Start Blois train station. If you arrive at the train station for 19.00 you will be able to meet the leader and join the group transfer to the hotel. Blois was a royal city and the birthplace of Louis XII. Dominating the Loire River, the royal castle of Blois is not only one of the most prestigious Renaissance monuments in France but also a brilliant example of the evolution of French architecture from the Middle Ages to the 17th Century. It was in the 11th Century that Blois became the most important town in the region and a stone castle and walls were built to protect the town. It later became a royal town and the capital of the Kingdom and after surviving several days of bombing during World War II it is now a popular place to visit.
This morning we will be set up with our bikes and the leader will give you a bit of information about the cycling. Today our ride is circular and we will begin by following the north bank of the Loire before crossing the river at Muidres-sur-Loire. We will arrive in Chambord in time for lunch before visiting the Chateau. Originally designed as a hunting lodge for King Francois I, the chateau's most remarkable feature is the double spiral stairway (attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci). They ascend in such a way that two people can go up and down them without ever meeting. If you reach the top of the staircase you should make your way onto the roof terrace where the court used to watch the comings and goings of hunts and tournaments. The Chateau is set in 1500 hectares of the enclosed national hunting reserve which are now open to the public, with viewing platforms for watching wild boar, stags, roe deer and mouflon. After we have finished wandering around the chateau we will hop back on the bikes for a 15km ride back to Blois using a forest trail.
Ride Approx. 40km.
After breakfast we will leave Blois behind as we begin our journey onto Montrichard. We will once again cross the Loire river and head to Cheverny. At Cheverny we have the opportunity to visit another chateau. Cheverny is the most magnificently furnished chateau in the Loire Valley with its collection of furniture, tapestries and paintings. The architect Boyer and decorator Jean Monier, built the structure in 1620, for the Huralt family of Blois and it is considered the first French style architecture. Cheverny is still owned and inhabited by the same family and with each generation the beauty and character of the chateau has been preserved, guided by their own taste and that of the period. It still remains a top tourist attraction, and this is partly due to its association with the cartoon Tintin. Used by the author Herge as the model for the home of Capitaine Haddock, a permanent exhibition has been erected called the Secrets of Marlinspike Hall. Our ride will then continue through some of the prettiest villages of the Loire Valley, including Chitnay and Fougeres-sur Bievre, before reaching the Cher River at Thesee. Here we can have a look around the Roman ruins. The Cher River will then be our guide to our hotel in Montrichard. The hotel is located next to the river and will be the setting for our evening meal.
Ride Approx. 50km.
Today we have another circular ride which takes in the town of Amboise and the romantic Chateau de Chenonceau. Our ride will take us west through vineyards and the traditional troglodyte houses of the area until we reach Chenonceaux. Here we will take some time to visit the 'Chateau des Dames'. 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 Medicis. But after Henri II died in 1559, a vengeful Catherine soon took Chenonceau away from Diane. We will then continue our journey to Amboise where we will rejoin the Loire River. There is a great deal to explore in Amboise so we will take some time out to wander around. From the Chateau that overlooks the river to the Clos Luce - the house and gardens where Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life. The house is now a museum in his memory. We will then return to Montrichard through woodland and following very quiet roads to complete our loop. You are free to do as you please this evening, but the leader will be more than happy to advice you on restaurant choices.
Ride Approx. 40km.
Today we will begin our journey to Chinon which we be our base for the next 3 nights. We will begin by following the Cher River west past Blere. We will then cycle south to Truyes-Cormery where we will cross the Indre River. We will then follow its south bank to Montabzon where we will stop for lunch. The pretty banks of the Indre river will continue to guide us to Azay le Rideau. Here we will stop to look around the 16th Century chateau. Rising out of the waters of the Indre river, it was the creation of Francois I and is now among the list of Loire chateau that are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Once we have had time to visit the chateau and the village we will then catch the train to Chinon. We will have chance to freshen up and then we will head into town for dinner.
Ride Approx. 58km
This morning we will head west along the Vienne River until it joins the Loire River at Cande Saint Martin. We will pass the troglodyte houses of Montsoreau, built into the soft limestone cliffs of the area and cycle onto a mushroom farm set in a disused quarry. Our ride will take us through the famous Saumur-Champigny vineyards and onto Fontevraud. The city was once the largest monastic city in Europe and is home to a magnificent Abbey. We will have plenty of time to visit the Abbey and take a look around the town before we head back to Chinon. Our route will take us through picturesque woodland and on arrival back in Chinon there will be the opportunity for an optional wine tasting.
Ride Approx. 44km
Our final ride is another loop from Chinon. This time we will head east through the Chinon vineyards until we reach the old village of Crissay-sur-Manse. Said to be one of the most beautiful villages in France, the houses are all made from the white limestone that features throughout the Loire Valley. We will stop here for lunch before we head back along the Vienne River to Chinon. Chinon is a town rich in history and culture and it is worth taking some time to explore. It has a large limestone castle which dominates the appearance of the town and served as the temporary residence for kings of England and France, said to be the preferred residence of Henry II and the birthplace of Richard the Lionheart. The winding cobbled streets leading up to the castle are lined with small shops and cafes and the timber buildings dating back to the 15th century create a wonderful atmosphere and sense of the history that has gone before. Below the castle walls there are more troglodyte houses, some are still occupied, but many are now used as wine cellars. We will head into town for our final evening together and enjoy some good food and wine to finish off our trip.
A transfer has been arrange to take the group to Chinon train station for 14.00.