The very appealing, vinous Vienne Valley

Kayaking on the river Vienne - Loire Valley, France The very appealing, vinous Vienne Valley © David Darrault

Published on 05/08/2017

The Vienne Valley in Touraine has every reason to be proud of its close connections with the regal River Loire. French history emphasizes the links. 

Along the Vienne Valley

On foot or by bike, enjoy the Vienne Valley in Touraine to the full. A branch off the famed Loire à Vélo© cycle route even meanders through it. One highlight is Chinon’s royal fortress, a favourite home of Anglo-French Plantagenet royals like Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, but also where Joan of Arc convinced future French king Charles VII to believe in her. Today, take a special, free tour of Chinon with expert greeter Laurent Dutheil, who’ll reveal secretive corners, caves and cellars in his hometown.

The city of Chinon. Photo credit: Jean-Christophe Coutand

From vineyards to villages

Also explore gorgeous vineyards and villages along the Vienne and Manse, like Cravant-les-Coteaux, L’Ile-Bouchard, Panzoult, Avon-les-Roches, Crouzilles or Crissay-sur-Manse, the last in that select association, Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Slip into a canoe at Marcilly-sur-Vienne, perhaps. Press on west as far as Candes-Saint-Martin, a magnificent village overseeing the Vienne’s confluence with the Loire. At St-Germain-sur-Vienne, discover the secrets of constructing traditional riverboats at one of their last makers. 

Crissay-sur-Manse. Photo credit: Jean-Christophe Coutand

Back near Chinon, enter giant Gargantua’s fictional country, as imagined by the great writer Rabelais, around the villages of Seuilly and Lerné. The latter’s museum explains boule de fort, a bowls game perfected by Loire mariners, played on a surface curved like the bottom of a boat!  Don’t miss the fantastical gardens of the Château du Rivau, or the supremely symmetrical 17th-century model town of Richelieu, ordered by the famed cardinal. From stunning architecture and vineyards to merry markets and riverine activities, the Vienne Valley in Touraine can match the Loire, but offers more mellow surrounds.

Text by Patrick Château

Practical

Tourism Board of Chinon

Tél. + 33 (0)2.47.93.17.85

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