates of Slow Tourism, where you embed yourself somewhere, eating local and visiting smaller off the beaten track sites, always conscious of your environmental impact. We are delighted when travellers tell us they want to visit somewhere that other tourists don't even realise is there. We think the Loire Valley has a lot of small chateaux that travellers have never even heard of before they start talking to us. These places are invariably atmospheric and full of hidden histories. We love them and think you will too.

But they are often some distance away from the main attractions, tucked down side roads and at the ends of small valleys. It can take some time to get to them. Meals taken along the route are slower, more mindful. We are more likely to meet locals who are just going about their daily business. Maybe we'll stop and chat. We hope travellers understand that Slow Tourism means that you might see less, but getting there can be part of the fun. Mesmerising even. Travelling through the villages, fields and forests of the Loire Valley in a classic car is really evocative of another, slower, era (why do you think we are called Loire Valley Time Travel?). Come and join us for the full experience. You won't regret it and you will feel like you have had a proper break.

Citroen Traction Avant 11.  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, 15 May 2020

Loire Valley Time Travel During the Covid19 Crisis


During the period that Covid19 is actively circulating, and taking into account French government advice on public health, we will not be using our classic cars to offer chauffeured tours until further notice. We will be available for guided chateau walks and 'follow the leader' tours.

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

The walking tours include guided visits to selected chateaux once they reopen, for example Chenonceau and Loches. There will be nature walks to study and photograph wild orchids in May and June and butterflies in June and July. We are also developing some specialist guided walks, focusing on 16th century graffiti, and Resistance graves in the forest.

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

'Follow the leader' tours are for travellers who have their own transport and can follow us to a series of sites for a half or full day tour. We will be working with a local chef who will provide picnic lunches.

Masks will need to be worn for some of these activities and hand sanitizer will be supplied. Group size limited to six people.

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, 11 May 2020

A Prisoner in a Royal Chateau


It's not just us who've been confined to our homes in the Touraine Loire Valley. Over the centuries there have been plenty of people kept in varying states of restriction here.

Marie de Medici was sent into exile at the Royal Chateau of Blois by her son. She was born in Italy in 1575 and was King Henry IV's queen from 1600 to 1610. On the king's death she became regent until 1614 for Louis XIII.

Royal Chateau of Blois.
Renaissance staircase at the Royal Chateau of Blois. Loir et Cher. France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

When Louis took full control in the spring of 1617 he decided to exile his mother and her entourage to Blois. Eventually, on the night of 21-22 February 1619, the 43 year old Marie escaped. She climbed out of a window of her apartment and with her jewel casket under her arm descended a 40 metre rope ladder.

The queen mother sought refuge at Angouleme and it took until 1622 until she was reconciled with her son.

If you want us to include this historic and atmospheric chateau in your tour with us, just let us know. 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, 10 May 2020

Highlights of the Loire Valley on a Sunday


Amboise. Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Amboise.
Once again, we should have been working today, but our unfortunate clients, an American family, have had to cancel. So here is a taste of what we would have been doing with them.

The roof of the Chateau de Chambord. Loir et Cher. France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
The roof of the Chateau of Chambord.
We were to have met in Amboise at 9:30am. Unusually, this was not a tour we were going to do in our own car. Instead I was going to meet the family, whose agent had organised a people carrier and driver for them. They were coming down from Paris and I was going to leave my car in Amboise and transfer to their vehicle. Also unusually, we were to go to the Chateau of Chambord where I would give them a guided visit of an hour and a half. Normally we don't offer Chambord in our tours, but for travellers who are really keen to see it and are willing to start in Amboise, we can make an exception. After that we were to head for Cour Cheverny for lunch together (depending on restaurant availability, Bracieux would be an alternative). From lunch we would have gone to the Chateau of Chenonceau where I would have done a guided visit of 2 hours. Then we would head back to Amboise to visit a wine boutique for a tasting. I would have left the group at about 18:00.

Beetroot and pigs ear starter at Chez Madeleine restaurant, Cour Cheverny. Loir et Cher. France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
An unusual but delicious starter at Chez Madeleine restaurant, Cour 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.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
The 'must see' chateau of the Loire Valley, Chenonceau (actually on the Cher River).
La Cave Amboise, wine boutique in Amboise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Summer will give you a warm welcome at La Cave Amboise wine boutique.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Why Is There a Gilded Native American In the Loire Valley?


On the river bank, in a prominent position next to the municipal library in Tours, there is a fountain topped by a gilt bronze statue of a kneeling Native American with a Bald Eagle on his arm. What's that all about? The answer is that it is a memorial, but to whom? One way of finding out is to take a tour with us.

Memorial to the American First World War Services of Supply, 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. 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, 3 May 2020

Share a Beer in the Loire Valley


The vibrant heart of the old centre of Tours is Place Plumereau where all the locals gather to share a beer. We suggest that when you tour with us you stay in Tours so you can enjoy balmy evenings in a lively bar that serves cold beer and rosé from just a few kilometres away. Then you can go on to a delicious dinner in a nearby restaurant and back to a charming boutique hotel. We'll pick you up in the morning for day of motoring through the lovely Loire Valley countryside, a bit of history, a leisurely lunch and some relaxed wine tasting.

Place Plumereau, 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.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Crossing the Loire


The oldest bridge in Tours is the Pont Wilson, built in the 18th century but renamed in the American President's honour at the end of the First World War. The bridge has a rather checkered history, having collapsed several times. The first bridge in France with a flat roadway, it was ahead of its time. The combination of cutting edge untested engineering and the power of the Loire river changing course and undermining foundations meant several catastrophic collapses in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Do you dare cross it with us?

Pont Wilson on 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.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

A Day Trip to the Loire Valley From Paris



TGV (fast train) crossing the viaduct at Cande.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
The TGV (fast train) from Paris, crossing a viaduct in the Loire Valley.

We should have been working today, but instead, we are stuck at home and our American doctor clients have cancelled their vacation. Here's what we would have been doing:

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

The clients were going to catch the fast train from Paris to Tours where we would meet them. We often do this for clients who are based in Paris rather than already in the Loire Valley. The journey only takes an hour and ticket prices are extremely reasonable if you purchase in advance. Although we don't go up to meet them in Paris, we guide the clients through the entire process of buying tickets, how to catch the train and where to get off.

View from a tower on the Royal Citadel, Loches.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
View from a tower on the Royal Citadel, Loches.
Our first stop was going to be the small medieval town of Loches, rather off the beaten track, but packed with history, and on Saturdays one of the best farmers markets in the area takes place. You get to mingle with the locals and learn about all the wonderful fresh produce grown and raised in the Loire Valley. Lunch was to have been at a tiny but very popular restaurant that does beautiful food and has a rather surprising setting.

Tour Saint Antoine, Loches.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
The restaurant is tucked in at the base of this tower.
Then visiting the 'must see' chateau of the Loire Valley, Chenonceau, famous as the Ladies Chateau and its glorious setting on the River Cher. We would have rounded off the day at a Vouvray winery that operates out of troglodyte caves on the banks of the Loire before getting the clients back on the train, so they are in Paris in time for dinner.

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

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

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.