Tour de Loire Valley
- Duration: 7 Days (approx.)
- Product code: PCVLIF
The Loire Valley tour takes in the fabulous châteaux of the Renaissance: elegant Chenonceau, imposing Chaumont, stately Cheverney and majestic Chambord. We also visit the medieval gem that is the town of Loches, and Leonardo da Vinci’s manor house, the Clos Lucé at Amboise. The riding is over gently rolling countryside, with just a few hills to help you work up an appetite! The route is split between quiet roads through fields of sunflowers and maize, passing castles, windmills and manor houses, and hard surfaced tracks through the royal hunting forests of Loches and Chambord. An incredible active journey into real France, with food, wine and accommodation experiences that you will remember for a long time. Fully guided, with a support vehicle never far away, you can enjoy as much food and wine as you like! See the detailed itinerary on the following pages and prepare for a memorable French experience
2016 Departures: 12 June, 3 & 17 & 24 July, 7 Aug, 4 & 25 Sept
- The beauty of the Château de Chenonceau spanning the River Cher
- Idyllic riverside cycling along the Indre
- Wine tasting at a vineyard by the Loire
- Leonardo da Vinci’s house in Amboise
- Meeting new friends and socialising in the small group (max 16 riders)
After collection from Tours airport or TGV station (Saint-Pierre-des-Corps), we arrive at our hotel in the centre of Azay-le-Rideau, a short stroll away from the renaissance castle with its moat and elegant gardens.
Early arrivals can warm-up with a ride to the nearby Ferme des Goupillières, a troglodyte farm dating from medieval times but still in use in the last century. The underground dwellings were used as protection from marauding bandits after the wars that swept through medieval France. After exploring the village or relaxing at a bar or café, we enjoy the first of many wonderful dinners and look forward to a fantastic week of cycling.
Our first day in the saddle is a tale of three rivers as the route takes us along the Indre, Loire and Cher into Tours. On the way, we take in three of the region’s most celebrated châteaux. Cycling downstream along the Indre, we arrive at the Château d’Ussé, also known as the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ castle, as it was the inspiration for Pérrault’s fairy tale. After a coffee stop we join the Loire, following the river upstream on a levée (raised embankment) for the next
few miles, then (as an optional excursion) we cross the Loire to visit Langeais with its imposing château.
After lunch we follow the Cher to the Château de Villandry to see its fabulous ornamental gardens, differently themed each year, and laid out with geometric precision in fruit, herbs and vegetables. It is hard to imagine that peppers, leeks and aubergines could put on such a beautiful display. From here it a short riverside ride to our château-hôtel on the outskirts of Tours. The distance of today’s ride is 52km / 31 miles.
This morning takes us through Tours on riverside cycle paths, and then out into the Touraine countryside. The route then takes us to the village of Cormery with its Abbey founded in 791, and home to an excellent restaurant for a lunch stop.
Back on the road, we pass through the village of Azay-sur-Cher before entering the Amboise forest, continuing along one of the arrow-straight forest drives created for the royal hunting parties. A short descent takes us into Amboise, where our hotel for the next two nights, a 15th century manor house, awaits. Amboise itself clusters around a stunning medieval château overlooking the river and our hotel is just around the corner in the old town. The town has good shopping if you are after something special to take home as a souvenir, including the famous chocolaterie Bigot – but you will need to be made of stern stuff not to sample its delights while you’re here! Distance covered 52 kms
We stay in Amboise this evening, so we take a loop ride out to visit perhaps the most beautiful chateau in the Loire Valley. We climb into the Amboise forest before descending into the valley of the Cher to arrive at Chenonceaux. One of the highlights of the tour, the stunning Château de Chenonceau (it loses the final ‘x’ of the village for some reason!) was given by Henri II of France to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. With its graceful arches spanning the river Cher, it is the most visited château of the Loire, and it is truly unforgettable.
After lunch there is the option to return to Amboise to spend the afternoon, or for the more energetic to visit elegant Château de Montpoupon. The castle is home to one of Frances foremost hunts and the grounds house a fascinating museum of hunting, and the kitchens and stables give an insight into daily life of the gentry and servants in the 18th Century. Another shorter option is to visit the Monmousseau winery where the sparkling wine is stored in kilometres of underground passages. Back in Amboise we visit a fine restaurant for dinner. Today’s ride: 34kms (short option), 59kms (with Montpoupon loop).
Leaving Amboise, we stop off to visit Clos-Lucé, the home of Leonardo da Vinci. As well as drawings and designs, this fascinating museum includes several life-size reconstructions of what these sketches would be like had they been made. Leaving Clos-Lucé we head across the rich and fertile heartlands of the ‘Jardin de France’ to the Château de Chaumont on the death of Henri II, Diane de Poitiers was forced by his widow to take this château in exchange for her beloved Chenonceau — see who you think got the best deal!
If you fancy a change from medieval brickwork, Chaumont is also host every summer to an internationally renowned Garden Festival where areas of the grounds are laid out in different themes — the inventiveness knows no bounds. After lunch, we come to our château hotel near the village of Cours-Cheverney. The wonderful hotel has extensive grounds for a pre dinner stroll or maybe visit a local winery for a dégustation. Total distance: 52kms
We visit two châteaux today: the first, Cheverney has truly impressive interiors with period furniture, tapestries and paintings all intact. A feature of the château is the pack of hunting dogs still kept there – a highlight of the visit is watching the feeding of the hounds. The second château is also the largest and possibly the most impressive – Chambord. Having taken 15 years to build in the 16th century, it is surrounded by a vast hunting park teeming with wildlife. The interior is just as impressive, dominated by the ‘double helix’ staircase on which two people can ascend and descend at the same time, yet never meet. Most of the day’s 53kms of riding is on the well maintained forest trails of the royal hunting parks. We return to the hotel, maybe taking a dip in the pool, before the final dinner of a memorable week. Total distance: 53 km / 33 miles.
After breakfast, take the opportunity to swap numbers and e-mails before we take you on to your onward connection.