France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Bourgueil, Loire, France Guide
This small wine village in the western Loire is a great place to experience small town life and taste some great wines!





We visited Bourgueil on the recommendation of a friend, who suggested we might enjoy staying in the Château des Sablons in the village. I'll confess we weren't familiar with Bourgueil and had to look it up on a map: it's in the western Loire, about 57 kilometers/37 miles west of Tours, 17 kilometers/11 miles north of Chinon. It's a great location to visit some nearby châteaux, including Saumur, Azay-le-Rideau its smaller "sibling," the privatedly-owned Château de L'Islette. In addition, the fascinating Fontevraud Abbey is about 19 kilometers/12 miles to the southwest.

The village of Bourgueil is small, population about 4000, and it isn't swarmed with tourists, a nice change from the busy famous sites. There are several nice restaurants and bakeries (we had a delicious lunch at La Rose de Pindare, right in the center), a historic church, a Maison des Vins, and various supermarkets, etc. You can walk in the vineyards and visit some of them, and generally enjoy the peace and quiet of village life.

We also happened to be there on June 21 for the Fête de la Musique, and it was great to experience it in a small town, with local musicians and kids dancing around.

Fete de la Musique, Bourgueil
A local band and kids enjoy the Fête de la Musique in Bourgueil.


Bourgueil is home to the Château des Sablons, a lovely 18th century château that houses a number of individual apartments. Owned, managed, and lovingly furnished and maintained by George Hamilton and Jean-Pierre Durousseau, the château was a great place to relax and visit the area. Our apartment was spacious and comfortable, even when the temperatures reached 40C/104F! We enjoyed a comfortable bedroom and living room, a good-sized bathroom, and a small but adequate kitchen, with all that we needed to prepare simple meals. The gardens and grounds are lovely and we really appreciated the swimming pool on those hot evenings! For more information contact Historic Rentals.

As mentioned, Bourgueil is a tiny village. There are a couple of B&Bs in the village, and you also have the option to stay in a larger town, such as Chinon, and visit Bourgueil.

Château des Sablons, Bourgueil
The lovely Château des Sablons.

What to See & Do

If you want to visit vineyards or wineries, check with the Maison des Vins, right in the center of Bourgueil. They can provide you with information on what kinds of visits are possible. Otherwise, you can drive around the area and look for signs for "Dégustation" (Tasting).

Bourgueil has a great market. The Halles building hosts a Saturday market, while Tuesday is the day to experience the street market, with lots of local produce and other items to choose from.

There is an abbey that has limited open hours, and a church in the center of town, near two great bakeries.


We made several day trips while we were staying at the Château des Sablons. A sunny Sunday we ventured to Saumur, where we were glad to have a chance to visit the château. It had been undergoing renovations when we had last tried to visit, and we enjoyed getting to see it.

From there we drove on to the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, founded in 1101 and home to two monasteries, one for women and one for men, with an Abbess at the top. In addition to the fascinating buildings and grounds, the abbey also houses a modern art museum and a Michelin one star restaurant! We enjoyed all aspects of this interesting site.

Azay-le-Rideau is one of the most charming châteaux in the Loire Valley, a small château that seems to "float" on the Indre River. More...

While we had visited Azay-le-Rideau before, we were happy to be introduced to the lovely Château de l'Islette, which some consider the "younger sibling" of Azay-le-Rideau. Now privately owned, the château is open to the public from May to September. It is fun to visit and has beautiful grounds. More...

Chinon is another interesting place to visit. This royal fortress, perched strategically atop a hillside, has a long and storied history, including visits by Joan of Arc. And of course Chinon wine is also excellent. More...

Other nearby châteaux include Villandry, known for its gardens; Ussé, the "Sleeping Beauty Castle," and Langeais, a 15th century château right in the center of the small town.




Château de l'Islette

Fontevraud Abbey

Châteaux of the Loire

Sound and Light Shows

Loire Châteaux Groups

Loire Valley


Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan


Sablons apartment

Above, Living room of our apartment at the Château des Sablons.

Below, The Maison des Vins in Bourgueil.



Maison des Vins, Bourgueil



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