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The Chateaux of the Loire by Bicycle

Program Number: 3165RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/14/2013 - 9/26/2013;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,830.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Bicycling Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 22; 11 Breakfasts, 0 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Surrounded by the inspiring vistas of the Loire Valley, explore some of the hundreds of chateaux that line the river on a bike expedition through 1,000 years of royalty and legendary figures, from da Vinci to Joan of Arc. Challenge yourself with a sequence of 15 to 35-mile rides that allow you to stop and explore at leisure, while scheduled stops feature expert lectures about the most breathtaking manor houses in France.


• Visit many of the chateaux that have led the Loire Valley to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• Explore the Château de Blois where Joan of Arc was blessed before defeating the English at Orleáns.
• Discover picturesque Amboise, famous for Clos-Lucé, the manor house where Leonardo da Vinci worked.

Activity Particulars

Bike 15-35 miles per a day in single file at 11 miles per hour, with breaks every 20-25 minutes. Rolling terrain, some flat stretches; secondary roads with some traffic. Weather conditions affect biking difficulty. Walking and standing up to two hours. Personal bike helmet required.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Chinon, 2 nights; bike to Azay-le-Rideau, 2 nights; bike to Loches, 2 nights; bike to Chenonceaux, 1 night; bike to Chouzy-sur-Cisse, 2 nights; bike to Chitenay, 2 nights; coach to Paris, departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Chinon
2 nights
Bike to Azay-le-Rideau
2 nights

Get fitted for your bike and learn about safety and the rules of the road before taking off on your first ride. Visit the Château de Chinon and learn about the meeting there between Charles VII and Joan of Arc. Bike to Château d'Ussé, a castle that inspired the setting of Sleeping Beauty. Continue to Azay-le-Rideau, then ride on to Villaines-les-Rochers and observe the wicker craftsmen for which it’s known. Participate in a lecture on the French royalty who built and inhabited many of the chateaux.

Bike to Loches
2 nights
Bike to Chenonceaux
1 night

Ride to Montbazon and walk through the market past carts of fresh fruits, then enjoy a riverside picnic. Bike through quiet farmland to the medieval city of Loches. Continue to the grand Château de Loches, where da Vinci’s patron, Ludovico Sforza, was once held prisoner, then Château de Chenonceau, where Voltaire and Rousseau were guests.

Bike to Chouzy-sur-Cisse
2 nights

Journey to Amboise to visit the one-time home of Leonardo da Vinci — now a museum — and admire the clock tower built by Charles VIII. Arrive in Chouzy-sur-Cisse and enjoy an opportunity to sample local Vouvray wines before visiting the exquisite Château de Chaumont along the Loire. Join your fellow travelers for a lecture on politics and retirement.

Bike to Chitenay
2 nights
Coach to Paris

Bike to the Château de Blois, a residence of several French monarchs, and see the famous spiral staircase in the François I wing. Bike through the forest and cross the moat to enter the Château de Chambord, known for its beautiful French Renaissance architecture. Join your fellow travelers at a lecture on retirement in France. Coach to Paris for your flight home.


The epicurious and the curious find much to admire in Western Europe’s largest nation, whose agricultural riches and terrain of beaches, mountains and fertile fields have drawn residents for thousands of years. The northern region hosts the nation’s Parisian capital, as well as unique Breton culture, while the sun-drenched Mediterranean coast sports the chic beach-goers and the terraced vineyards of the interior.

Chinon: Hotel near Chateau de Chinon. Azay-le-Rideau: Hotel on the Indre River. Loches: Comfortable hotel. Chenonceaux: Comfortable hotel. Chouzy-sur-Cisse: Comfortable countryside resort. Chitenay: Comfortable hotel.
Meals and Lodgings
   ibis Styles Chinon
  Chinon, France 2 nights
   Hotel Val de Loire
  Azay-le-Rideau, France 2 nights
  Loches, France 2 nights
   Hostel du Roy
  Chenonceaux, France 1 night
   Golf Hotel de la Carte
  Chouzy-sur-Cisse, France 2 nights
   Auberge du Centre
  Chitenay, France 2 nights
 ibis Styles Chinon
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Ideal location opposite Chinon Castle on the banks of the river Vienne, just outside the medieval city of Chinon.
  Contact info: 11, rue Digue St-Jacques
Chinon,  37500 France
phone: +011 33 247 98 46 46
  Room amenities: En-suite facilities, Telephone, TV, WiFi, Hairdryer
  Facility amenities: Restaurant with traditional cuisine, Terrace, Swimming Pool
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Based on availability Participants can contact the hotel directly if they wish to book additional nights prior to the start of the program.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Hotel Val de Loire
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Situated on the Indre River surrounded by the vineyards of Touraine.
  Contact info: 50/52, rue Nationale
Azay-le-Rideau,  37190 France
phone: +011 33 247 45 28 29
  Room amenities: En-suite facilities, cable/satellite TV, Alarm Clock, Hairdryer, Coffee/Tea Maker, Safe Deposit
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, Lounge, Tennis Court
  Smoking allowed: No

Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 12, rue des Lézards
Loches,  37602 France
phone: +011 33 247 91 30 30
  Facility amenities: Sauna, Tennis Court, Billiards, WiFi, Covered, heated pool
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hostel du Roy
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 9, rue du docteur Bretonneau
Chenonceaux,  37150 France
phone: +011 33 247 23 90 17
  Room amenities: Telephone, Television
  Smoking allowed: No

 Golf Hotel de la Carte
Type: Resort
  Description: Nestled among the most famous chateaux - Chambord, Blois, Chaumont, Amboise and Chenonceau, the site is 210 acres of peaceful countryside.
  Contact info: Nationale 152
Chouzy-sur-Cisse,  41150 France
phone: +33 254 20 49 00
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, Brasserie, Golf Course, Swimming Pool, Tennis Court
  Smoking allowed: No

 Auberge du Centre
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Contact info: 34, Grande rue
Chitenay,  41120 France
phone: +011 33 254 70 42 11
  Room amenities: Canal+ satellite television, WiFi
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Nantes - 11:30 AM You will be staying at ibis Styles Chinon that night.
  End of Program:
Paris - 9:00 AM You will be staying at Auberge du Centre the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is not available.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Yes, see above.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Chinon
  Nearest airport:  Nantes
  Transportation to site: Take a taxi from Nantes Airport to the Nantes train station. Since there are no direct trains from Nantes to Chinon, you will need to change trains typically in Le Mans, Tours or Saint-Pierre-de-Corps. Upon arrival in Chinon, take a taxi to the ibis Styles Chinon.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Chitenay
  Transportation from site: We suggest participants avail themselves of the group transfer to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport as public transportation from Chitenay to the airport is complicated.
Equipment Requirements: Participants must bring and wear their own bicycle helmet.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: In Flight
(Saturday, September 14)
 Evening: Overnight flight

Day 2: Arrival/Coach to Chinon
(Sunday, September 15)
 Morning: Arrival at Nantes Airport and transfer by coach to the hotel in Chinon.
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: We’ll fit your bicycle to you to assure a safe, comfortable program.
 Dinner: Join us tonight for our welcome dinner.
Accommodations: ibis Styles Chinon
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Safety and Corner System Lectures/Joan of Arc/Château de Chinon
(Monday, September 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: After breakfast we will present a lecture on safety, rules of the road and the IBT corner system. We’ll also attend a lecture about the life of Joan of Arc, the chateau of Chinon and the Loire Valley. In town, we’ll see the statue of François Rabelais - the great humorist and satirist, who used the pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier - on the banks of the river. It was at the chateau that Jehanne La Pucelle (Joan the Maid), later known as Joan of Arc, met Charles VII.
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: We take a guided excursion to the castle, affording splendid views of old Chinon.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
 Evening: After dinner, we’ll have group introductions and T-shirt distribution.
Accommodations: ibis Styles Chinon
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Château d'Ussé/Bicycle to Azay-le-Rideau
(Tuesday, September 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: After breakfast, we're off, heading north to Château d'Ussé, built on the site of a medieval fortress. Each century a variety of building styles were added by the successive owners. The result so inspired Charles Perrault that he used it as a setting for his Sleeping Beauty. We explore this remarkable chateau and its gardens.
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: We continue to Azay-le-Rideau.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Val de Loire
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Bicycle to Villaines-les-Rochers/Château d'Azay-le-Rideau/ The History of France and its Royalty
(Wednesday, September 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: We’re off on a leisurely ride to Villaines-les Rochers, a small village where the local wicker craftsmen grow their own wicker, strip it and use it to create various objects. We return via Saché where Honoré de Balzac, the famous French novelist, wrote some of his finest works. In the village square of Saché one also finds a sculpture of Alexander Calder.
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: We will take an excursion to the chateau in Azay-le-Rideau, a magnificent example of Renaissance architecture, and end the day with a lecture on the history of France and its royalty.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Val de Loire
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Montbazon/Bicycle to Loches
(Thursday, September 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: First stop is Montbazon where, on top of a ruin, a huge Madonna statue stands. After buying groceries and fruit, we continue along the River Indre until we find a good place for a picnic. The area is mostly farmland and fields of sunflowers.
 Lunch: A picnic lunch is planned, weather permitting.
 Afternoon: Expect very little traffic as we wind our way south to the medieval city of Loches where we are expected for the night.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Luccotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: History of Loches Lecture/Excursion to the Château de Loches
(Friday, September 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: We start the day with a lecture and field trip to the old town and a visit to the chateau in Loches (located within the city walls). Joan of Arc stopped here in 1429 on her way to Reims. Of interest is the donjon (keep), where prisoners were kept. One such prisoner, Ludovico Sforza, who was Leonardo da Vinci’s patron, wrote on the walls of his dungeon “he who is not content," a sentiment probably shared by others in the donjon.
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: You are free to explore Loches before attending a lecture about life in a chateau.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Luccotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Bicycle to Chenonceaux/Visit its chateau on the River Cher
(Saturday, September 21)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Many chateaux in France are privately owned (and some are for sale, too) and are not always open to the public. During our two weeks in the Loire Valley we will be passing scores of lovely chateaux, one prettier than the other. A short ride brings us to Chenonceaux, home of the Château de Chenonceau (spelled without the x at the end). The chateau lies on the River Cher and is surrounded by forest; contrary to some fortress-like chateaux, this one conveys instead lightness and grace. In the 1700s, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a tutor to the son of Madame Dupin, the mistress of Chenonceau, said of the chateau: “Life was delightful in that lovely place; I ate very well and grew fat as a monk." We will enjoy this lovely place on our excursion to the Château de Chenonceau.
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Hostel du Roy
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Bicycle to Amboise/Home of Leonardo da Vinci
(Sunday, September 22)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: We're off to Amboise to admire the clock tower built by Charles VIII. Leonardo da Vinci worked and died in Amboise and we will take an excursion to his house, now a museum.
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: After lunch we continue to our day’s destination, Chouzy-sur-Cisse. Tonight is as good a time as any to sample the local (white) Vouvray wines, grown alongside the Loire River. If you enjoy this wine, look for it at home, Vouvray is widely sold in North America.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Golf Hotel de la Carte
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Château de Chaumont/French Politics and Retirement Lectures
(Monday, September 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: The Château de Chaumont, on the River Loire, is first on the agenda. We take an excursion to this beautiful chateau with its luxurious stables, a pleasant reminder of the days when horse-drawn coaches were the only means of transportation. The name Chaumont came from the 16th century when it was occupied by Charles and his wife Catherine de Sauvigny: their coat of arms was a burning hill and thus the name "chaud mont."
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: We attend a lecture on politics and retirement.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Golf Hotel de la Carte
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11: Château de Blois/Bicycle to Chitenay
(Tuesday, September 24)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Today we attend a lecture on Blois’ important chateau with its beautiful inner courtyard. The chateau holds several wings named after former occupants. The François I staircase is of great significance: the guests entered the chateau and were greeted by the guards on the balconies.
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: We'll have free time in Blois before we continue through the forest to Chitenay.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Auberge du Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12: Château de Chambord
(Wednesday, September 25)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Our last day on the bicycle. The highlight of all chateaux awaits us: a lecture in Château de Chambord. Approaching the chateau from the forest, its looming presence is quite breathtaking. You, too, will understand why this chateau is the favorite of many visitors who come to the Loire Valley. For the next few hours we will walk through the estate of the former counts of Blois.
 Lunch: Lunch on own to explore local fare.
 Afternoon: After returning to the hotel, we reluctantly relinquish our bicycles. Say farewell to your friends at the farewell dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Auberge du Centre
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13: Departure
(Thursday, September 26)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Coach transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for departure.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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