The GR3 long-distance trail, alongside the Loire châteaux

The GR3 path follows the untamed course of the Loire for almost 1,250 kilometres, from its source in Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc to the river mouth in La Baule.

GR 3 long distance trail in France, along the Loire Valley Chateaux.

GR 3 – Chinon forest

The first signposted long-distance hiking trail in France is marked by the omnipresence of the Loire castles, emblems of the classification of the Loire Valley as a Unesco World Heritage Site as a cultural landscape. In Touraine, the trail passes nearby the great Loire Valley châteaux, like the royal fortress of Chinon, Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry, Amboise and Clos-Lucé, among others. It also goes through Tours, the vineyards and the national forest of Chinon (within the Loire-Anjou-Touraine regional nature park).

The GR3 is also very popular with nature lovers, who can observe the many birds that have taken up residence on the banks of the royal river. In Amboise, Rochecorbon, Tours and Candes-Saint-Martin, you can board a traditional boat (a gabare or a toue cabanée): the captain will be sure to draw your attention to all the wildlife to be discovered. This is also the case in Chinon, but on the Vienne: in fact, the GR3 departs from the Loire from Tours to Candes-Saint-Martin, and goes to meet its tributaries which are the Cher, the Indre and thus… the Vienne!

As with The Loire by bike, the route benefits from a very gentle terrain, making it accessible to the widest possible range of itinerant walkers.

From one garden to another, along the GR 3.

Beyond Touraine, this great route links us to the neighbouring departments of Anjou and Loir-et-Cher. The video below illustrates the possibility of walking along a section of the GR: from the gardens of Chaumont-sur-Loire (near Amboise) to the gardens of the Château de Villandry.

Of course, you can opt for other routes (between Blois and Tours, between Tours and Saumur, between Amboise and Chinon…) depending on your wishes, the length of your holiday, or the rail links.

Preparing for the GR3: map, stages, accommodation…

On the IGN online shop (french geographic institution), you can buy the GR3 map.

La Balaguère, a well-known agency for those who enjoy walking and cycling in France and elsewhere, is offering an organised “Loire castles” holiday with 5 days of walking along certain parts of the GR3.

A walk around amboise

A walk around amboise

Stopover at the guinguette in Rochecorbon

Stopover at the guinguette in Rochecorbon

Overnight at the Hotel Ferdinand - Tours

Overnight at the Hotel Ferdinand - Tours

Villandry, on the GR3 route.

Villandry, on the GR3 route.

Azay-le-Rideau castle

Azay-le-Rideau castle

the royal fortress of Chinon

the royal fortress of Chinon

There is a wide range of accommodation (campsites, hotels, B&Bs, etc.) along the way. So it’s easy to organise your own journey. The list of all the accommodation in Touraine will help you plan your stopovers. Below are a few suggestions for stopping off in our department:

1/ From Amboise (railway station) to Montlouis-sur-Loire (17 km; 4h30). Overnight stay: Montlouis-sur-Loire campsite or Clos du Roc bed and breakfast. On the way: Aquarium de Touraine, Montlouis vineyards, Maison Laudacius.
2/ From Montlouis-sur-Loire to Tours (14.5 km; approx. 4 hours). Overnight stay: Onlycamp Tours Val de Loire campsite, The People hotel/inn or Hôtel Ferdinand. On the way: stroll along the Loire with La Rabouilleuse, the garden of the Manoir des Basses Rivières, the Lulu Parc guinguette, Marmoutier Abbey, the historic city centre of Tours.
3/ From Tours (train station) to Savonnières (16 km; 4h30) or Villandry (19.5 km; 5h30). Overnight stay: Onlycamp La Confluence campsite, La Closerie du Chateauvert bed and breakfast, or Hôtel du Haut des Lys. On the way: Parc de la Gloriette, the banks of the Cher, the Cher boatmen.
4/ From Villandry to Azay-le-Rideau (13.5 km; 3h15). Overnight stay: Onlycamp Le Sabot campsite, Le Grand Monarque hotel, A l’ombre d’Azay bed and breakfast. On the way: Villandry gardens, Château d’Azay-le-Rideau.
5/ From Azay-le-Rideau to Saint-Benoit-la-Forêt (16 km; 4h30). Overnight: Bulle de Campagne guest house (or Au Sans Souci hotel / 20 km; 5h30). On the way: Chinon state forest.
6/ From Saint-Benoit-la-Forêt to Chinon (railway station / 12 km; 3h). Overnight: L’ile Auger campsite, Le Lion d’Or hotel, Aux Quatre Chemins bed and breakfast. On the way: Sainte-Radegonde troglodyte chapel, the royal fortress of Chinon.

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