Vélos, vins et vassaux dans la Loire

You are cordially invited on a cycling tour of France’s Valley of Kings. Following the Loire downstream from Tours, we will arrive at the coast after five days and 300 kilometers. On our way westward through France, we will wash down her wine, visit her chateaux, and marvel at her mediaeval make-believe.

Early in the afternoon of Tuesday 9th April, we will fly out from London to Tours. In Tours, we will collect our hire bikes from Detours de Loire, on which we will travel for the next six days, eventually returning them in Nantes, near the coast, the following Monday 15th. We then fly home from Nantes.

Our cycling journey leaves Tours early on Wednesday - the busiest day of the holiday. The Loire runs through Tours, and we follow it west. We pass by the chateau de Villandry, then at 11am, we stop at the chateau de Chinon for our first winery of the holiday, run by Pierre et Bertrand Couly, where we sample the wine of the Touraine, the first of three wine regions in the Lower Loire. By the evening, we reach Saumur, where we spend our second night.

Thursday is a 90km cycle back into the Middle Ages. We break to sample the wine of the Angou region at the Domaine du Petit Clocher. Finally, we reach Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, where we will spend the next two nights. Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre is the destination of many Catholic pilgrims, but more importantly, it’s just 10km from Puy de Fou - the world’s best mediaeval theme park! Thursday evening, we wash and dry our clothes, and take a long, well-deserved sleep in preparation for a day of historical delights.

We wake late on Friday, not to cycling, but to a full day of rest as we watch historical reenactments: jousts, coliseums, Viking raids, and much more. In the evening, we marvel in wonder at Les Orgues de Feu. When the day is done, we rest again, preparing for our third and final compulsory cycling day.

Saturday, we press on west through the vineyards of the Région Ouest, the last of three wine regions of the Lower Loire. We sample the wine at la Domaine de la Vinçonnière. Eventually we eventually reach Nantes, where we shall stay for the next two nights. In the late afternoon, on the Isle of Nantes, we visit Les Machines de L’ile, full of bio-mechanical marvels including a 12-meter elephant.

On Sunday, our final full day, we have an optional round-trip ride to Pornic, home to a chateau once owned by famous serial child killer Gilles de Rais. But never mind that: we have at last reached the sea! The afternoon is filled with popular beach activities, perhaps with a bat and ball.

We return home on Monday. We explore Nantes, return our hire bikes, then take the plane home.

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