Wine is produced along most of the Loire Valley so local wines in Indre-et-Loire are not hard to find and local tourist offices will usually have information.
Look out for ‘bernache’, found in bars in November, and made from the first juice of the grapes before pressing and fermented in their own yeasts.
Wine-making has been recorded here since the fifth century and St Martin of Tours is said to have been responsible for planting the first vines in Touraine.
Vouvray produces sparkling Chenin Blanc white wines with a high reputation and there are opportunities for sampling Cabernet-Franc reds from the area around Chinon.
Follow the Touraine-Loire Valley Vineyards route. The ‘Comite Interprofessional des Vins de Touraine-Val de Loire’ can be contacted for trail brochures.
If you lack the time to visit individual vineyards, the ‘Caveau de Degustation - Vente des Vins de Touraine’ in Amboise is open daily for tastings between June and August, and ‘Daveau des Vignerons, in Amboise’ is also open daily from mid-March to mid-November.
The ‘Caves des Producteurs’ in Vouvray’ is a group of 50 wine growers who offer tastings and tours of their 2.5 km of troglodyte cellars. Tel: (00 33) 2 47 52 75 03 www.cp-vouvray.com
The beautiful Loire Valley provides a wonderful setting for a day’s golf and there are several courses to choose from. Touraine Golf Club at Chateau de la Touche, Ballan-Mire south west of Tours is an 18 hole par 71, 5673m undulating wooded course with many water hazards.
The clubhouse where you can get lunch is in a nineteenth century castle. Booking in advance is advisable and lessons are available. Tel: (00 33) 2 47 53 20 28.
18 hole par 71 Golf de Tours d’Ardree at Saint-Antoine du Rocher is a hilly course with water hazards and deep bunkers set in the tranquil grounds of a chateau with a supplement for weekend play.
2km from Vouvray, Golf de la Cisse is an 18 hole pitch and putt course of less than 1200m over 7 acres, tel: (00 33) 2 47 52 04 03.
There is also a 9 hole course at Veneuil sur Indre - Golf de Loches. This family-friendly course is well thought of on the European circuit and sponsored by French film actor Claude Brasseur. Tel: (00 33) 2 47 94 79 48.
Indre et Loire is a great area for canoeing and kayaking. Tours and Amboise both have canoe and kayak clubs, tel: (00 33) 2 47 23 26 52 and (00 33) 2 47 44 92 66 respectively. There are also opportunities to canoe at Descartes and the Indre Valley Canoe and Kayak office is based at Veigne, tel: (00 33) 2 47 73 13 19.
There are many paths for walkers around Chinon including beautiful wooded landscapes, troglodyte sites and the ruins of a Roman campsite. The town is situated on the long distance GR3 Val-de-Loire route. There are walks through the ancient Chinon forest and trails of varying distances along the right and left banks of the River Vienne. The GR48, Vienne Valley trail, also begins at Chinon and travels south to La Roche-Posay in Vienne.
Find details from Chinon Tourist Office, tel: (00 33) 2 47 93 17 85.
Beauval ZooParc, just into Loire-et-Cher at Saint-Aignan, is a must day out for all the family. Elephants roam a 5 hectare plain. Get close to giraffes, zebras and rhinos, watch sea lions in one of the biggest pools in Europe and marvel at birds of prey in an aerial display.
The zoo is home to over 40 big cats including rare white lions and tigers. Enjoy the apes and monkeys, tropical birds, crocodiles and many more. All in a beautiful indoor and outdoor setting with tree-lined paths and restaurants.
Open every day 0900 to dusk. Tel: (00 33) 2 54 75 50 00. www.zoobeauval.com