- Cycle the quiet back roads of the Loire Valley, the "Garden of France"
- Visit majestic châteaux, superb vineyards, and quaint medieval villages
- Stay in characteristic small hotels and guest houses, and follow expert guides
- Ride 25-40 miles a day along quiet back roads
- Sample regional wine and freshly-prepared cuisine
The city streets, quiet back roads, and protected cycling paths of the Loire Valley are ideal for any adventurer seeking to explore the luscious "Garden of France." Centuries ago, French kings and nobility poured into the Loire Valley with the greatest architects of the age, constructing the majestic châteaux, gardens, and vineyards that now number among Europe's most beloved treasures. The region's mild climate is ideal for cycling. Its river-laced landscape, dotted with small churches, family farms, historic villages, and breathtaking castles, provides unbeatable scenery.
We ride 25 to 40 miles each day, mostly on quiet back roads that wind through pastoral scenes. Pass traditional communities with fresh flower markets, produce stands, and fine chocolate, while sampling the region's exceptional wines and authentic, freshly-prepared French cuisine. We spend each night in a comfortable, distinctive small hotel or guesthouse. Sharing their expert first-hand knowledge of cycling and the history of this remarkable region, our outstanding local guides provide a Loire Valley cycling tour that is simply unforgettable.
- Day 1 - Arrive in Blois and explore its grand château and scenic waterfront.
- Day 2 - Visit the superb châteaux of Chambord and Cheverny.
- Day 3 - Ride to lovely Amboise, once home to French royalty.
- Day 4 - Visit a château, Villandry, and marvel at medieval Langeais.
- Day 5 - Ride to Château d'Usse and taste wine at the vineyards of Champigny.
- Day 6 - Our cycling adventure in the "Garden of France" ends.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Arrive in Blois and explore its grand château and scenic waterfront.
Our trip begins today in Blois, France. After arriving in Paris, transfer independently via train to Blois (two hours) and then by taxi an additional 2 km (5 minutes) to our hotel. We recommend you arrive early to explore beautiful Blois and its grand château, lively shops, and scenic waterfront. Do arrive in Blois no later than 5 p.m. for a bike fitting, followed by a group orientation dinner at a delightful local restaurant, Le Monarque, in the city's historic center just a short walk from our hotel. Dinner included.
Day 2 - Visit the superb châteaux of Chambord and Cheverny.
We begin straightaway with some of the Loire's most exceptional riding, a visit to the stunning Châteaux of Chambord and Cheverny, and end in lovely Chitenay. Crossing the Loire River, we follow quiet backroads and bike paths to the awe-inspiring Chambord estate, whose formidable medieval walls and towers surround the Loire's great jewel of French Renaissance architecture. We'll explore the château and enjoy lunch nearby, then return to our bikes and set off through the forest on the estate's picturesque bridal paths leading out to the charming small community of Bracieux. From here, we ride on to the Château of Cheverny. Cheverny's gardens and superbly restored interiors are a must-see on our way to Chiteney, where we stop for the night at a charming small guesthouse. Breakfast and dinner included.
Cycling: 35 miles; Terrain: mostly flat on paved streets and cycling paths with some short sections of dirt/sand trail.
Day 3 - Ride to lovely Amboise, once home to French royalty.
Our day begins with a transfer by van (provided) to Chenonceau, the iconic château built on a bridge that spans the Cher River. Chenonceau is also known as the Château of the Three Ladies, referring to the three women – Katherine Briconnet, Diane de Poitiers (Henri II's mistress) and Catherine de Medici – who lived in the castle between 1513-1589 and greatly contributed to its opulent décor and preservation. From here, we return to the back roads and protected bike paths leading north through vineyard, field and forest to charming city of Amboise, where some of the most important French royalty lived and where the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, the Château du Clos Lucé, is located. We'll visit Clos Luce and enjoy lunch in Amboise. Leaving there in the afternoon, we ride along the Loire River through the vineyards at Montlouis then continue on to Tours and our next charming hotel. We'll enjoy drinks and dinner in the charming town center and retire here for the evening. Breakfast, dinner included.
Cycling: 27 miles; Terrain: rolling with some hills on country roads, paved streets and cycling paths.
Day 4 - Visit a château, Villandry, and marvel at medieval Langeais.
Today we'll depart Tours on our bikes and ride the city streets to rejoin the back roads and cycling paths leading from Tours west along the Loire River, making several interesting stops en route to Azay-le-Rideau. We begin with a very special visit to the last of the great renaissance Châteaux, Villandry, whose fame is undoubtedly owed to the layers of immaculate terraced gardens surrounding it. From Villandry, we ride on to Langeais as we marvel at architectural reminders of the hazardous Middle Ages, when medieval fortresses were designed to be impregnable! From there, we follow our route through the valley of the River Indre to end the day's ride at Azay-le-Rideau, with a tour of its romantic château. Located on an island where it appears to float in the Indre River, the château houses a remarkable collection of Renaissance portraits and tapestries. Breakfast, dinner included.
Cycling: 24 miles; Terrain: Mostly flat with rolling hills, on paved streets, some sections of cobblestone, cycling paths and country roads.
Day 5 - Ride to Château d'Usse and taste wine at the vineyards of Champigny.
Our final big day of riding begins as we head west to rejoin the Loire River and Rigny-Ussé where the shining Château d'Usse still stands long after inspiring Perrault to pen the fairy tale "La Belle au Bois Dormant" (Sleeping Beauty) in 1696. We continue riding towards the confluence between the River la Vienne and Loire River to one of the most beautiful tiny villages of the Loire valley, Candes-Saint-Martin, where you can visit the magnificent 12th and 13th century collegiate church. Proceeding to the village of Montsoreau dominated by its château overlooking the Loire river, we ride on along troglodyte sites to the vineyards at Champigny for a late afternoon wine-tasting. Finally, we arrive in Saumur at the end of our tour. Enjoy a farewell dinner and a final night in the French countryside before turning in for the night. Breakfast, dinner included.
Cycling: 39 miles; Terrain: rolling hills with some climbs on paved streets, paved and dirt cycling paths. Optional cycling: hill climbs for guests wishing to end this day with a challenge.
Day 6 - Our cycling adventure in the "Garden of France" ends.
After breakfast, transfer independently from our hotel in Saumur to the local train station for a rail connection back to Paris and homeward bound flights. Our hotel can assist with taxi service. Breakfast included.
Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control. From time to time, weather conditions or the interests of the group may provide an opportunity for the guides to change the route, or visit additional interesting sites such as a cheese factory or wine cellar. These changes are at the discretion of the guides. Periodically, vehicle support is intermittent while we travel on cycling paths with no vehicle access. In these cases, riders can rendezvous with vehicle support at designated points. Full vehicle support is available along the vast majority of the planned route.
We use Scott Sportster P6 hybrid bikes with medium-narrow tires, a comfortable seat and flat handle bars (not road bike drop bars). Each bike comes with a small patch kit, two panniers, a handlebar bag with map holder, and a rear rack with a bungee. Flat pedals are provided; you are welcome to bring your own pedal and shoe system.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
Trip price includes accommodations for five nights in double rooms with private bath, meals as noted in the daily itinerary, bicycle with panniers and handlebar bag and map holder, guide leadership, luggage transfers, full vehicle support when riding roads, most chateau and vineyard entrance fees, cue sheets/maps.
Airfare to Paris, transfer to Blois on Day 1 and from Saumur on Day 6, lunches, alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages, gratuities, travel insurance, laundry expenses and items of a personal nature.
This trip is rated Moderate . All participants should be comfortable riding on a variety of surfaces including paved and gravel bike paths, city streets with vehicle traffic, country back roads and dirt trails. Participants should have cycling experience that includes shifting gears, braking, riding in groups and riding safety, in addition to being comfortable riding for 4-5 hours per day. The terrain in the Loire Valley is relatively flat; however we will encounter rolling hills and steeper hills in some places. A regular conditioning program beginning at least 2-3 months prior to departure is recommended consisting of cycling (with some hill work), walking/running and a daily stretching regimen. Ensuring you are comfortable in the saddle for daily rides of 24-39 miles will greatly enhance your ability to fully enjoy all this adventure has to offer. We cycle directly to/from our hotel each day, with all guest luggage transported by our van, which has room for a maximum of two riders (and their bikes) who wish to take a break from riding.
The climate in the Loire Valley is temperate, with some periods of high heat and humidity during mid-summer months. Generally, daytime temperatures average 70-80° F with evenings dropping into the 60s. High humidity can compound the challenge of mid-summer heat. Although this region of France typically records the lowest amount of annual rainfall, some showers are a possibility so effective raingear is a necessity.
If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Loire Valley Cycling Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff.
- Scott Sportster P6 hybrid bike, 21-speed
- Toe clips, basket type (optional)
- Rear rack and bungee cord
- Rear panniers (2)
- Handlebar bag with map holder
- Maps and cue sheets
- Repair kit, including spare tire
- Water bottle cage (2)
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- One piece of luggage, wheels and a retractable handle are recommended
- Daypack or carry-on bag
- Luggage tags and locks
- Security wallet or money belt
- Sweater and/or light jacket and/or windbreaker
- Long pants
- Long sleeve shirt
- Sun hat
- Cycling jerseys, short and long sleeve
- Cycling tights or pants
- Cycling shorts
- Cycling raingear, jacket and pants, waterproof and breathable
- Cycling vest
- Arm and/or leg warmers
- Cycling gloves, both short and long fingered
- Headband, sweatband, beanie, etc.
- Cycling socks
- Cycling shoes (see "Things to Consider")
- Walking shoes or sandals
- Sport/cycling sunglasses
- Sunblock and lip balm
- Toiletry kit
- Personal first-aid kit
- Water bottle(s) or hydration pack
- Camera + memory, batteries, charger
- Electrical adapter plug/converter
- Ear plugs
- Reading and writing materials
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- Laundry bag, cord and soap
- Bike rear view mirror
- Bike computer
- Heart rate monitor
- Saddle (without the post) or gel seat cover
- Favorite energy snacks / drinks
Things to Consider
- Always pack essential items such as your passport, REI Adventures trip final bulletin, money, eyewear, medications and a change of clothes in your carry-on baggage, in case your luggage is delayed.
- We recommend bright-colored bicycle clothing for visibility and safety.
- Always test your clothing layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding.
- If you are not bringing a shoe and pedal system (optional), you will need a shoe designed for cycling or cross training to be used with the provided flat pedals (toe clips are optional). Consider these features: lightweight, closed toe, designed with stiffer soles to provide more efficient energy transfer as you pedal. Stiff soles protect your feet while riding and support the full length of your foot to reduce cramping and fatigue.
- If you bring your own saddle, please bring only the seat and not the seat post. Seat posts are not universal and will likely not fit the bike you'll be riding. You are welcome to bring a gel seat cover for use on the provided saddle.
- Formal attire is not required at restaurants. Comfortable, casual clothes are appropriate for sit-down meals. We suggest bringing slacks, shorts that are mid-thigh or longer, skirts, or summer dresses in fabrics that are easy to wash and wear.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.