French novelist Gustave Flaubert once described the Loire as "the most sensual river in France," and that description is still apt today. Europe's only "wild" river -- the only one without a lock or weir or dam anywhere along its length -- the Loire is France's longest waterway, winding northward and westward from the Massif Central through the flat, fertile lowlands of central France to the Atlantic.
Our tour concentrates on the "Middle Loire," famous for its spectacular chateaux, which have housed the country's royalty, rich, and famous since the Middle Ages. The Loire Valley is also famous for its wines; it's France's third-largest wine-producing region, with 100 appellations from source to sea. We'll intersect with some of its best-known regions, and we'll have the chance to sample Chinon, Vouvray, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, and more.
During the time of our tour, the Loire runs low and sedate, studded with sand and gravel bars that provide protected nesting areas for Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Mediterranean gulls, Little Ringed Plovers, and Common Sandpipers. The mixed deciduous forests along its fringes are home to Eurasian Green, Great Spotted and Middle Spotted woodpeckers, Song and Mistle thrushes, Great, Crested, Marsh, Eurasian Blue, and Long-tailed tits, and many others.
In scattered grasslands among the farm fields and vineyards, we'll look for Corn Bunting, Eurasian Skylark, European Stonechat, Eurasian Thick-knee, Montagu's Harrier, and -- if we're very lucky -- some of the region's last remaining pairs of Little Bustard. We'll spend time in the Sologne and Brenne, two regions where hundreds of small lakes, carved from the landscape by industrious local residents more than six centuries ago, shelter Great Crested, Eared, and Little grebes, Tufted Duck and Common Pochard. Egrets and herons stalk the lake margins while Eurasian Golden-Orioles and Common Nightingales chortle from surrounding vegetation, and Whiskered Terns zoom back and forth overhead.
We'll spend our mornings in the field and shift our attention to chateaux, abbeys, and vineyards on most afternoons. Two comfortable hotels and relatively short drives should combine to make for a pleasant and relaxing holiday!
Select the KEY INFO tab or click here for our itinerary plus space requests, status, fees, limits, and guides for any departure.
"Because I have taken so many great trips with Field Guides, and I knew guide Marcelo Padua from the Chile/Argentina trip, I knew this would be good--and it was. And what a delight to meet Megan Edwards Crewe, who is an extraordinary woman, and with whom I'd travel anytime. Megan and Marcelo are seasoned professionals--great personalities, tons of patience, and fun to be with. It was a grand experience. So nice to have a relaxing trip and enjoy the sumptuous food, excellent wines, and--oh yes--the birding! The visits to the chateaux were outstanding." D.S., FRANCE'S LOIRE VALLEY: BIRDS, CHATEAUX & WINE 2019
Other Tours in FRANCEFRANCE: CAMARGUE & PYRENEES
ITINERARIES • TOUR STATUS • DETAILS • SPACE REQUESTSITINERARIES • We issue a separate itinerary for each year, typically at least 9 months before that year's first departure. Most itineraries don't vary much year to year, but there may be small or rarely more substantive changes. A sample previous-year itinerary is usually available even if the one for your chosen departure is not. We do not require any deposit for provisional bookings until the itinerary for the departure is ready.
- 2021 sample (PDF)
- 2022 (PDF expected Sep 2021)
DEPARTURES • We have 2 departures currently scheduled through 2023, with details including limits, guides, fees, and space available listed below.
Jun 3-13, 2022
Guided by: Marcelo Padua & Megan Edwards Crewe
Tour Manager: Ruth Kuhl
Tour Limit: 12
Status: Waitlisted - The itinerary has not been finalized for this tour. The trip has provisionally filled but, if you are interested, we can waitlist you for the trip. As we do not require deposits until the itinerary and price are finalized, we often have folks drop off a tour when the deposit is required, and so space opens up! Click below to be waitlisted for this tour with no obligation; if you are waitlisted, we will also notify you in case of an added departure of this tour.
Tour Fee: Fee TBD / 2021=$4825
REQUEST WAITLIST OR MORE INFO
Jun 2-12, 2023
Tour Manager: TBA
Tour Limit: 12
Status: Open - Space is still available on this tour, and we are accepting provisional bookings. No deposit is required until you receive the itinerary. Click below to book space.
Tour Fee: Fee TBD / 2021=$4825
REQUEST SPACE OR MORE INFO
Enjoy looking through the 2 most recent Field Guides triplists for this tour linked below!