Loire Gastronomic Cycling
Cycle through idyllic scenery and visit the finest chateaux in France. This is an incredibly relaxed self-guided itinerary, ideal for those who enjoy their food and wine as much as culture and cycling. The distances are kept short, with optional cycling days built in so you have plenty of time to explore the many fabulous châteaux, enjoy long lazy lunches or a lengthy stop at a vineyard. If this isn’t enough to tempt you, the setting is beautiful, with rides along the pretty river banks that meander through the countryside. To top it off, you’ll stay in superb hotels and your evening meals will be a highlight!
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Day 1: Chissay
If you have arranged to join the transfer we will pick you up from St Pierre des Corps station and take you to Chissay (please see the joining information), where your fabulous château hotel awaits. There will be time for a swim before dinner.
Day 2: River Cher & St Ouen-les-Vignes
This morning's ride will start with gentle pedalling along the banks of the Cher River, which will lead you to the superb Château de Chenonceau with its famous arches majestically spanning the river. Described by Flaubert as 'floating on air and water', it's arguably the most beautiful of all the Loire landmarks. It will be difficult to tear yourself away from this beautiful spot so it makes a great stop for lunch on the terrace of The Orangerie restaurant. You will then head off through the shady Amboise forest and on to Amboise - don't worry if you don't have time to explore properly as you can easily come back tomorrow. Your final stretch leads to the elegant village of St Ouen-les-Vignes, where you'll stay at Hotel l'Aubinière, and Jacques and Odile Arrayet's bijou hotel beside the river. Odile is a professional sommelier, and Jacques an artistic chef de cuisine, so you're in for some treats here!
Day 3: Amboise
Today is a free day but with Amboise only a 5km cycle south it makes for the perfect day trip. Visit the flamboyant royal palace and the elegant Clos Luce, a 15th Century manor house where Leonardo da Vinci lived and worked for the last few years of his life. His workshops house 40 giant models of some of his most spectacular creations - the first plane, helicopter and tank. The beautifully landscaped gardens bring life to his botanical drawings and geographical designs. Alternatively, it is an easy 15km return cycle along the river Cisse to the wine capital, Vouvray.
Day 4: Autreche to Chaumont & Ouchamps.
Today offers lovely peaceful cycling; you head north through open countryside to Autreche, there is the opportunity to see a lot of wildlife en-route so keep the binoculars handy! The route then continues on to Chaumont. The impressive 15th Century château was built on the site of the original 10th Century castle destroyed by Louis XI for the treasonable acts of its then owners. Famously Catherine de Medici forced her late husband's mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to give her Chenonceau in exchange for Chaumont. Between May and October, the chateau hosts the International Garden Festival with a different theme each year. A final, shady riverside stretch takes you via the pretty villages of Les Montils and Seur and on to Ouchamps where you'll spend the next two nights.
Day 5: Cheverny
The 17th Century château at nearby Cheverny, with its wonderful white stone facade, makes a great day trip on your bike (19km circular ride). The richness of its furnishings and antiques are incredible, and the gardens are superb. The chateau has an interesting history, as if out of a regal soap opera, including intrigue and murder. Its latter history has been a little less dramatic but the château kept its place on the main stage by being used as a model for Marlinspike Hall which features in some of the Tintin adventures.
Day 6: Montrichard
After breakfast your ride will head south past well-tended vines and sleepy hamlets surrounded by fields of sunflowers. We recommend stopping for lunch on the terrace beside the fortified chateau of Fougeres-sur-Bievre, before cycling downhill to the River Cher. Here the charming old quarter of mediaeval Montrichard is huddled beneath the 11th Century keep. The town has a definite mediaeval feel to it, particularly in some of the buildings in the square. You can sit here, enjoy a coffee and admire the half-timbered houses. The castle dominates the town and is famous for imprisoning Richard the Lionheart. A final flat cycle follows the Cher back to Château du Chissay for a well-earned dip in the pool!
Day 7: End Chissay
If you pre-book a transfer you will be taken back to St Pierre des Corps station.
Operated by Exodus Travels. *Valid on active tours only and applicable only to new bookings. Discount applies to land only price. Must be booked from April 30 to June 1, 2018 with date of first travel no later than December 31, 2020. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other discount or offer. Prices may vary based on departure date. Trip prices will be quoted in CAD. Regular booking conditions apply. Other conditions may apply. Please contact us for further details. Trip style: Self-Guided Walking with Leisurely Activity Level.
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