For two centuries, the kings of France outdid one another as they built palaces and chateaus along the Loire Valley. Begin riding in Blois and discover the distinct personality of a each chateau along the way: grand Amboise, elegant Chenonceau, and enchanting Azay-le-Rideau. Between castles, pull over for a quick swim in a solitary woods, or visit a café on a cobblestoned street, in a whitewashed village where time seems to stand still. (by HE Travel)
- A Castle, a Rose Garden, and a Single Gay Bar +1 Begin in historic Blois. Try out your bike and take a walking tour of this charming French town to see Renaissance homes, gardens, and gargoyles. The elaborate chateau, or castle, in Blois was built over a period of four centuries, and is where King Henri III often showed up at parties in his finest drag, accompanied by several handsome young men.
- A Quiet Riverside Road to a Grand Chateau +2 Start biking on a quiet road beside the Loire River, then pedal past small farms and forest and choose your path at the fork: continue along the main road or branch off onto a small, unpaved trail. Both routes end at a picnic lunch spot before we tour Chaumont Chateau, in time for the famous garden festival on the grounds. Tonight we stay in Amboise, for grand vistas and a wonderful wine-tasting.
- The Elegance of Chenonceau +3 Lots of stops and route options today! Bike a straight, tree-lined road, or take a winding detour on small roads and trails through the forest. Visit the lovingly restored home and grounds of Le Clos Luce, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years; the Chinese pagoda of Chanteloup; the magnificent Chenonceau castle and ornamental gardens; and the medieval town of Loches with its 1000-year-old fortress.
- A Storybook Castle, and Vestiges of Ancient Rome +4 Today we bicycle to the remains of a 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct. Our ride follows the pastoral Indre River, as small country roads connect picturesque villages. In Montbazon, climb crumbling fortress ruins and cool off in a secluded spot on the river. Our destination is Azay-le-Rideau, a tiny French town with a magnificent castle reflecting in a moat.
- This Is Not Your Grandmother's Garden +5 Relax at a cafe in the morning or hop on the bike to visit nearby Villandry to see the chateau and three spectacular terraced gardens. A fragrant pizza, cooked in a wood stove at a nearby brasserie, gets us ready to bike onward to the richly decorated chateau of Langeais. Today’s loop ride wends through pastoral farmlands and a tiny troglodyte village, with homes burrowed in the cliffs.
- Departure Day or Start 2-day Chinon Extension +6 The hardest thing about our trips is saying goodbye to a wonderful group of new friends, and a charming region of France.
- Optional Chinon Extension +6-8 Visit Usse, the palace that inspired the legend of Sleeping Beauty and then the historic fortress ruins at Chinon which play a significant role in the history of Joan of Arc. The Chinon region is known for its red wines and fine restaurants, both of which we'll sample during our stay here. Forest hiking is an option, or a bike trip to the restored abbey of Fontevraud, where Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lion-Hearted were laid to rest. Continue to Saumur to see the equestrian museum, an underground mushroom museum, and La Herpiniere, a windmill five centuries old. Dinner tonight is at Chinon's top restaurant, a festive end to a memorable week.
- Important Notes
based on a shared room
for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom
“Our tour guides took care of us like we were family. As a result, we were well educated about what we were going to see, knew what to look for, and learned more about history.”Bradley Smith, Ann Arbor MI
“This was my first bike trip. Before we left, I was concerned if I was prepared. The trip was very challenging, but not too difficult. The great food, fun people and beautiful landscape made the miles fly by.”Hirschel McGinnis, Boston, MA
This is the ideal introduction to bicycling in France, with days of 25 to 35 miles over roads that are largely flat. You can keep a leisurely pace, peppered with stops at chateaux and other attractions; for those who want longer cycling routes, we have lots of suggestions.
Comfortable hotels each night; Services of two tour guides; All breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 4 dinners with wine included; Transportation to get luggage (and tired riders!) to destination; Use of bike; A wine-tasting; Map, guidebook, and route suggestions; On Chinon extension, two additional nights lodging, 2 breakfasts and 1 dinner. All HE Travel tours include complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance
What’s NOT Included
Transportation to and from start/end points; 3 lunches; 1 dinner; Souvenirs, snacks, admissions; Gratuities for guides.
* Visit the elegant chateau of Chaumont, towering on cliffs above the Loire River. * Picnic with the black swans of Chenonceau chateau, once home to Catherine de Medici, perched on stone pillars over the river Cher. * Stroll the celebrated 3-tiered terraced gardens at Villandry. * Ride through a troglodyte village near the riverfront town of Azay-le-Rideau. * Cool off in one of our secret swimming spots. Join our 2-night extension to Chinon to: * Pause and dream on the edge of Chinon Forest at Usse, the storybook castle that inspired the legend of Sleeping Beauty. * Bike past sunflowers, vineyards, and a solitary windmill, to the pastoral abbey at Fontevraud, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s final resting place. * Roam the historic ruins of Chinon, once a Roman stronghold, later the chateau-fort where Joan of Arc changed the course of French history.
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