Loire Valley on the Cher River Cruises

Moulin de Nitray to Moulin de Nitray

Available July through October 2024

The Loire is France’s longest river. It has been a major waterway since Neanderthal man fashioned boats from tree trunks to export their flint tools up and down the river. Then came the ancient Romans, who founded cities along its bank. From around 1500, French nobility fell in love with the stunning landscape of the Loire, building some of the most fabulous châteaux in the world. No surprise, the entire stretch of water between Angers, Blois, Orleans (associated with Joan of Arc), and Tours, known locally as the Valley of the Kings, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today, the Loire Valley offers tourists a voyage of discovery and delight. But to appreciate all the Loire has to offer, a compact vessel is essential — and the three-cabin, six-berth Nymphea is in a class of her own. No other Hotel Barge on the French Waterways can take you right underneath the most famous château in the world — the legendary Château de Chenonceau.

Loire cruise mapDay 1, Sunday: Moulin de Nitray

  • Welcome to Moulin de Nitray, an easy 55-minute high-speed rail journey from Paris!
  • Come aboard your home for the next week, Nymphea, and have a glass of champagne while you’re introduced to Nymphea’s fantastic crew. 
  • Take the rest of the afternoon to relax and settle into your floating home. Tonight, you can look forward to the first of many gourmet meals on board created by your own personal chef — your taste buds are in for a treat this week!

Day 2, Monday: Moulin de Nitray to Larçay

  • We’ll cruise through two locks this morning before mooring at the quaint, picturesque town of Larcay, where we’ll lunch under the peaceful weeping willows. 
  • After lunch, you’ll head to Château Villandry with its world-famous renaissance gardens.
    • Villandry is the last château of the Loire built during the Renaissance in the Loire Valley. 
    • The château itself is stunning, but it’s the symmetrical gardens that truly steal the show. The gardens cover just over 20 acres and boast six distinct gardens, each with a different theme.
    • Take the afternoon to leisurely walk through the different gardens and truly appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.
  • Tonight, you’ll return to Nymphea for aperitifs and dinner on the water.

Day 3, Tuesday: Larçay  to Amboise

  • There are many private châteaux along this waterway, and the only way to get a real glimpse of them is from the river.
    • Have your cameras ready as we cruise to the hamlet of Valet, with its classic Tourangeau architecture and 18th-century watermill.
  • After lunch on board, we’ll travel to Amboise to see its Royal Château, which was home to the French Kings from the 15th to the 19th century. It’s truly the epitome of French-style luxury.
    • Construction began in the 15th century, under the reign of Charles VIII, and 75% of the original château still survives to this day. 
  • Next, we’re headed to the Château of Clos Lucé, which is most well-known as the home of Leonardo da Vinci.
    • Built in 1471, the château also has a history of being a royal residence to the Kings of France.
  • You’ll make your way back to Nymphea for dinner tonight after a wonderful day of history and exploring.

Day 4, Wednesday: Amboise to Chisseaux

  • For many, today is the highlight of the week!
  • We’ll arrive at the private landing stage of Domaine de Fontenay for a tasting of their local Touraine wines — a perfect aperitif pre-lunch.
  • This afternoon, we’ll cruise right under the five-arched gallery at the Château de Chenonceau, a unique experience. Then we’ll moor at Chisseaux and board our minibus to visit the château itself.
    • Only the dungeon remains of the original château built in the 12th century. However, the current château looks like something straight out of a storybook. 
    • The current château was built between 1513 and 1517 and has a history of prestigious residents. At different times this château was home to Diane de Poitiers, King Henry II’s Favourite, and Queen Catherine de Medici.
  • This evening, we’ll treat you to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants specializing in regional cooking. You’re in for a true experience!

Day 5, Thursday: Chisseaux to Montrichard

  • The white tuffeau rock cliffs along the side of the Loire Valley were heavily quarried to build the various châteaux in the valley.
    • The creamy-white limestone has also made some remarkable underground dwellings, as seen at Bourré. We’ll disembark here for a short walk to La Magnaneraie, where the owner’s family have lived a somewhat “troglodyte lifestyle” (underground) for many years in what has previously been a quarry, a wine cellar, and most recently, a silkworm nursery.
  • After lunch, we move on to Valençay to visit one of the most impressive Loire châteaux, the home of Napoleon’s foreign minister, Talleyrand. It’s a true gem of the Loire Valley.
    • Named Château de Valençay, construction on the modern portions of this château were built over a period of 200 years starting in 1540. 
    • The original structure was believed to have been built in 1220, with a large tower having been completed even earlier — in the 10th or 11th century.
    • The gardens and interior of this château are equally impressive as the domed towers and exterior architecture. 
  • Back on board, we cruise down one more lock to the picturesque hill-top village of Montrichard, where we moor for dinner.

Day 6, Friday: Montrichard to Nitray

  • It’s an early start today as Montrichard holds one of the best and busiest street markets in Touraine, and we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the action.
    • Take your time and wander around the 12th century Château of Foulques Nerra, with its dungeon overlooking the medieval town square.
    • Called Château de Langeais, this château started as a fortress built by Foulques Nerra, the Count of Anjou around the year 1000.
    • Throughout its turbulent history, it has been occupied by the Counts of Blois and Anjou, the royal English House Plantagenet, and King Louis XII.
    • You’ll have the opportunity to tour all 15 rooms and the gardens.
  • If we make good time, we’ll stop and visit our friends, the Mérieau family, to taste their regional Touraine vintages.
    • Run by the Mérieau family for four generations, some of the vines on this estate are over 100 years old.
  • After lunch, we’ll turn downstream, pass once again under the walls of Château de Chenonceau, and arrive at Nitray, in time to visit the Château de Nitray and the English Rose Garden. 
    • An authentic Touraine castle built of tuffeau stone, this historic château is also a winery. 
  • Tonight will be your last dinner on board, and your captain will join you for a wonderful evening spent enjoying the food and wine of the region while telling stories.

Day 7, Saturday: Nitray

  • Enjoy your final morning on board with a final café to wake you up as our crew bids you farewell. We’ll help you with your transfer back to St. Pierre des Corps High-Speed Railway Station for your 9:30 AM train.
  • After a week of cruising and experiencing the Loire region on Nymphea, you’re sure to depart feeling renewed and rejuvenated. 

À bientôt! See you soon!


Price per person includes:

  • Collection from, and return to St. Pierre Corps railway station
  • Accommodation in a double or twin cabin with private facilities
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all cooked by our gourmet chef w/ local seasonal delicacies
  • Restaurant meals where required
  • Wine pairings of finest Loire valley vintages at lunch and dinner
  • Open bar 24/7 stocked with French champagne, fine wines and spirits
  • Use of the on-board library and stereo system
  • All ground transport in air-conditioned mini-bus for local sightseeing visits
  • Entry costs for sightseeing
  • Use of on-board bicycles

Nymphea deck plan

Nymphea has three comfortable cabins providing two twin-bedded staterooms and one twin or double stateroom all with en-suite facilities. Nymphea is 81ft long by 14ft wide. The dining saloon is decorated in a warm classic decor of rich varnished hard woods, stained glass and brass light fittings which provides a welcoming country house atmosphere. There are six bikes aboard for independent exploring, and an air-conditioned minibus for daily excursions.

THE NYMPHEA in detail

More itineraries aboard Le Papillon

Champagne glasses
Heart of Burgundy

Thank you for the wonderful week! We will long remember the food, the wine, the cruising, the tours, the walks, the lounging on the deck, the conversation and just plain fun!

Jane & Nelson

A week of fabulous food, wonderful wines, terrific trips, comfy cabins, cheery company and most of all the super duper staff.


You made this a truly memorable week – great food, fabulous wine and such attention to detail.

Ursala & Garth

The beautiful French countryside, amazing French cuisine & fabulous Burgundy wines surpassed all we had imagined!

Mike & Carolyn

I have traveled all over the world and this is by far one of the finest experiences of my life.


Follow us on Facebook