Join Fresh Eire Adventures on a family biking tour of Loire Valley. Enjoy family biking through farmland, cycling alongside vineyards and visiting castles and kayak on the River Cher beneath the sublime Chateaux Chenonceau. History, Kings, cheese, sunflowers, strawberries, asparagus, gardens, troglodytes, chateau after chateau after chateau...the Loire Valley has it all and epitomises quintessential France. Located a hour south-west of Paris by TGV, this is an ideal trip especially for those folks who'd like to spend family time in the real French countryside while being close to Paris and other family-friendly attractions worthy of a quick visit (such as Disneyland Paris or Futuroscope, for example) after their bike trip.
While following the same basic structure as our Loire Valley trip, the Loire Family trip eliminates the more adult-centric activities, such as wine tastings and replaces them with family-friendly visits and experinces such as a fencing lessons, a themed visit to a medieval fortress, kayaking, adventure forest park and we can even arrange for a family hot air balloon ride! We also adjust our daily mileage and offer complimentary equipment such as toddler bike seats, pull-alongs and trailers and child seats and booster seats for our vehicle."
- Chambord to Cande sur Brevon (Classic) or Onzain (Deluxe)
- Cheverney loop
- Cande sur Brevon or Onzain to Amboise
- Chenonceaux to Saint Branchs (Classic) or Montbazon (Deluxe)
- Vilandry loop
On our fourth and fifth nights we stay in either a unique family-owned and run property and get to enjoy all the benefits of an authentic French home stay experience with the luxury and independence of a hotel stay, or you'll luxuriate in a magnificent family owned and run fairy tale chateau overlooking the Indre river valley.
Day 1, Sunday
Your Fresh Eire Adventures craic commando team will meet you at either Blois train station or at your hotel in Blois (We recommend that you spend Saturday night in Blois). Please be dressed ready for biking (padded bike shorts are a great idea all the time – BUT ESPECIALLY ON THE FIRST DAY) when we meet. We’ll take care of your luggage (sending it on to your hotel) and then we’ll transfer to our first chateau of the week; the spectacular Chambord. Here you'll have a 90 minute visit and you have free reign to explore the chateau as well as the stunning royal hunting grounds. While you stroll around the chateau your bike will be prepared and then we’ll meet for a light picnic lunch in front of the chateau. You’ll sample your first picnic lunch while being fitted to your bike.
After a review of bicycling safety, we’ll introduce you to your bikes (Trek FX 7.2 hybrids or, for an extra fee, Cube Peloton road bikes or similar), show you how to change gears & use the brakes (please, humour us – it’s always best to go over everything as every bike is different), and make some micro adjustments to ensure a comfortable ride for the week ahead. We'll also demonstrate and explain the use of the equipment which your children will be using. Once we're comfortable we'll set off!
Today we’ll stick to the Voie Verts (Green Ways which are a mix of bike paths) and less travelled public roads. We’ll ride out of the estate and pass through rural farmland so expect to see strawberry and asparagus beds, sunflower fields following the direction of the Loire. These routes are ideal for a family tour.
Once in Cande-sur-Beuvron we’ll cross the mighty river and enter the village of Onzain.
You’ll check into your first hotel, either the fabulous Hôtel Domaine Hauts des Loire (Deluxe) or Auberge de Caillere (Classic) where we’ll stay for two nights. You’ll have ample time to relax and change for dinner.
Tonight we’ll dine at the restaurant in Auberge de Calliere where Erik will cook up a spectacular 5 course tasting menu for us. There will be a very family-friendly focus on tonights dinner and expect us to be finished by 9pm but wowed with the finest of what the Loire has to offer.
Included Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Classic Hotel: Auberge de Caillere (3 star)
Deluxe Hotel: Domiane Hauts de Loire (4 star)
Day 2, Monday
After breakfast at our hotel (served from 8am) we’ll meet in the lobby and have a brief meeting discussing the day ahead’s route and highlights. The Deluxe group will take off first at 9.15am and will meet the Classic group at 9.45 near their hotel. We’ll then take off altogether on our bikes.
On our second day we ride together to Chateau Cheverny; the inspiration for Captain Haddock's home in the TinTin comic strips (now a Speilberg movie). You'll have an open lunch there in the Couer Cheverny (lots of options; my favourite is the creperie) before visiting the additonal attraction which is Moulinsart.
We return to our hotel by bike and, around 6.30pm, we'll transfer to the village to have a wonderful dinner together in La Charbonette - one of the finest authentic restaurants in the region; Nathalie takes excellent care of us and always ensures we have the very best of the best especially when it comes to the cheese chariot! Expect a fine dining experience in a casual family run restaurant. Nothing stuffy here; just outstanding food paired with excellent Loire wines and lots of family friendly choice.
Tonight will be our final night in Onzain; tomorrow morning you’ll be checking out of your hotel after breakfast.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Classic Hotel: Auberge de Calliere (3 star)
Deluxe Hotel: Domiane Hauts de Loire (4 star)
Day 3, Tuesday
We’ll be checking out this morning so please make sure your luggage is ready for transportation (and please look under the bed to make sure your favourite pair of socks has been packed – we won’t go back for them regardless of how much they caress your piggies. We might make an exception for a passport…but the drinks are on you if we do!) following breakfast.
This morning the Classic group will depart their hotel at 9.15am and will cycle to the Deluxe hotel where we’ll all congregate and take off on our ride together at 9.45am.
While this morning’s ride is short, it is beautiful; we’ll be riding through some of the most famous vineyards in the region as we pass through Mesland. We’ll also pass through a small village renowned for its cave dwellings; these much sought after troglydite homes are easily missed; your guides will be sure to point them out to you. We’ll also stop off at a small friendly market to see the fine array of local produce on offer; an opportunity to practice your French! Know your “apples” from your “apples of the soil” and you’ll be fine!
We continue on our ride to Amboise; a spectacular medieval town blessed with two significant chateaux of Francois 1st. While historic marvels await, I prioritise a visit to Madame Bigot’s chocolate store for a mandatory tasting on every Fresh Eire Adventure!
Most folks flock in their masses to the main chateau while, instead, we visit the wonderfully quirky, and final home of Leonardi da Vinci, Clos Luce. Here we can explore not only the museum but actually the gardens where you can see some replicas of da Vinci’s early inventions such as the water cannon and helicopter. This quirky attraction makes for a welcome change from the formal daily chateaux and is a real hit with our younger family members as they can have a real hands on experience.
After our visit we shall have an informal lunch in the centre of town overlooking the chateau; my favourite is a creperie where you can sample the best Breton galletes, crepes and cider. Our hotel is in the centre of town (Hotel Manoir St Thomas) is a real treat dating from the 15th century. Complete with all the expected modern facilities of a 4 star hotel, this bohemian property boasts a lovely private outdoor pool – a marvel right in the centre of town! You will be free in the afternoon to explore the chateau there and check out this buzzing market town right on the banks of the Loire. For the adults there is also a highly recommended visit to an amazing wine producer a few miles away. You can ride or transfer. Totally memorable, the cave is kind of unmissable (but I’ll understand if you’d prefer to relax by the pool with a cocktail). We can arrange for the kids to have a supervised visit to the mini-chateaux theme park while you do the ride and tasting if you like.
Dinner tonight will be on your own - there are many, many family friendly options here overlooking the chateau and its ramparts. Alternatively, tonight might be an opportunity to have a family night at the hotel - ask your guides to arrange for a take away pizza or Chinese food to be delieverd. The kids might appreciate an early night.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Hotel: Manoir Saint Thomas (4 star: Classic and Deluxe) or Chateau du Pray (Deluxe)
Day 4, Wednesday
This morning is another moving day. After breakfast (more croissants! – eat early, eat often!) we’ll check out of the hotel. Our fourth day sees us leave Amboise and progress in the direction of the lagest town in the area; Tours.
This morning we will ride to the magical Chenonceaux chateau with its famous duelling gardens of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici.
After our visit we’ll have an authentic lunch in the village and then transfer to our kayaking experience on the river Cher. You'll get to kayak beneath the chateau you visited earlier today.
Afterwards we will transfer you to our final hotels; either the Deluxe Domaine de Chateau de Tortiniere in Montbazon or the Classic Cedre et Charme in nearby Saint Branchs. You'll be able to spend some time by the pool when you get there.
Domaine de Chateau de Tortiniere, built by the Dalloz family during France’s Second Empire, is a charming family-owned château at the heart of a magnificent wooded park overlooking the Indre valley.
Cedre et Charme is a very unique proposition for our guests; the owners recently quit their corportate jobs in IT and Education leaving Paris behind and brought their family to the Loire Valley where they have lovingly and meticulously restored this 17th century manor house. No expense has been spared in its restoration and they have succeeded in balancing contemporary functionality with original features and antique furnishings. The gardens are wonderful and will be complete with a brand new swimming pool ready on time for the 2015 season. And yes, there is a very old cedar tree on the grounds!
This evening's dinner is in Tours, in the old part of town, in the buzzing square surrounded by Flemish buildings leaning precariously outwards. Expect to see plenty of the classic French dishes from other region on the menu tonight; Bouef Bourgignon, Escargots and even Frogs Legs! Your guide will of course offer suggestions and assist when making your choices.
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Classic Hotel: Cedre et Charme (TBA)
Deluxe Hotel: Domaine de Chateau de Tortiniere (4 star)
Day 5, Thursday
Today’s ride, our final ride of the week, is one you take entirely at your own pace and we encourage you to stop and take those final photos, pat down those horses in the fields and practice your “Salut! Comment allez vous?” with the locals. Our fifth day's ride sees us cycle towards the Chateau Villandry with its marvellous gardens. Here's you'll take your time to explore the geometric designs best viewed from the upper floors of the chateau itself.
After lunch we'll transfer you to the Fortress of the Black Falcon where you'll experience what life was like living in a medieval fortress and even see an enormous catapult deployed! Another option, at extra cost, is an unforgettable hot air balloon ride over the chateaux!
Dinner tonight is at a local family pizza restaurant in Montbazon overlooking the Indre river. Tonight’s dinner is a fun and informal setting and we’ll toast our week together. Bon Appetit!
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Classic Hotel: Cedre et Charme (TBA)
Deluxe Hotel: Domaine de Chateau de Tortiniere (4 star)
Day 6, Friday
This morning, after breakfast, family members aged 7 years or older will enjoy a fencing lesson on the grounds of the hotel - on gaurd!
Afterwards we will shuttle you to nearby St Pierre des Corprs TGV station (Tours) where you can return to Paris or the airport, or make any number of rail connections to other regions, or pick up a rental car. There are many fast trains (TGV) to Paris from Tours station (actually called St Pierre des Corps - Tours Centre station does not have TGV facilities). Most folks like to get a train that leaves around 10.30am so they arrive in Paris on time for lunch but rest assured your guides are available to you in Tours until midday. Pedal on!
Included Meals: Breakfast
Dates Loire Valley Family
Any Start Dates Available upon Special Request (subject to availability)
Prices Loire Valley Family
Classic - USD $3495 pps. Single Supplement of $500 applies.
Luxury - USD $4195 pps. Single Supplement of $800 applies.
Included Loire Valley Family
- Use of Trek Hybrid bike, Bell or Giro Helmet, handlebar bag, route notes & maps
- Use of child specific equipment such as trailers, tag-along, bike mounted child carriers etc.
- Fresh Eire Adventures water bottle
- Transfers from Blois centre (Hotel or SNCF station) on start day
- Transfers to Tours centre (Hotel, SNCF / TGV station) on end day
- 4 exquisite dinners & wine
- 3 gourmet lunches & wines
- Admissions to all included attractions & tastings
- Baggage transfers
- Tips for hotels/restaurants
- Healthy snacks, water, full guiding services, support vehicle.
- 5 nights B&B in 3 & 4 star hotels (Classic) & 4 star hotels (Luxury), with continental breakfast
Extras Loire Valley Family
- Upgrade to a Cube Peloton Race (or similar) alu-road bike (available at extra cost)
- Upgrade to an electric hybrid bike if you think the effort might be too much for you but you want to bike all the way (available at extra cost)
- Self-Guided Extension packages available in Paris (3 nights, 4 star from $1,295 pps)
- Guided Extension packages available in Paris (3 nights, 2 days Guided Tour, 1 free day from $1,695pps)
- Gratuities for Guides