A charming circuit in the heart of the Loire Valley, this tour follows the wonderful Loire River, as well as the Indre, the Cher and the Vienne, taking in numerous UNESCO World Heritage-listed châteaux along the way: Amboise, Chenonceau, Villandry, Langeais, Ussé, Chinon, Saumur, and Anger. An enchanting cycle tour making the most of a superb cycle path network along tranquil waterways, taking in the region’s immense cultural and architectural heritage. An opportunity to visit the area’s many wine cellars and vineyards, as well as the troglodyte caves of Turquant and Souzay-Champigny. The majority of the itinerary is on green lanes and dedicated bike routes.
- The famous châteaux of Chenonceau, Amboise, Langeais and Villandry
- An exceptional cultural and architectural heritage
- A circuit that takes us off the beaten track, into the heart of a well-preserved rich natural environment
- Loire, the last major wild river in France
Click to view map
Day 1: Tours – Chenonceau | 40 km
The tour begins at 10 am on the first day at Tours SNCF railway station. On request, we can book the previous night’s accommodation for you in Tours.
Beginning in the city of Tours, you follow the magnificent Loire River, taking the time to appreciate the many châteaux and charming country manor houses along the way. The tranquillity of this great river, the longest in France, quickly works its charm with its thickets and leafy hedgerows, its fields and pastures, and its isolated hamlets and farms. As you reach Montlouis, the small elevation gained so far is enough to offer beautiful panoramic views of the Loire. After 25 kilometres, you reach Amboise, the first notable historical site of the tour. The town has a rich and colourful past with its Royal château and the Clos Lucé, former residence of Leonardo de Vinci. The charming cobblestoned streets and street-side cafés offer plenty of opportunities to explore and relax. You gain a little altitude in order to reach the forest of Amboise which you cross in order to reach the fabulous Château de Chenonceau, built in 1513. Depending on the time of arrival, you can visit the château at the end of the day or on the following morning. Overnight in Chenonceau.
- Cycling for the day: approx. 40 km / Altitude gain: approx. 300 m
- Accommodation: Clair Cottage** or similar
Day 2: Chenonceau – Villandry | 50 km
You begin the day on a little known route that offers an unforgettable view of the Château de Chenonceau from the banks of the Cher. You follow the river along its quiet banks bordered with weeping willows, vegetable gardens, charming country houses and “chalands” (small flat-bottomed barges) on riverside moorings. From Bléré, an optional 2-kilometre loop offers you the chance to visit the Aigremonts Windmill, with its recently restored large white blades. The Cher leads you on to Tours, where you skirt around the south side of the city, following the banks of the river, before winding your way through fields and pastures to reach Villandry and its 16th-century château, famous for its splendid geometrical gardens. Depending on your time of arrival, you visit the château at the end of the day or on the following morning. Overnight stay near Villandry.
- Cycling for the day: approx. 50 km / Altitude gain: approx. 100 m
- Accommodation: local guesthouse or family hotel
Day 3: Villandry – Chinon | 45 km
This morning you join the “Bec du Cher”, the meeting point of the Cher and Loire rivers. You find yourself once again on the banks of the Loire, which seems surprisingly large after the previous days’ riding along the comparatively narrow Cher. A short detour takes you to a small suspension bridge, enabling you to cross the Loire and reach the village and château of Langeais. An optional visit of the Château de Langeais and a stroll through the narrow lanes of the village, dominated by the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church, before you continue your journey along the banks of the Loire. A welcome break in the small port of Bréhémont, with panoramic views from the terrace of its café, before you leave the Loire behind and head to the Château d’Ussé, known as the “Sleeping Beauty”. You skirt along the edge of the forest of Chinon before arriving in the small town of the same name. The late afternoon light and views from above the town offer a superb panorama. Chinon is set in an exceptional location, built on a rocky outcrop dominating the Vienne Valley. The royal fort and the old town testify to the rich and colourful history of Chinon. Add to this its reputation for great wine, and all the ingredients are there for a great overnight stop.
- Cycling for the day: approx. 45 km / Altitude gain: approx. 200 m
- Accommodation: Hôtel Diderot*** or similar
Day 4: Chinon – Saumur | 50 km
Following the Vienne, you ride through the forests, vineyards and farmland of the Loire-Anjou-Touraine regional natural park. After a while, you rejoin the Loire and follow it all the way to Turquant, famous for its troglodyte caves dug into the chalk cliffs. Some of these former mines and cave dwellings have been transformed into craftsman’s workshops, while others serve as wine cellars. A few kilometres further on you reach the tuffeau chalk galleries of Souzay-Champigny, which you can even ride through on your bikes. A few more pedal strokes and you arrive in Saumur. The Château de Saumur is an impressive sight, built at the top of a hillside dominating the Loire, and visible from miles around. The town’s narrow lanes and small squares are also full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered, but not before a final fifteen-kilometre loop leads you to the Cadre Noir national equestrian school. Return to Saumur where you settle into your accommodation for the next two nights.
- Cycling for the day: approx. 50 km / Altitude gain: approx. 300 m
- Accommodation: local hotel or guesthouse
Day 5: Saumur | 40 km
Today’s itinerary has a strong troglodyte theme, with visits of Rochemenier and Denezé-sous-Doué. The hamlets and farms offer a fascinating insight into 18th and 19th-century rural life in the area. The sites are superb examples of dwellings and utility rooms dug into the “tuffeau”, a chalk specific to the Loire Valley and notably used for the construction of buildings during the Renaissance. You pass through Doué-les-Fontaines, “the town of roses”. Optional tour of the Rose Museum, which includes a demonstration of the rose water manufacturing process. The itinerary takes you once again past numerous charming country houses before you arrive in Saumur for a second night in your accommodation.
- Cycling for the day: approx. 40 km / Altitude gain: approx. 250m
- Accommodation: local hotel or guesthouse
Day 6: Saumur – Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire | 40 km
You join the Loire once again, riding through the Loire-Anjou-Touraine regional natural park. The entire day’s stage is spent on the banks of the wild and fast-flowing Loire, which grows larger and larger with each passing kilometre. The route takes you past a succession of antique machinery and abandoned hamlets of the once prosperous but recently closed Trélazé slate quarries. To finish the day’s ride, you head off on a loop to discover the Manoir de la Caillère and its troglodyte caves, now transformed into an art gallery by the painter Richard Rak. Overnight in Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire.
- Cycling for the day: approx. 40 km / Altitude gain: approx. 400 m
- Accommodation: Hotel La bouquetterie or similar
Day 7: Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire – Angers | 35 km
You ride along the Loire once again, before bidding it farewell at its junction with the Maine, where the confluence of the two rivers offers a picture-postcard image. You follow the Maine upstream and into the heart of Angers where you discover the old town and its château, the “Maison d’Adam” (a 15th-century half-timber house) and the spectacular cathedral.
The tour ends on the last day at Angers SNCF railway station. On request, we can book the following night’s accommodation for you in Angers.
- Cycling for the day: approx. 35 km / Altitude gain: approx. 100 m
What to Expect
On this cycling holiday, you will be staying in simple but comfortable 2-3 star hotels and guesthouses, in double rooms with en-suite facilities. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Six breakfasts and two dinners (Villandry and Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire) are included. When no restaurant location is available on route lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops or you can pre-order a packed lunch at your hotel. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your accommodation or restaurants in the village near your hotel. A half-board supplement (4 additional dinners) is bookable upon request.
Difficulty & terrain
This holiday is appropriate for both beginner and intermediate cyclists in good physical shape. The daily distances vary between 35 km and 50 km, with a minimum altitude gain; you can optionally extend most rides. The route goes mostly on secondary country roads, with limited traffic and scenic surroundings (read more about difficulty grades). It is also possible to rent an electric bike, so this way the tour would accessible to everybody.
When to go
This trip is available from mid-April until early October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date within the season.
You will receive an email 2 weeks before departure, containing all the information necessary for your upcoming tour, including the following navigation tools:
- Dedicated smartphone app on which you can download the full tour itinerary, view tour maps and route profiles, access the list of booked accommodation and services, useful contacts, etc.
- Detailed Road Book (in digital version only) containing full colour maps with highlighted routes, step-by-step route description, and route profiles
- GPS tracks compatible with all GPS devices/apps
Click to view travel options
Train connections from the UK
Take the Eurostar from London St-Pancras International to Paris (Gard du Nord), transfer to Montparnasse 1 Et 2 and then continue to St Pierre Des Corps. Please check the SNCF website for more details on schedules and prices. Total journey time is about hours.
- 6 nights accommodation in double rooms with en-suite facilities (2* hotels in Chenonceau, Chinon and Saumur, 3* hotel in Villandry, guesthouse in Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire)
- 6 breakfasts
- 2 dinners (Villandry and Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire)
- Daily baggage transfers (1 baggage item per person)
- Our navigation app for smartphones, a detailed roadbook including maps (digital format) and GPS tracks
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Lunches and dinners not mentioned as ‘included’
- International flights
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Arrival transportation to the meeting place
- Drinks at the accommodations
- Additional travel-related to changes in the programme due to bad weather
- All personal expenses
- Everything not explicitly mentioned as ‘Included’
Options, extras & supplements
- A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- This holiday is not available for solo travellers
- Extra nights before the tour, along the way and at the end of the tour can be booked on request
- Bike rental (standard or e-bike)
- Half-board supplement (6 dinners)
In case you would like to rent a bike from us, we can offer you good quality hybrid or e-bikes in excellent condition with appropriate gearing and equipment for the trip. All bicycles (whatever the model) are equipped with a bike lock, a helmet, a puncture repair kit, and a pump. Sample pictures attached below, note that the exact models might be different depending on the availability, but the standard will be the same.