Wild Orchids of the South Touraine: walk the Claise Valley, a hidden hotspot for orchids, €190
We will visit two sites over a two hour period and see up to a dozen species of wild native terrestrial orchid in the little known Claise Valley, south of Tours. These orchids are all on private land. You will have the opportunity to photograph rare species and learn about their ecological requirements.
Meet in Place des Halles, Preuilly sur Claise, duration 2 hours. The walk can be extended to include lunch at a popular local restaurant
A Walk in the Woods (and through the fields) around Panzoult, €210
Dominated by Downy Oak Quercus pubescens, the dry poor soil of the limestone ridges of the valley of the Vienne at Panzoult support more than grape vines! This walk along rural tracks through deciduous woodland and cereal crops reveals a very particular assemblage of botanical species, including a number of orchids and rare 'arable weeds', as well as butterflies, dragonflies and if we are lucky, some interesting beetles and reptiles
Meet at the carpark between the bridges in l'Ile Bouchard, or at the church in Panzoult, duration 2-3 hours. The walk can be extended to include lunch at a popular local restaurant and a winery visit.
Dry Limestone Grassland around Bléré, €210
This area of natural unimproved flower rich grassland surrounds the spring which provides the water for the town of Bléré, providing a natural buffer zone to maintain the water quality. Grassland species of butterflies abound, as do certain species of orchids.
Meet at the Chapelle de Jehan de Seigné in Bléré, duration 2-3 hours. The walk can be extended to a full day, to include a guided tour of the Chateau of Chenonceau, lunch at a popular local restaurant and a winery visit.
About the walks
These are "follow the leader" tours where you use your own car to follow the guide to selected sites, then walk. These nature walks can be booked for a minimum of 2 people, maximum 6. Birdwatchers are welcome, and we will undoubtedly see a variety of bird species on all of the walks. However, the focus will be on botany and entomology, as it is the area of expertise of the guide. The most popular of these walks are the orchid walks during May and June.
The management of sites for wild orchids and / or butterfly surveying will also be covered for those who are interested.
All activities can be booked from (April) May to August (September) by emailing (contact at tourtheloire.com) a minimum of 48 hours before. Payment must be made in full via PayPal prior to the walk, unless cash on the day is agreed.
You can read about one of the orchid walks on Martin Smith's Birding Blog and in a trip report by Mary Braddock. Linda and her companions went on an orchid walk and she wrote about it here. Jim, Pippa, Mervyn and Rosabelle wrote about their walk here. Ralph had been disappointed not to find many orchids on his own as he had hoped, but going on a walk with Susan solved that.