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France

Chateaux of the Loire

Self-Guided Family Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

£1,345 P.P.
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Few places in the world are as well suited to a cycling holiday as France’s Loire valley. With a mostly flat landscape covered in vineyards and littered with Medieval history, combined with an excellent network of signposted cycle routes and bike paths, it is little wonder that cyclo-tourists have been flocking here for decades. This route in particular takes in some of the valley's most lovely areas, on an easy-going route suitable for most riders. 
The region’s biggest claim to fame is its abundance of spectacular châteaux, some of the finest examples of which can be visited by bicycle on this tour; those in Villandry, Saumur and Chinon being particularly noteworthy. Expect immaculate gardens and grand architecture, the kind of things you would expect from rival nobility trying to one up each other and display their wealth to the world. We think our route provides guests with the perfect mix of some of the most iconic châteaux alongside some lesser-known gems, which whilst often a little less over the top, are often even more interesting for it.
The châteaux alone make the Loire valley a fantastic destination – but when you add the fantastic array of local delicacies and a world-renowned wine industry, it becomes hard to justify not going! This tour takes you through the appellations of Saumur, Bourgeuil and Chinon, riding through the intricate patchwork of vineyards as you make your way around. Expect light, easy-drinking reds, crisp whites, and some super sparkling wine, served with meals including excellent local cheeses, mushrooms and fruits.
With relaxed routes knitting all of these threads of the Loire Valley’s distinctive culture together, as well as our expert local team being on hand for you, you can explore at your leisure and enjoy it all with the minimum of fuss.
Château de Villandry gardens, Loire, France.jpg

Holiday Highlights

  • Visiting a selection of the region’s most interesting châteaux; including Villandry and Azay-le-Rideau
  • Enjoying fine local produce and local red, white and sparkling wines
  • Following relaxed routes, along quiet country lanes and traffic-free paths
  • Learning about the Loire Valley’s rich history
  • Meandering through quaint, picturesque villages
  • Cooling off in the hotel pool after a day out on your bikes

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival in Chinon

Chinon is approximately a 50 minute taxi ride away from Tours TGV station.

On arrival into Chinon, you will be welcomed by a local representative who will hold your welcome meeting and fit you to your bikes (should you be renting).

Depending on when you arrive, a short acclimatisation ride may be available to get you into the pedalling spirit. Alternatively you can spend the afternoon / early evening exploring Chinon.

Day 2
Chinon to Fontevraud l'Abbaye
27 Miles / 44 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 386 Metres Approx.

The riding starts today with a jaunt to the wonderful abbey at Fontevraud. But first, set the wheels in motion with an easy ride out of Chinon and onto the excellent cycle path to Chateau du Rivau – a charming, privately owned castle in the countryside. The restaurant here is a great spot for lunch, with a menu made up of produce from their own gardens.

Continue on through rolling countryside and sleepy villages until you arrive in Fontevraud-l’Abbaye. Check into your hotel, freshen up and head out for a visit to the abbey – which is now a fascinating mix of historical artifacts, beautiful gardens and contemporary arts. The sarcophagi of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine are a must see.

Note: A shorter, more direct route of 25km with no hills is also available to go straight to Fontevraud, skipping Chateau du Rivau.

Day 3
Montsoreau, Turquant and Saumur Loop
26 Miles / 42 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 428 Metres Approx.

There is an option to take a day off the bike today and spend it by the pool or strolling around the Abbey if you didn’t have time yesterday.

For those who fancy a ride, you can take the Loire a Velo route out to Saumur and back. On the way you’ll pass more châteaux, rolling vineyards and troglodyte dwellings. It’s an out and back route, so if you want to cut it short and turn home early you can do but you would miss out on the spectacular Château de Saumur at the halfway point. This castle, resplendent with a huge gold weathervane, sits perched above the town of Saumur, which is full of boutiques, cafés and bars and a perfect place for a mid-ride pause. Ride home along the riverside and keep an eye out for the interesting cave houses as you go!

Day 4
Fontevraud l'Abbaye to Villandry
34 Miles / 54 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 305 Metres Approx.

Whilst today is the longest ride of the tour, the terrain is as flat as a pancake and the kilometres will fly by. The ride starts by twisting down to the river through sunflower fields and vines, hitting the waterfront in the charming village of Montsoreau. From here, follow the excellent Loire a Velo cycle route eastwards, crossing the Loire at it’s point of confluence with the Vienne.

You’ll skirt across inland for a few kilometres on lovely quiet lanes before picking up the Loire once again. This stretch along the river takes you right past the spectacular Chateau d’Usse, famed as the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. The route stays next to the river for the rest of the day, passing through some nice waterside villages before arriving at Villandry. A short climb out of the village takes you to the hotel door.

Day 5
Villandry to Montbazon (via Tours)
26 Miles / 42 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 222 Metres Approx.

The days begins along the Loire, continuing eastwards and passing the petrified caves of Savonnieres en route to the capital of the region, the medieval city of Tours. Your route in and out of town follows the Loire a Velo cycle route down the grand Avenue de Grammont, something of a miniature Champs Elysees (with cycle paths!).

Montbazon, the next overnight stop, lays about 12km out of town, so you have plenty of time to explore Tours today before arriving at your spectacular hotel.

Day 6
Montbazon to Azay-le-Rideau
16 Miles / 26 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 182 Metres Approx.

It’s a short route today, but we recommend starting early with a visit to Château d’Azayle-Rideau, one of the regions finest, on the cards for the afternoon. When it’s time to get in the saddle, your route for the day continues to follow the Indre river westwards, through charming villages like Saché and Artannes-sur-Indres on the way to your destination at Azay-le-Rideau. Saché is a particularly charming little village and home to a small castle and museum dedicated to Honoré de Balzac, who whilst not so well known to us Brits is one of France’s literary icons. After a little more riverside riding, you should arrive in Azay-le-Rideau with plenty of time to visit the spectacular castle – or to enjoy a local wine tasting.

Day 7
Azay-le-Rideau to Chinon
25 Miles / 40 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 267 Metres Approx.

Leave Azay-le-Rideau this morning along the Indre river, passing the lovely hidden gem of Chateau de l’Islette and the Musee Maurice Dufresne just outside of town. The route takes a turn here and enters the forest for some peaceful riding on very quiet roads. Keep your eyes peeled for birds of prey and deer! A descent down to the Vienne follows and an easy ride back into Chinon through the vineyards is a perfect way to end your cycling holiday

Day 8
Departure from Chinon
  • Meals: Breakfast

After a final breakfast it’s time to say au revoir! Extra nights in Tours or Paris can be arranged on request.

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The Cycling

Terrain

Generally the riding is flat and easy going. You’ll find some short hills when you leave the river valley but nothing long or too steep. There’s a lot of cycling infrastructure in place, so most of the cycling takes place on signposted cycle routes that are designed and managed by local tourist boards. These routes mostly use very quiet roads that zig zag through vineyards or along the river bank.

Although much of the route (70% approx) is on roads shared with traffic, the majority of the routes outside of towns usually have low traffic levels and its very unusual to see more cars than cyclists. There are stretches of traffic free cycle path as well, notably outside of Chinon and Rigny-Usse. One day of cycling passes through the outskirts of Tours, a small city. This however is done on a signposted route on cycle paths alongside the road and through a park. It’s still generally very safe and easy to navigate.

We’d recommend a hybrid bike for this tour, although a road bike would suffice if confident on some of the bumpier sections (some cobbles and some hard-packed gravel / dirt sections)

Château d'Ussé with bikes, Loire-photoshop.jpg

Family Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 1 - 2 : Easy/Gentle

Aspects of both our grade 1 and 2 holidays

Suitable for those looking for a relaxed ride

Occasional ups and downs

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

Holidays that are graded as a 1-2, will have aspects of both our grade 1 and grade 2 holidays. These tours are still suitable for those looking for an accessible cycling holiday with manageable daily distances, along predominately flat terrain, however there will be some days / sections where we’d expect you to be up for a slightly cheeky challenge. It might be that the distances are a little longer on some days or that the terrain is slightly more undulating, but the rides are still relaxed and manageable for families who are generally fit and healthy.

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Dates & Prices

Daily departures available from 14 Apr – 14 Oct.

2023 £1345 per person

We may be able to offer children’s discounts for those interested in sharing a family room – please let us know if you’d like us to look into this option for you.

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End Date
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Duration
8 days
Price
£1,345.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms) in 3 and 4* hotels

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) English speaking local representative (with welcome meeting)

D) Detailed route notes and maps (GPX files available on request)

E) Luggage transfers

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike rental (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Local tourist taxes

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The Essentials

Travel Options

This tour starts and finishes in Chinon, a small village 50km from Tours, the nearest major city, and the recommended arrival point for this trip.

From the UK, you can catch a ferry to St Malo in Brittany or Caen, and drive to Chinon. Parking is available at the hotel for a small fee – please just let us know at the time of booking if we should book a space. Free public parking is also available 100m from the hotel.

Alternatively you can take the Eurostar from St Pancras in London, to Paris. From Paris Gare du Nord, you’ll transfer by Metro to Gare de Montparnasse, and then switch to the TGV to Tours or St Pierre des Corps. We strongly advise you to purchase your metro tickets from the café onboard the Eurostar train to save time and hassle at the station.

If you’d prefer to fly, the best airport is Tours (TUF), possible with Ryanair from London Stansted (STN). There is a bus service to Tours town centre that operates after every inbound flight.

Alternatively you can fly into Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) where you can take a direct train to Tours or St Pierre des Corps from the airport terminal.

You will then need to take a taxi from either Tours or St Pierre des Corps to your accommodation which will take around 50 minutes.

We can help with train station transfers if required. Estimated prices are as follows:

Tours station/city centre to/from Chinon – £240

St Pierre des Corps station to/from Chinon – £240

This price is for a return transfer: Day 1 – Tours station or St Pierre des Corps station to hotel in Chinon / Day 8 – Hotel in Chinon to Tours station or St Pierre des Corps station.

This is for up to 3 people – Arriving / departing between 09.00 and 17.00. (Minibus prices for 4+ people and prices to/from other locations available on request.) This price is a total cost for a return transfer.

Please check with Skedaddle before making any travel arrangements so that we can ensure they fit in with the holiday schedule.

Accommodation

Accommodation (shared twin or double rooms) will be in a mixture of 3 and 4* hotels, all with en suite rooms.

Family rooms (triple and quadruple) are available on request and subject to availability.

We have selected hotels that really showcase the area and this tour is really about great riding and great accommodation at the end of a day out on your bike. We can send a list of example hotels ahead of booking if you’d like an idea of the standard to expect.

Bike Hire

If you’d rather not bring along your own bike, we have bikes available to rent.

Rental bikes are typically Trek Verve 1 Equipped (or similar model) – An aluminium frame, mechanical disc brakes and Shimano gears suitable for the terrain. Depending on your height, the bikes may have a high crossbar (as above) or have a low step-through frame. Please let us know if you have a preference).

We also have electric bikes available. These are typically Trek Verve +1. A versatile electric trekking bike with a step-through frame geometry that makes it easy to mount and dismount. Equipped with a powerful Bosch motor, 500Wh battery, Shimano drive train and hydraulic disc brakes.

Rental bikes will come with a back pannier rack and bag, a mobile phone mount, a puncture repair kit and spare inner tubes and a water bottle holder. Rental helmets available on request. You are welcome to bring along your own pedals (and shoes) and / or saddle if preferred, please just let us know in advance.

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