- La route royal -
The Loire Valley – the quintessence of the romantic France! The rural charm of this region is in no way inferior to the cultural wealth of its cities. But of course, the castles on the river Loire are the reason, above all else, why this region is so famous. Kings, feudal lords and ladies of the court, seduced by the beautiful natural setting of the Loire Valley, had there, in the ‘garden of France’, several hundred castles, manor houses and dreamy residences built. Villandry, Langeais, Ussé, Chinon, Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceaux, Chambord, Blois, just to name the most important ones. Each one of them would be worth a separate holiday, however together they truly display a one of a kind route of dreams as far as architecture and scenery is concerned. A first class cycling holiday in every way.
About the route
Mainly flat on cycle paths and low traffic secondary roads with almost consistently very good signposting. The terrain in the vineyards is somewhat more hilly and there are also a few short ascents to tackle.
Already discover the historic centre Touraine today, the highly-praised ‚Garden of France‘.
Category A+B - Hotel (example): Ibis Styles Centre
The river Cher leads you directly to the castle Villandry with its terraced gardens. Certainly, you should not miss paying a visit to this famous installation. Every visitor will be amazed by the shadowy footpaths, the flower-bedecked bowers, the fountains and the artistically laid out vegetable gardens. Some kilometres further on you will exchange the bank of the Cher for the bank of the famous Loire. And again you will be tempted by the next castle – Langeais. From the top of the fortified tower (this castle exclusively served for military purposes) you will see the river and its whole surroundings lying in front of you. On the verge of the dark and mysterious forest of Chinon rises the castle of Ussé, the castle of the Sleeping Beauty. Via small villages and on side roads you will reach today’s destination – Chinon.
The Vienne escorts you first in the small village Candes-St-Matin. A grandiose and romantic church was built at the place of death of the holy St. Martin. In Montsoreau conflate the Vienne with the powerful Loire – a impressing natural spectacle. These ‘cave gardens’ are approx. 800 km long. Your cyclist calves take you first to Fontervraud l’Abbey. Nowhere else in this world, you will find a medieval monastery that is so entirely preserved like the one in Fontervraud. You pass the birth house of Francois Rabelais, the famous author and also through the valley, where his story line of the book “Gargantua” takes place.
You leave Chinon with its medieval alleys, which crowd between the river and the rocks, towards the north. The tour leads you through vineyards and lonely villages. Like Crissay, once entirely deserted – it is now resettled by artists and people who always know how to make the best of things. But don’t be afraid – there will also be a castle for admiration today: to be precise, one of extremely high quality – Azay-le-Rideau. Balzac wrote about it “a diamond with thousand facets, set by the Indre”. What could we add to this? You will spend the night in town and have, therefore, the chance to enjoy the magic of the castle with its cultural events.
There is another highlight in store: this time concerning nature. Through the romantic river landscape, steadily following the Indre, you will reach Montbazon. A short ascent awaits you. By pedalling really hard over a mountain ridge you reach the Cher Valley. On meadow paths and along the Cher you go to Bléré, a small market town. For many visitors the Castle of Chenonceaux is the topping on the cake. A magnificent, double floored bridge gallery goes over the river. But before the lovely palace garden will enthuse your eyes. But see and discover on your own.
Today you have to choose between two tour variants: the shorter stage takes you through the lovely landscape of the Touraine to the Castle Chaumont, and then on romantic paths along the Loire to Blois. After moving into your hotel room you will go out on reconnaissance! The Castle Blois with its galleries, projected balconies and bay windows could be your destination.
Or there is the second, longer variant for all lovers of the Loire Castles: via Montrichard, Cheverny, Villesavine to the Castle Chambord. As far as the eye can see the ‘Domaine de Chambrod’ stretches here. Already from a distance, you can see the walls of the biggest and most magnificent residence on the Loire shimmering through the trees. It is the immortal legacy of a disloyal king. You are spoilt for choice!
The river flows between the gold shimmering sandbanks in a leisurely manner. Typical of this area are the rock housings, which are directly built into the soft lime stones. Sometimes, only the rising smoke reveals their existence. You cross the Loire in order to appreciate the most royal of all the Loire Castles: Castle Ambois. It accommodated five kings and a Roman emperor. In addition, a genius of the 16th century attracts your attention – Leonardo da Vinci, who spent his last years in Ambois. On the Loire Cycle Path you keep cycling on to Tours. Alternatively take the train (independently) from Amboise and hence cut the stage short by about 30 km.
Distance: approx. 75km (can be shortened by about 30km by taking the train)
Category A+B - Hotel (example): Ibis Styles Centre
This tour is now over. During the morning you check out from the hotel. It is possible to book extra nights after the tour if you prefer.
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