The Val de Loire has been ranked a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage site since November 2000. This high place of art and history also bears witness to the ongoing, fertile exchange between humankind and the river. This 5-day and 5-night bicycle tour will take you past some of the most beautiful châteaux of the Loire. Highlights include Chambord, Cheverny, Blois, Chenonceau, Amboise and the stunning gardens of Villandry !
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Orléans is gradually restoring its half-timbered houses, squares and lanes and turning the city over to pedestrians, hence the wealth of bars and restaurants and the efforts undertaken to create riverside walks. The memory of Joan of Arc lingers still in the city, which continues to celebrate the end of the siege of Orléans during the Hundred Years War every year. Make the most of the first day of your trip to explore the city, venturing as far as the Source Floral Park 8km away.
Your trip kicks off in style at the Château of Chambord. With no less than 77 staircases, 156m of façade, 282 fireplaces, 426 rooms and a staggering 800 carved capitals, Chambord is one of the greatest masterpieces of Renaissance architecture. Its harmony and beauty are further enhanced by the memory of Leonardo da Vinci. Allow at least 2hr to tour the castle and 2hr to bicycle around the area.
MyTripTailor advice : In July, twenty or so classical, popular (jazz, accordion, etc) and contemporary music concerts are held in the castle grounds.
Leave Chambord and its remarkable grounds for Cheverny. If you arrive by the Contres road, you will see the castle and its curtain of greenery rising up in the distance. The château’s interior is truly lavish and depicted by coloured woodwork, gilding and fine antiques. Back on the road, head towards Blois drowsing on the banks of the Loire, as if suspended in its medieval past and depicted by narrow lanes linked by staircases. The picture of Blois’ rooftops affords glimpses of white facades, red-brick chimney stacks and blue slate roofs.
The elegant château of Amboise, perched on a rocky outcrop looming over the town offers a picture postcard image of sheer medieval strength combined with the ornate and intricate detail characteristic of the Renaissance, of which the town was the birthplace. Remain in Touraine and pedal towards one of the crowning glories of this tour, the château of Chenonceau.
MyTripTailor tip: Don’t miss a visit to the outstanding gardens lit up at night, the appartments of the famous ladies of the château, the Grande Galerie and the flower arrangements that grace each room. Allow 90mins for the château and the same again for the gardens.
Before stopping in Tours, where the tour ends, push on a little further and admire the gardens of Villandry, a natural masterpiece depicted by delicate colours, artistically planted species, clipped hedges, rows of linden trees and arbours heavy with the scent of roses. Villandry is also a pretty castle that provides an insight into the atmosphere that reigned in former times. Allow 1hr for the castle and 1hr for the gardens, before returning to Tours to spend the evening in the delightful pedestrian streets of the capital of France under the reign of Louis XI.
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