Discover the beauty, history, and culture of the Loire Valley on this unique small boat experience, featuring spectacular châteaux, wineries, and farmsteads. As you ply the tree-lined canals along the Loire, enjoy the pleasures of small villages and rustic charm of the countryside. Plus, savor delicious regional cuisine and wine.

Starting at: $6,240 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Château du Chambord  Chateau de Chenonceau, River Cher  Loire River Canal, Briare   View of Sancerre, Loire Valley  Vineyard near Sancerre  Chateau de Trousse-Barriere  Castle Acre Priory, Loire Valley

Loire Valley Canal Cruise

Aboard the 22-guest MS Deborah

10 days from $6,240

Discover the beauty, history, and culture of the Loire Valley on this unique small boat experience, featuring spectacular châteaux, wineries, and farmsteads. As you ply the tree-lined canals along the Loire, enjoy the pleasures of small villages and rustic charm of the countryside. Plus, savor delicious regional cuisine and wine.

or Call 855-330-1542


Discover the beauty, history, and culture of the Loire Valley as you ply the tree-lined canals adjacent to the Loire River. Enjoy visits to spectacular châteaux, wineries, farmsteads, and small villages, plus savor delicious cuisine and wine and take optional afternoon bike rides. 

Highlights Include

  • Royal Châteaux: Begin your journey with visits to celebrated royal châteaux. Learn about King Francis I as you feel his presence at his royal residence, Amboise; his royal hunting lodge, Chambord; and his childhood home, Château de Clos Lucé. Admire the 15th- and 16th-century architecture and gardens and hear about the king’s most famous guest, Leonardo da Vinci, who lived his final years here. You’ll also stroll through the elegant Château de Chenonceau, which spans the River Cher. While visiting the Loire Valley châteaux, enjoy two nights at the Hotel Le Choiseul, a historic property located at the foot of Château Amboise.
  • Six-Night Canal Cruise: From Briare to Nevers, ply the waters of the Loire canals aboard your intimate boat. Along the way, visit charming villages and imposing châteaux and churches. Meet local purveyors as you savor wines from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé and sample cheese and other fare from local farms. Some afternoons may be spent enjoying the views of the countryside or bicycling along pathways to explore independently. 
  • Small Ship Experience: Launched in 2016, the MS Deborah shines among CroisiEurope’s fleet of fine small river boats. With a distinctive décor, superb regional cuisine, thoughtfully designed cabins, and an intimate ambiance, this small boat is a delightful way to see the French countryside. The boat is exclusively reserved for Smithsonian Journeys guests. See more information on the Tour Details page. 

I think the name Smithsonian says it all. 

- Wade C.


Day 1 & Day 2 – Depart the U.S. for Paris, / Amboise, France

Depart the U.S. for Paris, France and Charles de Gaulle International Airport. Upon arrival transfer by motor coach to the Hotel Le Choiseul in the town of Amboise. A stop will be in Chartres, a city famous for its magnificent cathedral that has been designated as a World Heritage site. A light snack will be served and there will be time to visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. Afterward, continue to Amboise. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available at the hotel with suggestions regarding local sights, restaurants, and independent activities. This evening, join fellow travelers for a short presentation and welcome reception at the hotel. (R)

Day 3 – Amboise

A full American-style buffet breakfast will be served each morning. Start exploring with a visit to the stunning Chateau d’Amboise, built in the 15th and 16th centuries and residence of French kings. Rich in history, the chateau showcases both Renaissance and Gothic architectural design. After touring the royal apartments, enjoy a stroll through the meticulously manicured formal gardens. Afterward, visit the recently restored tomb of Leonardo da Vinci in the Chapel of Saint Hubert. After lunch independently, visit the Chateau du Clos Luce, a smaller 15th-century palace that was the childhood home of King Francis I, and the place where Leonardo da Vinci spent the final three years of his life as a guest of the king. Gather this evening for dinner at the hotel. (B, D)

Day 4 - Route des Chateaux – Amboise / Briare

This morning, depart the hotel for a day of discovery in the Loire Valley. You’ll visit the impressive Chateau de Chenonceau, world-renowned as one of the most beautiful chateaux in France and home to an extraordinary collection of furnishings, tapestries, and paintings. The chateau, in its present form, was built between 1513 and 1517. Your excursion continues to Chateau de Chambord, a magnificent royal palace conceived by King Francois I and inspired by Leonardo da Vinci. It combines Italian style with elegant French design. After a luncheon featuring local specialties at a local farm, drive to Briare where you’ll board MS Deborah and begin your cruise on the Loire Canal. After settling in, gather to meet the Captain and crew. Afterward, enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board. This evening, cruise through the unique Briare Aqueduct whose supports were designed in 1896 by Gustave Eiffel and was, until 2003, the longest navigable aqueduct in the world. (B, L, D)

Day 5 - Briare / Lere

This morning, board a train to Briare to explore the village, a former outpost of the Roman Empire. See the Chateau de Trousse-Barriere, an imposing 19th-century brick castle, as well as the picturesque Town Hall. Cruising along the tree-lined canal, you’ll see locks, lock-keeper houses and quaint bridges that cross the waterway. See the 19th-century Church of Saint-Etienne that combines elements taken from both Byzantine and Gothic styles of architecture. At the Deux Marines Museum, you’ll learn about the history of the Loire region and its system of canals. This spot was once considered the most important canal crossroads in France. After returning to the canal boat, spend the afternoon cruising to the charming medieval town of Lere. Before dinner, join fellow travelers and your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries. The balance of the evening is free to explore on your own. (B, L, D)

Day 6 – Sancerre / Menetreol-sous-Sancerre

Travel to the town of Sancerre, a lovely hilltop medieval town overlooking the stunning Loire Valley. You'll discover city highlights by following the Fil d'Ariane, a red line painted on the streets that will guide you past the old wine-making neighborhoods, bakeries, fascinating buildings, and art galleries. Your excursion continues to visit a goat farm for a tasting of its traditional cheese and the celebrated Sancerre wine. Later, spend the afternoon cruising towards Menetreol-sous-Sancerre. (B, L, D)

Day 7 - Menetreol-sous-Sancerre / Herry

Depart this morning for a visit to Pouilly-sur-Loire, where you’ll visit the Tour de Pouilly-Fume, a wine center located in a beautiful rural setting. You’ll visit the vineyards, a wine cellar and enjoy a sampling of a variety of local varieties. Afterward, return to the boat and continue the cruise towards Herry. Join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner this evening for an informal conversation about the day’s experiences. (B, L, D)

Day 8 – Herry / Marseilles-les-Aubigny

This morning, depart by motor coach on an excursion to La Charite-sur-Loire and a working regional farm. You’ll visit the Cluniac Priory founded in 1089 and is one of the most important restoration sites in Burgundy. Continue to visit a farm where you'll experience rustic calm and authenticity. Afterward, return to your canal boat and spend the afternoon cruising to Marseilles-Les-Aubigny. Take advantage of this time to ride one of the onboard bikes, or hike along the canal. This evening, gather with fellow travelers for a farewell reception and dinner on board. (B, L, D)

Day 9 – Marseilles-les-Aubigny / Nevers

This morning, you’ll depart the canal boat by motor coach for a visit to Fontmorigny Abbey, a former Cistercian monastery and now a privately-owned French historical monument. One of the main cultural sites in the region, it is a testimony to over eight centuries of French religious heritage. The contemporary stain-glass windows be a highlight of your day’s experience. Later, drive to Apremont-sur-Allier to visit the floral park and medieval village considered to be one of the most beautiful in France. You’ll return on board in late morning and cruise to Nevers. Explore on your own with a bike ride or a walk along the canal. This evening, you may want to stay up late and join a novel tour of Nevers by lantern light. (B, L, D)

Day 10 – Nevers / Paris / Return to the U.S.

Early this morning, disembark the MS Deborah and transfer to Charles de Gaulle International Airport to board your flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)