Amboise is located right on the Loire River. On the south side of the river lies the town centre and castle, where the French kings spent their childhoods during the 15th and 16th centuries. The beautiful gardens here offer splendid views of the river, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout July and August there is a Son et Lumière show at the castle (not included). In town there is also a museum displaying many of the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, who spent the last few years of his life here until he died in 1519.
Your bikes will be delivered to your hotel so have a bit of ride on them to make sure you are comfortable and everything is set up correctly. Details are in the route notes.
In the morning you will follow the dedicated cycle route out of Amboise to Chenonceaux, following quiet roads, through idyllic woodland and pretty villages. The Chateau de Chenonceau is your first highlight. Described by French author Flaubert as 'floating on air and water', Chateau de Chenonceau is one of the most striking of the Loire Valley chateaux. King Henri II gave Chenonceau to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, which greatly angered his wife, Catherine de Medici. But after Henri II died in 1559, a vengeful Catherine soon took Chenonceau away from Diane.
You will then cycle through some open countryside towards Montrichard, made famous for the 'Keep' where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. This is a good place for lunch if you did not have anything at Chenonceaux. From Montrichard you will make your way through the villages of the Sologne, including Thenay and Phages on your way to the attractive village of Fougères sur Bievre, with its 19th century public laundry beside the river and castle, destroyed by the English during the Hundred Years War. We end the day in the village of Cour Cheverny, which is a perfect example of the Sologne architecture. The castle here is one of the best-preserved private chateau in France, and was a regular venue for large royal hunting parties.
Today you will experience some of the best cycling; arguably the most spectacular of the Loire chateaux; and, the vibrant town of Blois. Your route will start by passing through Bracieux, a delightful small village in the heart of the Sologne and a former stopover between Paris and the chateaux region of the Loire. North of the village you will enter the grounds of Chambord and the extensive forest which surrounds the chateau. Here you will cycle on fantastic cycle routes free of traffic and pop out in front of the amazing chateau of Chambord. The masterpiece of the French renaissance, completed in 1545 and used by kings and presidents from Francis I until the 1930s. 1500 hectares of the enclosed national hunting reserve are open to the public, with viewing platforms for watching wild boar, stags, roe deer and mouflon. The route then heads on to Huisseau sur Cosson and then onto the delightful town of Blois. Blois Chateau is the centre piece of the town, with its ornate interior and Leonardo Da Vinci staircase. There is also a lightshow at night and attached to the chateau is the Maison de la Magie dedicated to the famous magician and diplomat Houdin. Blois is also just a really pleasant place to spend the evening. Set on the banks of the Loire with bustling streets and shops, cafes and squares, it has a lovely atmosphere. If you have time it is worth visiting the chateau, alternatively, you can visit it in the morning before you set off.
The final day of cycling follows the winding banks of the Loire river on a dedicated cycle path, which is signposted from Blois to Amboise, this makes the navigation very easy. The first part of the ride is almost entirely traffic free as the cycle path is set away from the roads. You will then work your way through some pretty villages and hamlets meandering back and forth from the banks of the river. A fantastic mid-way point is Chaumont sur Loire, about 23km into the ride. Here there is a lovely chateau set high over the village overlooking the river. Originally built during the wars between the counts of Anjou and Blois in the 11th century, it has been remodelled and rebuilt over the centuries by various owners including Catherine de Medici. Primarily known for its gardens, the castle is now a venue for the International Garden Festival and it is a lovely place to stop, stretch your legs off the bike and have a wander around. There are also options for lunch here in the form of restaurants and picnic spots. You will then set off for Amboise, working your way through more villages before reaching the vineyards on the lead into Amboise. On arrival into Amboise you can spend some time taking in any sites you missed on arrival, alternatively to can reward yourself with a delicious cake from Patisserie Bigot!