Accommodation: 2 fabulous chateaux and a manor house. Dinner (3 courses) is included each night.
Cycling mileage: 3 days of cycling 11 - 36 miles (18 - 57 km) per day and 3 further days of optional cycling. Bike hire is included. Helmets are not available.
Grade out of 5 based on distance and elevation: 4
Traffic free: Very little but low traffic on almost all the route.
Nowhere in France will you find as many 'chateaux' and manor houses as in the Loir Valley. This is the Loir without an 'e'. The castles along this river may not be quite as majestic as those of its famous 'sister' valley, the Loire, but they are certainly equally beautiful. Here you cycle along country lanes with almost no traffic, riding through shady woods and yellow fields of sunflowers along the way. Vineyards, ancient cave dwellings, vineyard labourer's cottages, châteaux, manor houses, old churches, picturesque villages and lovely towns like La Flèche, all contribute to the charm of this valley. At the end of each day, you'll feel like a lord arriving at his castle, as you enter the estate where you'll spend the night. Meet the charming owners, delight your palate at dinner and then sleep peacefully in style.
Additional night in Seiches sur Loir at the end of the tour.
Day One - Seiches sur Loir
Arrive in Angers and we will transfer you to Seiches sur Loir where Brigitte and Eric will more than warmly welcome you to their lovely manor house Domaine de Bré set on the banks of the river. Your cycling equipment will be waiting for you and a wonderful dinner.
Day Two - Circular ride from Seiches sur Loir. Optional 26 miles (41 km).
The tour begins with the most demanding day of riding - 100m of ascents and fabulous downhills through the winding and picturesque Loir Valley. This heart-shaped 'route au Coeur' takes you through the village of Seiches sur Loir, and past the chapel in Mateflon, where you have a marvellous view overlooking the Loir river. Take a short break at the abandoned old watermill and enjoy the music of nothing but the sound of water and birds. A narrow gravel road takes you along the river for a stretch before you move inland to explore some of the fine castles of this valley. Return to Seiches for dinner.
Day Three - Seiches sur Loir to Oizé. 26 miles (41 km).
Still pedaling on quiet country lanes in the Loir, you head towards Durtal and its castle. Here you'll find proof that, aside from the Loire valley, castle builders also found this area perfect for their masterpieces. You continue on to another small castle, the 15th-16th century chateau of Bazouges right on the bank of the river. There's a lovely view here of the watermill as you ride over the bridge into the slightly more sloping terrain of the green St. Jean valley. Pass the fascinating monumental 'menhirs'.or standing stones as you approach Oizé where you will find beautiful Chateau d'Oyre and its swimming pool. The kitchen is all important here and you will be served a fine dinner.
Day Four - Circular ride from Oizé. Optional 31 miles (50 km).
Today features a most magnificent forest - the Forest of Bercé which embraces the heavily wooded Sarthe river valley. Home to one of the most beautiful oak groves in all Europe with species more than 350 years old and 50 metres high, this is your opportunity to reconnect with nature. Cycle through these ancient woodlands, through fruit plantations and a rural landscape dotted with forgotten villages back to stylish reality at Chateau d'Oyre.
Day Five - Oizé to Durtal. 33 miles (53 km).
Enjoy some great cycling today along the south bank of the river Loir. Relax by the shores of Lake Mansigne before reaching the charming riverside town of La Fleche, famous for its zoo with over 1200 species. Pedal through shaded woodland, .picturesque villages with vineyard labourer's cottages and for the last few miles, through the forest which forms part of the grounds of the charming Château Chambiers where you will spend the night. Chill out with a drink in the delightful gardens and look forward to a delicious dinner.
Day Six - Circular ride to Baugé and back. Optional 21 or 36 miles (34 or 57 km).
Fields of sunflowers, vineyards and castles are enroute as you pedal to Baugé . Admire the churches too on your way there as this is the region of the twisted spires. In the 15th century, Baugé was the residence of Yolande of Aragon, mother of the future King René. The Château in the centre, with its elegant spiral staircase, now houses a museum. . You may also enjoy a wine tasting session in the village of Lué and perhaps ask them for their great 'wine marmalade'. Return to Chateau Chambiers for a 2nd night there.
Day Seven - Durtal to Seiches sur Loir and depart Angers. 11 or 31 miles (18 or 50 km).
The tour ends with a short spin back to Domaine de Bré at Seiches and a transfer to Angers. For those adding an additional night in Seiches, there is a wonderful longer ride back to the home spot.
Also see tour packages in:
Europe France Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey
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