Kings & their sumptuous châteaux. Mushroom caves, troglodyte houses, a museum of old buses, wine towns and their tastings, Da Vinci’s last home and a museum to his inventions. Never a dull moment, as we follow the valley of France’s longest river through the self-assured heartland that many feel is the essence of the country.
Day 1: Cross the river and cycle through the royal hunting preserve to Chambord, the largest of the Loire valley chateaux, even though it was built as a “mere” hunting lodge. The ambitious can head on to Cheverny, for the pack of hunting dogs and the extraordinary furnishings. (35-55km)
Day 2: Across the plateau which separates the Loire and Cher rivers, and to the château of Chenonceaux, the most beautiful of the Loire valley castles. Stop in Chaumont along the way, or go via Cour-Cheverny if you missed it yesterday and want to romp with the hounds. (45-55km)
Day 3: Swing through Amboise to visit the Da Vinci museum, located in the home which François I gave to the great artist and military engineer. Then on to Vouvray and its troglodyte houses. Enjoy a slow afternoon over a sampling of the delightful Vouvray sparkling wines. Tours, where we spend the night, is the owner of the Place Plumereau, our favorite town square. (40km)
Day 4: Villandry is the château with the most interesting gardens in France, including an ornamental vegetable garden. Azay is another château-in-the-middle-of-a-river. Then on through the forest of Chinon to the beautiful wine town of the same name. (60km)
Day 5: Possible destinations include the Abbey of Fontlevraud, or the very horsey town of Saumur, home to the French cavalry. Ample wine-related exploration is available in and around Chinon itself, so if you prefer you may simply leave the bike and lounge by the river. (35-70km)
Day 6: Our last biking day returns us to Tours, via the old military fortress at Langeais, and Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Ussé. Get to Tours in time for more city-related exploration, and a hopping night in one of the dance bars off the Place Plumereau. (60km)
- Trip price includes the bike!
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