Editorial - Tourisme Loiret



Editorial - Tourisme Loiret
Demonstrative yet gentle, secretive but expressive and much
contrasted, the Loiret département discretely shows many
different facets. You can taste Loiret, unravel it, tame it and
humbly uncover its treasures. However, a UNESCO-listed world
heritage site, the Val de Loire, serves as a common setting in
which castles, museums, undulating paths and lakes distinctively
feature. Just an hour and a half from Paris, Loiret is at one with the
> On water
The River Loire, which flows quickly in Loiret, is rich in colour. We
owe the countryside to her. She also inspired the architects, who built
the castles, which accommodate Loiret’s finest gardens.
> On land
Loiret people like their food. The “saffron route” in Gâtinais includes
a mixture of local sweet and savoury concoctions. Loiret people
like tasty things as well as things of beauty. They have an aesthete’s
fascination for roses. They derive romance from petals in their gardens
and wood decorations in their chateaux. Culturally, Loiret displays
substantial creativity in its arts and crafts. The rustling of Loiret
leaves promises very green escapes: the Forest of Orléans is the largest
national forest in France. Its trees cover more than a quarter of the
département. Loiret is wooded, but well out of the woods!
> In the air
From a hot air balloon, a U.L.M. or even a helicopter, you can leaf
through Loiret like a huge photo album with pages dedicated to
history, celebrations, water scenes and flower beds with a dose of
well-being and gastronomic highlights.
This is an intuitive place, which is easy and natural to explore.
A little Venetian, a little exotic, Loiret is full of life.
Photos J. Puyo
C. Lorsh
J. Puyo
The 7 Loiret regions
> Beauce “the grain silo” with enormous fields of cereals
> Sologne “the wilderness” with its distinctive lakes and varied wildlife
> Giennois “on the water” – several rivers run through it
> Gâtinais “where the food is good” – the way in for gourmets
> Montargois “with its lovely buildings” and flowers between trees and water around the Venice of Gâtinais
> The Forest of Orléans “for tree-huggers” – the largest national forest of France
> Orléanais “so royal” with many memories of the kings of France
Information and bookings
Loiret Tourist Board
Tel. +33 238 780 404
Comité Départemental
de Tourisme du Loiret
Great men and
grand residences
The first Loire Valley castles were built in the Loiret area on the water’s edge where their massive
stonework and characteristic French elegance could
be perfectly reflected. Enjoy the genuine setting of a
gallant medieval knight’s fortress or the sophistication of
a Renaissance-style country retreat.
What to see
> The medieval castles you shouldn’t miss
• The most mysterious: Sully-sur-Loire
Built at the end of the 14th century on a site which had controlled one of
the few crossings of the River Loire since the Gallo-Roman period, this castle
belonged to the Duke of Sully, a minister to King Henry IV of France. It is a
listed monument and was built on the very edge of the River Loire. It is famous
for its imposing towers and wide moat and was remodelled in the 17th century,
then extended in the Age of Enlightenment.
Don’t miss the spectacular, rarely seen 14th century broken barrel vault roof
beams; the group of six huge 17th century tapestries featuring the goddess
Psyche; the family portrait gallery, the King’s bedroom, the Louis XIII and
Louis XIV furniture, the Duchess’s bed and Sully and his wife’s tomb.
• Meung-sur-Loire, the majestically disconcerting former
palace of the bishops of Orléans
The Château de Meung-sur-Loire dates back to the 13th century and is like
a living museum where each room illustrates a different historic period
exhibiting a total of 2,000 artefacts. Nicknamed “the castle with two faces”,
its architecture has been progressively remodelled from a medieval style to
embrace more classical lines. Eight centuries of history are represented here
and some very emblematic people have left their mark, including Joan of Arc,
Francis I of France, Charles VII and Louis XI.
Don’t miss this castle’s twenty-odd furnished rooms, in which you really
experience what chateau life was like over the centuries. See the liqueurs
lounge, the amazing Bishop’s bathroom, the 13th century pantry and old
kitchens and even explore the underground passageways.
• Saint-Brisson-sur-Loire, the most warlike
The old walls of Saint-Brisson-sur-Loire castle are brought back to life
with exhibitions of medieval warfare. In summer, come and witness how
different medieval weapons were fired. All the thrills of a town under siege are
re-enacted in the castle moat. “Take aim, fire!” Play the role of a medieval foot
soldier and fire real stone balls and projectiles from firearms and catapults.
Nowhere else in the Loire offers this kind of experience!
> The Renaissance palaces not to miss
• Chamerolles appeals most to your senses
The building of Château de Chamerolles began in 1500. It was modified into a
perfume museum. The “Perfume Journey” is a voyage through time focussed
on fragrances and their uses in different centuries with changing tastes and
techniques. Each room displays a different world with a new decor.
For the inquisitive, Chamerolles is a great opportunity to see some very
unusual items such as a reverberatory oven, a commode chair, some baths,
perfume burners and even a perfume organ! For enthusiasts there is also a rare
collection of perfume bottles made by some of the legendary glass-makers:
Baccarat, Bohème, Lalique, Daum, Dali, etc. And if you can’t resist smelling
some wonderful fragrances, why not attend a workshop entitled “Become a
Twinkle, twinkle. The exhibition “Rallumez les étoiles! Stars de la scène
1830-1960” (Turn on the stars! 1830-1960 screen actors) recalls the lives of
emblematic artists such as Sacha Guitry, Josephine Baker, Sarah Bernhardt
and many others through an exhibition of very precious drawings, engravings,
posters, manuscripts, shoes, suits and personal items. On show from 28 June
to 21 September 2014.
www.chateau-chamerolles.com (fr)
• La Ferté Saint-Aubin, the funniest
Located in the middle of Sologne, Château de la Ferté Saint-Aubin invites
you to learn history through play. More than 40 activities never fail to attract
everyone’s interest. An enchanted island for the kids, animals, a real life Orient
Express railway station, a display of dolls and old toys, life-size snakes and
ladders, etc.
And visit 15 fully furnished rooms for free!
www.chateaudesaintbrissonsurloire.com (fr)
www.chateau-ferte-st-aubin.com (fr)
• Yèvre-le-Châtel guarding the road
• La Bussière, sheer elegance
The powerful Château de Yèvre overlooks one of the officially recognised
prettiest villages in France. Built on a hillside, this 12th century fort guarded the
road from Paris to Orléans, which was so strategically vital for kings of France.
The fortified entrance is an awe-inspiring introduction to the overwhelming
height of the castle.
Nicknamed the “Fishermen’s Chateau”, La Bussière is an old country retreat
built in the 17th century. Its brick walls are very distinctive and form beautiful
reflections in the water of the lake at its feet. La Bussière houses a unique
collection of works of art and artefacts linked to fish and fishing, but it is also a
venue for a delightful visit with its lounges, its orangery, its stables and tack room.
Why not stroll along the top of the castle walls and protected walkways and
admire the view over the valley?
Don’t miss the French garden designed by Le Nôtre, its kitchen garden with
vegetables of the past and its plant-based huts that the kids simply love!
www.yevre-la-ville.fr (fr)
www.chateau-labussiere.com (fr)
The perfect escape
> Historical secrets in the Loire Valley
A stay with character at Beaugency and a visit of the “castle with two faces” at Meung-sur-Loire,
one of the oldest in the Valley, a walk round a listed rose garden to smell some of its many ancient blooms,
not forgetting a quick detour via the Orléans vineyards, whose wines were enjoyed by the kings of France.
From e105 per person for 2 days & 1 night
Best time: April to October • Accommodation in 3-star hotel
This price includes one night in a double room with breakfast, an unguided visit of the castle and the rose garden, a wine tasting
in the cellars and a gift bottle!
OT de Sully sur Loire
Tel. + 33 238 620 488 - www.loiret-booking.com
Just for the story…
> The record-breaking photo
Château de Meung
sur Loire
Xavier Lelevé,
Château de Me
ung sur Loire
The whole population of Sully-sur-Loire came together for a photograph
with Sully Castle as a backdrop and made it into the Guinness Book of
Records! The grand total of 2,226 Sully inhabitants featured in the
picture, wearing their professional uniforms or clothes: the gendarme,
chef and postman were all there. The record-breaking photo was taken on
6 December 1992.
“I have owned the castle for 3 years. It is the oldest and largest in the Loiret
département. It is quite unique and concentrates 800 years of history into
130 rooms with matchless architectural features. It is not flashy like the
castles where the kings of France resided, but it has strong temporal and
spiritual presence inherited from the bishops of Orléans.”
“We try to provide for customers’ changing needs with creative ideas,
which are sometimes even off the wall! We have our robot Walter,
who has left unusual or anachronistic objects around the place; for example
a DVD of French comedian Jamel Debouzze alongside a Molière play
to explain what satire is to kids. We also engage our visitors’ emotional
memory with a smell-based visit. We bring a bit of life to the place
with plenty of striking events: cookery courses featuring medieval recipes,
Christmas at the castle, etc.”
A glance at…
> Orléans, City of Art and History
Three good reasons to visit Orléans, “City of Art and History”:
• For its rich heritage. Orléans on the banks of the Loire bears
witness to some of the major chapters in French history. This old Gallic
city, which became the capital of the Frankish king Clovis, was made
famous by Joan of Arc, when she freed it from the English in 1429.
Visitors marvel at its fully renovated medieval city centre, a unique
collection of pedestrian precincts with an amazing number of
houses with painted half-timbered facades, some sporting sculpted
adornments. The 114-metre (374-foot) steeple of Sainte-Croix
Cathedral overlooks the town, serving as a powerful reference point.
Many beautiful Renaissance buildings can be seen close to the
cathedral, such as the fully restored Hotel Groslot, built in the
16th century. With its bustling streets full of charm and its official
listing as a “City of Art and History” this is a really attractive destination
with its large parks and gardens, its mansion houses and its many
• For its strolls down by the Loire. Orléans used to be the largest port
on the River Loire and has since set out to take back control of the last
untamed watercourse in Europe by refurbishing its quays, re-opening
the canal and by designing a new port and a “Loire Square”. These lively
areas down by the river are very popular with people out for a walk
and for their night life, regularly hosting cultural events and
• For its boutique and art galleries. Orléans offers a wide range
of shops from small designer boutiques to shopping malls, which
all contribute in their own way to keeping the city alive. The city
also boasts some very fine art galleries with a range of artists and
styles for the delight of its visitors, be they contemporary art lovers
or not.
“The sheer beauty of the Loire and the feelings it triggers. I particularly like
the Roquelin gardens and the Prés des Culands arboretum”.
Information and bookings
Loiret Tourist Board
Tel. +33 238 780 404
Comité Départemental
de Tourisme du Loiret
Romantic Loiret
parks and gardens
Loiret is a very colourful part of France with creative floral
displays, especially in its gardens. These can be kitchen
gardens with old-fashioned vegetables or exotic or wild
gardens, designed for walks with balanced compositions or
with special layouts during exhibitions. They are never quite
the same and reveal as a kind of leitmotif, mineral, plant and
animal treasures. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss…
What to see
> A breath of fresh air for Loiret
seasonal fruit and vegetables, and pick and eat
them on site.
Located in Orléans, the Parc Floral de la
Source is the most visited place in the
• Ode to nature. Old-school, natural
cultivation techniques are used here, such as soil
improvement, hoeing, composting and mulching.
Throughout the year, botanical courses are run
on “relaxed” or “lazy gardening”, natural methods,
producing your own seed, flower elixirs, etc.
These “outstanding gardens”, which won
two Michelin stars, derived their name
from a gift of nature, the source of the
River Loiret, a resurgence of the Loire River. The Loiret runs alongside the park
and also gave its name to the département.
Covering 35 hectares (86 acres), the park features its botanical collections
and themed gardens: the iris garden, a large rose garden, the dahlia garden,
an Asian garden, an extraordinary kitchen garden, a tropical garden, beds of
perennials, and collections of pelargonium, fuchsia and trees, some of which
are hundreds of years old. As the seasons change, the park dresses itself in
different colours and shapes.
• What animals can you see there? Pink flamingos, cranes, swans,
ducks, alpacas, donkeys, dwarf goats, sheep and birds from Africa, Australasia
and Asia.
• A colourful aerial ballet. The butterfly house produces the conditions
of a tropical garden and accommodates butterflies and moths from breeders
located in Indonesia, the Philippines, in Costa Rica, Madagascar and in Guyana. They flutter around banana, papaya, vanilla and ficus trees, and are also
attracted to hibiscus and orchid flowers.
To fully enjoy your trip, don’t forget to travel round the park on the miniature
hâteau de La Bussière and its “thousand
flavours” kitchen garden
The chateau’s vegetable garden used to be used to grow vines for the lords’
wine. It is still laid out as it was in the 18th century and features bygone fruit
and vegetables with strange, unknown names, such as Sucrée de Gien or
Cuisse Madame pears.
Vegetables of the past, medicinal plants and culinary herbs, flowers and
gourds all grow together in this 1.5-hectare (3.7-acre) garden. Visitors may buy
Through the vegetation you can admire a classical French garden, designed by André Le Nôtre in
which fourteen magic huts have been installed.
www.chateau-labussiere.com (fr)
> My sweet little rose
The André Eve ancient rose garden displays 630 varieties of old and
modern roses. Here, all types of roses are proudly and lavishly put on show:
rose bushes, English roses, shrubby roses, ground covering and climbing roses,
rose vines, botanical roses, standard or half-standard and weeping roses.
And as roses don’t like to be alone, there are also clematis, grasses and irises!
The more the merrier!
www.roses-anciennes-eve.com (fr)
> A symphony of 3 arboretums
• The Prés des Culands arboretum at Meung-sur-Loire: this is
the most universal with its “world collection” by the Holy Society of America.
perso.orange.fr/houx (fr)
• The Barres National arboretum at Nogentsur-Vernisson: this is the most exciting with 2,500 rare
or unusual species, including one of the largest collections of trees in the world.
www.onf.fr/arboretumdesbarres (fr)
• The Grandes Bruyères arboretum at Ingrannes: the most
environmentally friendly, where no chemical techniques are used. Its Asian
and American tree collections and its bird conservatory are outstanding.
www.arboretumdesgrandesbryeres.fr (fr)
The perfect escape
> Get a feel for the Sologne countryside with
a signposted walk around La Ferté Saint-Aubin
C. Beaudin
Marvel how well nature has been preserved in Sologne with its oaks, chestnut, pines and lakes. Leaving from La Ferté Saint-Aubin, your signposted walk of
14.5 km (9 miles) will take about 3 hours and 40 minutes. It will take you along the Cosson, a major Sologne watercourse, culminating at your hotel in the
middle of a wooded park with a lake and swimming pool. After a night’s sleep, you have the choice between visiting La Ferté Saint-Aubin castle, the last
fortress in Sologne or the Ciran Estate, a 300-hectare (740-acre) conservatory of Sologne fauna and flora. A traditional lunch awaits you nearby to round off
your stay.
From e95 per person for 2 days and 1 night
Best time: April to October • Accommodation in a bed & breakfast in a restored mill
This price includes one night in a double room with breakfast, lunch excluding drinks and a printed topo-guide for the walk on the first day.
Tel. +33 238 620 488 - www.loiret-booking.com
A glance at…
Figure of eight > The Ciran Estate at
> 8 outstanding gardens in Loiret
Witness this botanical garden, mainly focused on observing the fauna
of Sologne with its three learning pathways. There is also a 19th century
chateau where wannabe chateau-dwellers love staying and walking in the
deer park that features about thirty varieties of trees. Features of interest
are the bird marsh, the 3,000 sq. m (32,000 sq. ft) aviary and farm.
• Barres National Arboretum
• Outstanding park, garden and vegetable plot
at Château de La Bussière
• Grand Courtoiseau gardens
• Grandes Bruyères arboretum
• La Javelière gardens
• Parc Floral de la Source, Orléans-Loiret
• Prés des Culands arboretum
• Roquelin gardens
www.domaineduciran.com (fr)
Roquelin garden at
Stéphane Chassine,
rose grower
Our preference
“I created this garden in 2005 in an open field. I decided it would be an
English garden, which is less sophisticated than a French design. It goes well
with the farm. Loiret soils are alluvial, which are easy to work and very
fertile. We have 500 different rose varieties and we sell some.”
Herboretum de St Ay
> The Saint-Ay herboretum
The herboretum at Saint-Ay near Orléans with its concentrated
biodiversity is a benchmark herb garden in France that lies on the banks
of a tributary of the River Loire. The common thread in this garden is the
number 5: 5 environmentally friendly gardens, 5 fauna sites, 5 harmonious
aisles and 5 lyrical bridges, not to mention the 5 themed gardens laid out
in 5 main beds dedicated to health, beauty, well-being, magic spells and
fibres & dyes.
• You must see the Garden of Temptation, even more symbolic and
poetic with its devilishly tempting fruit orchard.
www.herboretum.org (fr)
“I really like the Charles de Mills and Madame Alfred Carrière roses.
They are rustic roses and produce a lot of petals.”
“Night visits are organised in July and August every year.
We light the garden up with candles.”
www.lesjardinsderoquelin.com (fr)
Information and bookings
Loiret Tourist Board
Tel. +33 238 780 404
Comité Départemental
de Tourisme du Loiret
Eating in Loiret
The inhabitants of Loiret so enjoy their food they developed a special
pastry and called it a “greedy Loiret” (Loiret gourmand)! The département
has long lavished care and attention on its generous soils to produce an
abundance of great-tasting foods. Each region has its own culinary delight and
local produce, such as honey from Gâtinais or Sologne, Olivet pear liqueur,
pralines from Montargis, the Pithiviers cake, and wines from the areas around
Orléans and Gien. There are 81 regularly held markets in Loiret! So there is no
excuse not to try out a few things. It is so simple (and delicious) to taste!
What to see
> The route of saffron and honey
For ages, crimson crocus stigmas from Gâtinais have
built the reputation of the village of Boynes, which
from the 14th to the 19th century was considered
to be the world capital of saffron production. Last
century, its production accounted for nearly 20% of
all saffron produced on the planet. The epic story of
this very distinctive spice then ran out of steam, but
the Loiret saffron growers have decided to revive the
tradition and are planting crocuses again. Some of the
longest-standing saffron farms in France are located
in Loiret.
• Plenty of patience: you need 160,000 crocus bulbs to produce a single
kilo of saffron.
• Mmmm! A saffron farm in Loiret dedicated a website to this thousand-year-old red gold from Gâtinais. Visit the site and learn about
the virtues, the use and cultivation of this spice. The farm also sells its
home-made saffron-based produce: a cordial, fruit jams and jellies with
saffron, cider vinegar with saffron and saffron-flavoured pastries. For those,
who are keen to try, they even sell the crocus bulbs to grow the elusive spice.
www.lasafranaise.com (fr)
• Who am I? I am well-known. I often have a clear or amber-coloured robe.
I have a velvety, creamy taste with very sweet overtones that melt on the
palate. I am used with an infinite number of products, such as cider vinegar,
sweets, pork ribs, duck breast “magret”, coarse duck paté, pear mousse, iced
nougat, etc. I have been sought after since the Middle Ages. Kings have loved
me. Sainfoin boosted my reputation.
For those who didn’t recognise me, I am Gâtinais honey.
> Sweet and savoury delights
- Montargis pralines are a special sweet made in
Montargis. The court of King Louis XIII adored them.
They were invented by the personal chef of the
Marshal Duke of Praslin, who offered them to women
he was courting. The exact recipe of the sweet made
from toasted almonds coated with toffee is kept
strictly secret. The crunch of the brown sugar and
nutty coating leads delightfully to a sweet almond taste.
C. Lazi/CRT
• A cool tip: Montargis pralines presented in a sweet tin or box make an
attractive tasty gift.
- Orléans vinegars and mustards
Orléans used to be the capital of vinegar production and can still today rely
on Maison Martin-Pouret, founded in 1797, to maintain the tradition of making
vinegar using the old time-honoured techniques. When boats could still sail
right down the Loire, wines were carried from Anjou, the region of Tours and
Burgundy to Paris. By the time they arrived, they were often spoilt and so
ideal for making vinegar. The old hand-made Orléans mustard has also been
re-invented. This typically used to be made in the region by grinding mustard
seeds on a millstone.
Martin Pouret’s crystallised mustard creams provide a burst of flavours to
enhance sophisticated dishes, such as foie gras as well as more classical
fish- or meat-based recipes. Their crystallised texture makes it easy to
marry sweet and sour ingredients. These mustards are offered in a range of
mouth-watering flavours: tomato, Indian spices and honey & Chardonnay.
- Olivet pear liqueur
Loiret has its own moonshine, a high quality pear brandy made from fruit
grown in Olivet. The product has a very distinctive pear inside the bottle that
was placed there in spring, when it was a small barely formed fruit on a branch
and has slowly ripened since.
The warm, subtle aromas of this liqueur result from its two-step production
process. The best William pears from the current harvest are first selected for
distillation, then in the following spring developing baby pears while still on
their branches are inserted in bottles, suspended in the trees. When they have
grown, the bottles are then filled with the liqueur of the previous year.
> Loiret wines
The Orléans wine-growing region is one of the oldest in France and is said
to date back to the Frankish king Clovis. Today these wines have built a great
reputation fired by the enthusiasm of their growers, and obtained AOC
status in 2006. They are elegant and refreshing, and match game dishes from
neighbouring Sologne perfectly. They are made from Pinot Noir and Gris
Meunier grape varieties, and display a lovely deep rosé colour with a bouquet
of redcurrant and blackcurrant.
The vines on the hills around Gien produce light, fruity wines, which obtained
their own AOC in 1998. You can never go wrong tasting these wines with a
local goat cheese or a Jargeau chitterling sausage, if you fancy something
more substantial.
The perfect escape
> Heritage and gourmet food at Montargis
With a chef at your side, learn about and taste the flavours of
Gâtinais, where food is a very serious issue. Then explore the amazing
local historical heritage from the river and witness the beautiful
untouched countryside on a bicycle!
From e122 per person for 2 days & 1 night
Best time: April to 15 October • Accommodation in 3-star hotel
This price includes a lesson with a chef and tasting the dishes prepared, bicycle hire
for half a day, one night in a double room with dinner and breakfast, 1 unguided visit
of the “bridges itinerary”, a 1-hour boat trip with commentary at Cepoy..
Tel. +33 238 620 488 - www.loiret-booking.com
A great address
> The Lièvre Gourmand in Orléans
3 good reasons to eat at the Michelin-starred Lièvre Gourmand restaurant,
which was also awarded three toques in the Gault et Millau Guide:
Our preference
> The Musardises in Orléans
One of the best places to taste Loiret desserts is at the Musardises tea
rooms which date back to the end of the 19th century and still have their
distinctive pink mouldings, their wrought iron and their little marble
tables. The renowned Loiret Gourmand cake is obviously served there.
Invented by the imagination and expertise of Loiret bakers and pastry
chefs and supported by the département’s General Council, this cake,
which was originally made with honey and strawberries, regularly changes
its recipe. It went on to become a macaroon filled with semolina cream
and flavoured with apricot preserve, then turned into a dacquoise with
hazelnuts and crystallised pear. It never blushes before other delights
such as macaroons with Orléans fruit or palm trees. Just like its porcelain
tableware this venue’s future has no blemishes.
The Musardises - Tel. +33 238 533 098
1 • Elegant, well thought out cuisine with no flashy extras and a very
appealing wine list.
2 • Stories about the dishes served, which are changed by the chef every
3 • T he restaurant resembles William Page, its chef, with its cosy, no-nonsense
Le Grand Saint Benoit
à Saint Benoit sur Loire
Sébastien Radzieta,
restaurant chef and
Chairman of the Loiret Toques
C. Beaudin
decor and its warm, friendly service. William is an extraordinary chef:
his sober exterior hides origins in Papua and Australia!
C. Lazi/CRT
“This restaurant features fresh local produce such as pralines and saffron.
I change the menu every month and a half, depending on the season and
what I feel like! The cuisine is contemporary and we have a capacity of 40.
I am a master-restaurateur. I defend a type of cuisine, which is based on
dishes concocted in situ from basic ingredients. This is what I try to do in my
role as chairman of the Loiret Toques, a group of 17 Loiret restaurateurs.
The idea is to highlight our local produce and the expertise of our
professional members.”
“Pike-perch in Orléans vinegar or Mazet praline-crusted duck.”
“It would definitely be vegetables to reflect the market garden
trade here, which has a massive history.”
Le Grand Saint Benoit
Tel. + 33 238 351 192
Information and bookings
Loiret Tourist Board
Tel. +33 238 780 404
Comité Départemental
de Tourisme du Loiret
The golden age of the River Loire and the Loiret canals is now. Bucolic devotees in search of
the good life and ways to escape, are exploring more and more of the département’s waterways
and learning about their fauna and flora, their landscapes and heritage. The Loire boatmen sail
traditional river vessels: gabares, toues and futreaux. House boats and leisure craft cruise across
the Loiret on its 150 km (90 miles) of fresh water inland canals. Who would have dreamt that these
waterways used in a bygone era to connect the Loire to the River Seine, would one day become
a playground for leisure boating?
What to see
J. Puyo
Rivers and canals in Loiret
> Museums about the Loire
> Trips on the Loire
At the Loire Marine Museum in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, visitors dive immediately in at the deep end with a re-creation at the entrance of a departure hall, a
boat in the central hall and the architecture of a quay with goods on it, etc. In
original settings, the Museum highlights the River’s history and its associated
trades and traditions. Come and learn more about one of Europe’s greatest
wild rivers from this fantastic collection of models, manuscripts, engravings,
photos, boatmen’s furniture and religious artefacts.
From May to September, “Loire boatmen
(passeurs)” will take
you for a trip on the
River to show you
the banks, islands
and sandbanks. They
offer guided boat
tours, as well as a
more detailed introduction to Loire River
folklore; fishing, tasting Loire wines, songs and stories. Early morning trips leaving at
dawn on the Loiret or the Loire rivers are especially enjoyable.
Nocturnal sailings on the Loire leave at dusk. For gourmet visitors a “boat
and lunch” trip stops off at a good restaurant not far from the river.
Leaving from Sigloy
> Good fishing
www.chateauneuf-sur-loire.com (fr)
With 760 km (470 miles) of watercourse and 780 hectares (1,930 acres)
of lakes and ponds, Loiret has plenty
of scope for teasing carp, trout and
roach from Orléans Forest to the Loire basins and in the Loing or Essonne
rivers. The most compassionate anglers throw everything they catch back,
while romantic or solitary fishermen fish at night. The more classical-minded
perfect their fly fishing or casting techniques, while the boldest set out to
challenge the Loire catfish.
The “Deux Marines” and Briare Aqueduct Museum focuses on the two types
of waterway users that existed side by side in the past at Briare, namely the
“river barons” or Loire boatmen and those that worked on the canals. At one
of the largest boating centres in France, learn about sailing techniques, the art
of water-related professions, the beliefs and games connected to the Loire.
• One or two good spots to fish: Charlemagne Island, the Orléans
Canal, ponds in Orléans Forest, Cléry pond, etc.
Loire boatmen
Our preference
> House boats
Become a sailor or a cabin boy on a traditional Loire boat and learn how to
sail or fish. On dry land, travel to two places at the heart of French history:
the medieval castle of Sully-sur-Loire and the Loire Marine Museum in
Loiret house boats are specially designed for long or short stays on the
water. No licence is required; you are free to sail! Operating lock gates will
soon become child’s play. For a romantic weekend or a trip with friends
or the family, just choose the options you want: lounge, terrace or dual
controls. At 6 km per hour, this cruise gives you all the time you need to
relax! If you hunger for adventure, set course for the Paris region, Berry
or Burgundy. The less ambitious will explore the Briare lateral or Loing
canals or towns and villages such as Montargis, “the Venice of Gâtinais”
or Châtillon-sur-Loire with its listed canal lock. You could also take the
breathtaking Briare Aqueduct…
From e245 per person for 2 days & 2 nights
From e630 per week for a house boat for 4 people departing from Briare
Best time: April to October
Try a day’s boat hire from €130
Accommodation in 3-star hotels: one night in Sully-sur-Loire, the
other in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire
Three boating centres at Briare, Châtillon-sur-Loire and Rogny-lesSept-Ecluses.
This price includes 2 nights in a double room with breakfast, an unguided visit
of the museum and castle, a 2-hour river trip with commentary, hire of electric
bikes for the 2 days, luggage transfer and return to departure point.
The perfect escape
> A boatman’s life
Tel. +33 238 620 488 - www.loiret-booking.com
Just for the story …
Alain Charmetant,
boat rental
Charmes Naut
On 1st July 1884, the Cross of Saint Nicholas or the Boatmen’s Cross was
erected at the entrance of Saint-Père-sur-Loire to pay homage to all the
men, whose profession is linked to the Loire (boatmen, bargemen, etc.).
The story goes that if you turn round the cross three times, you will be
married within the year.
“I’ve been working for this independent company that I founded for 24 years
now. We offer boats for hire that require no licence, for single days or longer
stays on the water. Being able to sail on inland waterways is a privilege that
many miss, for example in Australia. This type of holiday is very popular with
the Germans, Swiss, Belgians and British. Here in France, many Parisians enjoy
this return to a simpler life, just an hour and a half’s drive from the capital”.
“A week’s return trip from Briare to Montargis gives you the chance to really
enjoy the oldest canal that has been dug out of Nature. For a weekend,
Briare-Sancerre is very picturesque and I would recommend it.”
“Loiret is a lovely spot close to Nature, but also not far from Paris.
It’s ideal for my business.”
C. Beaudin
> The marriage cross
A glance at…
> The restaurant boat concept
• The Boat Wash-House at Orléans’ quayside is a copy of the
19th century boat wash-houses. You don’t wash your laundry there,
you eat, because it is a bar and restaurant on the water. In the olden days,
boat wash-houses made it possible for washer women to work indoors.
The venue maintains the attraction of a genuine wash house; lively
and busy on two floors. The menu features some of the region’s culinary
delights. You cannot miss this unusual place or the beautiful panoramic
www.bateaulavoir-orleans.fr (fr)
• Bubbles on the water too. The Love Boat also in Orléans, tied up
at the Châtelet Quay in 2013. Beautiful panoramic views out over the river
and very lounge-like decor!
Tel. +33 238 918 308
Information and bookings
Loiret Tourist Board
Tel. +33 238 780 404
Comité Départemental
de Tourisme du Loiret
Life is an adventure in Loiret!
Destinations in Loiret can be secret or unusual,
suburban or rustic and they can be reached on foot,
by bicycle, on horseback or by air. The great Loire
outdoors provides a breath of really fresh air, some
highly stimulating activities and a desire to take to
the air. Let’s have a look at this green paradise that
never fails to thrill you.
What to see
Augerville Château
> Breathtaking
> Free-wheelers
Loiret has a total of 4,600 kilometres (2,850 miles) of signposted walks in the
GRP ®, GR ® and PR ® categories. From the Val de Loire to Gâtinais and from the
Forest of Orléans to Sologne with its 3,000 ponds and lakes, the walks vary
between an average of 3 and 30 kilometres (1.8 and 18 miles) long. The Loiret
Tourist Board distributes 19 map packs containing from 7 to 30 itineraries in
The “Loire on a Bike” is an amazing collection of cycle tracks totalling
800 kilometres (500 miles) between Cher and Loire-Atlantique, of which 155 km
(96 miles) run through Loiret, between Beaulieu-sur-Loire on the departmental
border between Cher and Nièvre, and Tavers on the Loir-et-Cher frontier. Life
is fun on a bike! No pressure, just small towns, lunch stops and monuments.
Recommended accommodation where bicycles are welcome (“accueil vélo”)
is never too far away. The 16 most discrete routes from the “Loire on a Bike” network
promise enjoyable, private rides.
• Another way to walk
Explore the forest guided by GPS along a 3-km (1.8-mile) walk. Designed by
the Maison de la Forêt for young walkers, this interactive learning experience
presents the Montargis forest in a very different way.
www.agglo-montargoise.fr/maisondelaforet (fr)
• Walk in Sologne
These organised walks are a fantastic experience. Hear stags troat, walk at
night and experience the hoots of owls and wild boar scratching nearby.
Observe osprey, booted eagles and flesh-eating plants. You can also go out
and practice your Nordic Walking or aquawalking technique.
Walk in Sologne: +33 611 774 358
• Relaxed riders take an electric bike! Breakdown and recovery
services can be a life-saver with electric bikes. The bikes can be hired for as little as
half a day and have autonomy of 40 or 60 km (25 or 37 miles).
www.absolumentcanoe.com (fr)
> More activities than you could imagine
In Loiret you will find a full range of activities close to nature: water-skiing, sailing,
pedalos, trampolining, canoeing, go-karting, adventure parks, etc.
• I dream of throwing myself heart and soul into the banks of the Loire
> On horseback
Six rides ranging from 1 to 4 days long, some of which are offered with
accommodation, have been designed for passionate riders and enthusiasts.
These take place in Sologne on the banks of the Loire, in the Forest of Orléans,
around Montargis and Pithiviers.
www.baladezvousenloiret.com (fr)
www.cdte45.fr (fr)
and exploring Orléans by bike, “the City of Art and History”; losing myself
in the old historic town centre, then lingering over a romantic dinner on a
boat on the Royal River. Just a few minutes from the “Loire on a Bike” network,
stay in a fine hotel with a large family atmosphere.
From e135 per person for 2 days & 1 night
Best time: April to October • Accommodation in 2-star hotel
This price includes one night in a double room with breakfast, a dinner, excluding drinks,
on a moored boat, the hire of an electric bike for the two days.
Tel. + 33 238 620 488 - www.loiret-booking.com
> Loiret by air
To enjoy panoramic views as far as the eye can see, take a hot air balloon flight
or an initiation in the early morning or at dusk and see the Loire chateaux or the
Sologne landscape from the air. For a different experience, why not take a U.L.M
or a helicopter to fly with the birds? Adrenaline junkies will choose a parachute
jump. If you prefer less altitude, try the tree walk at the Léo adventure park on
Charlemagne Island or at Familliane adventure park in Neuvy-en-Sullias.
www.ballonsdeloire.com (fr)
J. Puyo
www.sologne-en-montgolfiere.fr (fr)
www.lesdrolesdoiseaux.fr (fr)
www.basedebeaulieu.com (fr)
www.leo-parc-aventure.fr (fr)
www.familliane-aventure.fr (fr)
What to see
eckoning greens
Practice your backswing, seek the fairways and avoid the bunkers onto the
putting greens. Loiret is naturally made for its 8 golf courses with 18 to 27
holes. Each one is a very different course with varied landscapes near the
Orléans Forest, Sologne and just a few minutes from the chateaux.
• Les Aisses at La Ferté Saint-Aubin - www.aissesgolf.com (fr) - the most exclusive
• Augerville-la-Rivière golf course - www.chateau-augerville.com - for seasoned golfers
• Domaine de Vaugouard at Fontenay-sur-Loing - www.vaugouard.com for golfers, who like fine greens
• Limère-Orléans at Ardon - www.portes-de-sologne.com - one of the finest
courses in France
• Marcilly golf course in Marcilly-en-Villette - www.marcilly.com (fr) the most accessible for beginners
• Orléans-Donnery - www.golfdonnery.fr (fr)- great variety of courses
• Sully-sur-Loire at Viglain - www.golfdesully.com - for all levels of player
• Sologne golf course at La Ferté Saint-Aubin - www.golfdesologne.fr (fr) the longest established
Get a Golf Pass and pay just green fees for 3 days on the seven following
courses: Augerville-La-Rivière, Orléans-Donnery, Limère at Ardon, Marcillyen-Villette, Sully-sur-Loire, Vaugouard at Fontenay-sur-Loing, Sologne at La
Ferté Saint-Aubin (on-site accommodation is available at some courses).
The perfect escape
> Golf at the chateau
Enjoy a golfing stay in an exclusive setting. Let rip on the greens! Have a
golf course at your disposal and spend a night in a 4-star hotel on site:
• Domaine de Vaugouard is a wooded, undulating course with
pretty lakes and genuine natural landscapes.
• Château d’Augerville-la-Rivière welcomes guests to its
magnificently green golf course and its 13th century residence.
From e172 per person at Domaine de Vaugouard and e185 per person at
Augerville-la-Rivière for 2 days & 1 night.
Best time: April to October
This price includes one night in a double room in the annexes of a 4-star hotel,
1 dinner at a gastronomic restaurant, excluding drinks and 1 round of 18 holes.
Tel. +33 238 620 488 - www.loiret-booking.com
From e125 per person from April to October.
Our preference
> Having fun getting lost
An amazing maze laid out in a maize field! What could be more natural than
this bewildering labyrinth of passages and dead ends? Beware, magic is afoot
here! Characters leap out on you and set you puzzles and charades to solve.
Some evenings as night falls, wonderful creatures appear. All this is at the
Beaugency Labyrinth, where getting lost has a very special thrill!
golf course
Françoise Cahen,
Promotional Manager
lf course
Sully-sur-Loire go
Open in July and August - www.labyrinthe-beaugency.com (fr)
“I’ve been working on a voluntary basis for 2 years at this course, which is
also one of the oldest established in Loiret. It’s the only course in the area
with 27 official holes and 3 courses. This idea is popular and growing.
Subscriptions for the golf school are on the increase. There is a strong
Parisian clientele. We’ve also noticed a number of Dutch players,
who are attracted by our low Loiret prices.”
J. Puyo
A glance at…
> Charlemagne Island
Charlemagne Island is south-east of Orléans at Saint-Jean-le-Blanc.
This 70-hectare (175-acre) leisure park is sheer paradise for families with
woodland itineraries, swimming, water sports, walks, cycling, games for
the kids, fishing, an aqua-park and paintball. It is a natural haven of peace
equipped for enjoyment and relaxation..
“It’s the pheasants round, which is narrow and requires technique.
The women like it, because they drive straighter. It’s not so long, but intense.”
“Our slogan ‘27 holes in the countryside’ states that the Loire woodland
inspired this place and not the reverse.”
Information and bookings
Loiret Tourist Board
Tel. +33 238 780 404
Comité Départemental
de Tourisme du Loiret

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