Diverse Directions: Self-Guided Cycling Tours in France

Loire Valley Cycling Tour Itineraries

Western Loire Valley Châteaux 2-Day Circuit Tour


General Information

Tour Highlights

Tour Dates

Anytime between May 1 and September 30. See Scheduling Your Bike Tour for blackout dates and tour scheduling considerations.

Location

Just 1 - 2 hours from Paris, the Loire Valley region of France has been, on the UNESCO's World Heritage list since 2000 owing to its culture and art, concentrated largely in the region's châteaux (castles). 

Format & Length

Circuit tour of 2 days / 3 nights.

Terrain

Easy to moderately challenging, perfect for the average cyclist. Cycling is primarily on designated bike routes, which may be separate paths or tiny roads shared with local residents.

Distance

79 km / 49 miles. Average of 39.5 km / 24.5 miles per day.

  • Overnight destinations: the historic royal city of Tours and lovely Azay-le-Rideau.
  • Some of the grandest of the Loire Valley castles, including the castles of Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Ussé, and Langeais.
  • Tranquil cycling on bike paths and tiny, quiet roads; often along the banks of the region's lovely rivers: the Loire, Cher, Indre, and Vienne.
  • Beautiful countryside and charming medieval villages.
  • Vineyards and lots of opportunities for wine tastings.

Tour Package Price

  • Per Person Adult Price: $325.00
  • Per Person Child Price (16 years or younger traveling with 2 adults): $125.00
  • Tour Deposit: $150.00 per adult and $75.00 per child. Deposits are charged when tour materials are sent and hotel availability has been confirmed.
  • Discounts are available for parties of 5 or more adults.
  • See Terms & Conditions for Diverse Directions' payment terms, cancellation policy, and all terms & conditions.

Tour Package Price Includes...

Tour Package Price Does Not Include...

  • Tour documentation: Route instructions, maps, Pre-trip Preparation Guide, On-Road Quick Reference Guide, and Sights Guide.
  • Bike rental for 2 days: Excellent quality hybrid bike with map carrier, cyclometer, water bottle cage, rear rack, rear pannier, lock, repair kit, and helmet. Optional pedal cages. Tandem bikes are also available. Road / racing bikes are available for a supplemental charge.
  • GPS navigation files
  • Baggage transfers
  • Reservation of your accommodations
  • English-speaking support staff
  • Postage charges for US customers
  • Accommodations: You're free to determine your own budget for accommodations. A complete list of accommodations options (with website links) is available upon request.
  • Meals: You're free to determine your own budget for meals.
  • SAG support
  • Transportation from your home to Tours and from Azay to your home
  • Insurance & personal expenses
  • Postage to destinations outside the US (generally $20.00 - $45.00)
  • Expedited shipping of tour materials, if required.
Daily Itinerary
Arrive in Tours. Spend 1 night.

photoYour tour begins in Tours, a modern, dynamic, and lively city that clearly demonstrates a commitment to preserving its rich history. Tours is located less than 2 hours by train from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport and 1 hour from Paris. You may arrive at the time of your choosing to take advantage of the sights and energy of this university town. No activities are scheduled for this day.

The historic center of Tours is a wonderful place to visit on foot with narrow its medieval streets and beautiful squares lined with half-timbered buildings, its grand cathedral, and of course, its castle. The restoration of Old Tours with its pedestrian-only areas was in fact so successful that it led to national legislation providing incentives for the restoration and preservation of the nation's medieval structures (la Loi Malraux.) Visit Tours' website for a brief history of this ancient city and to discover some of its historic sights and/or view this YouTube video for a taste of Tours' ambiance and sights.

Day 1: Pick up Rental Bikes. Cycle from Tours to Azay-le-Rideau - 35 km / 22 miles. Spend 2 nights.

photoAfter leaving busy Tours on designated bike paths, your route follows the River Cher to the beautiful riverside village of Savonnières.

Just beyond Savonnières, you arrive at the Château de Villandry, one of the last great Renaissance castles to be built in the Loire Valley. Best known for its internationally renowned gardens, Villandry's grounds contain canals, fountains, cascades, vine-covered pergolas, and a Romanesque village church. For more information about the château and gardens, visit the Château de Villandry website.

After your visit of the castle, you'll make one long climb to the top of the plateau to enjoy tranquil cycling through the rich farmland and vineyards of the Touraine on your way to Azay-le-Rideau. You'll cycle designated bike routes that rarely see motorized traffic. A steep descent takes you down to the river valley of the Indre and the charming village of Azay-le-Rideau.

photoThe main attraction in Azay-le-Rideau is its castle, truly one of the gems of the Renaissance, commanding a luxuriant setting on the banks of the River Indre. Its lines and dimensions suit the site so perfectly that it conveys an unforgettable impression of elegance. Partly built over the River Indre, Azay-le-Rideau consists of two main wings set at right angles. The reflections in the water add to the chimerical quality of the site and, together with the rows of houses and gardens along the Indre, make excellent subjects for photographs. The interior is lavishly decorated and furnished with some pieces of truly outstanding beauty. For more information about Azay-le-Rideau, see its Wikipedia entry or take an extended tour at the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau website.

Day 2: Azay-le-Rideau Loop - 45 km / 28 miles.

photoOn today's ride you'll visit two more of the region's most renowned chateaux: Langeais and Ussé. Your day begins with your only tough climb out of the Indre River Valley to the top of the plateau before plunging back down to the Loire River Valley. Along the way you'll enjoy peaceful cycling through the vineyards and wonderful vistas of the surrounding countryside.

Following your dash back down to the Loire it's just a short distance to your first castle, the Chateau de Langeais. You'll arrive in Langeais over its magnificent suspension bridge, almost as popular as its chateau. Langeais is a lovely medieval village, set at the junction of the Loire Valley's wine and castle routes. Its 15th century château, known for its exceptional collection of tapestries, is the perfect example of a late medieval castle, complete with parapet walk and drawbridge.

photoFollowing your visit to Langeais you'll return to a stretch of serene riverside cycling along the levy of the Loire and past the charming village of Bréhémont. Effortless cycling takes you all the way to your next castle, the 15th century Château d'Ussé. Colloquially known as the "Sleeping Beauty" castle, legend has it that this castle inspired Charles Perrault to create the fairy tale of the same name. It is also believed to be among the castles that inspired the Disney castles. You can view wonderful photos of this pretty castle on its website. (Text is French only.) See Wikipedia article for English information.

After a short stop in the lovely adjacent village of Rigny-Ussé, it's back in the saddle for your return ride to Azay-le-Rideau. And what a great cool-down ride it is! You'll enjoy miles of effortless cycling along tiny roads that alternate between authentic villages, beautiful farmland, and shaded woods. Here you experience the real France where, even in the 21st century, you'll see no jarring affronts to the natural beauty of the land. Instead you'll experience the splendor of a mosaic woven between man and nature that feels right and perfect. The French are truly masters at integrating their presence with the treasure that is their beautiful land. Rental bikes will be picked up at your hotel in the early evening.