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Known as the garden of France, the Loire valley is home to some of the most pristine gardens in the country and over 185,000 acres of vineyards. You will travel between three disctinct winemaking appelations, from the light reds of Chinon, to the traditional sparkling wines of Saumur and the crisp whites of the Touraine. A wine is only as good as where it is consumed and the châteaux gardens and riverside bistros on this tour are the perfect places to enjoy them.
What not to miss
7 Night Tour
Arrive at Tours.
Transfer to Chinon by minibus or taxi. Here you will meet your representative for a welcome meeting and to be provided with your bike. After this you are free to explore the town. We suggest a visit to the wine museum on Rue Voltaire to get a taste for the local grapes.
Optional round trip to Château de Rivau | Distance 18 miles (30km).
Our first optional round trip takes through sprawling vineyards and on peaceful rural roads, out to Château du Rivau. Here you will find quaint ‘fairy-tale gardens’ and a pristinely maintained blend of medieval and renaissance architecture. The restaurant at the château serves fresh vegetables from the garden and wine from their own vineyards. Your ride back to Chinon passes the highly rated Domaine des Noblaies, a great place to stop for a tasting session.
From Chinon to Saumur | Distance 21 miles (35km).
Leaving Chinon to the west, our route tracks the Vienne river to its point of confluence with the larger Loire at the charming village of Candes-St-Martin. Continuing onwards through Montsoreau, one of the most beautiful villages in France, and the hillside troglodyte villages of Turquant and Parnay, your route never ventures too far from the glistening waters of the Loire. The grand hilltop château in Saumur will let you know that you have arrived and that a glass of the local sparkling wine is not far away.
Optional round trip to Brézé and Fontevraud l’Abbaye | Distance 31 miles (50km).
Today's ride leaves the rivers behind and heads into the countryside, calling in at Château Brézé and Fontevraud-l’Abbaye on route. Brézé is famous for its vast underground fortifications, constructed and refined between the 11th and 19th centuries. A little further on is the Abbey at Fontevraud, the resting place of Henry II, his wife Eleanor and his son Richard ‘The Lionheart’. The abbey also acts as an exhibition space for both local and international artists.
From Saumur to Villandry 40 miles (65km).
Following the Loire a Vélo cycle route from west to east today will take you back to Candes-St-Martin, before branching off towards the peaceful town of Avoine and rejoining the banks of the Loire near Huismes. A few miles further on is the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ château of Rigny-Ussé, the inspiration for Charles Perrault’s fairy-tale. The route continues along the riverbank, through the lovely river port of Bréhémont, a good spot for a pause and a coffee, and onwards to Villandry.
Optional round trip to Azay-le-Rideau (16 miles / 27km) or Tours (27 miles / 44km).
Today you are spoilt for choice. For the city lovers, the quintessentially French city of Tours is only 14 miles away, with its grand avenues and staggering cathedral. A shorter ride is available to Azay-le-Rideau, home to one of the most well-known château in the region, which sits on the river Indre, as well as the less well known but equally beautiful Château de l’Islette. Or you can take a day off from pedalling and take your time to stroll around Villandry’s glorious gardens!
From Villandry to Chinon | Distance 25 miles (40km).
The final days cycling takes you back to Chinon, via Azay-le-Rideau, Rivarennes and St-Benoit-la-Foret. If you didn’t visit on day 6, a stop in the cobbled streets of Azay-le-Rideau is recommended. We suggest purchasing some picnic supplies here for later in the route. Rivarennes is a peaceful village and home to a museum dedicated to the local delicacy of dried apples and pears! From here, you cycle through the forest to St-Benoit-la-Foret, where a relaxing picnic in the park is a nice way to break up your cycling. You enter Chinon, past its medieval fortress and a selection of brasseries where a glass of the refreshing local red wine awaits.
We say “au revoir” before transferring you directly to Tours airport or train stations.
Take a break from the bike and delve into the world of wine, with a one-day guided tasting and vineyard tour. Your hosts for the day upped sticks and moved from the UK to the Loire valley in 2006, after spending their lives studying and working in wine. Since moving they have become close friends with numerous local producers and have gained a world class understanding of this regions vibrant and varied vintages. Your tour will be relaxed and personal, with groups usually less than 7 people, giving you the chance to tap into the knowledge of your hosts.
1 Day Tour Add-On
Train transfer from Saumur to Angers, departing at 8.45, before being collected by your hosts from Angers station at 9.20. You will be transferred to their charming rural farmhouse before starting a tutored tasting. This tasting consists of six different wines, from six different Loire valley appellations and your hosts will run through a presentation that will have you talking of terroirs and tannins in no time at all.
A three course lunch is included in your tour and is served in a traditional tuffeau wine cellar. The wines from your morning tasting will be at the table too, giving you the chance to see how their characteristics change when combined with food.
After lunch, you will be taken to a local vineyard for a private tour. Your hosts are good friends with an eclectic mix of characters from the local wine production community, so you can expect an experience with heaps of personality. This part of the day will let you get hands on with the vines and to gain an understanding of the agricultural side of the art of wine. There is also the chance to purchase some of your favorite vintages at cellar door prices, just make sure you can carry it all home! You will be transferred back to Angers in time for the 6 o’clock train back to Saumur, which will get you back with time to freshen up before hitting the town for dinner.
This tour is operated by our preferred local partner.
Extra nights’ accommodation in Saumur available upon request.
Package Prices (Flights and Transfers Included)
|2018 Departure Dates||Nights||Adult Price||Child Price (Under 12)|
|May to September||7||£1295||£1150|
Tour Only Prices
|2018 Departure Dates||Nights||Adult Price||Child Price (Under 12)|
|May to September||7||£1070||£995|
2019 Dates and Prices
Please contact one of our Activities Experts on 020 7471 7750 for 2019 dates and prices.
Single Supplement: £50 per night
Ebike: £20 per day
This 18th century mansion, sitting on the south bank of the river Loire, has a rich history as the home of a variety of aristocrats. Since 1983 this protected building has been one of the most reputable hotels in this charming town.
Hôtel Diderot is a simple family run 17th century town house built around a pretty flowered courtyard that is much enjoyed and appreciated by our cycling gardeners and a lovely place for breakfast. It has a traditional, old fashioned interior with great oak beams in many of the rooms. The delicious breakfast jams are all home-made.
A real haven of peace, situated on the outskirts of the village of Villandry, a short walk from its magnificent château. The jacuzzi here is a wonderful way to refresh your muscles after a day of cycling and there are massages available too. Pascal and his team look forward to welcoming you.
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