This is truly the heart of fairytale France illustratedperfectly by the high number of spectacular castlesen route, carefully preserved over the years for allto enjoy. Visit these fabulous once-royal homes andancient riverside towns, pedal peacefully along theLoire Vlo cycle route amidst birdsong and wafts ofhollyhocks and sample world-famous wines as youweave your way through sun-baked vineyards.
Day 1 | Arrive at Chinon
Transfer by taxi or train to our base hotel in Chinon, where youll be equipped with your bicycle. Chinon is a beautiful medieval town set on the banks of the majestic Vienne river. Steeped in history, it was was once King Henry IIs preferred place of residence.
Day 2 | Chteau du Rivau and Rigny-Uss
Once youre ready to explore beyond Chinon, we suggest a round trip route to the Chteau du Rivau. This fairy-tale castle with beautiful gardens was designed by the proprietor and modern art collector Patricia Laigneau as a historical recreation of Middle Ages gardens. They are full of contemporary art installations, including carvings and giant legs running through the trees. Another suggestion is a ride to the small village of Rigny-Uss (15 miles), which boasts another ancient dwelling the magnificent Chteau dUss as well as amazing views of the Loire from its location on the edge of the Chinon forest.
Day 3 | Chinon to Montsoreau
Today you will follow the Loire Vlo cycle route which meanders along the river to the charming old riverside town of Montsoreau, often referred to as the most beautiful village in France. Along the way we recommend stopping at Fontevraud Abbey: a prison in Napoleans day, and now a historical site, music and exhibition venue. The beautifully restored abbey complex includes a Romanesque abbey church with royal tombs, a lovely Renaissance cloister and a fascinating Byzantine-Romanesque kitchen. Once you arrive in Montsoreau youll have time to walk or cycle along the riverfront towards the Chteau de la Dame de Montsoreau, which rises majestically above the water its the only one of the Loire castles that has its feet in the water of the river itself.
Day 4 | Saumur and Brz
Today we suggest a day trip to Saumur, a beautiful town with a typically imposing chteau overlooking the river. Explore its wondrous wine cellars, wander down medieval streets, and enjoy feeling spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to dine. Alternatively you could cycle to Chteau de Brz, another fine example of a classic French castle in the heart of the wine land, complete with underground tunnels and still-working wine presses that take their harvest from the surrounding 30 hectares of vineyards.
Day 5 | Montsoreau to Azay-le-Rideau
Today the route takes you along the Loire to the River Indre, where youll come to a beautiful medieval village; home to Chteau dAzay-le-Rideau, built on an island on the river. Well worth a look, you can learn all about the processes involved in the restoration of this historic monument, during which stone-cutters and carpenter-roofers combined their talents to give new life to this jewel of the Loire Valley. The village has lots of lovely cafs and restaurants to peruse too.
Day 6 | Azay-le-Rideau to Chteau Villandry
After a relaxing morning in Azay le Rideau, we suggest cycling to Chteau Villandry, a Renaissance castle with amazing gardens spread across three terraces. There is a kitchen garden that mixes flowers and vegetables in a checkerboard design; a tranquil water garden where the trickle of fountains adds to the magic, and an ornamental garden where the boxwood forms musical symbols, hearts, spirals, and butterflies. A visit here is sure to soothe and relax you!
Day 7 | Azay-le-Rideau to Chinon
Your final day in the saddle will take you back to Chinon, where you can pick up some souvenirs, wander the banks of the river, and enjoy a glass of finest local wine in the dappled sun.
We say au revoir beforetransferring you direct from Chinonto Tours, Poitiers or Rennes by train, taxi orminibus.
- Return scheduled flight from the UK
- Return overseas airport transfers (except self-drive and independent travel bookings)
- Number of nights Bed & Breakfast accommodation as specified
- Use of modern lightweight bicycles
- Transfer of luggage between hotels
- All airport and local tourist taxes