Loire Valley Bike Trips

On this page, you will find...

If you would like to see a map of our different French routes, it is here.
And, for a comparison of our Loire Valley route with our other French trips, see here.


And what of the Loire? Kings & their sumptuous châteaux.  Mushroom caves, troglodyte houses, wine towns and their tastings.  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, rock dancing in vaulted 16th century cellars, a museum of old buses....

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.


The following trips visit the Loire Valley:

Southern Cross (3 weeks)
Visits France (Loire Valley, Basque Country), & Spain (Basque Country and Galicia)

Tour de France (3 weeks)
Visits the Loire Valley and two other French routes

Tapestries & Tapas (2 weeks)
Visits the Loire Valley followed by the Basque Country

Two Week France Trips
Visits the Loire Valley and one other region in France

France & Italy (2 weeks)
Visits the Loire Valley and one of our Italian regions

Castles of the Loire follows this itinerary exclusively.
Departure dates and prices are in the “Facts & Figures” table, below.

Short Trips (1 - 3 days)
Subscribe to individual days of our Loire Valley route

 

Our Cycle Trips

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Departure Calendar
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or...
Short Trips from Paris
 

What's Included
...
...in the Trip Cost


Additional Services...
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Other Trips We Offer

 
Day-by-Day Itinerary:  Loire Valley
Day of the Week
Description
Typical distances, in km
Saturday
TRAVEL to BLOIS
A short train ride from Paris (included in the Access Package) brings you to Blois, where you should rendez-vous with the people who travelled in by other means (pogo stick?) in time for dinner.

Blois is home to the valley’s most historically important château, the de facto royal palace pre-Versailles.  The medieval town spills happily down the hillside surrounding the château:  white stone, red brick chimneys, and roofs of blue slate.  If you aren’t just off the plane (or even if you are), hit the old town after dinner for fun in a 16th century dance bar.  Know any 16th century dances?

Half Baggage
Sunday
CHAMBORD & CHEVERNY
Cross the Loire from Blois, and cycle 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.

The ambitious can head on to Cheverny, for extraordinary furnishings and a pack of amazing but foul-smelling hunting dogs.  Back home on tiny lanes, via the swimming hole at Cellettes.

Half Baggage.
35 - 55 k
Monday
From LOIRE to CHER
From Blois, 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.

Stop in Chaumont along the way, for a bonus castle.  Pick blackberries from roadside hedges. Pontlevoy is a good place for lunch, and for a visit to a chateau full of people from Mississippi. Odd place, that Pontlevoy.  We still miss the truck and bus museaum, which moved we-forget-where a few years back.  We used to call those “junk yards” when we were children....

Then on to Bourré, where you can 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.

End the day with a stroll through picturesque Montrichard, followed by a liqueur tasting at the “Golden Strawberry” (you’ll need one after the disappointment at missing the truck-and-bus museum).  Perhaps a son et lumière in the evening, on the facade of the Chenonceau château.
45 - 55 k
Tuesday
TROGLODYTE LOIRE, VOUVRAY, TOURS
Swing through Amboise to visit Clos Lucé, the final home of artist and military engineer Leonardo da Vinci.  It now houses a 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 bikes, right?

Then on to Vouvray and its troglodyte houses (and hotels, and shops...).  Enjoy a slow afternoon over a sampling of the delightful Vouvray sparkling wines.

Tours, where we spend the night, is the home to the Place Plumereau, our favorite town square, and one of France's most beautiful.

Half Baggage
40 k
Wednesday

VILLANDRY, AZAY-le-RIDEAU, CHINON
First to the calcifying caves at Savonnières, 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 a riverside bike path 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.

Across the fields to Azay-le-Rideau, home to another château-in-the-middle-of-a-river.  Aesthetically, the formula definitely works. 

And our full day ends with a ride through the forest of Chinon to the wine town of the same name. 

60 k
Thursday
The INDRE VALLEY, SAUMUR
Possible destinations include the Abbey of Fontlevraud, or the horsey town of Saumur, home to the French cavalry.  But don’t leave town without a look at Chinon’s castle, a genuine military fortress, the first you have seen.  Favorite son Rabelais explains early medicine (“wash your hands, stupid”), and then writes of Gargantua, whom we emulate at dinner.

Ample wine-related exploration is available in and around Chinon itself, so if you prefer you may simply leave the bike in the garage and lounge by the river.  Or leave the bike in the river, and lounge in the garage.  Enough wine-related exploration will do that to you....
35 - 70 k
Friday
BACK to the LOIRE, SLEEPING BEAUTY
Our last biking day returns us to Tours along the north bank of the Loire.  Pass the old military fortress at Langeais, and Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Ussé.  Try to get to Tours in time for more city exploration.

If your trip ends with this ride, it disbands upon arrival in Tours.  Riders continuing with us have in store a hopping night in the Place Plumereau mosh pit.

Half Baggage

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

60 k
Saturday
TRAVEL DAY (ongoing trips, Access Package)

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

If you are travelling on Southern Cross, Tapestries & Tapas, or connecting to Green Spain, you will take a morning train to the Spanish border.


Castles of the Loire — Facts & Figures
2014 Dates
Baggage Services Offered**
(optional)
Difficulty of the Ride
May 24 - 30
Last Spaces,
enquire before booking
$1,850 US
$2,025 C
1,225 €
Daily, Half
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.
July 5 - 11
Daily, Half
September 13 - 19
Daily, Half
* Prices in $ and € do not include precisely the same things.   Click here for details.

Prices of Optional Extras (links lead to explanations)
Currency
$ prices include
the bike.
See here for information on bringing your own.
** At least 4 riders must subscribe to a given baggage service for it to operate.  The services listed are those currently offered on the departure in question.  Services which appear in bold already have at least 3 subscribers (so, one more would ensure their operation).
Daily
Half
$US
$236
$98
$335
$C
$246
$102
$350
€uros
170€
72€
240€
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