There is no shortage of hiking opportunities in the Loire Valley. Take a long-distance hike or opt for a shorter hike in the footsteps of George Sand and Claude Monet, passing beautiful gorges and breathtaking landscapes that inspired many Impressionist painters. Reishonger tips five beautiful hiking routes in the Creuse Valley.
The Loire Valley is a succession of forests, rivers, castles and vineyards. A green oasis in central France, loved by hikers from all over the world. It is not for nothing that the old nobility built their country houses and castles here. You can cycle and walk for hours and make this as difficult as you want. There are numerous marked routes and trails. Along the way, visit one of the many ‘chateaus’ open to the public.
Slow travel in the Creuse Valley
Looking for a more authentic experience away from the touristy areas? Take a walk along the River Creuse, which is very picturesque as it meanders through the Indre department. From Crozant via Gargilesse and Argenton-sur-Creuse to Saint-Gaultier, where the river turns west to cross the Brenne region. The Creuse Valley (Val de la Creuse) is the name commonly given to the area in the south of Indre. This is a very pleasant region to explore, an exceptionally beautiful walking area with an interesting mix of towns, villages and varied landscapes to enjoy.
To be honest, have you ever heard of the Creuse valley?
The landscape here in southern Indre is very similar to that of the Dordogne or Correze departments further south, with wooded hills, small fields and traditional farms. The rolling hills are intersected by often steep valleys. Due to its low population density and because the roads are quiet and the region is not one of the main tourist destinations in France, it is also an excellent destination for hiking. We are happy to recommend five beautiful hiking routes in the Creuse valley.
#1 From romantic Gargilesse to La Boucle du Pin
Gargilesse is a small village with many beautiful houses, a historic castle and a 12th-century church with ancient frescoes. The village is located in a quiet and picturesque area in the valley of the river Creuse. This is where the 19th-century novelist George Sand wrote some of her works. From various places in the village you have a beautiful view of the river valley below and of the houses that stand above the valley.
A very nice way to discover the Creuse valley is to follow one of the paths along the river valley and through the countryside, to the Boucle de Pin just north of Gargilesse-Dampierre. Take your time to enjoy the richness of the flora and fauna that thrive on the slopes here.
From the lookout over the Boucle de Pin there are several waymarked trails ranging in length from four kilometers (about an hour) through Le Pin and along the river; or seven kilometers (two hours) along the river and through Badecon-le-Pin; or 10 miles (about a four-hour walk), a longer walk that also crosses a significant portion of the countryside.
#2 City walk in Argenton-sur-Creuse
Argenton-sur-Creuse is a lively town with a small historic center on the right bank, with a medieval bridge over the river and several traditional mills. You can take a nice city walk here along the banks of the river Creuse. There is a footpath that runs along the river in the town, starting at the end of the old bridge. It’s the riverside houses that are the most scenic highlight in Argenton. Many houses have balconies that overhang the slow-flowing water. The church of Saint-Benoit and the old stone bridge make the background even more interesting.
#3 Straight through nature in the Brenne
Brenne Nature Park is located along the valley of the River Creuse. The most beautiful towns on the banks of the Creuse are the historic centers of Le Blanc and Saint-Gaultier. If you want to enjoy the marshes and ponds, the unusual orchids and the wildlife that the Brenne is known for, consider a walk in the area between Rosnay and Mezières-en-Brenne. A nice varied walk is from Chateau du Bouchet to the Etang de Bellebouche, right through the central part of the Brenne, where you finish with a dip in the cooling lake.
The park has numerous walks through the region, varying in length from a few kilometers to the Tour de la Brenne of more than 300 kilometers! A yellow/red marked route called “Les falaises de l’Anglin & de la Creuse”, passing among others Le Blanc, the beautiful village of Angles-sur-l’Anglin and the Bois Des Roches.
#4 Walk around the south side of Lake Éguzon
Located in the heart of the Creuse valley, close to Éguzon-Chantôme, the wide Lac d’Eguzon, also called Chambon Lake. The lake was created by the construction of the dam at Eguzon. The walk not only leads past this impressive Barrage d’Eguzon, but also past the ruined castle of Crozant and the Rocher de la Fileuse with beautiful views over a loop in the river and that ruin. If you want to shorten the route or walk in parts, you can take the free ferry to Chambon at Plage de Fougères. For a better view of the river, head to the small Pont Charraud bridge, an old stone bridge in a picturesque setting.
#5 Combine all the highlights in the Grande Randonnée route Pays Val de Creuse
Explore the landscapes of the Creuse Valley on foot on one of the Grande Randonnées, the well-known long-distance trails. Both the GR48 (De La Ribière à Chinon) and the GR654 (Via Lemovicensis), known for the pilgrimage to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle via Vézelay, pass through the Creuse valley. The GR route ‘Pays Val de Creuse’ takes you along all the highlights of the valley.
The 100 kilometers of this GR du Pays de Val de Creuse leads hikers through the Creuse valley, in the footsteps of George Sand and Claude Monet. The long-distance hike can be completed in five days or in shorter thematic day loops. In the valley of the Creuse, you will discover an authentic and preserved area that has inspired writers, painters and artists for many years.
This route from Gargilesse via Crozant to Fresselines and then to Argenton-sur-Creuse is a serious contender for the title of “favorite GR® of the French”. The red and yellow marking reveals all facets of the Creuse valley; past la boucle du Pin, la vallée des arts (the artist’s valley), past the imposing Éguzon dam, la boucle de la Fileuse and la vallée des peintres (the painter’s valley).
Hiking in the Creuse Valley
It is understandable that writers, artists and impressionist painters were drawn to and inspired by the beautiful and untouched landscapes. Hundreds of artists have set up their easels here and they still do today.
There are also countless ways for you to enjoy the valley on foot, from a stroll along the riverbanks in Argenton-sur-Creuse to a long walk in the countryside. The forests and lakes in the Brenne also offer many opportunities to enjoy a nice walk. Or choose a route along Gargilesse-Dampierre and Saint-Benoît-du-Sault, both located in the Creuse valley and both on the list of the most beautiful villages in France.
Look for all hiking routes and other fun outdoor activities in the Loire Valley www.enrouelibre-centrevaldeloire.com.