France Cycling ? The Loire Valley

Trip Length 6 Days
Group Size 4?16
Difficulty
Starting from
$3,399 for REI Members
$3,699 for non-members
Departures Jun 2020-Sep 2020
Mon���Fri 7am���5pm PT

Pedal from Blois to the impressive Chateau de Chambord over a charming 6-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 ch���teaux, 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 25 to 35 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 ch���teaux, superb vineyards, and quaint medieval villages
  • Stay in characteristic small hotels and guest houses, and follow expert guides
  • Ride 25?40 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 4?5 hours a day (25?35 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, 5 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 ch���teau 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 ch���teau, lively shops, and scenic waterfront. Do arrive in Blois no later than 5pm 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 ch���teaux of Chambord and Cheverny.

We begin straightaway with some of the Loire's most exceptional riding, a visit to the stunning Ch���teaux 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 ch���teau 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 Ch���teau 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: 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 ch���teau built on a bridge that spans the Cher River. Chenonceau is also known as the Ch���teau 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 d���cor 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 Ch���teau du Clos Luc���, 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. Optional cycling: hill climbs for guests wishing to end this day with a challenge.

Day 4

Visit a ch���teau, 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 ch���teaux, 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 ch���teau. Located on an island where it appears to float in the Indre River, the ch���teau houses a remarkable collection of Renaissance portraits and tapestries. All meals 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 Ch���teau 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-Uss��� where the shining Ch���teau 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 ch���teau 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. All meals included.

Cycling: 39 miles; Terrain: rolling hills with some climbs on paved streets, paved and dirt cycling paths.

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.

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.