Headwater - Chateaux of the Loire Self-Guided Cycling

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8 days
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2 005 €
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Trip code: 
C08LR
Ways to Travel:
Self-Guided, Premium Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Min group size:
1
Min age:
8

Cycle through idyllic scenery and visit the finest chateaux in France

The Loire Valley is synonymous with chateaux and they are as diverse as they are numerous with over 300 in total to explore. Embark on this eight night holiday which takes you on a journey of discovery through some of the most prominent chateaux of this famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. The chateaux look like they've come straight from a fairytale with their turrets, pinnacles, lanterns and moats. There's the beautiful Renaissance chateau at Chenonceau which famously straddles the Cher, the magnificent royal palace of Amboise proudly dominating the riverside and town, and the dramatic chateau at Chaumont, once owned by Catherine de Medici (before being forcibly 'exchanged' for Chenonceau in a bitter love-battle), and occupying one of the most stunning sites of all the river's chateaux.

The route is relaxed and mostly flat, following quiet country lanes and river banks. Cycle through the verdant green forest of Amboise and on to the charming town itself, where Francois I once played host to Leonardo da Vinci at Chateau du Clos Luce. You then cross the river to mediaeval Blois where you can stop at one of the many patisseries. Take time out to walk around the chateau here, and don't miss the nearby Maison de la Magie (Museum of Magic).

Highlights

  • Perfect cycling routes: traffic-free lanes, majestic forests, vineyards, poppies and sunflowers
  • Hand-picked hotels in fabulous locations, 3 with swimming pools
  • Splendour of Renaissance Chenonceau - 'jewel in the Loire crown'
  • Masses of history and culture: pretty wine villages, charming towns including royal Blois, more chateaux than you ever knew existed

Key information

  • 8 nights hotels, all rooms en suite
  • 6 days cycling (including 2 optional rides)
  • Luggage transfers between hotels.
  • 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

What's included

  • All breakfasts and dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All luggage transfers
  • 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 (available on request)
Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade 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.

6 (2 optional rides)

Days of Cycling
Pace:

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

Terrain:


Low altitude; mostly tarmac

Day by day breakdown
Day 245.0km/28.0miles
Day 436.0km/22.0miles
Day 57.0km/4.0miles
Day 640.0km/25.0miles
Day 727.0km/17.0miles
Day 844.0km/27.0miles

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… 

Itinerary

Chissay
to
Chissay
  • Day 1

    Arrive at 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. Staying at Chateau de Chissay.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Chissay to Chaumont

    Today's route takes you west along a marked cycle route through the Foret d'Amboise and to the bustling and lively town of Amboise. Packed with interest, you have time to explore its narrow cobbled streets, stroll along the quayside and visit the house (Le Clos Luce) where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last four years of his life. Masses of lunch choices await in the popular old quarter before you head north-east through vineyards and poppy fields and on to Chaumont in time for a well-deserved swim before dinner. Staying at Hostellerie du Chateau.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    At Chaumont

    The chateau here once belonged to Catherine de Medici and is quite spectacular. The beautiful park surrounding the chateau was added in the C19 and, between May and October, it hosts the International Garden Festival, featuring fabulous 'conceptual' gardens created by green-fingered artists and, perhaps unusually, philosophers! Alternatively, cross the river and take the train from Onzain to the bustling university town of Tours, or just relax by the hotel pool. Staying at Hostellerie du Chateau.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Chaumont to St-Dye-Sur-Loire

    Today's route takes you over the River Loire and on quiet country lanes to Blois where you can ride around the chateau in a horse and cart if you need to give your cycling legs a rest! For the young at heart, Houdini's House of Magic is a must, but everyone will enjoy exploring the warren of cobbled streets and pretty arcaded squares. You have lots of lunch options before you carry on through well-tended vineyards (with plenty of tasting opportunities) and sleepy villages to our elegant riverside hotel in St-Dye-sur-Loire. Staying at Manor bel Air.


    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    At St Dye-Sur-Loire (free day or optional ride)

    Explore the graceful village and its old ramparts then we suggest an easy-paced 7km cycle (route notes provided) through the huge Foret de Boulogne to the fairytale chateau at Chambord. The sheer size (it boasts 440 rooms) of this enormous palace reflects the lavish and flamboyant lifestyle of its original owner, King Francois I. The surrounding park is today a national nature reserve, protecting all sorts of wildlife including deer, boar and eagles. Staying at Manor bel Air.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    St Dye-Sur-Loire to Chitenay

    Much of today's route is along the dedicated cycling paths that link selected chateaux in this region. Highlights include Chateau de Villesavin (an unusual museum of wedding dresses throughout the ages and a huge collection of horse-drawn carriages) and the richly decorated Chateau de Troussay - be sure to take a look at the elaborately painted ceilings. The surrounding parkland is worth a detour too - many of the ancient trees are hundreds of years old. Your final stretch takes you along quiet rural roads to the pretty wine village of Chitenay where the affable Gilles Martinet and his team will be waiting for you. Gilles is a pretty competent wine buff, so feel free to soak up his expertise. Staying at Auberge du Centre.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    At Chitenay (free day or optional ride)

    It's very tempting to stay in Chitenay, enjoy lots of wine degustations in the village, or perhaps just relax by the pool, but it would be a great shame to miss out on a trip to Chateau de Cheverny, just 7km away (we provide cycling route notes). Made of brilliant-white stone, this is arguably the most immaculate of all the Loire chateaux, and is also home to the region's largest collection of fine art. Another option is a 12km round cycling trip to the stunning C16 Chateau de Beauregard. You'll find a rare kitchen garden (400+ plant species) and the recently restored Galerie des Illustres portrait gallery here. Staying at Auberge du Centre

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    Chitenay to Chissay

    Head south past well-tended and sleepy hamlets surrounded by fields of sunflowers, stopping off perhaps at the fortified chateau of Fougeres-sur-Bievre. Continue past Sambin to the superb Chateau 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. After a visit here, it's an easy cycle on to the Chateau de Chissay for a well-earned dip in the pool. Staying at Chateau de Chissay.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    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

Visas

Vaccinations

France

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.

We offer a complimentary wine carrying service on this holiday. Just purchase your wine at the vineyards en-route and our rep will collect your purchases for you and transport them to your final hotel for you to collect at the end of the holiday. 

Weather

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 routes notes 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.

Families

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:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade 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.

Accommodation

Hotels

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:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade 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.

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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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Call us on +356 21423994