Northern Ireland Travel Magazine b86e669e-1bc9-4ad7-8247-57928d8beb2f Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley

Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine b86e669e-1bc9-4ad7-8247-57928d8beb2f Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley

Summer 2020 – Family Activities in the Loir Valley 2020 – from tots to teenagers – Now that the British are able to plan a family holiday to France once again, the unspoilt, green spaces of the Loir Valley – (yes, the one without an ‘e’) are very appealing.  There is a panoply of things to do for children of all ages, from tots to teenagers.

Cycling in the Loir

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine 7ecdd5ba-4420-4ac4-8f1b-b306bc75f5fb Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of OT Vallée du Loir – Stevan Lira

Many people have taken up cycling again since lockdown began, realising they enjoy pedalling for both fitness and for fresh air.

There’s no better place to cycle than the Loir Valley, where the V47 crosses this quiet paradise of picturesque villages, vineyards and orchards. This area, from the source of “Le Loir” river in Saint-Eman to Angers – allows the enthusiast to link up with either the VéloFrancette in Normandy or the Loire à Vélo in Saumur.  Within the 320km, length of cycle route, the Greenways is another favourite part, which follows the old railway lines, going 20km between Lude and La Flèche. A further 20km is possible to take one on to Baugé. Novelties include two cycling ‘loops’, around this last Greenway, ‘Zoo and Chateau’ (48,5km) and ‘Stone & Marsh’ (36km).

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine 6f9e9ea1-62e2-4b18-bb75-5f128bba511c Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley

Many people have taken up cycling again since lockdown began, realising they enjoy pedalling for both fitness and for fresh air.

There’s no better place to cycle than the Loir Valley, where the V47 crosses this quiet paradise of picturesque villages, vineyards and orchards. This area, from the source of “Le Loir” river in Saint-Eman to Angers – allows the enthusiast to link up with either the VéloFrancette in Normandy or the Loire à Vélo in Saumur.  Within the 320km, length of cycle route, the Greenways is another favourite part, which follows the old railway lines, going 20km between Lude and La Flèche. A further 20km is possible to take one on to Baugé. Novelties include two cycling ‘loops’, around this last Greenway, ‘Zoo and Chateau’ (48,5km) and ‘Stone & Marsh’ (36km).

Image courtesy of OT Vallée du Loir – Stevan Lira
Northern Ireland Travel Magazine 039f1a16-e8d3-40f1-b27b-3e84ad0a5732 Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of OT Vallée du Loir – Stevan Lira

There are four outdoor leisure centres in the Loir – and all offer excellent exterior facilities for children of all ages – Marçon, Mansigné, Luché-Pringé and La Monnerie are all teeming with things to do and enjoy – swimming, fishing, water-sports, hiking trails, bicycle routes, mini-golf, boules, tennis, fitness areas, picnic spots, open-air bar and terrace…

All these centres have excellent camp sites nearby offering plenty of activities for teens and tots alike try Camping de la Flèche, du Lude, de Luché-Pringé, Mansigné or Marçon

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine 4c1ff916-0ab0-47bf-bdde-37de83d75aa5 Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of OT Vallée du Loir – Stevan Lira

The Forest of Bercé and Carnuta: Centre for Man & the Forest

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine d05da92f-883a-4c34-bb69-e0f6d9ed9ea5 Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of Carnuta

In the village of Jupilles, this architecturally interesting building houses the centre of learning about all things to do with the forest world – “La Maison de l’homie et de la forêt” (the Centre for Man & The Forest). It makes everything fun and understandable in an educational fashion – for young and old alike – by using all the senses. In the summer months, there are guided tours on offer around the Forest of Bercé in the company of a National Forestry Office guide.  There are a series of children’s workshops on offer too. Otherwise download the app to visit the three most iconic places in the forest – Vallon de l’Hermetière, the Fontaine de la Coudre and La Futaie des Clos with its 300-year-old oak trees that can reach over 50 metres high.

NEW FOR 2020: Bercé Forest Tourism Card.  This card has all the hiking circuits in the forest – accessible for those on a bike, on foot, on horseback and those that are wheelchair friendly too.! There are also three main circuits for one- or two-hour walks.

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine 31a5de39-b53a-4f22-9288-a511055214c4 Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of OT Vallée du Loir
The Forest of Bercé covers over 5,400m hectares.  It was once a royal forest but is now owned by the state.   It is categorised as a Forêt d’exception© where oaks and conifers live side by side.  It houses one of France’s greatest oak groves; the quality of the wood from here was world renowned for ship – building but now is used in cooperage. The barrels for Martell cognac are made from this wood, for example.
Northern Ireland Travel Magazine d094ced1-47d4-4e38-8b09-09f57981b1ba Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of Steven Lira

Discovery Programmes

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine dd6c3bd8-0fc7-498e-a62e-281c9e638d6b Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of OT Vallée du Loir

Every Wednesday throughout the summer holidays sign up the kids for a Discovery Workshop organised by the Loir Valley Tourist Office. Different subjects are tackled each time with everything from stone cutting to stained glass to wood painting taking place.

NEW FOR 2020: Hololens glasses – these take the visitor on an immersive tour of the treasures of the church of Saint-Louis in the Prytanée National Military Academy. A unique visit between real and virtual world. Available from the Tourist Office until 2nd August 2020. Will restart in 2021.

Also NEW for digital lovers… if familiar with the Pokemon App, try “A la poursuite du temps cache”. This is the story of a mysterious dormouse species that Professor Olafur Olafsson is called to study. He makes an incredible discovery – these little dormice feed on time! They swallow the memory contained in some materials and use it to extend their lifespan. Thereby, they help us to discover information about the Loir Valley.” No internet connection is required, just log onto the local WIFI and follow the instructions.  There are five different places to sign in.

New for 2020 – Walking in La Flèche and La Chartre-sur-le-Loir

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine 92d03dcd-b50a-4f69-a24b-49d18dffcbf7 Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of OT Vallée du Loir

In La Flèche one starts at the old tanneries discovering little secrets of the town … Simply follow the “La Flèche” signs uncovering different anecdotes on this one-kilometre stroll through the centre of town. There is a surprise waiting at the end of the trail!

“Le Temps retrouvé” in La Chartre-sur-le-Loir, is a shop dedicated to objects and toys from the ‘50s and ‘70s.  The owner, Henri Boillot, has invented a ‘Game of Anomalies’. More than twenty shops in the village have slipped vintage objects in their shop fronts which children must find and list. Every Sunday, a random draw designates the winner among the correct answers – so one does have to spend a week in the area – hardly a hardship!!

The Apothecary in Baugé

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine 36c084cf-23e1-4897-8637-51e1d7002028 Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of Steven Lira

This is a place where J.K Rowling may well have found inspiration for Harry Potter – The Apothecary in Baugé dates from the seventeenth century and is one of the finest examples of its kind in France, classified as a historic monument.

There are 650 pots, pillboxes and jars standing on the oak shelves, there are beautiful mosaic floors and remarkable marquetry, starred vaults and wood carving. Some of the earthenware, wood, glass or pewter containers still house some of the original ingredients for the medicines of yesteryear. – such as monkey blood, powdered woodlice and crayfish eyes.

(Don’t forget to visit the chateau too!)

From playing keeper to staying overnight at La Flèche Zoo 

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine cfca1e93-b69b-4616-92b0-96f99b1b88da Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of Zoo de la Flèche

Keeper for a day at La Flèche Zoo – Become a zoo keeper for a day – a great opportunity to try out this profession at Le Zoo de la Flèche.   This is a chance to spend a few unforgettable hours in the company of a real keeper – feeding, observing, cleaning, exchanging with the animals…

NEW for 2020 – The polar bear area of the Zoo has been completely redesigned for the new arrival – a female called Quintana. This new area of about a hectare only opened in July 2020.  There are rivers and ponds, play areas, a maternity den, medical training spaces, nothing is too much for the polar bears in the park.  They are hoping to breed the next generation in house.

Lodges in the Zoo at La Flèche – What could be more fun than staying overnight actually IN the zoo.  Watch the polar bears or the wolves, sleep next door to the tiger and scrutinise the lemurs…. And there are more lodgesamongst the animals for an unforgettable overnight experience. The luxury lodges sleep up to six people.

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine 90a385b5-03fc-4b2e-9c77-c4b221e935f4 Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley
Image courtesy of Zoo de la Flèche

The Loir 2020

The Loir Valley is situated between Le Mans, Tours, Laval and Angers.  The little Loir, a cousin of the larger Loire, into which the river flows, means ‘dormouse’. This conjures a very apt description of the area – sleepy, rolling French countryside, with charming villages and enchanting towns that seem to belong to a past era when life was less busy and complicated.

The Loir has throughout history been lauded for its gentle style of living. The river was always the lifeline bringing building materials to construct some of the luxuriant châteaux such as Château du Lude, grand enough to rival those of the Loire further south. There are some gorgeous gardens otherwise explore nature where outdoor activities abound.

This is the most northerly outpost of Loire AOC wines which can be enjoyed in the restaurants scattered throughout the region such as Le Moulin de Quatre Saisons in La Flèche.

For more information please visit www.vallee-du-loir.com

Northern Ireland Travel Magazine 51f93c5a-95ee-4f39-8c99-9c7ad2f6f9fa Thinking of France this Year Consider. Valee the Loir Valley

A veritable hidden gem …
there’s more to the little Loir without the “e” than you might think 

Travelling to the Vallée du Loir: Take the Eurostar or fly to Paris and travel from Paris Montparnasse Train Station via TGV Atlantique direct to Le Mans (55 minutes) – gateway to The Loir.

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