£2,795.00 per person*
($3,465.80 USD or $5,170.75 AUD)
£575.00 single room supplement
18th Jun to 24th Jun 2023
13th Aug to 19th Aug 2023
“Clive + Craig were terrific – great planning, helpful and attentive, pleasant to be with. An excellent trip – we'll highly recommend it to tour cycling friends.”
-- Barb & Peter, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Join us for this cycling tour. All you have to do is pedal
Tours TGV Station (Saint-Pierre-des-Corps)
Blois Rail station
Collections are from Saint-Pierre-des-Corps TGV station and Tours Centre rail station
Departures are from Blois rail station (connections to Paris Austerlitz and Tours)
Anyone who is in good physical condition will be happy on this cycling tour's flat terrain. Cyclists should be comfortable with riding 3 to 5 hours a day on a bike.View Gallery
The Loire Valley upstream from Tours is the home of perhaps the most famous and beautiful of all of the Châteaux: Chenonceaux, with its graceful arches spanning the River Cher; Chambord set in the midst of Royal hunting forests and adorned with minarets, domes and towers; Amboise with its battlements and fluttering pennants dominating the Loire.
We visit all of these châteaux and more during our Loire Valley cycling tour, and in between ride through some of the most beautiful pastoral countryside that France has to offer. We will discover the intrigue and deception , politics and passions that shaped the history of France.
All of this history and beauty (not to mention the pedalling) should stir the appetite and you won’t be disappointed; some of the region’s finest restaurants are included on our Loire Valley cycling tour, showcasing the specialities of the Touraine.
The cycling is predominantly flat, with just the odd ascent to make you feel you’ve earned your supper. Following the course of the rivers Loire and Cher, the roads are practically car-free, and many kilometres are covered on dedicated cycleways.
The Loire Valley cycling tour in France showcases the very best of this fascinating region, and will be a cycling holiday you’ll never forget!
Transfers are from Tours TGV Station (Saint-Pierre-des-Corps). We arrive at our hotel in the village of Azay-le-Rideau, with its Renaissance château, one of the most beautiful in France. The château is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Indre, and this stunning setting is perfect for lazing on the lawns, and maybe taking in the son et lumière sound and laser show later in the evening.
At the hotel we will have a look at the bikes and make sure everyone is perfectly fitted to their bicycle. There will be an optional afternoon ride to work out the nerves and make sure you are comfortable on your bike.
There should be time before dinner to explore the village before meeting our fellow riders and look forward to the pleasures of the road ahead over the first of many wonderful meals.
The tour gets off to a flying start as we leave Azay le Rideau and start our riding in the country side, passing one of many chateaux in the Loire Valley. Chateau de L’Islette where the famous unlikely love couple of Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin spent many a night. Dropping down to the confluence of the Indre and the Loire we stop for photo op at the Château d’Ussé, also known as the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ castle, as it was the inspiration for Pérrault’s fairy tale. You can see echoes of Ussé’s spires and pinnacles in Disney’s cartoon version.
Following the river Loire on a raised embankment for the next few miles we can stop for coffee and take the banks of the river Cher to visit, Villandry, to see the fabulous gardens, differently themed each year, and laid out with geometric precision. Until you have seen it, you will not have realised that onions and brocolli could be so beautiful!
Ride notes: Flat; watch out for the cobbles before Villandry! Total distance 46km/29miles
The ride starts out along bike paths alongside the River Cher as it rolls through Tours. Leaving town we climb out of the Cher valley and into the Touraine countryside. We descend into the village of Veigné which straddles the River Indre have a coffee break, then turn alongside the Indre which we follow into the village of Cormery to stop at a boulangerie to buy some of the famous macarons linked to the 10th century abbey to have with our picnic lunch today!
Back into the countryside, we cross the River Cher at Saint Martin-le-Beau then follow through woodland to our destination for this evening, Amboise. We should have time before dinner to explore the Royal Chateau de L' Amboise. The medieval fortress became a royal residence during the reigns of King Charles VIII and François I. Its renown attracted artists such as Leonardo da Vinci who is buried in the chapel. The Royal château of Amboise is an icon of French history and almost all of France’s rulers stayed here.
Our hotel is a 17th century house converted into a charming hotel where we can relax by the pool before heading out to dinner in town.
Ride notes: Short climb away from river, followed by descent into Veigné. Short climb out of Cormery, flat/downhill to Amboise. Total distance: 52km/31miles
We stay in Amboise this evening, so we take a loop ride out to visit perhaps the most beautiful chateau in the Loire Valley. We climb into the Amboise forest before descending into the valley of the Cher to arrive at Chenonceaux. One of the highlights of the Loire Valley cycling tour, the stunning Château de Chenonceau (it loses the final ‘x’ of the village for some reason!) was given by Henri II of France to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. With its graceful arches spanning the river Cher, it is the most visited château of the Loire, and it is truly unforgettable.
After lunch we return to Amboise to with the option to explore Amboise; sit by the pool or to visit Clos-Lucé, the home of Leonardo da Vinci. The manor house was Leonardo’s home for the last 3 years of his life until his death in 1519. He was brought to live there by King Francois I who rescued him with his patronage from the increasingly reactionary atmosphere of Italy. As well as drawings and designs, this fascinating museum includes several life-size reconstructions of what these sketches would be like had they been made, and the gardens have further working models and tableaux of Leonardo’s work.
Ride notes:: Short climb out of Amboise and rolling to Chenonceaux, reverse on return leg. Total distance: 34km/21miles
Leaving Amboise, we head across the rich and fertile heartlands of the 'Jardin de France' to the Château de Chaumont — on the death of Henri II, Diane de Poitiers was forced by his widow to take this château in exchange for her beloved Chenonceau — see who you think got the best deal!
If you fancy a change from medieval brickwork, Chaumont is also host every summer to an internationally renowned Garden Festival where areas of the grounds are laid out in different themes — the inventiveness knows no bounds.
After lunch, we come to our hotel set in the grounds of the Chateau de Chambord. The chateau has an extensive park for a pre dinner stroll or visit the Maison du Vin located just behind our hotel for a wine dégustation.
Total distance: 60km / 38miles
Options today, we can start with a leisurely breakfast and take the morning to explore the magnificent Chateau Chambord. Taking 15 years to build in the 16th Century, it is surrounded by a vast hunting park alive with wildlife. The interior is just as impressive, dominated by the 'double helix' staircase on which two people can ascend and descend at the same time, yet never meet.and grounds where we are staying. After lunch on the grounds you have an optionional short loop around Chambord in the forest tracks or continue to enjoy the grounds.
For those looking for more we head out as normal for a visit to your final Chateau of the tour; Chateau de Cheverny. Cheverney has truly impressive interiors with period furniture, tapestries and paintings all intact. A feature of the château is the pack of hunting dogs still kept there - a highlight of the visit is watching the feeding of the hounds. For fans of the "Tintin" childrens' adventure books Cheverney was the inspiration for Captain Haddock's castle, and a museum there is dedicated to the characters.
We return via the trails to our Château de Chambord hotel for exploration of the Chateau and for a memorable final dinner.
Ride notes: Mostly bike flat trails; Short climb into forests on tracks after Cheverney.Total distance: Short Course 20 km/12 miles; Long Course 39km/24 miles
After breakfast, a chance to exchange emails before we say goodbye to new friends made and transfer back to Blois train station for onward journeys.
Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays bike tour:
We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.
We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.
We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.
We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.
Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!
It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.
All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.
All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc. Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow.
We do not include lunch, as the costing of these is beyond our control, but where route and weather allow we organise picnics; these feature copious salads, cold meats, cheeses, crusty bread, fruits, etc, and a choice of drinks; we ask for a contribution for the costs of the consumables, which usually works out at 10 or 11 euros per person per picnic. Where route or weather does not allow a picnic, we recommend suitable cafés and bistros.
We provide lightweight alloy framed Trek ‘hybrid’ touring bicycles with 27 indexed gears, our guides will generally be on hand to fix punctures and minor mechanical problems and carry pump, tubes etc.
For carrying the items you might need during the day (camera, wallet, windbreaker etc.) we fit a capacious handlebar bag which also features a large map pocket. These clip on and off the bike in a flash so that you can always take your valuables with you when off the bike.
The bikes are meticulously maintained and we keep a wide range of sizes; female specific saddles are also available. We do not provide helmets automatically, as we find people prefer their own if they want to wear one, and sizing and fit is quite personal; however we always have helmets available for use. We also carry rain-capes should they be required (but hopefully not!).
For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike.
Please contact us for details.
There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.
Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.
** Please note for some of the tours we will be staying here for your first two nights, please enquire when booking***
An 18th Century relais de poste or staging post decorated in the ‘directoire’ style. this charming hotel is a short stroll from the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, in the heart of the bustling village.
An eighteenth-century country house, transformed into a chic 3* hotel by the owners in 1976. Stroll in the extensive gardens or relax in the billiard room before dinner in the elegant restaurant or on the terrace. The sporty may be able to get in a game of tennis or 9 holes of golf!
A former priory dating from the late 16th century, the Manoir is an oasis of peace in the heart of the bustling town of Amboise. The charming rooms are all individually furnished and decorated, and in the hotel’s parc, which is enclosed by ancient walls, you will find a beautiful pool with wave machine.
A painstakingly restored 17th century manor house used to be a Maison de Mâitre or Squire’s house . The gardens are immaculately manicured, and there are salons in the house for guests to relax in a decadent regency setting. In the gardens you will find a refreshing swimming pool amongst the trees and statuary!
A new (April 2018) luxury hotel right next door to one of France’s most romantic castles, Le Château de Chambord, set in the Loire Valley, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The boutique hotel, designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, includes a french cuisine restaurant, Le Grand Saint Michel, a cocktail bar, an exclusive wellness area!
It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavor to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.
Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays cycling tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.
Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our cycling tours in France.
The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.
For nearly all of our cycling tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party who have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.
The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!
We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time consult their doctor before considering any activity-based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.
We pick up and drop off from the nearest TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We may be able to drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:
Ryanair flies into the following airports:
Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)
Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.
Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.
British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).
If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.
The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.
The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.
Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.
This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We may be able to arrange parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long-distance tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.
If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience has the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.
However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.
Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:
Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.
SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe.
Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!
Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!
We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.
The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.
As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.
We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.
There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.
We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.
In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.
This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.
"Very well organised, all ran like clockwork with great guides Alan and Marie."
David and Joan, Nelson NZ
“We had a great time. Loved the scenery & routes, good timing at each of the chateaus (not too much, not too little) and almost too much great food. The picnics were a highlight. We'll see you next year!”
John and Allison, Melbourne, Australia
“Great holiday. Luxury hotels and food, and Alan & Marie were very friendly and accommodating. Would love to come again.”
John, London, UK
“Wonderful trip. Excellent hotel & restaurant choices, and we loved the picnic lunches provided by our hosts Marie & Allen, as they were wonderful settings and saved us both time and money!”
Jude & Gerald, Toronto, Canada