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 – Joué-lès-Tours
We’ll welcome you at the train station in Tours around 1:00 p.m. Together we will enjoy lunch as we get to know one another. Then we’ll enjoy 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’s time for a warm-up ride around a nearby lake. Then we’ll return to our home for the night, where a lovingly prepared dinner will be waiting for us.
Day 2: Joué-lès-Tours – Villandry- Azay-le-Rideau – Joué-lès-Tours – 34 miles (55 km)
Today we’ll bike to the famous Gardens of the Chateau de Villandry, the most beautiful formal gardens in the Loire Valley. These gardens were originally planted by monks and feature spectacular geometric designs and an array of colours. After our visit in the late morning, we’ll bike along the River Loire and take in the delightful views of this shallow, peacefully flowing river. Just before lunch we’ll 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 charming rural countryside and fields of radiant sunflowers, we’ll cycle past the village of Sache, known for its handsome Chateau that was home first to the French writer Balzac and then to the American artist Alexander Calder. Dinner will be served in the elegant restaurant of our chateau hotel.

Day 3: Joué-lès-Tours – Amboise – 24 miles (39 km)
Today we’ll cycle the whole day following “La Loire a Velo,” the 800-km long cycle trail which follows the Loire river from Cuffy to St. Brevin-les-Pins. This is easy cycling as we follow along the river for most of the day, stopping once in the charming town of Montlouis-sur-Loire for either a coffee break or a wine tasting (your choice!). For lunch we will dine together in the middle of the Montlouis vineyards, having a simple but very French lunch of charcuterie (assorted meats), fromage (assorted cheeses), a bit of fruit and veggies, and of course wine. We’ll conclude our day’s cruise through cool and peaceful woods and onto the bustling riverside town of Amboise with its massive chateau perched high above the gurgling River 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: Amboise – Chenonceau – Amboise – 22 miles (36 km)
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’s 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 was developed from a fortified mill. After Chenonceau we’ll bike through gently rolling farmland and woods with some panoramic views back to Amboise. There’s enough time to stroll through the medieval market square and visit the Chateau d’Amboise or the fascinating Clos Lucé, 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 built from the 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 – Cheverny – 40 miles (64 km)
Today we’ll first pass by the small and charming Chaumont Castle, situated over the River Loire. This is where Diane Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II, was banished to by Henry’s wife, Catherine de Medici, after the King’s death. We’ll all agree that it’s not a bad place to spend an exile (although after living in Chenonceau, Diane detested it). Afterward, we’ll bike through peaceful countryside on our way to the exquisite Chateau Cheverny. Its classical façade is built of white stone and crowned by a splendid slate roof. The interior is sumptuously decorated with furniture and sculptures. It’s one of the few important chateaux in the Loire Valley that’s still privately owned. Then we’ll stop at a local winery on the way to our private chateau hotel, surrounded by acres of lovely greenery.

Day 6: Round-trip Cheverny – 30 miles (49 km)
Today we’ll bike through sleepy hamlets and villages before entering the Parc de Chambord. The imposing Chateau de Chambord, the largest of the Loire country chateaux, awaits us. The sudden appearance of its huge white walls at the end of a long avenue makes an awe-inspiring impression. Leonardo da Vinci designed the double spiral staircase inside, an architectural marvel. After a visit and some 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 French dinner!

Day 7: Tour Ends
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 1:00 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

Daily buffet breakfast, 3 lunches, 2 coffee breaks and 5 dinners are included in the tour price. For the buffet breakfasts there’s an assortment of cold meats and cheeses, eggs, bread, croissants, jam, cereal, yogurt, fruit, coffee, and tea. For the two included lunches we’ll stop together at local restaurants that feature local ingredients. For 3 lunches we’ll be in a town with lots of choices of simple to extravagant restaurants. For our coffee breaks, you have your choice of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, water, juice, or soda. Dinners are 4 to 5 courses with either a set menu or a choice of 2 or 3 options. Dinners on this tour are really exquisite and very well-prepared with fresh and local ingredients from the Loire Valley region. In Amboise, dinner is on your own and you can choose one of many delicious restaurant options within easy walking distance from our hotel.

We can accommodate many types of dietary restrictions including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy free. Please indicate these requests at the time of booking.

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, 3 lunches, 2 coffee breaks, and daily 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 Trek 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
– 3 lunches
– Independent sightseeing
– Transportation other than scheduled VGT transfers

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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