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Loire Castles Discovery 10-Day Self-guided Cycling Tour Level 2
This cycling tour leads you into the romantic Loire valleys and its tributaries, into the ‚Garden of France‘ and is totally characterised by royal residences built here centuries ago. Kings, overlords and court ladies seduced by the scenic allure of the region, took up residence here – and left their marks, which are best followed by bike: Villandry with its marvellous grounds, the ‚Sleeping Beauty Palace‘ Ussé, the royal abbey of Fontevraud, which was at times used as a prison, the spectacular Chenonceaux palace, built on top of the foundations of a watermill situtated directly into the river Cher … One fascinating, one-of-a-kind building followed by the next. Inbetween vineyards and wine villages oozing rural charm cover the area.
Adventurous cyclists get their money’s worth and take plenty of time escpeically for Chambord palace and the numerous sights of Blois and Amboise. Without any pressure you cycle from palace to palace, delight in the stupendous architecture and revel in the royal sense of life of a region, where the wealthy and powerful of days gone by used to abnadon themselves to idleness and where you too will feel just like you live in clover.
You cycle on side roads as well as cycle paths and dirt roads on flat terrain and gently curving Loire-valley. The terrain in the vineyards is somewhat more hilly and there are also a few short ascents to tackle (max. over a distance of 500 metres).
If you would like to rent a bike or e-bike please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
Bike from 89 EUR e-bike from 199 EUR
Slow Tours offers a number of other Cycling Tours in Europe
Arrival in Tours
Already discover the historic centre Touraine today, the highly-praised ‚Garden of France‘.
Tours –Chinon (approx. 60 km)
The river Cher leads you directly to Villandry palace with its terraced gardens. Visiting these renowned grounds is a must. Paths to stroll on in the shade, archades covered in floral splenour, fountains and the ornately arranged vegetable garden amazes each and every visitro. A few kilometres onwards you swap the Cher-riverbanks with the Loire, and again the next palace beckons: Langeais. A glance from the fortified tower (this palace was exclusively used for military purposes) and in front of you spreads the river and the entire surrounding region. At the edge of the dark and mysterious forest of Chinon rises Ussé palace, the ‚Sleeping Beauty Palace‘. Via little villages and side roads you approach today’s Day Finish Chinon.
Loop Tour Fontevraud l’Abbaye (approx. 55 km)
The river Vienne initially leads you into the little village of Candes-St-Martin. At the place of death of Saint Martin an amazing Romanesque church was built. In Montsoreau the river Vienne joins the mighty river Loire – an impressive nature spectacle. The ‚Cave Gardens‘ feature a length of over 800 km. You cycle through neat vineyards to Fontevraud l'Abbaye. Nowhere else in the world will you come across a medieval monastery complex so completely preserved as Fontevraud. Now follows a ‚literary return journey‘ to Chinon. Your route leads you past the birth place of the distinguished author Francois Rabelais, as well as through the valley where the plot of his famous book "Gargantua" takes place.
Chinon – Azay-le-Rideau (approx. 40 km)
You leave Chinon with its medieval alleyways clustered between river and castle headed North. The route leads you through old vineyards and remote villages to Crissay, with its houses dating back to the 15th century it is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. Naturally again today you get to marvel at yet another palace, in fact a grade A specimen: Azay-le-Rideau, a Renaissance palace featuring peak perfection. ‚A diamond with a thousand facets, set by the river Indre‘, according to the words of Balzac. What else is there to say? You spend the night directly in the village and hence have the opportunity to enjoy the magic of the palace together with its cultural events.
Azay-le-Rideau –Chenonceaux (approx. 60 km)
A scenic highlight lies ahead: Through the romantic river landscape always following the river Indre you reach the pretty little town of Montbazon. A short ascent awaits, a few hard pushes into the pedals and you have tackled the little ridge into the Cher-river valley. Along path across meadows you cycle along the river Cher to Bléré, a little market town and then onwards to your history-charged Day Finish with palalce, Chenonceaux. Chenonceau palace is probably the most beautiful of all the Loire palaces and rises from a one-of-a-kind location. A splendid, two-storey bridge-gallery spans across the river and before that is the stunning castle garden to marvel at ... but please discover yourself.
Chenonceaux – Blois (approx. 45 km)
Now the flair of the villages slowly starts to change, the old houses are more and more built with bricks as are the roofs, you cycle through vast forests, agriculture is less intensive, the sois sandy. This area situated in close vicinity of the royal residences was once a popular hunting ground of the nobility, however offered people few opportunities and hence remaind sparsely populated. The livelier the town of Blois presents itself, built on top of several hills. Apart from the palace you also particularly worth visiting are the cathedral here, the perfectly restored historic centre and the stone bridge across the Loire.
Loop tour to the castle Chambord (approx. 50 km)
Today is mostly dedicated to Chambord palace. Already from a distance this largest and most stupendous residence on the river Loire is shimmering through the trees. You get a very good idea of the incredible dimensions of the complex if you cycle around the palace along the canal. Just the park is a large as the 20 districts of Paris and is surrounded by a 35 km long wall. Half a millennium of French history in Chambord has left its mark: built in the Renaissance are under the art-loving King Francois I., venue for glittering parties and hunting festivities under ‚le Roi Soleil‘ Ludwig XIV., plundered during the French Revolution and today after Versaille the second most visited palace in France. It will be very easy for you to find lots of good reasons for it.
Blois – Amboise (approx. 40 km)
The Loire-cycle path leads you from Blois to Chaumont-sur-Loire. The palace here has never been a royal residence and is hence a bit of an insider tip. It is a sight to see mainly due to the giant park, the annual venue for an international garden show. You end your day in Amboise, whose palace is an especially early example for Renaissance architecture in the Loire-valley. One of the greatest artists of this era found his final resting place here: the town house Clos Lucé attached to the castle is very much dedicated to the memory of Leonardo da Vinci.
Amboise – Tours (approx. 30 km)
The final stage of your cycling tour leads you once more into the vineyards on the slopes above the river Loire, into the wine-growing area Montlouis-sur-Loire and the little town witht the same name with its idyllic location on the river. Here we recommend a short break before you continue again along the riverbank back to Tours. Seize the remaining time after this rather short cycle tour to again thoroughly explore Tours. There are plenty of options: the basilica Saint-Martin, the botanical gardens, the historic town centre with ‚Place Plumereau‘, only to name a few.
Day 10: Departure or extension
If you would like to drive yourself before or after your tour, ask us for a quote on any brand new Renault, Peugeot or Citroen vehicle for driving in Europe.
Pick up your vehicle from most capital cities in Europe and return it to your drop off destination. Top insurance cover. Email [email protected] for a competitive quote
Shows in English in Paris: Paris offers a wide variety of shows accessible to English-speakers. One-man shows, classic & modern theatre, musicals, cabarets and more are all performed in the city every night. You can get the full programme of shows in Paris to fit your city break dates by emailing [email protected]