Ideas for nature excursions
If you want to stock up on nature in between culture outings in and around the Loire châteaux, then come and explore the secret sites in Azay-Chinon. The Chinon forest, the Courtineau valley and the Puys du Chinonais are all ideal spots for a great nature outing!
Chinon public forest
The Chinon forest is a woodland area of 12,000 hectares and covering the communes of Cheillé, Chinon, Rigny-Ussé, Rivarennes and Saint-Benoît-la-Forêt. It is still an important site for oak timber. The forest of Chinon is a rich ecological site and several species of big game animals live here, including stags, deer and wild boar.
The Chinon forest nature trails
Near “Sleeping Beauty’s castle”, the Rigny-Ussé nature trail is a wonderful spot for a walk alongside the River Indre and lasting from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Leaving from Saint-Benoît-la-Forêt, set off to explore the Tree to Wood nature trail. This 2-hour hiking circuit is an opportunity to find out more about forestry.
Events in the Loire Anjou Touraine regional nature park
The tourist office organises several different guided walks and events in the Loire Anjou Touraine regional nature park. You can listen to the roar of a stag, observe animals at night or find out about the life of beavers.
Puys du Chinonais
The Puys du Chinonais are a series of hills overlooking the area around the confluence between the River Loire and the Vienne. The hills are in the communes of Beaumont-en-Véron, Chinon and Huismes. The highest hill is the Puy de la Colline, rising to 88 metres.
The small hills with slopes covered with dry grass and trees at the summit are home to a number of wild orchids. The mild microclimate here fosters the development of a dozen of so orchid species, including the snake’s head fritillary, the pasque flower and the fly orchid.
The “Touraine Terre d’Histoire” agency organises a guided hike to the Puy du Pérou to see the fauna and floar in the Puys du Chinonais.
The Courtineau valley is at the heart of a green environment. It stretches between the villages of Saint-Epain and Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine. The valley is 6 kilometres long and follows the
contours of a limestone fault bathed by the River Manse. It contains a whole host of troglodyte dwellings.
Don’t miss the watermills in Malicorne and La Chaise, as well as the restored washing place before heading for the famous Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. This is a troglodyte chapel built in the 14th or 15th century. It is an unusual point of interest along the Way of St James, which runs through the valley.