Merilyn Cycles the Castles of the Loire Valley

A picture perfect scene in front of the Chateau de Cheverny in France | Merilyn O'Kane
A picture perfect scene in front of the Chateau de Cheverny in France | Merilyn O'Kane

Merilyn Cycles the Castles of the Loire Valley

In France, a castle is called a 'château'. Doesn't this French word instantly make their castles sound fancier? 
Fall in love with the Loire Valley and its many gorgeous châteaux thanks to Merilyn's wonderfully descriptive writing in her Traveller Tale. Then discover UTracks' walking and cycling trips to have your own active holiday in France.
Cycling in the springtime in the Loire Valley, France |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Cycling through charming French villages to Chambord |  <i>Dave Zavitz</i> Cycling in the springtime in the Loire Valley, France |  <i>Kate Baker</i>
As you'll discover, Merilyn and her partner chose a centre-based cycling holiday in the Loire Valley. A centre-based tour is where you stay at one accommodation during your trip (in this case, the charming village of Chitenay). The beauty of this kind of travelling is that you get to truly become immersed in your surroundings, exploring the nearby trails with your provided daily itineraries, plus you only need to unpack once!
Over to you, Merilyn.
Discover the celebrated abbey of Fontevraud |  <i>Pass Horizon</i>


My partner and I are not cyclists. 
Previously we managed a 2-day bike ride in Australia, so while not complete novices, we are beginner riders. 
So, how best to see the Loire Valley in France by bike given this constraint? 
Answer: choose a UTracks introductory level,  5-day self guided trip (the Loire Valley Castles Cycle), based each night in the same cute 3-star hotel in the village of Chitenay, paying a little more for an E-bike, and choosing day trips with a length of ride that suited our skill level. We loved it.
A picture perfect scene in front of the Chateau de Cheverny in France |  <i>Merilyn O'Kane</i>
Day one we arrived at Blois-Chambord railway station, and transferred with a half hour taxi ride to Chitenay. We explored this small, historic village after settling into our comfortable hotel room which looked out to the bakery, Le Denis Papin pub and cafe (named after the French inventor born in Blois), and the historic Notre Dame de Chitenay Church. 
A 3 course meal for dinner at the hotel was included in our tour price as were 2 more dinners and 5 continental breakfasts. Beautiful, French cuisine and we added a glass of local red wine; delicious. 
Poppies adorn the path along the Loire River |  <i>John Millen</i>
After dinner we planned the next day re-visiting the Guibo travel app we had already downloaded -and scrutinized -which gave us all the information we needed about each of the day trips including distance, elevation, sight-seeing stops with detailed descriptions, and food stops along each cycle path. We chose a 24 km trip for day one so we could get used to the bikes and learn how to use the map on the app...and to visit our first Chateau. 

Our Ebikes arrived the next morning and off we went! I had been a bit anxious about how I would manage, but after some early hesitancy, one wrong turn (the app was open on the handlebar so easy to see soon that we needed to turn around), one wobble (but remaining upright) it didn't take long to start looking at the fields of crops, then vineyards before we headed into a forest on our way to Chateau of Fourgeres-sure-Bievre. 
So many bike trails to discover in France! |  <i>Merilyn O'Kane</i>
Local signposting was helpful but the app was the best in guiding us along the way. The chateau closed at 1 PM-always good to check opening times before the start of the day- but we had enough time to explore this interesting castle dating from the Middle Ages. Following a shared pizza lunch beside a waterlily-filled stream gently tricking past the walls of the Chateau and-feeling confident now-we meandered back to Chitenay. 
The entrance to the Château de Troussay in the Loire Valley |  <i>Merilyn O'Kane</i>

More yummy croissants for breakfast the next day before we headed off on a 26 km trip, stopping first at Troussay chateau, privately owned and one of the smallest chateaus in the Loire dating from 1450. We arrived before the gates were due to open at 11 AM so we chatted to some German bike riders as we waited. Catherine, the Chateau's current intern from a university in the UK,  supported by the resident pooch, gave us a great tour. The present owners are continuing renovations but there is still plenty to see both outside and inside the castle. 
Cycling in the Loire Valley |  <i>Merilyn O'Kane</i>

A short distance later we arrived at Chateau Cheverny, one of the best known castles of the Loire: it has been in the care of the same family for over 6 centuries. If you have seen the Versailles palace in Paris, while not as big, Cheverny is just as exquisite. It is surrounded by beautiful manicured gardens, extensive lawns, kennels, a maze and a 'love' garden of beautiful sculptures surrounding  a canal. The Cafe de L'Orangerie is a sumptuous eating area with a restaurant and cafe. Inside the chateau are many beautiful rooms and furnishings...and the crowds were much less than Versailles  (although this was May and the high season would no doubt be busier).
Cheverny Chateau |  <i>Efti Poulos</i>

Our final day of cycling and we chose a more challenging 34 km ride to Blois, even though the app advised there would be busy traffic sections. Made sense as Blois is a thriving city rather than the quaint villages we had become accustomed to riding through without much traffic-even a tractor or two. Very glad we did as this is a pretty, picturesque town dating back to the 6th century, on the banks of the Loire River. 
Cycling in Blois, Loire Valley
We left our bikes securely chained and crossed the Pont-Jacques Gabriel bridge to explore the historic centre. Up the Denis Papin staircase-stopping to look back at the magnificent panorama- around some narrow streets, past the 14th century timber framed Acrobat's House, and into the impressive, gothic building that is the Blois Cathedral. There was so much more to explore including the Blois chateau, but we needed to head back and we set off along the river path toward Chitenay.
Settling in for a delicious meal in the Loire Valley |  <i>Merilyn O'Kane</i>

Our last evening meal was a special treat with a 4-course dinner from the superior menu: the tender steak and homemade ice cream were outstanding. The next morning our taxi arrived to transfer us back to Blois...what a trip! We are experienced riders now-well better than we were at the start of this experience- and we will be back to try a more challenging ride in another fabulous part of the Loire Valley.


Wow! Were you inspired by Merilyn's wonderful experiences? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Loire Valley, France, Loire Valley Castles, Loire Valley Cycling, France Cycling, Traveller Tale, Loire Valley Chateaux

Comment (0)

Your comment will be visible after the administrator's approval.

b i u quote

Save Comment
Join Newsletter
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ADS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Adventures South"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Adventure South</div>
Adventure South NZ is unrivalled in their geographic coverage, originality and overall quality of adventures holidays in New Zealand. Choose from walking, cycling, winter or multi-activity holidays, on either the North or South Island.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/AWH.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Walking Holidays"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Walking Holidays</div>
Australian Walking Holidays specialises in small group guided walking adventures. Since 1982 we have been guiding small groups of travellers on Australia's finest walks across our tropical, coastal or red centre landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GCT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Canadian Trails"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Canadian Trails</div>
Great Canadian Trails specialises in active holidays in Canada. With both guided and supported self-guided options available, our unique itineraries draw upon some of Canada's most inspiring parks, trails and landscapes from coast to coast.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/HUM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Humac Challenge"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Huma Charity Challenge</div>
Huma enables those with adventurous spirits to challenge themselves and make a difference for a cause close to their heart. Travel, fundraise and meet life-long friends on one of Huma's meaningful and unique challenges around the world.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Tasmania Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX-new.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Utracks"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions Schools"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions Schools</div>
World Expeditions Schools is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Yomads"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ACT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Cycle Tours"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Cycle Tours</div>
Australian Cycle Tours specialises in high quality self guided and guided cycling experiences in a selection of the most beautiful regions in Australia.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WEX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions</div>
The pioneers of original, worldwide adventure travel holidays since 1975
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TJX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Trail Journeys"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Trail Journeys</div>
Self-guided cycling experts on New Zealand's Otago Rail Trail and more
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/BMAC.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Blue Mountains Adventure Company"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Blue Mountains Adventure Company</div>
The original Blue Mountains canyoning, hiking, climbing and abseiling experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GWNZ.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Walks of New Zealand"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Walks of New Zealand</div>
Explore New Zealand's most spectacular wilderness regions with the self-guided hiking experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/NAA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="North America Active"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>North America Active</div>
USA Canada hiking & cycling tour specialists, choose from self-guided or guided trips