Cycling the Loire Valley - Sightseer Tour

Cycling the Loire Valley - Sightseer Tour

No region in France is as representative of the country's royal splendor as the Loire Valley. With grand chateaux, hilltop villages, and lazy rivers that wind through forests and vineyards, the Loire offers a feast for the senses that proclaims, "This is France!"


  • Relish traffic-free routes along designated bike paths and quiet country roads.
  • Appreciate gentle cycling terrain.
  • Enjoy a variety of activities including a guided tour of Leonardo da Vinci's Clos Lucé.
  • Stay in delightful hotels (and a castle!) without having to pack each night.
  • Engage with family and friends while exercising and relaxing in a gorgeous area.

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Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 8 Days
  • Total Distance / 238-286km (147-177 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / Average if you ride every day 48 km (30 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 1.5
  • Countries / France
  • Begin/End / Tours / Cheverny with a shuttle to Tours
  • Price / From USD$4075
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  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
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  • Reviews
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Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    French villages of Azay-le Rideau, Amboise, Tours, and Cheverny, Spectacular castles and gardens including Chambord and Chenonceau, Guided tour of Leonardo da Vinci's Clos Lucé, Guided tour of Chenonceau, Sleep in a castle, built between the 15th and 19th centuries, Pools in two of three hotels, A special behind-the-scenes tour of Chambord

    Keep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

    Because you will be using bike paths there will be limited van support. Some bike paths are very popular so although car traffic is minimal you will have instances of bike traffic.
  • Includes
    8 days, 7 nights' accommodation; 4 dinners with wine, 7 breakfasts; entry to Chambord and Chenonceaux; shuttle from Tours to the tour start; shuttle at the end of the tour to a nearby train station;

    The Usual (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)

    • Superb tour leaders who are fun, bilingual and avid cyclists.
    • Help with flights, trains and pre/post tour hotels.
    • Comfortable lodging in 3-4 star hotels. 
    • All breakfasts and at least half of your dinners.
    • Use of a high quality 27-30 speed bike.
    • Full van support to carry luggage – and tired cyclists, too! 
    • Special events like wine tastings, cultural visits and chocolatiers.
    • All tips and gratuities at tour hotels and group meals.
    • Unique routes, marked with our famous chalk dust arrows.
    • Daily mileage options.
    • Detailed route map and free use of our traveling resource library.

    What's not included:

    • Transportation to and from the bicycling tour including airfare, or train travel
    • Helmets - we ask that you bring your own to ensure the best fit
    • Meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Tour Leader gratuity

    See the complete list of what's included with every ExperiencePlus! Tour.

  • Arrive / Depart
    Paris: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or Orly (ORY)
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    **Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    43km / 194m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    3
    64km / 426m
    Mostly flat
    4
    47km / 356m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 1.5
    5
    39km / 348m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    6
    45km / 336m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    7
    51km / 245m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    8

    Tour Level Note: Though the rides are quite gentle you will encounter some rolling terrain most days. Mostly on dedicated bike paths and country lanes.

    **We use Ride With GPS (ridewithgps.com) to calculate elevation and mileage information. Due to variance between mapping technologies, totals may differ slightly across devices and applications

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary

DAY 1: Arrive in Azay-le-Rideau, France

Highlights: Château of Azay-le-Rideau

Meet your complimentary ExperiencePlus! shuttle at 12 noon at the Saint Pierre des Corps train station (4 km outside of Tours).

We'll whisk you off through French writer Honoré de Balzac's favorite countryside, to our charming country inn in Azay-le-Rideau. Make sure to visit its fairy-tale chateau: one of the most striking in all of France. Balzac once described this château as "a diamond set in the Indre River valley." We'll fit bicycles this afternoon, do a short test ride, and enjoy a special welcome dinner together.

DAY 2: Château de Langeais and Ussé

Highlights: Castles of Langeais and Ussé

Today, we'll suggest a ride to the Château de Langeais, and then on to the Château d'Ussé. A perennial ExperiencePlus! favorite for its medieval feel, tapestries, and intriguing history, the Château de Langeais boasts the oldest building you'll see all week: a tenth century keep. Continue pedaling along the Loire River to the Château d'Ussé, famed as the inspiration for Charles Pérault's Sleeping Beauty.

  • Distance: 43km (27mi)
  • Gain: 194m (636ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.0
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 3: Amboise

Highlights: Château de Villandry, Tours, Leonardo da Vinci's Amboise

Today's ride features the Château de Villandry, the last of the large Châteaux built along the Loire during the Renaissance. Visit the spectacular, ornamental gardens before continuing on bike paths by half-timber houses in Tours. From there, it's a short ride to the town of Amboise which boasts the manor house of Le Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci came to spend the last three years of his life upon invitation from the French King Francis I. Leonardo is buried in the castle's chapel.

DAY 4: Amboise

Highlights: Château d'Amboise, guided tour of Leonardo da Vinci's Clos Lucé

Take the day off your bike today to explore the rich town of Amboise. Start with a fascinating guided tour of the Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent the final years of his life. Walk through his bedroom, discover where he worked, and stroll through the vast gardens where many of his inventions were constructed for the first time. You'll have plenty of time to visit the enormous castle, taste some excellent chocolate, and lounge around the pool this afternoon. If you're set on riding your bike, Vouvray, home of world class Chenin Blanc wines awaits.

DAY 5: Amboise

Highlights: Château de Chenonceau; canoe trip down the Cher River

Head off toward the Cher River this morning where we'll regroup to canoe to the famous castle of Chenonceau. The castle forms a bridge across the river, one of the tributaries to the Loire. You'll leave your canoe here for a free afternoon to explore the castle, once occupied by Diane de Poitiers, mistress to Henri II. After the king's death in 1599, Queen Catherine de Medici reclaimed the castle and evicted de Poitiers. You can still explore the two separate gardens created for these two women.

DAY 6: Cheverny

Highlights: Château de Chaumont, Fougéres, Breuil

Pedal along the Loire river again to Chaumont, with its spectacular gardens, park, and castle perched over the Loire river valley. From there you'll bicycle to Fougéres, a lesser-known castle well worth the visit. The 15-19th century castle you'll be sleeping in tonight is surrounded by a 110-acre park. Tonight, feast on a gourmet meal together in our château.

  • Distance: 45km (28mi)
  • Gain: 336m (1102ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 7: Cheverny

Highlights: Château de Chambord and Cheverny

You have the chance to visit two of the most popular Loire Châteaux today: Chambord and Cheverny. Some say Leonardo da Vinci designed the opulent 400-room Château de Chambord when he lived at the royal court. The Château nearly bankrupted the French treasury before its completion in 1685. Enjoy a unique behind-the-scenes tour of the castle this morning. After lunch, pedal to Cheverny, another long-time favorite of ours. A celebratory dinner together this evening at our castle.

  • Distance: 51km (32mi)
  • Gain: 245m (804ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Farewell

Highlights: Bon voyage!

Your tour ends after breakfast today. We hope you've enjoyed this relaxing cultural and historic exploration of the Loire!

We'll offer a shuttle this morning to the nearby Blois Chambord train station with connections to Paris. The shuttle arrives there around 10 a.m. Bon voyage!

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

Keep in Mind

We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

Because you will be using bike paths there will be limited van support. Some bike paths are very popular so although car traffic is minimal you will have instances of bike traffic.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and departure.
  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • Begin your chosen training program: https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/bicycle-tour-training/
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike will be equipped with: a men's or women's saddle, a quick release style seat post adjustment, rear rack and expandable pack, pump, patch kit, spare tube, cable lock, cyclometer, rear lights, a water bottle cage (or two) and a water bottle (or two) and a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com. Tracks are available upon request approximately three to four weeks prior to the departure.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • Beautiful! Easy rides with amazing castles. Delicious food. Thanks for another great time biking with ExperiencePlus!

    Lou G., Fort Collins, CO - August 2018
  • Castles by day, food and wine at night - all outstanding.

    Nancy B., Baltimore, MD
  • This was my third ExperiencePlus! tour. They have all been perfect! I selected the trip because it fit my preset vacation schedule. It was an easier tour than we generally would select . The slower pace turned out to make for an absolutely delightful trip. I will never hesitate to book an experience plus trip to any location if it meets my travel schedule. I am confident that I will have a wonderful vacation whether or not the location was already on my travel to do list.

    Diane C., Boulder, CO
  • What was your favorite experience on this trip? The sunny days biking at the end, wine tasting in a cave, the food. Can''t name just one.

    Carol S., Salt Lake City, UT
  • Cool castles and chateauxs plus multi-night stays. Great experience, would highly recommend!

    Joan K., Fort Myers, FL - August 2017
  • Excellent exposure to the history of France and the castles and chateaus. Excellent routes and roads. Loved the multiple days in the same hotel and loop rides.

    Sonny L., Aurora, CO - August 2017
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