The Loire Valley is synonymous with chateaux and they are as diverse as they are numerous with over 300 in total to explore. Embark on this eight night holiday which takes you on a journey of discovery through some of the most prominent chateaux of this famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. The chateaux look like they've come straight from a fairytale with their turrets, pinnacles, lanterns and moats. There's the beautiful Renaissance chateau at Chenonceau which famously straddles the Cher, the magnificent royal palace of Amboise proudly dominating the riverside and town, and the dramatic chateau at Chaumont, once owned by Catherine de Medici (before being forcibly 'exchanged' for Chenonceau in a bitter love-battle), and occupying one of the most stunning sites of all the river's chateaux. The route is relaxed and mostly flat, following quiet country lanes and river banks. Cycle through the verdant green forest of Amboise and on to the charming town itself, where Francois I once played host to Leonardo da Vinci at Chateau du Clos Luce. You then cross the river to medieval Blois where you can stop at one of the many patisseries. Take time out to walk around the chateau here, and don't miss the nearby Maison de la Magie (Museum of Magic).
All breakfasts and 6 dinners included. This is a gastronomic tour so the food is central to your experience. The Loire prides itself on it's cuisine. It is refined country cooking, not heavy but rich in flavours and textures, drawing on the great garden of the Loire valley. Fruit and vegetables abound. Asparagus, artichokes, button mushrooms, cherries and strawberries from the Loire are transported to kitchens throughout France, which demonstrates the quality of the produce. These all provide delicious accompaniments to the duck, venison and wild boar dishes (all hunted locally) and served in sauces using wines from the local vineyards. Fish also features in abundance. With three wide, gently flowing rivers passing through the region, freshwater fish appear on most menus. 'Sandre' (pikeperch) and breme (bream) are especially popular and are usually served in a beurre blanc sauce - made with shallots, butter, dry white wine and vinegar. The majority of the cheese found in the region is goat's cheese. We suggest trying Selles-sur-Cher from the neighbouring Blesois region. Desserts are often based on the fruit from the local orchards. They include 'tarte tatin', a yummy caramelised upside-down apple pie - the invention of two absent-minded sisters in their attempt to salvage a dessert they had dropped on the floor. The Loire is undoubtedly one of Europe's finest wine producing regions with many of the separate wine areas producing red, white, rose and sparkling wines. Distinctive whites include Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, Vouvray and Muscadet; for reds, try Chinin, Bourgueil and Saumur. Anjou is by far the most popular rose.
If you have arranged to join the transfer we will pick you up from St Pierre des Corps station and take you to Chissay (please see the joining information), where your fabulous château hotel awaits. There will be time for a swim before dinner*. Staying at Chateau de Chissay.*
Today's route takes you west along a marked cycle route through the Foret d'Amboise and to the bustling and lively town of Amboise. Packed with interest, you have time to explore its narrow cobbled streets, stroll along the quayside and visit the house (Le Clos Luce) where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last four years of his life. Masses of lunch choices await in the popular old quarter before you head north-east through vineyards and poppy fields and on to Chaumont in time for a well-deserved swim before dinner. *Staying at Hostellerie du Chateau. *
The chateau here once belonged to Catherine de Medici and is quite spectacular. The beautiful park surrounding the chateau was added in the 19th century and between May and October it hosts the International Garden Festival, featuring fabulous 'conceptual' gardens, created by green-fingered artists and, perhaps unusually, philosophers! Alternatively, cross the river and take the train from Onzain to the bustling university town of Tours, or just relax by the hotel pool. *Staying at Hostellerie du Chateau. *
Today's route takes you over the River Loire and on quiet country lanes to Blois where you can ride around the chateau in a horse and cart if you need to give your cycling legs a rest! For the young at heart, Houdini's House of Magic is a must, but everyone will enjoy exploring the warren of cobbled streets and pretty arcaded squares. You have lots of lunch options before you carry on through well-tended vineyards (with plenty of tasting opportunities) and sleepy villages to our elegant riverside hotel in Montlivault. *Staying at La Maison d'à Coté.*
Explore the graceful village and its old ramparts then we suggest an easy-paced 7km cycle (route notes provided) through the huge Foret de Boulogne to the fairytale chateau at Chambord. The sheer size (it boasts 440 rooms) of this enormous palace reflects the lavish and flamboyant lifestyle of its original owner, King Francois I. The surrounding park is today a national nature reserve, protecting all sorts of wildlife including deer, boar and eagles. *Staying at La Maison d'à Coté. *
Much of today's route is along the dedicated cycling paths that link selected chateaux in this region. Highlights include Chateau de Villesavin (an unusual museum of wedding dresses throughout the ages and a huge collection of horse-drawn carriages) and the richly decorated Chateau de Troussay - be sure to take a look at the elaborately painted ceilings. The surrounding parkland is worth a detour too - many of the ancient trees are hundreds of years old. Your final stretch takes you along quiet rural roads to the pretty wine village of Chitenay where the affable Gilles Martinet and his team will be waiting for you. Gilles is a pretty competent wine buff, so feel free to soak up his expertise. *Staying at Auberge du Centre. *
It's very tempting to stay in Chitenay, enjoy lots of wine degustations in the village, or perhaps just relax by the pool, but it would be a great shame to miss out on a trip to Chateau de Cheverny, just 7km away (we provide cycling route notes). Made of brilliant-white stone, this is arguably the most immaculate of all the Loire chateaux, and is also home to the region's largest collection of fine art. Another option is a 12km round cycling trip to the stunning 16th century Chateau de Beauregard. You'll find a rare kitchen garden (400+ plant species) and the recently restored Galerie des Illustres portrait gallery here. *Staying at Auberge du Centre *
Head south past well-tended and sleepy hamlets surrounded by fields of sunflowers, stopping off perhaps at the fortified chateau of Fougeres-sur-Bievre. Continue past Sambin to the superb Chateau de Chenonceau with its famous arches majestically spanning the river. Described by Flaubert as 'floating on air and water' it's arguably the most beautiful of all the Loire landmarks. After a visit here, it's an easy cycle on to the Chateau de Chissay for a well-earned dip in the pool. *Staying at Chateau de Chissay. *
If you pre-book a transfer you will be taken back to St Pierre des Corps station. See the joining information for more details.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
With over 45 years’ experience of taking people on amazing adventure holidays, Exodus can help you reach some of the most incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across more than 90 countries around the world. All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure, and some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus. But that’s not all. This reputable company is a Which? recommended escorted tour provider and has won many prestigious awards, including Best Activity and Sports Holiday Company at the 2018 British Travel Awards.
Exodus is all about adventure and helping others to achieve their travel dreams by offering a fantastic range of guided group holidays, self-guided trips, tailor-made getaways and escorted tours. So, if you’re looking to discover different countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts or even jungles, the expert team at Exodus can help you plan an unforgettable solo, group or family adventure.
Each tour and adventure has been created to give you maximum value for money, often including authentic activities, as well as flights, accommodation and a tour guide. And as the team has developed one of the very best and most exciting collections of guided-group tours and self-guided holidays, you’re guaranteed the adventure holiday of a lifetime, no matter which one you pick. Trips include everything from family adventure holidays and walking and cycling tours to mixed-activity tours and seasonal getaways. You can also ask Exodus to plan a tailored itinerary from scratch or tweak an existing one, which means you can book a bespoke holiday that is designed just for you.
Need some inspiration? You can enjoy varied walks in the stunning Spanish mountains, experience the magic of Italy in Tuscany or explore the rich Sri Lankan history and culture by bike. Try a host of different activities in glorious Turkish surroundings, ski through the magnificent Norwegian wilderness or embark on a journey through India’s tropical south. Visit Iceland and East Greenland, see the spectacular marine wildlife in the Maldives or cruise along the mighty Amazon River in Peru – the options are endless!
When it comes to travelling together as a family with Exodus, all family holidays are specifically designed to offer a mix of education and exploration, with plenty of downtime. Each adventure and tour has been created with one of three age ranges in mind, but children outside of the 5-8, 9-12 and 13-16 age bracket are welcome to travel too. Plus, the price for children up to the age of 16 is 25% lower than the adult cost for Exodus guided holidays to help make your trip more affordable. From canoeing and cycling in the Dordogne to safari tours in Africa and dolphin watching in Costa Rica, Exodus offer family adventures all over the world.
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At Exodus, they make sure that everyone travels respectfully and courteously in a small group to minimise their impact and to ensure each holiday is a beneficial experience for all those involved. Where possible, they believe in putting money directly into the communities they visit by eating locally produced food and using locally owned and run accommodation. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible to make it simple for you to experience a memorable holiday, your way.