Home > Chateaux and Castles: Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau & Villandry
Do you wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city to cycle along quiet, country roads at your own pace? If so, this tour was designed with you in mind! We invite you to explore the sights and sounds of the Loire River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its bevy of romantic chateaux.
You’ll follow the Loire River and several of its beautiful tributaries, namely the Cher and the Indre. Along the way, you'll visit Villandry and its spectacular gardens, the magnificent floating castle of Azay-le-Rideau, and Chenonceau, the “castle of love.” All of them have played a role in the history of France, for varying reasons you’ll have to discover on your own! The short stages featured on this tour involve cycling over mostly flat terrain, so riders of all skill levels can comfortably experience the entrancing Loire Valley. Castles are the main draw, but it’s a perfect itinerary to visit prestigious vineyards, explore cave life and unwind in the countryside.
If your time constraints don't allow you to spend a whole week visiting the Loire Valley region, keep in mind that we also offer a 4 night/5 day .
For travel and cycling tips to the Loire Valley, visit our "Travel and cycling tips" section.
You may arrive in Tours at your leisure; however, we suggest an early arrival to ensure you thoroughly enjoy this historical city. Tours is well served by France’s high-speed TGV trains from Paris. Take advantage of your central lodgings to explore and relax in this lively university town. Be sure to visit the stunning the Saint Gatien Cathedral and the city’s botanical gardens.
Kick off your cycling tour with a relaxing ride through the winemaking area of Vouvray — it’s never too early for an included wine tasting! An early arrival in Amboise gives you ample time to visit its châteaux, wander past the troglodytes, or cave dwellings, and stop in at Clos Lucé, the fascinating castle where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life. Now a museum, Château Clos Lucé allows you to glimpse into his alluring world of ideas and contraptions (models of which are on display). Some say those ideas included our dear bicycle, but that is open to debate!
Today’s mileage is low so that you may enjoy a late start from Amboise or spend extra time at the Château de Chenonceau, a 15th-century castle whose dramatic façade bridges the River Cher. An optional additional loop from Chenonceaux will bring you near Bourré, where you may visit the Cave des Roches, a mysterious underground village and mushroom cellar.
Cross the Cher River to enter a state of bliss — the beauty of the countryside is some of France’s finest. Pause for a moment in Chédigny, a tiny hamlet called the "Village of roses" for reasons that will quickly become apparent. End your day’s ride in the classic medieval city of Loches. The imposing citadel towering above the town is where Louis XIallegedly held prisoners in iron cages, adding to the Loire Valley’s storied past.
Follow the banks of the Indre River on your ride out of Loches, passing many small charming villages on the banks as you go. Remnants of the past mark your ride, from a Roman bridge to Medieval ruins. Your destination for the day is Montbazon, where a former Count of Anjou nicknamed the “Black Falcon” had his fortress — the “living history” museum is open to visitors.
Depart Montbazon and meander along the Indre River. The valley is home to numerous beautiful places, including the home of author Honoré de Balzac in Saché. At last, you’ll arrive at the stunning chateau of Azay-le-Rideau. It’s one of the earliest from the French Renaissance period and was built directly on the Indre River, giving it the appearance of floating on the water.
Experience an enchanting ride through the forest on your way to the Château de Villandry. Many people consider the highly acclaimed Jardins à la française (French gardens) of this estate to be the most impressive of Renaissance-style gardens in France! Join up with the banks of the Loire River once more as you wheel back to Tours.
After breakfast, depart Tours at the time of your choice.
1 night in a 3-star property and 6 nights in 2-star properties
1 night in a 3-star property; 3 nights in 2-star properties and 3 nights in guesthouses of “character”
4 nights in 4-star properties, 1 night in a 3-star property, and 2 nights in guesthouses of “character”