Enjoy nature and help preserve it!
Going on holiday means taking a break from daily life, enjoying a rest and a change of scenery, sharing good times with your loved ones and visiting a new region. At the same time, in this early 21st century, environmental concerns are leading women and men to take up ecological initiatives in the world of tourism. So, while we are well aware that a 100% environmentally friendly holiday is a utopian project, we have made a list below of ideas close to nature with a limited ecological impact.
At the bottom of this page we talk about five “freewheeling” experiences that are ideal either for a long weekend or a week’s holiday. They will take you to the four corners of Touraine, but all have a common theme: cycling and environmentally friendly transport.
Cycling and slow tourism
The Loire Valley makes no secret of its aim to be the number one bicycle tourism region in France. The Loire by bike is one of France’s major cycling routes, attracting large numbers of bicycle tourists from France and abroad. The relatively flat landscape, mild weather and a wide range of “Cyclists Welcome” accommodation all along the way make it easy to travel through the unique scenery of the Loire Valley, which is listed as part of World Heritage by UNESCO.
The Cœur de France à Vélo route (Cher à Vélo, Canal de Berry), the Indre à Vélo and Camino de Santiago by bike (Saint-Jacques à Vélo) route are all other options for a freewheeling holiday. Even if you choose to stay in the same place, a network of 50 cycling circuits and a whole host of bike rental companies will meet your needs for a full or half day out on your bike.
And don’t miss:
In the countryside, close to nature: rowing, sailing, walking…
What better way to unwind than a trip on the water, in peace and quiet, in a canoe, on a standup paddleboard or on board a traditional boat? With your paddle in your hand, you can set off under the arches of the Château de Chenonceau bestriding the River Cher, or of course on the Loire, Indre or Creuse.
But always follow the instructions: for example, keep in mind that there are migratory birds in spring and summer on the banks of the Loire. Terns, in particular, lay their eggs here and hide them in the sandbanks. To preserve the birds’ natural cycle, don’t come ashore here and respect their peace and quiet. Some canoe hire companies organise trips lasting several days, complete with bivouacking. The sites chosen take this into account.
Without effort, but with the precious help of a tanned, river sailor, a trip in a scow or a toue with a cabin will train your eye for the environment and the beautiful valley of kings. Across from the monumental royal fortress of Chinon, you can set off for an hour or two on the River Vienne.
But alongside the fun of a river trip, the easiest way to explore Touraine is still… on foot! Almost 6,000 kilometres of signposted footpaths never fail to delight hiking fans. Along with a selection of “Petites Randonnées” (Short Hikes) (PR), the GR3 and the Way of St James (the Way of Tours) can be your guideline for a stay on the move lasting several days. As for cycling, the flat landscapes of the Loire Valley are a great way to try out the experience for the first time.
Protected natural areas
In Touraine, a wide range of areas are officially listed or enjoy protected status. Some twenty sensitive nature areas (ENS in French) are managed by the departmental council and are subject to strict environmental control, while welcoming the public on the footpaths. They include L’Etang du Louroux, the Val de Choisille and the Domaine de Candé. The National Forests Office carefully watches over the ecosystems of the national forests of Loches and Chinon.
Extending over the Centre Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire regions, the Loire Anjou Touraine Regional Nature Park has grown up around an important cultural and natural heritage. The local authorities are pursuing proactive policies to preserve an atypical living environment. A wide range of outings are organised all through the year to see the fauna and flora of the region (with Val de Loire Ecotourism, Touraine Terre d’Histoire, etc.), but also traditional skills such as wickerwork.
And of course it is impossible not to highlight that the Loire Valley is listed as part of World Heritage by UNESCO as a cultural landscape, “the work of humanity and nature”. The slopes planted with vineyards, the traditional boats anchored at the quays, the fauna and flora, the houses and châteaux made of tuffeau stone… Careful attention is paid to all these elements, with the aim of passing them on to future generations.
Nature holidays: accommodation, restaurants, sightseeing…
Generally speaking, all the professionals mentioned in the five articles below have not been selected by chance. Alongside the cycling aspect, we have highlighted:
- ecologically renovated accommodation or with the “Green Key” label,
- restaurants with a preference for short food supply chains and local produce: sainte-maure-de-touraine, truffles and saffron, poires tapées (dried pears), Tours nougat, etc.
- organic wine cellars,
- châteaux with gardens that are now free from plant protection agents, LPO bird refuges or conservatories promoting biodiversity: Le Rivau, Villandry, Amboise, Valmer, La Bourdaisière…
In short, whether you opt for holidays on the move or stay in just one place, your aim to minimise your carbon footprint will be warmly welcomed in Touraine.
Read more: accommodation in the countryside.