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.
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'
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'
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'
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'
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'
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.