Guide for a weekend
near Paris in Touraine

If you want a relaxing weekend near the French capital, Touraine is the perfect place to escape to. Stroll through the cobbled streets of Vieux Tours (the old town), get some fresh air by the Loire River, visit nearby châteaus like Amboise and Chinon... As a tourist in Tours, there's no time to get bored.

Whether you live in Paris or are visiting the city, why not treat yourself to a getaway in Touraine full of beautiful châteaus and gardens, and unspoilt medieval architecture? We have the advice you need. The Domaine de la Commanderie de Ballan is 15 minutes from Tours

and we know the area like the back of our hand. When you return from a great trip out, you can relax at one of our premium residences in the heart of stunning lush parkland.

The Touraine towns to visit during a weekend near Paris

Tours, Chinon and Amboise are all architectural gems of cities/towns it would be a shame to miss out on. And they’re all near Paris: it only takes an hour to reach Tours by train from Montparnasse Station.

Tours: an opulent city

The capital of the Loire Valley is a 30-minute bike ride from the Commanderie de Ballan and boasts a remarkable heritage. 

The old town, Vieux Tours, has a nice period ambiance with old buildings and half-timbered houses found especially in Place Plumereau, home to timber-framed dwellings and amazing mansions. These residences reflect the city’s past prosperity.

Tourists love heading to the banks of the Loire River for a walk by the water during a weekend in Touraine. Those feeling bold can even take to the water in a canoe or kayak. 

Don’t miss: Honoré de Balzac Park on the Cher River. This artificial island covering 60 acres in the middle of the city is home to a cool garden and a menagerie of animals including llamas, black sheep and goats.

City Hall

Finally, it’s off to the Museum of Fine Arts containing masterpieces like Rubens’ ex-voto, Mantegna panels from the Italian Renaissance, and some Delacroix, Monet and Degas.
Once you’ve had your fill of art, it’s time to enjoy some refreshments at an open-air cafe by the river. The perfect place to be on a romantic weekend near Paris.

Amboise: a town loved by Leonardo da Vinci

Clos Lucé Château

Located 12 miles from Tours, Amboise Château is known the world over for housing the tomb of the famous Leonardo da Vinci.

The Italian arrived in Touraine in 1516 for a peaceful stay and lived just by Amboise Château in Clos Lucé Château, a beautiful large residence made of pink brick and tuffeau stone. 

Clos Lucé is still full of delights, including models and reproductions of the genius da Vinci’s best inventions. You can even see the workshop where he dreamt up, created and modelled some of his most ingenious machines. 

Amboise offers interactive guided tours around the town that retrace da Vinci’s daily life and pay tribute to this impressive creator.

Chinon: the fortress town

While the region is famous around the globe for its outstanding wine, it has other tourist attractions too. 

One is its imposing fortress boasting medieval military architecture. Tucked away high up in Chinon, it has uninterrupted views of the town. 

To reach the fortress, go through Chinon’s historic quarter, wander along the cobbled alleys, and walk by timber-framed buildings and historic mansions.

Down by the Loire River, an open-air cafe will welcome you for a well-deserved rest and, if you like, a wine tasting. For the full experience, accompany your wine with local Sainte-Maure de Touraine or Chinonais cheese. 

You can also admire the beautiful Azay-le-Rideau Château and its reflections in the water. Built on an islet during the reign of Francis I, the château reflects perfectly in the Indre River skirting it. This gives you twice the opportunity to marvel at its masterful architecture that skillfully combines French and Italian influences.

Unmissable places to visit during a weekend in nature near Paris

Immerse yourself in the lovely landscapes around the Loire’s châteaus. Picturesque parks, gardens and walks are all on offer during your stay in Tours and the surrounding area.

Villandry Château and gardens

A stone’s throw from the Commanderie de Ballan (15 minutes away by car), you have the marvellous Villandry Château, its arcade galleries, its steep roofs and its elegant high dormers typical of the Renaissance.

The building has been carefully maintained and redeveloped over the centuries. Its many owners have included Joachim Carvallo and his wife Ann Coleman, who famously redecorated Villandry in the early 20th century, giving it a welcoming and original feel. Joachim Carvalho even recreated a 15th-century Mudéjar ceiling using a set of 3600 pieces of wood he acquired and assembled himself. 

Outside, he returned to French gardens and designed four new levels of terraces with six gardens that each have their own identity but form a nicely balanced whole. These include an ornamental garden with high box and flowers in symbolic patterns and colours, plus the Maze typical of the Renaissance with a long winding path. You can easily spend hours looking at the plants and flowers in these beautiful gardens and lose all track of time.

The Chanteloup Pagoda park

The Chanteloup Pagoda is a 44-metre landmark built in 1775 at the request of the Duke of Choiseul on his Chanteloup Château estate near Amboise. The duke constructed it to pay homage to the loyalty of his friends when he was banned from the court of Louis XV. Known as the “Duke of Choiseul’s Folly”, the Pagoda has 16 columns over seven floors and incredible views of the Amboise forest and Loire Valley from the top.

At that time, the 4000 sqm Pagoda had beautiful gardens like those at Versailles. There was a small park with flower gardens and water features, and a large park with star-shaped paths leading to the forest. 


After centuries of battles and demolition, only the half-moon lake, the canal with plane trees at the sides, and the famous Pagoda remain.

Les Grottes Pétrifiantes de Savonnières caves

This unusual place around 20 minutes by bike from the Domaine de La Commanderie takes you back millions of years to a time when a shallow sea covered the region. As the sea withdrew, it left a thick layer of limestone in its wake which, in the fresh air, turned into tuffeau – the famous stone used to build the Loire’s châteaus

Over the centuries, quarries sprung up where men would extract the stone needed for their builds. But, having been gradually reoccupied by permeating water, the caves were abandoned. Today they are home to incredible sculptures, stalactites, tunnels, stalagmites, wavy and serrated draperies, gours, columns, calcite flowstones and other elements. They are certainly worth visiting during your next weekend near Paris.

Activities to do during a romantic weekend near Paris

Countryside, majestic châteaus and romantic activities make the Loire Valley the perfect place for a weekend with your partner near Paris.

Fly over the Loire châteaus in a hot-air balloon

Fancy something exciting and different? There’s nothing like a hot-air balloon ride over the Loire châteaus. Head to one of the many local take-off points with your partner and soar into the skies together on this unique trip.

Flights are generally scheduled for early morning or sunset, and are of course subject to the weather. When you arrive at the meeting point, follow your guide’s instructions, then board the balloon.

When you hear the burners start up, you know you’ll shortly be high in the sky with the landscape spread out below. This region known as the “garden of France” takes on a new feel when you see it from above. Depending on the wind direction, glide over different châteaus in the Loire like Saumur, Amboise and Chenonceau. 


Have an aperitif or raise a toast in the air to suit the company. After around an hour in the sky, you will land gently back on the ground.

Tours Botanic Garden: for a stroll and an education

You’ll learn a lot from a visit to the city’s beautiful Botanic Garden. Divided into different areas, the Garden is ideal for a romantic walk among the exotic plants. Take in:

  • The perennial plant garden with flowering shrubs, bulb plants and herbaceous perennials including the peonies that play a starring role.
  • The medicinal plant garden with digestive and sedating species prized for their therapeutic benefits. This space where the vegetable garden used to be will delight anyone who appreciates herbalism.
  • The evolution garden shows how plants have changed in recent centuries. This scientific space is a useful way to understand the development of fauna and flora and has a pool around which different plants are studied.

And also… Don’t forget to say hello to the wallabies and other animals living in the Botanic Garden. Finish your time at the Garden by visiting the exotic plants in the tropical greenhouses. Reconnect with Mother Nature during your weekend in nature near Paris.

Have a drink on a terrace in Place Plumereau

Place Plumereau is the iconic square in Tours. Known as “Place Plume” by regulars, it’s a popular meeting point for tourists and locals alike. The 15th-century half-timbered houses remain as charming as ever, making the square feel like a medieval village. 

Until the 19th century, it housed the central market and locals enjoyed meeting here to catch up and make purchases. Today, the square is a popular destination thanks to its various restaurants and bars that welcome walkers, traders and locals all day who come to relax with a coffee, lunch or lovely evening on the terrace. It’s THE place to be for an evening during a weekend near Paris.

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