Family-Friendly “Castles of the Loire


On this page, you will find...


And what of the Loire? Kings & their sumptuous castles.  Mushroom caves, troglodyte houses, wine towns and their tastings.  A beautiful river, ecologically revived and teeming with water birds and fresh water fish.  Da Vinci’s last home, and a museum to his inventions.  Sound-and-light stories projected on castle facades, blackberries by the side of the road, dinners in 16th century cellars, garden mazes.  Château gardens that cascade terrace to terrace, down to the river.  Half-timbered houses still standing after 600 years....

Never a dull moment, as we follow the valley of France’s longest river through the self-assured heartland that is the essence of France to the French themselves.


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of our scheduled trips


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or...
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...
...in the Trip Cost


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...which you can add to your trip.


Other Trips We Offer

 


Day-by-Day Itinerary:  Castles of the Loire, Family-Friendly Trip

Day of the Week
Description

Suggested distances,
in kilometers

Saturday
TRAVEL to BLOIS
A short train ride from Paris (included in the Access Package) brings you to Blois, where you rendez-vous with the people who travelled in by other means (pogo stick?) in time for dinner.

Blois is home to the Loire’s most historically important château, the de facto royal palace pre-Versailles.  A sound-and-light show tells the story in a delightfully approachable manner.  The medieval town spills happily down the hillside surrounding the château:  white stone, red brick chimneys, and roofs of blue slate.  And the house opposite the château has mechanical dragons which pop out of the windows from time to time.  How middle ages!  Though they used real dragons back then.
Sunday
CHAMBORD & CHEVERNY
Cross the Loire river, and pedal through the royal hunting preserve to Chambord, the largest of the valley’s châteaux, even though it was built as a “mere” hunting lodge.  Da Vinci designed the staircase, some clown diverted a river to pass in front... all a bit excessive.  Hunt for boar in the surrounding forest, avoid them in the château, or dine on them in the cafés outside.

Horseback riding is available in the forest, and is dirt cheap if you bring your own horse.

The ambitious can head on to Cheverny, for lovely furnishings and an amazing pack of foul-smelling hunting dogs.  Back home to Blois on tiny lanes, via the swimming hole at Cellettes.
35 or 55 k
Monday
CHAUMONT, AMBOISE
From Blois, we head down the river on a dedicated bike path.

Stop in Chaumont along the way, for a bonus castle, and lovely gardens.  Pick blackberries from roadside hedges, then stop in the center of Amboise to visit Clos Lucé, the final home of artist and military engineer Leonardo da Vinci.  It now houses a fascinating museum of his inventions.  Or to visit the postal museum.  We're not sure what's in there.  The Amboise château boasts a spiral staircase for horses.  We should be able to use it on our bicycles, right?

40 k
Tuesday

From LOIRE to CHER
We head across the plateau which separates the Loire and Cher rivers, and to Chenonceaux, the home to the most beautiful of the Loire valley castles.   Spanning a river, home to some interesting history, brought to life through entertaining, multi-lingual audio tours for visitors of different ages.  Have fun racing each other through the maze...

The ambitious can continue to Bourré, to explore working mushroom caves (and an underground model Loire Valley that the workers carved out during their lunch breaks).  Kilometers and kilometers of yummi fungi.  Back to Amboise for the night...

30 k
Wednesday

TROGLODYTE LOIRE, the VILLANDRY GARDENS
On down the valley.  We pass by an interesting aquarium, showcasing the fish historically (and once again) found in the river, and come to Savonnières, home to calcifying caves where you can gawk at plastic dinosaurs whose real-life models never lived anywhere near here, and certainly weren’t day-glo blue, even where they did live.

Then on along the river to Villandry.  Villandry’s is the château with the most interesting gardens in France, including a delightful ornamental vegetable garden.  It is also home to a restaurant serving only goat.  The kids will be thrilled!

Across the fields to Azay-le-Rideau, home to another château-in-the-middle-of-a-river.  Aesthetically, the formula definitely works.  It is here that we spend the next two nights.

55 k
Thursday
The FORTRESS at CHINON, SLEEPING BEAUTY
A beautiful ride through the forest of Chinon to the wine town of the same name.  Pass by Ussé, and the castle that served as Perault’s (and Disney’s) inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s.  In Chinon, visit the imposing château, a genuine military fortress, the first you have seen.  Favorite son Rabelais explains early medicine (“wash your hands, dummy”), and then writes of Gargantua, whom we will emulate at dinner.

The town center offers ample wine-related exploration for the adults, and there is an easy and quick train home if you are done riding.  Enough wine-related exploration will do that to you.... Back to Azay for the night.
30 or 55 k
Friday
LANGEAIS, TOURS
Our last biking day takes us in to Tours, the valley’s biggest city.  Pass the old military fortress at Langeais, and then hustle into town for a visit to the beautiful medieval center.. 

If your trip ends with this ride, it disbands upon arrival in Tours.  Riders continuing with us have in store a crêpe dinner in one of France’s most beautiful town squares, the Place Plumereau, just a stone’s throw from our usual hotel.

A night in Tours is included for thru travellers, and also in the Access Package.

30 or 45 k
Saturday
TRAVEL DAY (ongoing trips, Access Package)

If your trip ends in Tours, and you have subscribed the Access Package, a rail ticket to Paris was offered, and presumably accepted.

 

Castles of the Loire — Facts & Figures
2017 Dates
Baggage Services Offered**
(optional)
Difficulty of the Ride
August 5 - 11
$1,695 US
$2,195 C
1,395 €
Lower prices apply to children:   see “Family Pricing,” below.
Daily
Relatively Easy

A couple of longish days, and some rolling terrain, but no hard hills.  Good back-ups available if you get tired.  Attractive long route add-ons easily shift difficulty to “Moderate” or more.
* Prices in $ and € do not include precisely the same things.   Click here for details.
Family Pricing / Child Discounts
Age of Child
Desired Lodging
Under 2
2 - 5
6 - 11
12 - 19
Sharing Parents’ Room**
Price* =
$350 US / $460 C / 330€
Price* =
$598 US / $820 C / 560€
40% discount on the trip price
20% discount on the trip price
Not in Parents’ Room
30% reduction on trip price***
20% reduction on trip price***
Conditions

* Prices for children 0 - 5 do not include rental bike equipment. 
Child seats, trailers, and tagalong bikes are available at additional cost.

** With separate bed (crib or “pack-and-play” for children 2 and under).

***The trip’s Private Single Room charge will apply if a child requires a single room, but single rooms for children are discounted by 25% (they may be small rooms, or independent rooms in a suite with the parent’s room).
Children 5 and under occupying their own room are garanteed to be in a suite with their parents, or in an adjacent room, ideally with a communicating door.
Children 6 - 11 are garanteed to be in a room on the same floor of the hotel as the parents’ room, and every effort is made to keep the two rooms in close proximity.

________________________________________

  • Triple rooms used by 3 children may be twin rooms with an extra bed.

  • Quad parent-and-child “family” rooms cannot be guaranteed, as not all hotels have them, and certainly not in sufficient quantity for multiple families.  When available, they will typically be rooms with one double bed and two single beds.  If you are two parents travelling with two children over 2 years old, you may request such a room when you sign up for the trip.  But you must be willing to accept the alternate (and less discounted) solution of two separate-but-proximate rooms.  If a quad can be assigned at some stops and not others, the additional discount will be pro-rated.  Available quads will be assigned in order of trip sign-up.

  • Child discounts are not cumulable with any other commercial discount, such as “student” or “group” discounts, or discounts accorded to the Founders of Guest-Initiated Trips.  In all cases, the larger discount will be used.

 

 






Prices of Optional Extras (links lead to explanations)
Currency
$ prices include the bike.
See here for information on bringing your own.
Daily
$US
$140
$298
$C
$180
$375
€uros
130€
280€
140€

 

 

 


Reaching & Leaving Your Trip:  General Information on Access Packages
Specific information on reaching your trip’s start in... Blois
Specific information on departing from your trip’s end... Tours