France Cycling – The Loire Valley

Trip Length 7 Days
Group Size 4–16
Activity level
Starting from
$3,899 for REI Members
$4,199 for non-members
Departures Jun 2021-Sep 2021

Pedal from Blois to the impressive Chateau de Chambord over a charming 7-day adventure in beautiful Loire Valley.

The bustling city streets, quiet back roads, and protected cycling paths of the Loire Valley are ideal for any adventurer seeking to explore the stunning "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 provide unbeatable scenery.

We ride 22 to 37 miles each day, mostly on quiet roads that wind through pastoral scenes. Our Loire Valley tour is all about easy riding with an abundance of stops to take in the aura of the region. 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. Each night is spent in the comfort of a noteworthy small hotel or guesthouse in the company of like-minded adventurers. Our exceptional guides share their firsthand knowledge of the history and geography of the region, ensuring our Loire Valley cycling tour is unforgettable.

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Trip Highlights

  • 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 22–37 miles a day with soft hills, request an E-bike for a gentler ride
  • Sample regional wine and freshly-prepared cuisine

Activities

This trip is rated Easy Active [2]. Participants should be experienced cyclists who are comfortable riding 3–4 hours a day (22–37 miles) on a variety of surfaces including paved and gravel bike paths, city streets with vehicle traffic, country roads and dirt trails. The terrain in the Loire Valley is mostly relatively flat; however, we will encounter rolling hills and steeper hills in some places. An E-bike will flatten the hills for those wanting the true "easy active" experience.

We cycle directly to/from our hotel each day; all guest luggage is transported by our van, which has room for a maximum of two riders (and their bikes) who wish to take a break from riding.

  • Road Cycling
  • Cycling

What's Included

Double-occupancy accommodations and meals as noted in the itinerary; hybrid touring bicycles; bilingual cycling guide; support staff; most chateau and vineyard entrance fees; cue sheets/maps; vehicle support (note that there are times when the vehicle may be unavailable).

Accommodations

Small hotels, 6 nights

Your wheels for the journey

Every great tour begins with a great bike, and our top-flight fleet has been carefully curated for your cycling adventure.

Want to bring your own bike?  You can do that too.

Your Adventure Itinerary

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 (two hours) to Blois. We recommend you arrive early to explore beautiful Blois and its grand château, lively shops and scenic waterfront. Arrive in Blois in time for a 5pm bike fitting, followed by a group orientation dinner at a delightful local restaurant 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 back roads 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. The gardens and superbly restored interiors of Cheverny are a must-see on our way to Chiteney, where we stop for the night at a charming small guesthouse. All meals included.

Cycling: 34 miles (3–4 hours, paved/dirt roads/trails), Elevation gain/loss: +933' / -880'

Day 3

Ride to lovely Amboise, once home to French royalty

Our day begins with a splendid ride through the vineyards of Cheverny to the "Loire à Vélo" cycling path. We'll pedal along the Loire River on our way to the charming city of Amboise, where the greatest kings of France lived in the Royal Château. Along the route we'll stop to visit the Château du Clos Lucé, the last home of Leonardo da Vinci. At the request of the French King François 1st, da Vinci spent the last three years of his life here and we’ll discover his workshop and the fabulous machines designed by the great creative genius. A short ride brings us to our hotel where we’ll have a few hours to unwind before meeting for dinner. Breakfast and dinner included.

Cycling: 31 miles (3–4 hours, paved/dirt roads/trails), Elevation gain/loss: +911' / -999'

Day 4

Amboise to Tours

Back on our bikes, we ride to the iconic Château de Chenonceau, 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. Back in the saddle we cross the vineyards of Montlouis following the "Loire à Vélo" cycling path and discover the numerous cellars producing the region's famous sweet white and sparkling wines. Cycling into the city of Tours, a Unesco World Heritage site, and the capital of the Loire Valley, we’ll soak in the medieval vibe of the old quarter with its half-timbered French houses and cobbled streets. We'll walk to a local restaurant for dinner together. All meals included.

Cycling: 33 miles (3-4 hours, paved/dirt roads/trails), Elevation gain/loss: +911' / -940'

Day 5

Chateau of Villandry and wine tasting in Chinon

After breakfast, we’ll saddle up and ride from the city center of Tours, soon connecting with the "Loire à Vélo" cycling path. We’ll stop for 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 the medieval town of Chinon, dominated by its massive castle where Joan of Arc met with King Charles VII in 1429. Famous for its red wine, we will sample some of the best at a wine tasting this afternoon. We'll wander the narrow cobblestone streets of this Unesco World Heritage Site on our way to another dinner together. All meals included.

Cycling: 37 miles (4–5 hours, paved/dirt roads/trails), Elevation gain/loss: +972' / -1,027'​

Day 6

Visit Fontevraud Abbey and cycle to Saumur

Our final ride along the Loire River leads to the pristine village of Candes-Saint-Martin, where we can visit the magnificent fortified collegiate church where Saint Martin de Tours was laid to rest. A short pedal later, we arrive at what is commonly thought of as one of the most beautiful villages in France: Montsoreau. Fontevraud Abbey will be our next point of interest where we'll visit the vast, imposing abbey. Founded in 1099, it's Europe's largest remaining monastic complex. The abbey's necropolis holds the recumbent effigies of King Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, their son Richard the Lionheart, and their daughter-in-law Isabella of Angoulême. Finally, the last leg of our cycling tour brings us to the lovely city of Saumur. Enjoy a farewell dinner and a final night in the French countryside before turning in for the night. All meals included.

Cycling: 22 miles (2–3 hours, paved/dirt roads/trails), Elevation gain/loss: +953' / -928'​

Day 7

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.

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.

Collection of selected R E I Co-op cycling merchandise and snacks laid out to pack for a bike tour

What to pack

Contact Us

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 REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.