Rail Journeys

Vintage Loire Valley

7 Days | 20 to May, 2023

You are invited to join us on this superb tour of the beautiful and historic Loire valley in France. This one-centre holiday is based in the cathedral city of Tours in the heart of the Loire valley, in an excellent city centre hotel.

As you would expect for a tour that visits this famous part of France, we see all the main attractions. We visit the magnificent Chateau Chenonceau with its many beautiful gardens and the hilltop fortress at Chinon.  We go wine tasting in Vouvray and we also enjoy a river cruise.

Those with a passion for railways are also well catered for. We cover two heritage railways (one steam, one with both steam and diesel), with lunch provided on both of them. Additionally, Tours has its own tram system, albeit just a single route. We use rail travel to visit places that are rail connected and have the use of a luxury coach where they are not rail connected.

For your convenience, this tour is a no-fly tour, with easy rail transfer between Eurostar and French TGVs in Paris, with a private coach arranged to take us from Nord to Montparnasse. At Tours, the hotel is within walking distance of the station.

Finally, to offer some extra luxury, the outward and return journeys on Eurostar and TGV are upgraded to standard premier or 1st Class for extra comfort.

If you have ever fancied visiting this part of France, this tour is probably the easiest way to see all the sights and get more than just a flavour of what is on offer to the visitor.

This tour is based on our renowned Douro Valley tours and should particularly appeal to anyone who has travelled with us in the past to the Douro.

Your Tour Manager for this trip is Marion. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with her about the trip, please feel free to e-mail her on marion@ptg.co.uk.  


Tour Highlights

  • No fly
  • Standard Premier on Eurostar, first class on SNCF (where available)
  • All nights in one high quality hotel
  • Historic Towns
  • Restored steam train rides
  • River cruise

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 Saturday 15 April, 2023 (D)

We meet at St. Pancras station at 09.15 for our journey (10.22 departure) via the channel tunnel to Paris Nord, travelling in standard premier class. At Paris Nord our coach will be waiting to take us across Paris to Montparnasse station where we catch our train directly to Tours and a short walk to our hotel. After check-in we will meet up for our welcome dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 2 Sunday 16 April (B,L)

We explore our base for the next seven days beginning with a walking tour led by a local guide. Tours is the ideal base for our exploration of the Loire Valley. The cathedral city is flat and easy to walk around for us to visit the medieval heart of the city that has been so lovingly restored. Narrow streets, half-timbered houses with wooden posts carved with figures and scenes are just some of the wonders of this city. Inside St-Gatien Cathedral we find the marble tomb of Charles VIII, a 14th century fresco of St. Martin giving half his cloak to a beggar and beautiful stained-glass windows. In Tours there is also the tram that can be taken across the River Loire, over the ‘Pont Wilson’. The bridge is known as the ‘stone bridge’. It is a replica of the 18th century bridge which collapsed in 1978. We end the walk at a restaurant where we have lunch, before joining our river cruise for a short cruise along this untamed river. The remainder of the day is free to explore more of Tours or even ride the whole of the tram system.

Day 3 Monday 17th April (B)

This morning we travel by train to visit the famous Chateau d’Chenonceau. The Chateau was unusually influenced and protected by several women over its history. In 1547 it was donated to Diane De Poitiers, the favourite lady of King Henri II. Diane De Poitiers created gardens which were among some of the most spectacular and modern at that time. The interior of the Chateau contains a fantastic collection of furniture and works of art. Each furnished room inside the Chateau has fresh flower displays that add to the luxury and charm of this magnificent Castle. We will see beautiful Flemish tapestries, the painting of ‘The Three Graces’ (all royal mistresses) and the ‘Gran Galerie’ that stretches across the River Cher. After the visit, our coach will take us the short distance to the charming small town of Amboise, overlooked by the imposing Royal Fortress. After time for lunch we visit the royal fortress before ending the day with a visit to a nearby wine producer where we will have the opportunity to try some of their excellent white wine from this wine-producing area.

Day 4 Tuesday 18th April (B)

A rail trip alongside the River Loire is the order of the day and we will visit the scenic town of Blois, including entry to its château. The Château de Blois, a Renaissance château once occupied by King Louis XII, is located in the centre of the city, where an 18th-century stone bridge spans the Loire. As Blois is built on a pair of steep hills, winding and steep pathways run through the city, culminating in long staircases at various points. Return to Orleans late afternoon.

Day 5 Wednesday 19 April (B,L)

We have a private charter on the picturesque line of Chemin de Fer Touristique de la Sarthe. Waiting for us will be a steam hauled vintage train which will take us on a 12 km ride to Bonnétable, the full length of the line. A light lunch will be served at Bonnétable before we start our return journey to Connerré Beillé. We travel out to Connerré Beillé by coach, but return by train. We have to change trains in Le Man, and the 90-minute connection time gives us just enough time to reach the main square and the attractive historic centre, just a few stops on the tram from the station or a brisk walk.

Day 6 Thursday 20 April (B)

We travel along a quiet branch line out of Tours to the town of Chinon. We will meet our local guide for our walking tour through the town’s medieval streets. It was here in Chinon that Joan of Arc arrived in 1429 and where her transformation from peasant girl to the warrior-saint took place. The magnificent Royal Fortress of Chinon runs along the hill above the River Vienne at the crossroads of three provinces: Anjou, Poitou and Touraine. The fortress was built here around the 10th century. Henry II, Plantagenet Count of Anjou and King of England ruled England as well as the Loire Valley. From the 16th century, Chinon was no longer a royal residence and later the fortress fell into disrepair. In the late 19th and 20th centuries Chinon grew to the east, towards the railway station and to the north on the hill. Since 1968 restoration has been taking place in order to preserve its historic and architectural identity. After free time for lunch, we visit the fortress. Later we will meet at the station for our return journey to Tours.

Day 7 Friday 21 April (B,L)

We have an all-day private charter on the metre-gauge Bas Berry preserved railway. We make our way to Valencay on our coach where our diesel railcar will be waiting to take us to Ecueillé (the steam loco is not permitted on this section of the line). The railcars used on this section of line are the ones formerly used by SNCF to run the branch-line service, though now modern railcars operate on one of SNCF’s few metre-gauge branches. On the way we have a long lunch break at La Foulquetière where we have our Farewell Lunch at the restaurant of the same name with views over a small lake. This is a very rural line, rambling through rolling farmland and small villages with several opportunities for photo-stops. From Ecueillé to Argy, we travel behind the railway’s steam loco, a journey of around an hour. Our coach will be waiting at Argy to take us back to the hotel in Tours.

Day 8 Saturday 22 April (B)

Our holiday ends to day and we return to Montparnasse by TGV where our coach will be waiting to take is to Paris Nord for our Eurostar to London.

By its nature, on this trip you need to be able to walk around locations with steep hills, stairs and cobbled streets, and be able to lift your luggage on and off trains (on the arrival and departure days).

Tour Highlights

Prices & Options

Holiday Prices (per person)

From London St Pancras:      £1,875

Joining in Tours:                     £1,650

Single (main hotels) add:          £490

Single (alternative) add:             £75


• £500

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted from, and back to, St Pancras

Holiday Prices (per person) 2022 2024

From London St Pancras:      £1,875            £1,995

Joining in Tours:                     £1,650            £1,765

Single (main hotels) add:       £425               £490

Single (alternative) add:         £0                  £75


• £500

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted from, and back to, St Pancras

Transport & Accommodation

Escorted Rail Travel Outward

10:22   London St Pancras Eurostar to Paris Nord (arr 13:47)
16:31   Paris Montparnasse to Tours (arr 17:43)

Escorted Rail Travel Return

12:13   Tours to Paris Montparnasse (arr 13:37)
16:13   Paris Nord to London St Pancras Eurostar (17:39)


  • Hotel Oceania L’Univers, Tours (7 nights)