The Loire Valley Tour

Do you want to experience the best that the Loire Valley has to offer; superb gastronomy, beautiful biking, and gorgeous chateaux? This charming tour starts in Tours, easily accessible from Paris by TGV. From there we’ll transfer to our first chateau hotel, with its delightfully maintained grounds and nice view over Tours. Chateau de Villandry, with the most beautiful formal gardens in all the Loire Valley, and Chateau Azay-le-Rideau are a bike ride away. In Amboise we’ll stay overnight in a beautifully furnished chateau along the River Loire. We’ll visit the captivating Chateau de Chenonceau the next morning and returning to Amboise, we’ll have ample time for some shopping or a visit to Clos Luce, the museum dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. In Cheverny we’ll stay the last two days in the elegant Chateau du Breuil, built at the end of the 17th century. You’ll be amazed by the exquisite food and enjoy the long ride through the 70 acres of grounds that lead up to the handsome castle! Also on the tour are medieval towns and abbeys, six days lodging in private chateaux, fabulous food, biking on picturesque and tranquil rural roads, and an optional visit to a local winery. Tours are 7 days and 6 nights in length with two nights each in chateau hotels or manors in Joue-les-Tours, Amboise and Cheverny. This tour is limited to 14 people!

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Tours – Joue-lËs-Tours
We’ll welcome you at the train station in Tours around 1:30 PM. Then we’ll enjoy a cafe lunch and a short walk through the historic center of Tours. Afterward we’ll be transported to our first impressive, 15th century chateau-hotel. Before dinner there is time for a warm-up ride to and around a nearby lake. Then we return to our “home” for the night where a lovingly prepared dinner by our host Jean-Pierre Lozay, a Master Chef of France, is waiting for us.

Day 2: Round-trip Joue-lËs-Tours – Azay-le-Rideau – Joue-lËs-Tours – 34 miles
Today we’ll bike to the famous Gardens of the Chateau de Villandry, the most beautiful formal gardens in the Loire Valley. The gardens were originally planted by monks and are spectacular in their geometric design and their array of colors. After our visit in the late morning we’ll bike along the River Loire and are treated to delightful views on this shallow, peacefully flowing river. Just before lunch we reach the village of Azay-le Rideau. Here we’ll visit the beautiful Chateau Azay-le-Rideau, the “Pearl of the Loire Valley”, nestled in the middle of a shimmering lake. Through radiant rural countryside and fields of sunflowers standing at attention we’ll cycle on past the village of Sache known for its handsome Chateau, home first to the French writer Balzac and then to the American artist, Alexander Calder. Dinner again in the elegant restaurant of our chateau hotel.

Day 3: Joue-lËs-Tours – Amboise – 34 miles
Today we’ll cycle over quiet country roads to lovely Veigne with its gorgeous flower covered bridge across the River Indre, definitely a “photo-op”. In the afternoon we’ll pedal through peaceful woods, beautiful countryside and sleepy villages, passing a few castles on our way to Blere, an old town with a very nice center for some shopping (why not; those presents go in the van anyway!). We’ll conclude our day’s cruise through cool and peaceful woods, once a royal hunting ground, to bustling, riverside town of Amboise with its massive chateau perched high above the banks of the gurgling Rive Loire. Before another fine French dinner there’s time to stroll through this charming town and take some memorable photos from the bridge crossing the River Loire at one of its widest parts.

Day 4: Round-trip Amboise – Chenonceaux – Amboise – 20 miles
We’ll leave early today to visit the remarkable Chateau Chenonceau that stretches across the River Cher in a perfect harmony of “water, greenery, gardens and trees”. It is one of the most visited landmarks in all of France. The chateau is dedicated to the “Ladies of Chenonceau”, six women under whose influence this elegant chateau developed from a fortified mill. After Chenonceau we’ll bike through gently rolling farmland and woods with some panoramic views back to Amboise. There is enough time to stroll through the medieval market square and visit the Chateau d’Amboise or the fascinating Clos Luce, a 15th century mansion that was the last home of Leonardo da Vinci and is now a museum dedicated to the genius of this artist. Models of the many drawings of his inventions are here on display. Dinner is on your own tonight in one of Amboise’s many, charming restaurants and afterward, in the summer months, you might opt to see the historical “Light and Sound” show at the Chateau d’Amboise, one of the best in the region.

Day 5: Amboise – Chambord – Cheverny – 36 miles
Today we’ll first pass by the small and charming Chaumont Castle, majestically situated over the River Loire. This is where Diane Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II, was banned to after Henry’s death, by his wife, Catherine de Medici. We’ll all agree that it is not a bad place to spend your life, although after Chenonceau Diane detested it. Afterward we’ll bike through peaceful, quiet countryside on our way to the exquisite Chateau Cheverny. Its classical faÁade is built of white stone and is crowned by a splendid slate roof. The interior is sumptuously decorated with furniture and sculptures. It is one of the few important chateaux in the Loire Valley still privately owned. Then stop at a local winery on the way to our elegant private chateau hotel, surrounded by 70 acres of lovely greenery. Here you can take a refreshing swim in the pool before dinner.

Day 6: Round-trip Cheverny – 30 miles
Great biking today through sleepy hamlets and villages before we enter the Parc de Chambord. The imposing Castle Chambord, the largest of the Loire country chateaux, is awaiting our arrival. Its sudden appearance at the end of an avenue and the sight of its huge, white mass makes an awe-inspiring impression. Leonardo da Vinci designed the architecturally remarkable double spiral staircase inside. After our visit and lunch, another great ride through woods and beautiful sunflower fields will bring us back to Cheverny. We’ll pass by many small wineries as we ponder our final incomparable French dinner!

Day 7:
After breakfast we’ll provide a group transfer to the train station in Blois for the train ride back to Paris. Departure time is scheduled early so that you might be able to catch an early afternoon flight. It takes about 2 hours on the regular train from Blois to Paris (there is no TGV) and at least another hour to get to the Charles de Gaulle Airport from the station in Paris.

Getting There

Tour begins around 1:30 PM in the train station in Tours. You can easily reach Tours from Paris by TGV (one hour) or regular train (two hours). You will receive the exact meeting time after full payment is received.

Meals

You will enjoy daily breakfast and five dinners of superb three or four-courses. Lunch is not included in the price; most days we will dine in a local restaurant.

Prices and Dates

Check out our Tour Calendar under “Hotel Tours”

Tour Length

7 days/ 6 nights

Included
      – 6 nights lodging in three and four-star hotels with private facilities
      – 5 dinners and 6 breakfasts
      – Entrance fees to five Chateaux
      – Outstanding, personalized leadership by VGT’s owner and co-guide
      – Support van
      – 24-speed bike rental
      – Transportation from Tours and to Blois
      – Daily route directions
      – Baggage handling
    – All taxes and gratuities for the hotel and restaurant portions of the tour
Bicycles

24-speed hybrid Specialized bikes are included on the tour. Bicycles come equipped with: grip shifters, handlebar bag, bell, cage and water bottle, optional toe clips, optional rear view mirror and rear pannier. It is also possible to replace our pedals with your own “clip on” pedals. Helmets are not included; please bring your own helmet! We do have a few helmets available for rent for $20 for the week. If you wish to rent one, please let us know ahead of time.

Level of Difficulty

Daily cycling distance is between 24-35 miles per day on rolling terrain with many level stretches. We rate this tour easy to moderate. Remember that the van is usually very close by and you can join the “lonely driver” if you need a break from riding!

Excluded

– Airfare
– Alcoholic and bar beverages
– One dinner
– 6 lunches
– Independent sightseeing
– Transportation other than scheduled VGT transfers
– Other items of a personal nature

Weather

The Loire Valley is known for its mild climate. Average daytime temperature in late May is 72F and in September 70F.

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