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).
Your hotels range from a fabulous chateau, steeped in history and set in private parkland, to a lovingly converted C17 wine-broker's lodge on the banks of the river. Meals throughout are of a very high standard and, of course, world famous local wines are in abundance too!
Arrive in Chissay where your fabulous chateau hotel awaits. Time for a swim before dinner. (Staying at Chateau de Chissay, Half Board)
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, Half Board)
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, Half Board)
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, Half Board)
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, Half Board)
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, Half Board)
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, Half Board)
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, Half Board)
Please note that cycling helmets are compulsory in France for children under 12. As we are unable to provide these, we strongly recommend that you bring your own.
Please see our Planning you holiday page for full details.
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. If you'd like to keep your bikes with you for any extra nights we can arrange this for you for just £25 per adult per day and £18 per child per day.
NEARBY:The Chateau de Chissay is a chateau hotel steeped in history, set in 25 ha of parkland overlooking the Cher. Lovingly restored back in 1986, it's said that both Charles VII and Louis XI stayed here.
Room upgrades: Superior room, Apartment or Suite.
Superior rooms are larger rooms overlooking the Cher Valley. Apartments are either overlooking the swimming pool or the Cher Valley. They have a separate lounge with a sofa bed.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
NEARBY:Ideally situated in the centre of Chenonceaux and just a 400m from the chateau, the Hotel La Roseraie, built in the C18 offers comfortable rooms and a wonderful place to relax after a day walking or sightseeing with its garden and pool.
Room upgrades: Charme Room or Superior Room.
NEARBY:This hotel is situated between the Loire river and the famous chateau itself, the Hostellerie du Chateau is a lovely, quirky hotel, that just oozes charm.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
NEARBY:The Manoir de Bel Air is run by the Abel family. This imposing house on the banks of the Loire was built in the 17C for a wine broker. In 1749 it was used as a military hospital for the Marechal de Saxe who was then based at Chambord.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
Tucked away in the elegant little village of Chitenay is the lovely ivy-clad Auberge du Centre, run by the charming Martinet family. Dinner is served either in the pretty dining room, or on the terrace.
Room upgrades: Balneo Room.
If you'd like to extend your trip with extra nights at the start or end, or if you'd like to arrange a stop off point en-route, then we recommend the following hotels.
NEARBY:A traditional hotel in the town centre - very convenient for the channel ports and also for exploring St Omer itself - an aristocratic town that boasts the finest Cathedral in Northern France.
The 4* Le Senat is simply stunning! There are just 41 rooms, all stylishly furnished and a couple of suites with terraces, if you really fancy splashing out! All have satellite television, mini bar, air-conditioning, safe and hairdryer, plus Internet access.
Transfers included from Tours St Pierre des Corps train station at 12:58 and back to Tours St Pierre des Corps train station at 10:15.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange connecting flights.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Cycling in France is one of the best ways of experiencing the lovely regions with all they have to offer
Great variety of hotels, wonderful food, nice quiet routes through beautiful scenery, very relaxing as the thinking has already been done so we don't have to .
Nice to know that you can just sit back and everything has been well researched and taken care of - accommodation, bicycles and other transport, routes etc. Also assuring to know that there is back-up when needed.
We loved every minute and are especially grateful to Marc and Sharon for going the extra mile to help mum and dad with transport after they had given up on their bikes! Food was magnificent and we loved cycling through forests, sunflower fields, vineyards - a wonderful and unforgettable holiday. Well done headwater for getting everything right.
Cycling through lovely countryside with the opportunity to visit many places of interest including chateaux
We had such a wonderful holiday cycling through the country lanes and vineyards. Coupled with fabulous food and wine, what else could one ask for.
Fun group activity with lovely food, wine and poppies
The extremely quiet roads, beautiful chateaux and wonderful food made this a thoroughly enjoyable trip.
A very well thought out cycling tour of a most interesting area. Good to have alternate days of cycling and sightseeing. The distances on the cycling days were, for us, just right. The route guidance app was invaluable.
Excellent choices for cycling of all grades with good routes calculated to give relaxing distances between comfortable cycle friendly hotels, and plenty of time to go sightseeing.
Overall, a lovely holiday with great cycling, accommodation and food - everything we have come to expect from a Headwater holiday.
A challenge rewarded by every dining experience
France takes a lot of beating. Eurostar to Paris is quick and easy, so too the transfer across Paris and the TGV to Tours. Very different hotels, so typical of Headwater, some with swimming pools which we all sampled, bit cold but good fun for a dip before an evening meal. Easy cycling along the two main rivers and lots of opportunities to deviate along other green routes particularly on your days off. Great food with dreadful temptation to eat far too much!
Our first cycling holiday and we absolutely loved it. Easy routes to follow, wonderful scenery and amazing food. Wonderful. We were very glad that we travelled by Eurostar.
Perfect cycling holiday.
Good holiday. But do check with Headwater the timings of connections with arrival by air and transfer across Paris. You would be better spending more on the TGV which would leave later.
Quoting half the actual price is poor otherwise a well-organised holiday
An excellent first bike trip to the Loire, with 8 nights seeming just about right. We could not have eaten much more of the multiple courses of excellent food. Lovely experience to visit so many interesting towns, villages and chateaux en route, without having to drag the luggage around. Some beautiful countryside and riverside landscapes to explore. Comprehensive maps, directions and travel tips - as well as very helpful and professional Reps - were very useful to help us get the most out of the trip.
Fabulous - BUT - need to address both your reps in the Loire and one of your hotels in particular (Manoir Bel Air) - welcome and service was not good - and very old fashioned and uncomfortable beds. That one hotel really let you down.
This is a great family holiday: the cycling was pretty easy for all of us (the children were 15, 13 and 10), but there was enough challenge for us to feel proud of ourselves by the end of the week. The routes were incredibly easy to follow, and took us through wonderfully varied terrain - through beautiful fields of sunflowers, past vineyards, through shady forests and along the rivers Cher and Loir. Every day brought something new to see or do. The roads were all quiet and there were lots of well-maintained cycle paths. The hotels were well-chosen and welcoming, and the only downside of the week was that we ate far too much delicious food! The back-up from James and Hazel, the local reps, was fantastic, and the bikes themselves were excellent. We're looking forward to another cycling holiday soon!
I can't imagine any other type of holiday that is so satisfying in terms of exercise combined with relaxation, visiting new places, and truly excellent food & drink.
Advise customers that municipal pools in France only allow tight fitting swimming trunks not baggy shorts. We could not use the pool on the way to St Die
Easy cycling, great countryside and good accommodation but take protection against mosquitoes.
all in all - good trip, excellent gear - too much food!
An exciting and demanding adventure with the reward of wonderful food in beautiful surroundings.
Another excellent Headwater holiday. This was one of the flattest ones we have done with some undulation only on the first and last days. Most of the route was on tracks through the forest, cycle paths and minor roads - it was only crossing the river in Amboise that we encountered alarming traffic. The hotels were all good, the food excellent. Along with other Headwater guests, we found the meals at the Manoir Bel Air too overwhelming - but it was easy to ask to drop a course. Lots of different chateaux to visit and we spent an additional two days in Chitenay which enabled us to go back and spend a complete day in Blois (an easy cycle ride through the forest and on cycle-tracks) and to further explore the area.
In one word.....relaxing......because of the fantastic accommodation in great locations, simplicity of directions and easy routes with plenty of see and do along the way, topped off with superb food every evening! Hassle free holiday, thank you.
We really enjoyed the holiday which was very well organised. The only slight downsides were that the route notes were ambiguous on occasion and we got lost on a few occasions meaning that the distances were somewhat longer than they should have been and it would have been really appreciated if all 4 hotels had carried our luggage up to our room. Two hotels did this but it was no fun after a long day's cycling having to carry all our bags up 2 flights of stairs.
We have done many Headwater cycling holidays, and this was very good. The routes were relatively easy, but there were plenty of options to do your own thing too. Accommodation and food great.
Excellent all round except for the dreadful welcome at Bel Air (the lady is a bit hit and miss we understand) of which we made light hearted remarks!
The highlight hotel was the Auiberge du Centre at Chittenay where FOUR people took our bags to our room when we arrived.
We have been many many times with Headwater and find the routes marvellous and varied with fantastic food and hotels. All the arrangements were excellent.
Excellent way to enjoy an area. Taste the food and visit the local areas of interest.
Chateaux of the Loire is an excellent intro to Headwaters cycling holidays, excellent bicycles with professional support, gently rolling hills, routes on quiet country lanes through golden fields of ripening crops, and welcome warming sunshine . With ample opportunity to visit the numerous Chateaux on route, whilst staying in a variety of outstanding Hotels/Chateaux all with superb menues to choose from, and most with swimming pools what more is there to wish for ?. This was out 8th holiday with Headwater and it is definitely in the top 3.
Apart from the excellent food and accommodation, the cycling was about as perfect as it can get: smooth, quiet gently undulating roads, considerate drivers, friendly people and good weather but not too hot. Plenty to see and visit.
Most enjoyable. Well planned and varied routes with excellent dining in the evening. Something for everyone.
Easy cycling. Good hotels with excellent food and accommodation in the main. Weather in late September was brilliant which made visits to chateaus etc more spectacular. All in all we had a really good holiday.
The holiday met all our expectations, as the description in your brochure proved to be accurate in all respects. The level of accommodation, in fact, exceeded expectations as did the dining experiences. Whilst not a budget holiday, you provided excellent value for money.
Compared to other companies, our view is that 'Headwater', is at the top of the tree.
Great holiday with plenty of exercise. Beautiful châteaux to visit and lovely hotels to stay with lots of fabulous food. Good idea to have a 'sat nav' or map on your mobile phone as route directions not totally accurate!
Our Rep John was very helpful and we were aware that if we needed assistance he was only a phone call away
Also very friendly welcome
The hotels and food were great especially after a long day cycling
Will use you again next year!
A taste of the Loire, in more ways than one. The meal at Manoir Bel Air is possible the best you will ever encounter
Another amazing Headwater holiday - everything excellent as usual! John, our Rep, was really enthusiastic and informative - he was keen to find out what we were particularly interested in and then suggested relevant ideas which made the holiday extra memorable. He also gave a very professional demonstration of repairing a puncture.
A great holiday, well organized.
I really enjoyed this area of France and to cycle around made it that much more special.
This is an excellent holiday for those that can afford it. Loads to see and do if the weather isn't wonderful. Easy cycling. Good food all the way around the trip.
Very well organised holiday. Quality reliable reps. Food and accommodation was good.
Cycling in the Loire is a great way to see the area, with the opportunity to visit at least one Chateau a day (so that by the end one is 'chattered'!). The accommodation arranged by Headwater, amazing food, and efficient back-up, all provide for a memorable holiday.
We thought the food was at times too good, we were not expecting either the standard or quantity - which was at times off putting. The cycling distances were far enough and at our age, with the quality of bikes (could be better) not sure if we will do it again. This was I think our sixth cycling holiday with you, but the first for five years: age is catching up with us, it was sometimes a slog. We have electric bikes at home and we would definitely go on another Headwater holiday if you could organise them.
We were supposedly not on the Gourmet Menu, however it felt as if we were and to be honest, while lovely, the food was just over the top at times. There was a mix up with our arrival, totally my fault, however if Marg had just called or texted me from the station when we weren't there, (she had my number), then we would have saved ourselves a very expensive taxi ride. The reps were helpful when a bike chain jammed, although it took them an hour to reach us, and at times we thought they were very 'stretched': it seemed to be a very busy time. Hotel accommodation was generally a little lower than expected for the cost and Room 28 at the Hostellrie du Chateau was the worst: very cramped and smelt due to the sewage pipe outside the bedroom window. However, that was the friendliest hotel owner by a mile: Madame was delightful. Generally, we felt the standard of accommodation offered to Headwater guests was that of getting the poorer rooms in the hotels, but I do appreciate that often rural French hotels of this type are like that. We did have a major, irreparable puncture, fortunately discovered in the early evening of an 'off' day - when we were just planning to go for a short ride to the next village. The bikes are 'okay' but I am sure there are better ones. John was contacted and came as soon as he could, but it clearly added to the pressure the couple were under. John did ask us for money for the return transfers, claiming we were not on their list, however when I checked our invoice it definitely stated that they were included in our costs.
Nothing major to complain about, I guess we're getting a bit pickier as we get older.
great fun holiday adventure
This was our first cycling package holiday and we very much enjoyed it; just the right level of route for reasonably fit beginners. Carefully planned holiday with excellent information and service from Headwater.
Holiday very good and food very good but level of accommodation was poor.
Overall experience excellent, weather fabulous, scenery beautiful - all-in-all our holiday came up to our expectations as with previous Headwater Cycling holidays.
A wonderful holiday for food lovers with excellent accommodation and super cycling for 'softies' - the routes were nice and flat, passing through some lovely countryside with many interesting places to visit on the way.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday. Find out about The Headwater Price Promise to ensure you're getting the very best value for money.
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Please contact us for child prices.
Self-guided cycling Managed locally by Headwater appointed rep.
Every two days from 11th May 2019 to 8th Oct 2019, for 8 nights.
All continental breakfasts and evening meals
It is possible to hire electric bikes for this holiday at a supplement of £120 per person. As these are available on a first come first served basis, we recommend early booking to avoid disappointment. Please call us for further details.
Transfers included from Tours St Pierre des Corps train station at 12:58 and back to Tours St Pierre des Corps train station at 10:15.
Due to the tailor-made nature of our holidays, we need a little more information in order for us to check availability for Chateaux of the Loire Cycling. Simply complete the form below and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and an accurate price. Of course there's no obligation, but if you do wish to proceed with a booking they will be on-hand to assist you throughout the process.
Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 to discuss your requirements in more detail.
We've been creating high-quality relaxed activity holidays since 1985 and our wealth of experience means we're able to build the perfect tailor-made tour for you. Our 'Gold Trusted' rating on Feefo, the independent review site, underlines our exceptional levels of customer service, and our ATOL bonding and ABTA membership guarantees your holiday is safe with us.