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Excursion bus tours of the main châteaux leave daily in summer from the main hubs like Tours, Orléans, and Saumur: tourist offices have the latest times and prices. Readers rave about Acco-Dispo van tours—usually three top châteaux are included. Their half-day trips cost €33 per person and leave from Tours or Amboise. Jet Systems makes helicopter trips over the Loire Valley on Tuesday, Thursday, and weekends from the aerodrome at Dierre, just south of Amboise; cost ranges from €69 (10 mins, flying over Chenonceau) to €295 (50 mins, from Chenonceau to Ussé) per person. Contact France Montgolfières for details of their balloon trips over the Loire; prices run €185–€255 per person. Croisières de Loire offers some unique Loire river tours. Sail the Cher River on a traditional flat-bottom riverboat from the foot of Chenonceau April through October (€8.50).

Contacts

Acco-Dispo Tours (18 rue des Vallees, Amboise, 37400. 06–82–00–64–51. www.accodispo-tours.com. From €23.)

La Bélandre Croisières (Maison Eclusière de Chisseaux, Chisseaux, 37150. 02–47–23–98–64. www.croisieresdeloire.com. From €9.50.)

France Montgolfiéres (03–80–97–38–61. www.franceballoons.com. From €189.)

Jet Systems (L'Aérodrome d'Amboise- Dierre, Amboise, 37150. 08–20–82–06–98 €0.34 per min. www.jet-systems.fr. From €79.)

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