Loire Gastronomic Self-Guided Cycling

  • Premium
7 days
Suitable for:
Age 12+
Activity level:
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
Ways to Travel:
Self-Guided Holidays, Premium Adventures
Self-Guided Cycling
Min group size:
Min age:

Cycle through idyllic scenery and visit the finest chateaux in France

This is an incredibly relaxed self-guided itinerary, ideal for those who enjoy their food and wine as much as culture and cycling. The distances are kept short, with optional cycling days built in so you have plenty of time to explore the many fabulous châteaux, enjoy long lazy lunches or a lengthy stop at a vineyard. If this isn't enough to tempt you, the setting is beautiful, with rides along the pretty river banks that meander through the countryside. To top it off our hotels are superb and your evening meals will be a highlight!


  • Visit the finest châteaux in France
  • Stay in superb hotels
  • Sample outstanding local cuisine and wine
  • Shady riverside cycling - easy terrain

Key information

  • 6 nights hotels, all rooms en suite
  • 5 days cycling (including 2 optional rides) with luggage transfers
  • 85% quiet tarmac roads, 15% cycle paths and tracks
  • The terrain is mainly flat, ideal for first timers
  • GPS route navigation provided
  • Self-guided holiday. Min age 2 yrs
  • Countries visited: France

What's included

  • All breakfasts and dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All luggage transfers
  • Services of your local Headwater representative
  • Route notes and maps
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request -compulsory supplement)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Arrival & departure transfers (for land only bookings)
Call for general departures:
056 631 86 71
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Cycling

Leisurely: 10-13km/6-8miles an hour


Low altitude; mostly tarmac

Day by day breakdown
Day 229.0km/18.0miles
Day 315.0km/9.0miles
Day 445.0km/28.0miles
Day 550.0km/31.0miles
Day 632.0km/20.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Chissay.

    If you have arranged to join the transfer we will pick you up from St Pierre des Corps station and take you to Chissay (please see the joining information), where your fabulous château hotel awaits. There will be time for a swim before dinner.
    Premium Hotel

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Cycle along the River Cher to Château de Chenonceau; cycle on to St Ouen-les-Vignes via Amboise.

    This morning's ride will start with gentle pedalling along the banks of the Cher River, which will lead you to the superb Château de Chenonceau with its famous arches majestically spanning the river. Described by Flaubert as 'floating on air and water', it's arguably the most beautiful of all the Loire landmarks. It will be difficult to tear yourself away from this beautiful spot so it makes a great stop for lunch on the terrace of The Orangerie restaurant. You will then head off through the shady Amboise forest and on to Amboise - don't worry if you don't have time to explore properly as you can easily come back tomorrow. Your final stretch leads to the elegant village of St Ouen-les-Vignes, where you'll stay at Hotel l'Aubinière, and Jacques and Odile Arrayet's bijou hotel beside the river. Odile is a professional sommelier, and Jacques an artistic chef de cuisine, so you're in for some treats here!

    Premium Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Free day to return to Amboise; or cycle along the River Cisse to the wine capital of Vouvray.

    Today is a free day but with Amboise only a 5km cycle south it makes for the perfect day trip. Visit the flamboyant royal palace and the elegant Clos Luce, a 15th Century manor house where Leonardo da Vinci lived and worked for the last few years of his life. His workshops house 40 giant models of some of his most spectacular creations - the first plane, helicopter and tank. The beautifully landscaped gardens bring life to his botanical drawings and geographical designs. Alternatively, it is an easy 15km return cycle along the river Cisse to the wine capital, Vouvray. It is most famous for its wine made from the Chenin Blanc grape. A little way out of Vouvray, the Moncontour Museum gives you the opportunity to visit a winery and some ancient wine cellars; there is the chance to do some comparative wine tasting at the end of the tour or visit Chateau de Valmer where King Charles VII once stayed.

    Optional ride approx. 15km.
    Premium Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Cycle to Autreche; continue onto Chaumont; finish in Ouchamps.

    Today offers lovely peaceful cycling; you head north through open countryside to Autreche, there is the opportunity to see a lot of wildlife en-route so keep the binoculars handy! The route then continues on to Chaumont. The impressive 15th Century château was built on the site of the original 10th Century castle destroyed by Louis XI for the treasonable acts of its then owners. Famously Catherine de Medici forced her late husband's mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to give her Chenonceau in exchange for Chaumont. Between May and October, the chateau hosts the International Garden Festival with a different theme each year. A final, shady riverside stretch takes you via the pretty villages of Les Montils and Seur and on to Ouchamps where you'll spend the next two nights.

    Premium Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Free day to visit the chateau at Cheverny. Alternatively, cycle to Chateau de Chambord.

    The 17th Century château at nearby Cheverny, with its wonderful white stone facade, makes a great day trip on your bike (19km circular ride). The richness of its furnishings and antiques are incredible, and the gardens are superb. The chateau has an interesting history, as if out of a regal soap opera, including intrigue and murder. Its latter history has been a little less dramatic but the château kept its place on the main stage by being used as a model for Marlinspike Hall which features in some of the Tintin adventures. There is a permanent Tintin exhibition open for viewing. Alternatively, if you head a little further afield on your bike, you can visit the magnificent Château de Chambord. It is a 50km round trip, so makes a perfect day trip. Set in the heart of the huge Foret de Boulogne, this 16th Century masterpiece appears straight from a fairytale, and reflects the lavish tastes of its original owner, King Francois I. Today, the surrounding park has been declared a national nature reserve, protecting all sorts of wildlife including deer, boar and eagles.

    Optional ride approx. 19km or 50km.
    Premium Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Cycle via Fougeres-sur-Bievre and along the River Cher to Montrichard; then ride onto Château de Chissay for a well-earned dip in the pool!

    After breakfast your ride will head south past well-tended vines and sleepy hamlets surrounded by fields of sunflowers. We recommend stopping for lunch on the terrace beside the fortified chateau of Fougeres-sur-Bievre, before cycling downhill to the River Cher. Here the charming old quarter of mediaeval Montrichard is huddled beneath the 11th Century keep. The town has a definite mediaeval feel to it, particularly in some of the buildings in the square. You can sit here, enjoy a coffee and admire the half-timbered houses. The castle dominates the town and is famous for imprisoning Richard the Lionheart. A final flat cycle follows the Cher back to Château du Chissay for a well-earned dip in the pool!

    Premium Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    End Chissay.

    If you pre-book a transfer you will be taken back to St Pierre des Corps station. See the joining information for more details.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info




There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 6 dinners included. This is a gastronomic tour so the food is central to your experience.

The Loire prides itself on it's cuisine. It is refined country cooking, not heavy but rich in flavours and textures, drawing on the great garden of the Loire valley. Fruit and vegetables abound. Asparagus, artichokes, button mushrooms, cherries and strawberries from the Loire are transported to kitchens throughout France, which demonstrates the quality of the produce. These all provide delicious accompaniments to the duck, venison and wild boar dishes (all hunted locally) and served in sauces using wines from the local vineyards. Fish also features in abundance. With three wide, gently flowing rivers passing through the region, freshwater fish appear on most menus. 'Sandre' (pikeperch) and breme (bream) are especially popular and are usually served in a beurre blanc sauce - made with shallots, butter, dry white wine and vinegar. The majority of the cheese found in the region is goat's cheese. We suggest trying Selles-sur-Cher from the neighbouring Blesois region. Desserts are often based on the fruit from the local orchards. They include 'tarte tatin', a yummy caramelised upside-down apple pie - the invention of two absent-minded sisters in their attempt to salvage a dessert they had dropped on the floor.

The Loire is undoubtedly one of Europe's finest wine producing regions with many of the separate wine areas producing red, white, rose and sparkling wines. Distinctive whites include Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, Vouvray and Muscadet; for reds, try Chinin, Bourgueil and Saumur. Anjou is by far the most popular rose.


The Loire valley is blessed with fantastic weather for cycling. The spring and autumn seasons experience mild climates with temperatures averaging 16-20 degrees Celcius. The summers are generally warmer with temperatures reaching the high 20s. There is always the chance of rain so it is best to be prepared for this with a waterproof layer, it is also good to have a warmer layer for the early mornings and evenings.

Is this trip for you?

Cycling Conditions
Classification: Self-Guided
Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely)
Average daily distance: 32km (20 miles).
No. of days cycling: 5 (including 2 optional rides)
Terrain and route: The suggested cycling mainly follows quiet tarmac roads with a few sections on dirt roads. The terrain is mainly flat with a few undulating sections, ideal for first timers.
Vehicle Support:This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodation, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next. A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route directions contain an emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.


Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. Our local partner is able to offer child seats for children aged 2-4yrs and bikes for children aged 8 and above. These are all subject to availability, and therefore we ask that you enquire about these on booking. Please note due to the size of the bikes and distance required to cycle, this trip is not appropriate for children aged from 5-7yrs (who are too big for the child seats, but not big enough to ride the children’s bike). As a guide we have suggested that 2yrs is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. However, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities. Please bear in mind the weather when choosing to book, temperatures can be very high in the middle of summer and the child seats provided do not have any shade. We therefore recommend going either earlier or later on in the season if you have young children.

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 71
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.



All hotels have been handpicked for their warm welcome, location and elegant regional cuisine. Your gastronomic meals are central to your experience and these will be provided at the hotels; some in stately dining rooms and others on outdoor terraces. You will spend 2 nights at the former royal residence Château de Chissay, steeped in history and set in extensive parkland. Other nights are spent in 3 and 4-star hotels, all with swimming pools; all have en suite facilities.

All prices are based on 2 persons sharing, so if there is an odd number of people travelling in your party or you are travelling alone, there will be a compulsory single room supplement. Please call your sales consultant for prices and availability. 

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 71
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Travel literature, whether it’s the fascinating memoirs of a life-changing trip into the mysterious Himalayan mountai

  • Reviewed June 2016
    Ann Dunbar

    Gastronomic Cycling Loire valley

    On the whole the trip was good but there were some disappointments. The final night"s dinner after fabulous meals the whole trip was very poor. there were also some issues with the route map that we were given and in one place in particular the rout took us under a railway and we wee stopped by two local who said that this route was too dangerous and showed us a better route. The cycles were good and generally the route was fine.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling along the cycling paths on the banks of the Loire.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Not applicable self guided.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get a good route map to check directions.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was such a shame that our lat dinner was so poor, it rather ended the holiday on a sour note.
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Rod Edwards

    gastronomic and leisurely

    This was a great way to see the district around the Loire. We had wonderful cycling days that included rural areas, villages, chateau's, picnic stops and coffee and ice-cream breaks, all culminating in a 4-5 course meal at night. The cycling was varied but mostly slightly undulating to flat and the distance each day was ample. We had great weather and the two rest days allowed us opportunities to vista other places. We visited Cherverny and were lucky to have stumbled across a wine tasting festival set up in the street with about 20 producers presenting their wines. We had good accommodation with Chateau Chissay being the highlight. The bikes were easy to use and very well maintained.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just being in this part of the world with so much history and chateaus all around. Sleepy villages and of course the food. It was truly gastronomic!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    It was self guided.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Preparation for cycling would be helpful-particularly in regards to your bottom. Padded bike pants are are must.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The quality of the accommodation on the 4th and 5th night (Chitenay) didn't match the quality of other nights. However, the food at this hotel was sensational.
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Michael Peck

    Lore Gastronomic

    Very good. Flat terrain for cycling Great food

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Staying in a Chateau

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Great, very nice guy - Hang on it was self guided - so that would be me

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    None - The local French were very friendly

    Is there anything else you would like to add?


Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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