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Loire Valley Chateaux and Gardens Tour

“A fabulous way to experience the Loire countryside.” — G.V.

“A fabulous way to experience the Loire countryside.” — G.V.

“A fabulous way to experience the Loire countryside.” — G.V.

“A fabulous way to experience the Loire countryside.” — G.V.

“A fabulous way to experience the Loire countryside.” — G.V.
  • 7 nights | 32 miles/day
  • Guided from: Self-guided from:
  • View Dates
  1. Variety: Choose from more than 200 tours offered by local operators in 35 countries.
  2. Advice: Our informed advisors help you choose the trip that's right for you.
  3. Lower cost: You pay local tour company prices—less than what big American companies charge.
  4. Great exchange rates: Pay low rates thanks to the millions of dollars in foreign currency we buy each year.
  5. Convenience: We handle the full booking and payment process.
  6. Support: We’re your advocates from initial planning through final pedal stroke.

Tour description

Between the 13th and the 16th Centuries, French royalty built an amazing collection of beautiful renaissance chateaux.

On the Loire Valley cycling tour we visit Chateau Chambord, the largest of the Loire chateaux, built by Francois I as a hunting lodge and containing a spectacular staircase by Leonardo Da Vinci. We visit Chenonceau, once the home of Henry II's mistress, Diane of Poitiers, evicted by his widow, Catherine de Medici, who then went on to build the iconic ballroom across the River Cher.

The Chateaux are stunning, and we’ve put together a great itinerary of visits. But of course we’ve got great food, interesting wines, and the path less trodden.

Daily program

Day 1: Arrival in Montreuil Bellay
You arrive at your hotel in Montreuil Bellay in the late afternoon. You'll have time to set your bikes up and go for a spin, but you may prefer to lounge by the pool and enjoy a cold pastis.

Montreuil Bellay is an interesting village, perched inside its wall, on top of a hill overlooking the river Thouet. Your host tonight, Jean-Francois, is one of the characters of the week, and without too much arm twisting you may get to explore the cellars that wind deep underground to a not-very-secret wine tasting room.
Overnight in Montreuil Bellay

Day 2: Montreuil Bellay – Chinon (30 miles/48 km)
Between Montreuil Bellay and your first sight of the Loire lies the vineyard of Saumur-Champigny, rated by many as the finest red wines of the Loire Valley.

Your first stop is at Château Brézé, a wine-making estate, but most famous for its amazing underground château. Dating back to the 7th century, these troglodyte homes and villages are a feature of this area. The limestone is so easily worked that it was easier to carve out a new bedroom than to build one!

One of the reasons behind the underground Château at Brézé was to avoid the attention of invaders such as Vikings, and the whole château is geared toward defense, including the deepest dry moat in Europe. There are fascinating defensive structures here, but most interestingly, it was never attacked, let alone defeated.

If time permits you can also stop for a wine tasting with the Comte de Colbert, still resident at the château. Afterward, you make your way to the Royal Abbey at Fontevraud. This huge Abbey was traditionally the home of many French Queens and other royalty, but is most famous as the resting place of Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son Richard the Lionheart.

Today you can choose to pass through Montsoreau where the Vienne flows into the Loire. The Loire is very wide here, and Montsoreau looks beautiful stretching along the south bank. You end the day in Chinon.

In the 12th Century, Chinon was effectively the English capital as successive kings made their home in the château. It is much older than most Loire château, and its military purpose is obvious from its commanding position along the ridge that overlooks the medieval town of Chinon.
Overnight in Chinon

Day 3: Chinon – Azay-le-Rideau (25 miles/40 km)
Today is fairly light cycling as you have a lot of château-action to fit in. We can start with a tour of the castle of Chinon. As well as home to English Kings, the castle contains the tower where Joan of Arc heard the voices telling her she would be granted an army to relieve the siege of Orléans.

You leave the Vienne and continue your cycling tour back towards the Indre and the Loire. Overlooking the Indre is the first of the big-league château, Château Ussé, reputedly the inspiration for the castle in Sleeping Beauty.

Next on your list is Villandry, an unexceptional château, but with gardens that Michelin rate as a 3-star attraction, "worth a journey in their own right." There are three gardens: a vegetable garden, a flower garden, and a water garden. Each year the gardening team chooses a theme and tells a story in flowers. Villandry is really something, and not to be missed.

Finally, you will travel to Azay-le-Rideau, another member of the Premier League of Loire Châteaux. Azay-le-Rideau is surrounded on three sides by the River Indre, which has been carefully landscaped to provide a beautiful reflective setting for this ornate château. There was no military purpose to Azay-le-Rideau, it was simply designed to be beautiful, and it is. Tonight we stay at the Hotel des Chateaux on the outskirts of Azay-le-Rideau. You'll enjoy a short stroll down into the town for perhaps our finest dinner of the week.
Overnight in Azay-le-Rideau

Day 4: Azay-le-Rideau – Loches (35 miles/56 km)
We start the day with a visit to the purely decorative château of Azay-le-Rideau on the river Indre and finish in the medieval Cité Royale of Loches, on the Indre, where sits the Donjon of Loches. A donjon is a fortress and this one was very obviously built for function rather than form.

In between, we cycle over the beautiful rolling farmland of the river Indre, acclaimed as the most beautiful landscape of all the rivers of the Loire Valley.

Depending on timing and inclination, we may be able to visit the Donjon in Loches upon our arrival into town, or, if you prefer, a stroll around the royal residence, home of many French Kings, not to mention their wives and mistresses. There will also be more opportunity for these visits tomorrow morning as both are just a stroll (okay, a steep stroll) away from tonight’s hotel, the George Sands.
Overnight in Loches.

Day 5: Loches – Montrichard (30 miles/48 km)
Before leaving Loches, we will attempt to fill any gaps left in your knowledge of its medieval royal buildings. After this, we will head to the most visited of all Loire Châteaux, Chenonceau. Built as a bridge over the Cher and surrounded by ornamental gardens and manmade moats, this château manages to live up to the usual French hyperbole. It truly is unforgettable.

Most of the rooms are open, and this is a chance to see original floors, tapestries, and furniture. In general, French Châteaux don't have all the furnishings and interior detail that we often see in British castles. Chenonceau is a pleasant exception, and Louise of Lorraine's room, painted entirely in black with silver motifs of tears and crowns of thorns to mourn her dead husband, is especially memorable.

The ballroom, built by Catherine de Medici, spans the Cher in spectacular fashion, and although the Château had no military value, it took on a gloomy historical role in the 20th century. First, it served as an army hospital in the First World War. In the Second World War, when the Cher formed the boundary between Nazi-occupied France and Vichy France, Château Chenonceau was a border post, each end of the ballroom opening into a different country.

Our hotel tonight is the Hotel Bellevue in Montrichard, a few kilometers upstream from Chenonceau, overlooking the Cher.
Overnight in Montrichard

Day 6: Montrichard – Chambord (35 miles/56 km)
A short ride beyond Montrichard are the fascinating mushroom caves of Bourré where Blue Foot, Shitake, Oyster, and Paris mushrooms grow. Mushroom mycelia need a stimulus to prompt growth. European mushrooms tend to need a light or heat stimulus, but the shitake mushroom from Japan grows naturally on trees and responds to earth tremors common in that neck of the woods. Earthquakes are simulated in the caves using the state-of-the-art device of slapping the bin-liner that contains the mushroom compost. Result? Lots of 'shrooms. You'll find this stop fascinating! Bring something warm for a visit of around an hour underground. As well as mushrooms, there are a few spectacular galleries where you can see fantastic sculptures of local village scenes through the ages carved from solid rock. If you’ve never seen a sheet of paper carved in limestone before, complete with curled up corners and the heads of the nails pinning it to a wooden notice board (also carved in limestone, complete with wood grain), then you’re in for a treat.

The end of today is a favorite part of the whole week, the enormous Château Chambord. This is by far the largest of all the Loire château and was originally built by Francois 1 as a hunting lodge. It lies inside a huge park contained by the largest wall in Europe, all 32 km of it. The château itself contains a famous double-helix staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci, where two people can ascend or descend at the same time without meeting.

Our hotel tonight is the Hotel St Florent, 10km further on from the château in Mont-pres-Chambord.
Overnight in Chambord

Day 7: Chambord – Amboise (35 miles/56 km)
The Loire cycle path into Amboise features a few hills, so be prepared for this. However, before that, we will visit and taste the wines at Vignoble Tevenot, a very traditional family winemaker in Cellettes, just on the edge of the enormous forests that surround Chambord.

The final destination of your tour is Amboise, where the setting of the château overlooking the Loire is one of the most used images of the Loire valley.

The town has a medieval center, largely pedestrianized and full of bustle. There are a number of bars and cafes sitting directly beneath the huge château walls, and you've earned a sit-down and a glass of the local Touraine or Vouvray.

For anyone who hasn't visited Leonardo's place at the Clos-Lucé, it's well worth it. Many of the original furnishings are still in place, including the great man's bed, and there is a permanent exhibition of his inventions and writings including several exquisite scale models. There are touching examples of his philosophy, and wonderful models of inventions that worked, like an ingenious water pump. Definitely worth visiting.
Tonight we are staying at the Hotel Vinci and we eat at the Lion d’Or.
Overnight in Amboise

Day 8: Departure
The most civilized finish to any of our tours. You're only 20 minutes from the TGV station at St Pierre des Corps, and if you booked the optional transfer, a gentle departure time of 10:30am gets us back into Paris for late morning, for travel to London and places onward.

Route Map

Maps are for information purposes only and reflect typical routes between overnight locations. They may not reflect your actual route.


Jun 29, Jul 27, Aug 24, 2019 (minimum 4 participants)


Prices are shown in the local currency USD.

Prices other than in the local currency are based on current exchange rates and will vary.

Prices other than in the local currency are based on current exchange rates and will vary.

Prices other than in the local currency are based on current exchange rates and will vary.

Tour package
Per person, double occupancy
$ 1910
Single room surcharge (1 person/1 room)
$ 470
Bike Rentals
$ 75
From Angers train station and to Pierre des Corp train station, round-trip per person
$ 70
Tours airport, round-trip per person
$ 150
Traveling from London, round-trip per person
$ 290
Traveling from Paris, round-trip per person
$ 170


Daily: Jun 1-Sep 28, 2019


Prices are shown in the local currency USD.

Prices other than in the local currency are based on current exchange rates and will vary.

Prices other than in the local currency are based on current exchange rates and will vary.

Prices other than in the local currency are based on current exchange rates and will vary.

Tour package
Per person, double occupancy
$ 1350
Single room surcharge (1 person/1 room)
$ 470
Solo traveler surcharge (includes single room surcharge)
$ 650
Bike Rentals
$ 75
Tours airport, round-trip per person
$ 150
From Samur train station and to Amboise train station
$ 40
Traveling from London, round-trip per person
$ 290
Traveling from Paris, round-trip per person
$ 170
Please note: Instead of operating bicycle tours ourselves, represents local bicycle tour operators around the world. Review the tour operator's information and terms below, then submit your booking request through The primary benefits of booking your tour through include:
  • Lower cost: You pay local tour company prices—less than what big American companies charge
  • Variety: Choose from more than 200 tours offered by local operators in 35 countries.
  • Advice: Our informed advisors help you choose the trip that's right for you.
  • Great exchange rates: Pay low rates thanks to the millions of dollars in foreign currency we buy each year. Or pay in euros!
  • Convenience: We handle the full booking and payment process.
  • Support: We’re your advocates from initial planning through final pedal stroke.
Contact us with any questions about booking and paying for your tour through We look forward to serving you!

The Chain Gang Cycle Tours Booking Conditions
All bookings are made and accepted in accordance with the terms set out in these conditions.

If you cancel your booking

If you, or any member of your party, find it necessary to cancel a booking once it has been confirmed, you may transfer the reservation to another suitable person. A new booking form must be completed, and a charge of £80 per person will be made to cover the administration costs invoiced. You should note that the travel element of the cycling holiday may not be transferable. Cancellation will become effective upon receipt of written notification from you, and the following cancellation charges will be due:

  • More than 42 days before departure date Deposit only
  • Between 28 and 42 days before departure date 40% of total
  • Between 21 and 28 days before departure date 50% of total
  • Between 14 and 20 days before departure date 70% of total
  • Between 1 and 13 days before departure date 90% of total
  • On or after the departure date 100%

If you alter your booking
If you find it necessary to make a significant alteration to your booking (e.g. transfer the date of your biking holiday or change the travel arrangements) once the booking has been confirmed by the tour operator, the company will do its best to accommodate your changes, which must be specified in writing. However, we reserve the right to apply the cancellation charges set out below if the amendment is made within 8 weeks of departure. If, after the bike tour commences you decide to change your bike tour in any way (e.g. change accommodation or duration of stay) you are effectively altering the contract. The tour operator cannot accept liability for any loss, damage or additional expense and no refund will be made.

If we alter your booking
In the event of any significant alteration to the published itinerary of any of our bike tours prior to departure you will be notified as soon as possible. If you find the alterations unacceptable you may transfer to another bike tour. We will then pay you compensation of £20 per person for any inconvenience caused unless the reason for the alteration is force majeure, defined as unusual or unforeseen circumstances beyond the Company’s control, the consequences of which could not have been avoided by the Company, even with the exercise if all due care. Alternatively, you may cancel your reservation and receive a full refund of your deposit and any sum that you have paid to the tour operator, which shall constitute a full settlement.

If we cancel your booking
If we find it necessary to cancel a booking we will make every effort to offer a suitable alternative bike tour. If this is not acceptable we will refund your deposit and any other sum you have paid to the tour operator which shall constitute a full Settlement. You will also receive compensation of £20 per person for any inconvenience caused if the cancellation is made within 8 weeks of departure unless the minimum number of persons upon which the trip is costed (8) fail to make bookings (in which case you will be informed 4 weeks before the departure of the trip) or for reasons of force majeure.

The tour operator reserves the right to cancel, without any obligation to refund or make alternative arrangements, where the customer fails to make payment or otherwise the client’s behaviour brings the bike tour to an end.

The tour operator also reserves the right to decline to accept, or to retain, any person as a client if their conduct is disruptive and affecting the enjoyment of other participants of the bike tour, and we shall be under no liability for any costs incurred by such a person as a result of us doing so.

The cost of each trip is based upon accommodation in twin-bedded rooms. Those requesting single rooms will be charged a single room supplement, and should be aware that single rooms are of limited availability, and when they are not, double rooms used for single occupancy may sometimes be of an inferior standard. In paying a single room supplement you are almost inevitably ensuring privacy rather than comfort. However, in the event of a single traveller who has requested a shared room receiving a single room, no supplement will be charged. The nature of accommodation and cuisine on each bike tour is described in the itinerary. Reservations are accepted on the understanding that, whilst each hotel is usually among the most characteristic and comfortable available, you are fully aware that limitations imposed by the itineraries make it inevitable that the character, and sometimes the standard, of accommodation and cuisine may vary from place to place, and that in some circumstances accommodation may be in a hotel other than that featured in the itinerary.

Price of the trip
We guarantee that the price of your holiday will not be subject to any surcharges once a booking has been confirmed, except as a result of government action, a drop in the Sterling exchange rate, or an increase in air fares. Even in this case we will absorb the equivalent of 2% of the holiday price, excluding insurance. Should the increase be in excess of 10% you will be entitled to cancel your bike tour and receive a full refund of all monies paid, excepting any payment made to us for insurance or amendment fees. Should you decide to cancel you must exercise this right within 14 days of the date shown on the surcharge invoice. Holiday costs are based on the mid-rate of exchange for the Euro offered by Barclays Bank Plc on October 10 2013. Rate £1: €1.1792.

Eurostar Times and Schedules
We endeavor to ensure that all information regarding train times and prices is accurate at the time of going to press, but we reserve the right to alter the detailed arrangements for each trip. We act only as agents for the train companies and their licensed agents, and are subject to the standard terms and conditions offered by these companies and the laws of the countries in which they operate.

Health and Fitness
Bookings are accepted on the understanding that all persons traveling are normally in good health. If this is in doubt the Booking Form must be accompanied by a doctor’s certificate stating that it is entirely safe for you to go on the particular holiday you have chosen.

Passport, Visa, Health and Insurance Requirements
For UK residents traveling to the countries in which we operate, a full British passport is a requirement of entry. There are no recommended or compulsory health formalities for the countries we visit. It is a European Union requirement that anybody booking a ‘package’ holiday must have appropriate travel and health insurance, and if this is not arranged by the tour operator you will be required to present evidence of appropriate insurance before commencement of your holiday. Insurance cover can also be provided for residents of Europe under the BritSure policy offered by All Seasons Underwriting Agencies Ltd. Please ask for details.

The full schedule of benefits is set out below and this conforms with EC law concerning adequate travel insurance as a condition of booking for Tour Operators.

Type of Cover Maximum Cover

A. Loss of deposit, Cancellation, Curtailment Final invoice cost

B. Medical expenses £5,000,000

C. Hospital benefits £1,000

D. Personal accident £15,000

E. Personal luggage and money £1,750

F. Delayed/missed departure £100/£1,000

G. Legal expenses £15,000

H. Personal liability £2,000,000

Full details of the terms and conditions of insurance cover are available on request. This insurance policy is arranged by NJ Heritage Partnership Limited, and the policy is taken out with NJ Heritage Partnership Limited, not with the tour operator. The above summary of cover relates to residents of the UK only.

Full details of the terms and conditions of insurance cover are available on request.

Please note that the tour operator cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage to your luggage or personal property, nor for any other loss, damage, inconvenience, delay, illness, fatal or other injury suffered by you as a result of making a reservation with us, unless it can be shown that the company is in breach of its contractual and legal duty. In the event of you accepting any payment from the tour operator, where it involves responsibility of a third party, this will be made on condition that you assign your rights to us to claim in your place, and fully cooperate if we wish to enforce those rights.

Any complaints should be communicated to the Company’s representative as soon as it arises. Failure to notify our representative at the time, providing the Company with an opportunity to rectify the cause of the complaint, may result in your loss of any legal rights in respect of the particular matter. If the issue is not resolved, then the complaint should be made in writing to the tour operator at the Company address within 28 days of the end of your trip. This contract is governed by English law and is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

All photos used by permission. ©The Chain Gang