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      our holidays > Cycling Holidays > France > Other Regions > Châteaux of the Loire

Châteaux of the Loire

Castles, caves & vineyards
Starting point:

Hotel de Biencourt, Azay-le-Rideau.

Day 1
Azay-le-Rideau to Ussé (recommended option): 35.5km
Shorter option: 18.5km

You head north from Azay-le-Rideau past an elegant private château and through a deciduous forest to Villandry, where you can visit the château, famed for its magnificent formal gardens. From here you follow the River Cher to its confluence with the Loire, and cycle along the riverbank via a former river port (look out for vestiges of its past) to Ussé. For a shorter day, you can follow the course of the River Indre, passing a small but beautiful château and an attractive village, to reach the banks of the River Loire, which you follow westwards. Whichever route you take to Ussé, you stay the night at Le Clos d'Ussé.

Day 2
Ussé to Fontevraud: 34km

Start the day with a visit to Ussé's château, the inspiration for Perrault's original tale of Sleeping Beauty. From Ussé, you continue along the Loire and then head away from the river, cycling through meadows and woodland. You reach the River Vienne and follow it to the idyllic village of Candes-St-Martin which overlooks the confluence of the Loire and the Vienne. Follow country lanes through the small village of Montsoreau, where it is worth visiting the château for superb views over the Loire before the final stretch to Fontevraud and La Croix Blanche, where you spend two nights.

Day 3
Shorter circular route: 33.5km
Longer circular route: 42km

You could spend the day at Fontevraud visiting the superb abbey for which the village is famed. It is here that Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine are buried. Alternatively, as the famous town of Saumur is close, we suggest you cycle there and spend some time exploring (there is a château and a fine church). On the way, look out for a subterranean troglodytic village where you can enjoy a lovely wine-tasting opportunity – a real highlight. You can either return by another relatively direct route; or cross the Loire to visit some mushroom caves and explore the marais north of the river, an area of flat, fertile farmland.

Day 4
Fontevraud to Chinon (direct route): 23.5km
Longer option via Richelieu: 60km

Our direct route today leads through woodland and undulating farmland, passing villages with pretty churches and small châteaux. A longer route crosses similar landscapes but loops south to take in the fascinating town of Richelieu; the beautiful stained-glass windows in the church at Champigny-sur-Veude; and a visit to an unusual 'petit château'. On arrival in Chinon, spend time exploring the château (which commands superb views over the Vienne Valley) and enjoy, perhaps, a wine-tasting in another troglodytic setting. You stay at the Hotel de France.

Day 5
Chinon to Azay-le-Rideau: 38km

You head east from Chinon across open countryside, first through vineyards to Crissay-sur-Manse (one of the 'most beautiful villages in France'), before turning north across farmland and woodland and past cliffs in which there are numerous cave dwellings. Continue through Villaine-les-Rochers, the basket-weaving capital of France, to return to Azay.
End your holiday with one last visit – the fairy-tale turreted château of Azay-le-Rideau should not be missed – before a final night at the hotel where you began, the Hotel de Biencourt.

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More about your rented bike
Type: hybrid
Gears: 21
Tandem? no
Helmets? yes
Electric bikes? yes (see price panel)
Accessories: waterproof map case on handlebars; panniers/saddlebags; pump; puncture repair kit; lock