Chateaux of the Loire Cycling

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Headwater

An interest-packed, gentle cycling holiday crammed with historic and cultural highlights: pretty wine villages, charming mediaeval towns and world-famous wines in abundance! Superb cuisine throughout too.

Accommodation
Chateau de Chissay (3 star)
The Chateau de Chissay is a chateau hotel steeped in history, set in 25 ha of parkland overlooking the Cher. Lovingly restored back in 1986, it's said that both Charles VII and Louis XI stayed here. In the stately dining room, once the guard room, you'll be treated to delicious cuisine inspired by local produce and also a comprehensive wine list. The rooms have been tastefully decorated and their bathrooms each feature mosaic designs representing famous people from French history who marked the different periods in time. Please note that the swimming pool at the Chateau is not heated. Pool towels are provided.

Hotel La Roseraie (3 star)
Ideally situated in the centre of Chenonceaux and just a 400m from the chateau, the Hotel La Roseraie, built in the C18 offers comfortable rooms and a wonderful place to relax after a day walking or sightseeing with its garden and pool.

Hostellerie du Chateau (3 star)
This hotel is situated between the Loire river and the famous chateau itself, the Hostellerie du Chateau is a lovely, quirky hotel, that just oozes charm. The bedrooms also reflect the theme of times gone by, but they are well- equipped for the demands of the C21 guest, as they all have telephone, satellite tv and hairdryer. The dining room, with its wooden beams and grand fireplace, adds to the overall antiquated atmosphere.

Manoir Bel Air (3 star)
The Manoir de Bel Air is run by the Abel family. This imposing house on the banks of the Loire was built in the 17C for a wine broker. In 1749 it was used as a military hospital for the Marechal de Saxe who was then based at Chambord. The evening meals are taken in the bright and sunny dining room overlooking the river Loire.

Auberge du Centre (3 star)
Tucked away in the elegant little village of Chitenay is the lovely ivy-clad Auberge du Centre, run by the charming Martinet family. Dinner is served either in the pretty dining room, or on the terrace. The hotel has a pleasant terrace overlooking its pretty gardens and swimming pool (pool towels are provided; ask at reception), which are a real treat on a summer's day, as well as an attractive sitting area inside, complete with wooden beams and comfy chairs. Access to the Spa area is payable locally at 15 per person per day. Access is free to those staying in a 'Balneo' room.

Meals
All continental breakfasts and evening meals
Travel
British Airways Heathrow to Paris CDG 07:15/09:35 then rail Paris Charles de Gaulle to Tours St Pierre des Corps 11:19/12:58 and transfer to hotel 35 minutes. Return: Transfer to station 35 minutes then rail Tours St Pierre des Corps to Paris Charles de Gaulle 11:02/12:42 then British Airways Paris CDG to Heathrow 16:35/16:55.
Single Supplement
Add 35 per person per night for sole occupancy of a double room.
Destinations
  • Loire
  • Blois
  • Europe
  • France
  • The Loire
Tour Types
  • Cycling
  • History
  • Self Guided
Departure Points
  • London Airport
Day 1 Arrive at Chissay
Arrive in Chissay where your fabulous chateau hotel awaits. Time for a swim before dinner. (Staying at Chateau de Chissay, Half Board)

Day 2 Chissay to Chaumont 45km/28mi
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, Half Board)

Day 3 At Chaumont
The chateau here once belonged to Catherine de Medici and is quite spectacular. The beautiful park surrounding the chateau was added in the C19 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, Half Board)

Day 4 Chaumont to St-Dye-sur-Loire 36km/22mi
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 St-Dye-sur-Loire. (Staying at Manor bel Air, Half Board)

Day 5 At St Dye-sur-Loire
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 Manor bel Air, Half Board)

Day 6 St-Dye-sur-Loire to Chitenay 40km/25mi
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, Half Board)

Day 7 At Chitenay
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 C16 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, Half Board)

Day 8 Chitenay to Chissay 44km/27mi
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, Half Board)

Day 9 Leave Chissay
Please note that cycling helmets are compulsory in France for children under 12. As we are unable to provide these, we strongly recommend that you bring your own. Please see our Planning you holiday page for full details.

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
19-Apr-2019 for 8 Nights Visit Website
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Touring with Headwater

In 1985, Richard and Christine Bass made the life-changing decision to turn a passion into a business and thus Headwater was born at their kitchen table.

The first Headwater tours were launched in summer 1986 and modestly comprised three holidays in the Upper Loire Valley in France: a canoeing holiday and two self-guided walking holidays.

Their vision for Headwater was clear, right from the start. Richard and Christine wanted to offer their customers exactly what they loved in a holiday – family-run, friendly hotels, an authentic experience of a region, including culture, cuisine and fine wines, and above all a fantastic level of personal service, with staff on hand in resort to help and guide as required.

After a successful 10 years specialising in France, Headwater launched a new Great Walks in Europe brochure in 1995, offering a selection of hand-picked guided walking holidays in eight countries. As a result of the phenomenal success of this, a year later the first self-guided walking and cycling holidays in Italy were launched.

In 1999, Richard and Christine decided to retire and enjoy the fruits of their labour, and sold Headwater – but not before ensuring it was in the safest of hands to continue their legacy.

Today, they enjoy taking customers (new and loyal) on journeys on foot or by bike throughout 18 countries worldwide. Whilst they have embraced modern technology and changing times since 1985, Richard and Christine’s ethos remains key to all of their holidays and they consider it their mission to ensure that the same detail, knowledge and passion goes into delivering each and every trip.

With more than 32 years’ experience, their collection now includes 59 self-guided and 12 guided walking holidays and 62 cycling holidays. Their canoeing holiday in the Dordogne remains as popular as ever, as well as their choice of winter snow holidays (cross-country skiing and winter walking) that run between December and April in Austria and Norway.

They are particularly proud of their Headwater-employed representatives (reps) who are on-hand in 15 regions in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Bavaria. Burgundy is their longest-standing “repped region” – Richard and Christine researched the holidays and they have been running them since 1992. Their reps provide 24-hour support in resort including: briefing you on arrival, transporting your luggage from hotel to hotel, offering a ‘Wine Service’ where they collect any bottles you’ve purchased en route and transport them to your final hotel for you, and giving you tips and advice and sharing their knowledge of the local area, the routes, the best views and generally helping you to make the most of your trip. Each year, before the season starts, the reps have an in-depth training session at Headwater HQ to make sure they’re ready for the summer ahead.

Their newest addition to the Headwater portfolio is a selection of single-centre activity holidays in Brittany and the Dordogne, France and Catalunya, Spain. These are ideal for multi-generational families and groups – take a look below for some Headwater inspiration.

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