The Loire River was once the highway between the Atlantic and the heart of France. Its valley was known as the 'playground of kings' - a neighbourhood of impressive châteaux and vast fortune. Travelling by bicycle is a great way to experience this world famous Valley. While pedalling at a relaxed pace, you'll discover the best this region has to offer, keeping away from the main tourist route to explore the lesser-known gems of the Loire. We take time to soak up the medieval charm of Blois and discover picturesque Amboise overlooked by its impressive fortified chateau. We cycle through countryside crisscrossed with vineyards, duck farms and orchards and the remnants of feudal hunting forests. Our route proves the Loire Valley lives up to its reputation as the 'garden of France'
INTRODUCTORY to MODERATE – GRADE 2
Daily cycles are between 14 and 55km / 8.5 or 34mi on flat to undulating terrain. The cycling is on a combination of dedicated cycle paths and low traffic side roads. The accent is on keeping a relaxed pace to take in all of the attractions, with time to stop and take photos. You will need a reasonable level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. It is considered suitable for beginners and children (children’s bikes and trailers available on request).
On your arrival in Blois, make your way to the hotel. Depending on when you arrive, we recommend you take a walk around the town which is known for its light facades and blue roofs, its pedestrian streets gracefully preserving the flavour of lost centuries and its serene atmosphere. Also worth a visit is the Royal Chateau de Blois, the residence of several French kings, and a perfect example of the evolution of French architecture between the Middle Ages and 17th century.
The cycle route follows a quiet road through the forest and vineyards of the Mesland appellation until you reach the Chateau of Chaumont sur Loire that proudly overlooks the Loire River. It is worthwhile stopping here, and the grounds are usually open to the public. The Chateau itself is famous for its luxurious stables, and there is often free wine tasting at the base of the driveway. The cycle continues through the countryside, admiring some beautiful vineyards and past a duck farm, before arriving at the picturesque town of Amboise on the south bank of the Loire River, where you will stay overnight in a small hotel in the centre.
As this evening will also be spent in Amboise, you have the option of cycling to the vineyards of Montlouis – a full route description is provided and this is highly recommended if you would like to try some wines and experience the countryside further. During the cycle there is also an opportunity to visit the Aquarium de Touraine before returning via the forest to Amboise for further sightseeing. Alternatively (or in addition) you may stay in town and explore its many attractions, including a visit to Le Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci’s last home where there are models of his many inventions in the garden and house. Also the fortified Chateau d’Amboise is worth a look or taking a walk through the old town, and tasting the region's wines and delicacies (including foie gras) at the town collective. Friday and Sunday mornings are market day and this is the largest market in the region selling everything from culinary specialties to clothes, homewares and tourist gifts. Overnight Amboise.
The cycle route takes you to the famous “Château de Chenonceau” which straddles the Cher River in five distinctive arches. It was this chateau which was promised by King Henri II to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, but following his death the Queen, Catherine de Médici made her swap it for Chateau Chaumont. Overnight in the charming town of Chenonceaux, settled on the banks of the Cher river. There are two cycle routes to choose from: one is direct while the other takes you on a scenic route along the Cher River valley.
You leave behind the Cher Valley and enter the Touraine area via the chateau of Gué Péan and the medieval chateau of Fougère sur Bièvre, a perfect example of traditional 15th Century architecture. Your night's accommodation is at a charming rural hotel with a lovely garden.
There are two options for your cycle today, both of which include an option to visit the chateau of Beauregard, famous for its portrait gallery. The route is through the Forest of Russy on dedicated cycle paths. If you feel like extending your cycle you can continue to the mysterious ‘Sologne’ a rural area known for its wildlife (wild boar and deer), and in summer, the heather is in bloom and the ponds are full of water lilies, making it a peaceful area to cycle through. There are dedicated bike tracks and opportunities to stop for a picnic lunch. Behind vineyards and groves you will catch glimpses of private chateaux. Return to the hotel in Chitenay in the evening.
During this last stage of the cycle, you have the opportunity to discover the famous sumptuously furnished Château of Cheverny before reaching the prestigious Château de Chambord with its 440 rooms, built during the reign of Francis the 1st. We return to our original hotel in Blois.
Trip arrangements conclude after breakfast.
You will receive a 21 speed ladies or men bike. A bike mechanic will adjust and fit your bike for you. You will either receive your bikes in the evening of Day 1 or the morning of Day 2. You will be provided with 2 panniers, anti-theft device, map holder, bike computer, helmet and repair kit. The repair kit includes 2 tire levers, patches, glue, one inner tube and a pump. Please contact the bike mechanic should you require any further repairs or adjustment. Please advise your consultant of your height in centimetres.
We were very happy with the self-guided tour. it was mostly on bike tracks through beautiful countryside which suited us. It was well organised by UTracks. Good bikes.
H.Mattessi, VIC, Australia
As a keen recreational (but NO elite athlete!) cyclist in Australia---I wanted to do a trip overseas but I wanted to enjoy the sights and the French culture not have my head down pedalling like a maniac the whole time. The Loire valley trip --was perfect---not too exhausting yet still a very active holiday.!! Plenty of stops /plus flexibility too. Thank you UTracks - I am certain to be back again with you for my next holiday---not sure where yet!
M. Kinch., Fitzroy North, VIC. Australia.
A great trip with a well planned itinerary. The food and accommodation were great.
L. Diebold., Armidale, NSW. Australia
The Loire - a great place to visit and explore by bike. We chose eBikes - worked very well for us - older bodies were not strained at all! The bikes enables us to enjoy everything around us - scenery, places we visited, stopping when and where we wanted to. We always arrived at our next hotel feeling good to go again! Hotels were good and we managed the great food - either at the hotel or other eating spots.
D. Coxon, New Zealand, 02 Aug 2017
I travelled solo on the self guided Loire Valley Cycle. This was my first experience self guiding and it was a great introduction. The cycle routes mainly along cycle paths and country roads were usually well marked and the route notes & overview maps provided helped me to find my way - a few wrong turns here and there when I wasn't paying attention, all part of the experience! Locals were always welcoming and went out of their way to help.
The mix of 2 and 3 star hotels were well chosen for their charm with good locations, simple & plentiful continental breakfasts, delicious 3-4 course dinners if you choose the half board option for all nights (I was fit to bursting by the last day) and staff were always courteous. One of the highlights was the hotel in Chitenay which had a peaceful outdoor courtyard where dinner was served as we had good weather and a pool to make the most of the last of summer in September. The bikes were sturdy and suitable to the mostly flat terrain with rolling hills, typical for a wine growing region where you also have the opportunity for wine tasting and visiting the many chateaux along the way. The standout chateau was in Chambord - impressive just from the outside alone, well worth a look inside. Luggage transfers worked smoothly. Thanks UTracks for a great first experience self guiding and in the Loire!
E. Nikol, Sydney, NSW
Per Person, Twin Share