Bus tours of the main châteaux leave daily in summer from Tours and other hubs: tourist offices have the latest times and prices. Readers rave about Acco-Dispo van excursions, which usually include two or three top châteaux; half-day trips start at €23 and depart from Tours or Amboise. Eager for an aerial view? Jet Systems makes helicopter trips over the Loire Valley on Tuesday, Thursday, and weekends from the aerodrome at Dierre, just south of Amboise; per-person prices range from €79 (for a 10-minute flight over Chenonceau) to €580 (for a 90-minute survey of the glories of the Loire, including a stop at Chaumont or Le Rivau). France Montgolfières provides a tranquil alternative; its balloon rides over the Loire—costing €189 to €249 per person in high season—last at least 75 minutes, and the experience as a whole takes about three hours. Depending on water levels, you can also sightsee by boat. La Bélandre Crosières, for one, offers some unique outings; April through October, you can sail the Cher River on a traditional flat-bottom boat from the foot of Chenonceau for just €9.50.
Acco-Dispo Tours. 18 rue des Vallees, Amboise, 37400. 06–82–00–64–51; www.accodispo-tours.com. From €23.
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; www.jet-systems.fr. From €79.
La Bélandre Croisières. Maison Eclusière de Chisseaux, Chisseaux, 37150. 02–47–23–98–64; www.labelandre.com. From €9.50.