Imagine cycling along one of the most majestic rivers in France and immersing yourself in the culture of ‘France’s Garden’. It’s true! With the wind to your back, you’re exploring one of the most romantic, château-rich, stretches of the Loire.
Picture yourself spending blissful days visiting the valley’s legendary fairy-tale castles. You’ve seen the pictures in travel magazines; now you’re riding up to their front doors, crossing their moats, spending happy hours wandering their grounds and imagining their Renaissance heyday.
And every day, en route and at the end of your leisurely exploration, the Loire's delicious cuisine and oh-so-drinkable wines await. Is this real? It could be…
Transfer by minibus, taxi or train to our base hotel in Fontevraud-l'Abbaye.
After breakfast we personally equip you with your bicycle and make sure it’s fitted perfectly for the adventure ahead as you follow the romantic Loire upstream to vibrant Amboise. The day is then yours to explore Fontevraud-l'Abbaye and its surrounding countryside.
Will you visit the abbey or stroll the town's lovely quiet streets, such as character-packed Rue Robert d’Arbrissel. On two feet or two wheels, we look forward to enjoying delights around every corner.
Later, maybe after a morning spent closer to base, what better introduction to our week’s cycling could there be than a gentle ride to nearby Brézé with its wineries and fascinating château dating from 1063. Not only does this must-see destination enchant with its Renaissance palace, but it also has an underground fortress and its own vineyard. And there’s more through an unpretentious doorway off the château’s courtyard as we find ourselves exploring a long network of underground passages and troglodyte houses.
Later, tired, happy and already totally immersed in the Loire Valley’s magic, its back to our hotel for a delicious supper – washed down, of course, with wonderful local wines.
Today we head east on quiet roads and lanes via lovely Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, riverside Montsoreau and Candes-Saint-Martin situated at the confluence of the Loire and Vienne. First, admire Montsoreau’s riverside château (built 1455); then watch the river flow past inexorably from Quai Alexandre Dumas before continuing east into pretty Candes. En route, admire the Loire’s traditional flat-bottomed Toue, Cabanée and Fûtreau boats moored along the riverbank. If you’re very fortunate, you might even see a Gabare freighter.
If time allows, we’ll climb up behind the village, pass the Château de Candes, and enjoy spectacular views north over the Loire Valley from the Mirador de Candes. Continuing eastwards, more workaday cares slip away as we follow the Vienne – the main river draining northern Nouvelle-Aquitaine. At last, at the Île de Tours, we cross the Vienne and enter Chinon, where we’ll spend the next day exploring the town’s delightful backstreets, riverside walkways and spectacular hilltop château.
Once upon a time, fairy-tale Chinon was completely encircled by walls – hence its title ‘fortified town’. Today, after another fortifying petit dejeuner, we set off to explore on foot or by bike. Chinon captivates with its tight-knit alleys, and its steep-roofed, half-timbered medieval houses with their fascinating stone gables and turrets. Then there’s the Vienne’s impressive riverside embankment between Rue de l’ancien Port in the west and Rue Descarte in the east. Wherever we are in Chinon, the town is dominated by the presence of the famous Fortress Royale de Chinon – built by one Henry II of England.
For a sublime contrast with Chinon’s urban complexities, we recommend exploring the open country to the southeast. Head out of town via pretty Anché, to Le Coudrey and the nearby Renaissance Château du Rivau. Enjoy a meal in the castle’s restaurant. Then investigate its thirteenth-century fortified castle – complete with turrets, drawbridge and shooting holes. And the harmonious sixteenth-century château with spectacular fairy-tale themed garden.
We leave Chinon with appetites whetted for more big-name châteaux that await over the next days. Not for us the straight-as-an-archer’s-arrow blast along the busy D751 Route de Tours through Chinon’s ancient forest. Instead, heading for Villandry, we pedal north to rejoin the Loire Valley Cycle Route. Don’t miss lovely Rigny-Ussé on the way – complete with the correspondingly-named château that inspired Charles Perrault’s tales of Sleeping Beauty.
From there, we continue along the mighty Loire through Bréhémont (Château de Langeais and L’église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) and La Chappelle-aux-Naux. Then, after following the sunny south bank of the River Cher for a few kilometres we reach our hotel in Villandry in time for another evening’s well-deserved relaxation and culinary treats.
Imagine another day of bicycles, châteaux and the Loire’s wonderful gastronomy. Cycling holidays in France don’t come much better. With the magical Château de Villandry on your doorstep, a visit is a perfect way to start your day after breakfast. Will you enjoy the gardens (maintained by just 10 gardeners), the château’s sumptuous interior or both? Either way, this immaculately restored property is an architectural and horticultural treasure that’s not to be missed.
Later, we set course for Château d’Azay-le-Rideau. After riding south across gently undulating farmland, we watch shadows lengthening on limestone masonry and enjoy the castle’s constantly-changing reflections in the slow-flowing Indre. After exploring the grounds, spend an hour inside the newly-restored château – a much more manageable interior than many famous châteaux. Marvel at rooms packed with fascinating period automata and try to spot the shy bats in the attic. It makes an interesting change from taking even more outdoor pictures of the reflected château.
In the morning, we wish Villandry a fond farewell, then follow the Loire through the heart of Touraine into central Tours, with its sensitively restored maze of narrow streets lined with exquisite half-timbered houses. While here let’s enjoy a light, or not-so-light, lunch – how about somewhere on the Rue du Grand Marché? Then we head east past the Fontaine de Beaune to the magnificent Cathédrale St-Gatien and neighbouring Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Later, having fallen in love with this beautiful city as so many do, we leave the Quartier Blanqui-Mirabeau and ride along the so-called Valley of the Kings on quiet roads and lanes. Near Montlouis-sur-Loire, do visit the Aquarium du Val de Loire at Lussault-sur-Loire – Europe’s biggest collection of freshwater fish. Soon, we’re approaching riverside Amboise, our day’s destination, where an amazing ambience and array of excellent restaurants await our arrival.
As the end of our week’s cycling approaches, we reflect on an unforgettable 90km adventure along the Loire – then head out to get some final château action.
With Amboise’s Château Royal so close, it makes sense to visit this Gothic-Renaissance gem with its impressive river views and flag-bedecked ramparts. Then, we can go on to explore the rest of the town where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years. By the way, his former home, at Château Clos-Lucé, is a must-visit attraction just along Rue Victor Hugo.
After exploring da Vinci’s quarters, make sure to marvel at models of his inventions and learn more about his work in the château’s outbuildings. After this, we’re ideally placed for one last cross-country excursion. This time, it’s through the north-eastern Forêt de Chinon to what is arguably the loveliest Loire Château. Chenonceau is a splendid Venetian-inspired ‘water château’ built over the River Cher and reached by walking a splendid forest ride until you suddenly see its Renaissance magnificence. Whether you’re wandering the grounds or enjoying the château’s fantastic art and furniture, Chenonceau seems to embody the château-magic of our week’s cycling.
After breakfast, we transfer you by train or minibus direct from Amboise to Nantes or Rennes Airport, or Tours station. We look forward to welcoming you back again next year.
The Hotel La Croix Blanche is an amazing former coaching inn located in the atmospheric heart of Fontevraud-l’Abbaye – across the square from the abbey itself. The ‘wow!’ factor only gets better when you enjoy your well-equipped, contemporary-themed room with all the appointments needed before or after day’s fascinating cycle exploration in this gorgeous part of the Loire.
Look forward to a warm welcome from your hosts as they help you make the most of your stay. Ask at Reception about special visitor perks for local wineries and other attractions. Then discover the town’s character-packed streets and alleys, or venture further to explore Fontevraud’s environs…
After the day’s adventures, look forward to returning to this delightful Loire hotel. Let’s enjoy a refreshing dip in their (seasonal) outdoor pool. Later, how about supper in the gourmet Le Plantagenêt restaurant – or al fresco on the flower-bedecked Terrasse?
Of course, there’s free Wi-Fi. And after another night’s sweet dreams, a fortifying buffet breakfast is served each morning – on the terrace if the Loire weather is kind – and it often is! Spend the day in town and you can even enjoy lunch (and dinner too) amid the ambience of the historic seventeenth--century courtyard facing Fontevraud’s fountain!
At the beautifully conserved and luxuriously appointed Hotel de France, you’re right in the middle of romantic Chinon on the Place du Generale De Gaulle. As well as being ideal for exploring the town’s medieval heart, you’re perfectly sited for excursions into its surrounds – or walks along the River Vielle’s embankments in the footsteps of sixteenth-century writer, François Rabelais.
Centuries of character meet modern, well-appointed rooms – some with views of the Royal fortress, others overlooking the town square. Climb the wonderful circular staircases and look forward to the unique character of your Pied à Terre in Chinon. Rooms here are spacious, packed with gorgeous furniture, air-conditioned and complete with modern en-suite facilities. Everything, in fact, that you need after another wonderful day’s riding. Naturally, there’s free Wi-Fi access for researching tomorrow’s two-wheeled adventures...
The Hotel de France delights with a pleasing blend of contemporary comforts and traditional authenticity. And all in the heart of town with easy access to the charming square, myriad wonderful restaurants and cafés, and local attractions such as the Musée du Vin et de la Tonnellerie. And all just a few minutes ride from Chinon’s wonderful hilltop château…
Picture Villandry, the sublime Château de Villandry with its exquisite ornamental gardens, and the long, wonderful day’s cycling you’ve enjoyed to get here.
Now imagine the warm welcome from this equally wonderful hotel, the Relais du Silence Le Haut des Lys positioned just down the lane from the château. Check in, grab a coffee or well-deserved glass of rosé, then relax in the garden, on the terrace or in the hot tub and let any remaining cares drift away
Given thet Villandry is arguably ‘garden central’ for the Loire, we’ll look forward to a gorgeous garden view from our room. All rooms have this, plus flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a minibar and free Wi-Fi access. Some also have their own terrace, spa-bath and air conditioning. And because days on the road bring the mixed blessing of refreshing wind in the hair, your private bathroom comes with a hairdryer.
In the morning, before pedalling around the corner to the château for a horticultural treat, we’ll enjoy a delicious breakfast. On our return, we can relax with a drink in the bar and swap tales of our day’s adventures, before heading into the village for supper in one of the local restaurants.
Forgive us if, on this occasion, we couldn’t arrange cyclist’s accommodation at the Loire’s Renaissance Château de Chenonceau! Instead, we hope the magical riverside Hotel des Minimes will delight you while you visit Amboise. It’s perfect for exploring the town’s vibrant café and restaurant scene, its Leonardo da Vinci connection, and colourful markets.
Set on the Loire south bank, Manoir des Minimes is about as close to a ‘water château’ as a sublime hotel can get. As well as nestling below the towering ramparts of Amboise’s château, your hotel is just a few steps – across Quai Charles Guinot – from the Loire’s leafy riverside walkway.
Inside, look forward to enjoying a spacious room with great views. More prosaically, each air-conditioned room is equipped with satellite TV, bathroom with shower, hairdryer and bathrobes. There’s Wi-Fi throughout the property too, which is perfect for pre-ride planning. And on the subject of vital preparations, a fortifying continental breakfast is served in the dining room.
After a day’s adventures, relax on the Manoir’s terrace under fragrant, cascading wisteria and soak up the amazing ambience with pre-dinner drink before wandering into town to enjoy the restaurants and bars of Amboise…
|Jul 1, 3, 11, 13, 21, 23, 31||£1,235|
|Aug 2, 10, 12, 20, 22||£1,235|
|Jul 3, 13, 23||£825|
|Aug 2, 12, 22||£825|
Prices are per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room without flights and transfers.
Triple room: £10 per third person per night.
Infants under 2 years: Sharing bed with parents FREE. Additional expenses e.g. food or cots, to be paid direct to the hotelier.
Children under 12 years: £15 off per night.
Single room: £50 per night.
E-Bike: £20 per day (number of days charged will be one less than the number of nights of your tour).
Tandem: £15 per day (number of days charged will be one less than the number of nights of your tour).
£250 per person
Our experts shall be only too pleased to research the most convenient and best value flights for you and, to arrange your airport transfers. Please call on 01568 780777 for an individual quotation, which will be sent to you by email. On acceptance of our quotation, we shall be pleased to book all arrangements for you.
Holidays booked together with a flight are protected by The Travel Trust Association’s ATOL (number: 10300).
Flights and transfers are charged at cost, plus a £20 per person booking fee to cover service and ATOL fees.
If you wish to extend your holiday, with perhaps a short stay in a nearby city of interest, please call our experts on 01568 780777 for help and guidance.
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