Tour the Loire with cycle expert Harvey Downard
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A perfect introduction to rural France and the ideal cycling holiday for children.
One of the country’s hidden gems, Mayenne is a wonderfully understated region full of old-world charm.
With riverside towpaths galore, Mayenne is perfect territory for people looking for sublimely easy trafficfree cycling with a view.
In addition to the locks, mills and fords of the river itself, the towpath runs through pretty towns decked in flowers and bursting with heritage: Mayenne, Laval and Château-Gontier. Lots of blissful countryside in between makes for a delightful trip through the region - with plenty of lovely spots to stop for lunch, a cold beer or a picnic to remember.
We love: the delicious pure white local goats cheese and tasty rillette paté, jousting at Château Ste Suzanne, cycling for hours without seeing a car, the sense of being in ‘real’ France.
• Delicious restaurant meals each night
• Bed and breakfast accommodation
• Expert on the spot support
• Luggage carried between your hotels
• Fully serviced touring bikes
• 100% financial security through ABTA and ATOL
This tour is operated by our preferred local partner
SUGGESTED 6 NIGHT TOUR
DAY 1 Arrive at Rennes or Laval. Your first hotel is situated in Moulay, close to the river banks of the Mayenne. After your journey, a dip in the beautiful pool here will feel wonderful before your first delicious dinner in France.
DAY 2 Moulay. A lovely start to your holiday, today you can enjoy easy riding along the towpaths of the Mayenne river. Our suggested itinerary soon takes a detour from the river for a visit to the iconic “Toiles de Mayenne”, a centuries-old cloth factory well worth a look. The town of Mayenne is also on route, with its splendid fortified castle, medieval streets, magnificent church frescoes and traditional markets. (11 miles/17km)
DAY 3 Moulay to Laval. Today’s route follows the towpath of the Mayenne, punctuated with locks. We suggest stopping off at the rather wonderful Auberge du Pont de Montgiroux for lunch; or if you’d rather cycle a little further first, La Guinguette (formerly a lock house) is another great option for al fresco lunch right on the river. Arriving in Laval, enjoy dinner at your next stop-off, a charming guesthouse with enormous mature gardens to explore. (21 miles/33km)
DAY 4 Laval. Today we suggest a round trip that shows you the best of the countryside surrounding the town of Laval. Weaving your way along on peaceful quiet roads and cyclepaths (including a former railway bed and more towpaths), this is laidback cycling at its most idyllic. Arriving in the forest of Concise, you’re now in the territory of a once famous counterrevolutionary, Jean Chouan. This is also the land of cheese: at the Notre Dame du Port du Salut abbey the Trappist nuns still make all sorts of tasty fromage here, including Port-Salut.
DAY 5 Laval to Château-Gontier. Leaving Laval, we suggest visiting Ville d’Art et d’Histoire before re-joining our meandering river route, pedalling through country estates and horse paddocks, birdsong all around. There are lots of enticing places to stop for lunch, followed by dinner at your next hotel, which also features a heated pool and spa. (24 miles/38km) DAY 6 Château-Gontier. Enjoy pleasant terrain today as you wend your way through two picturesque villages, and past a number of interesting châteaux. We recommend a visit to the Refuge de Larche before you get back to Château Gontier.
DAY 7 Château-Gontier to Daon. Enjoy your final stretch beside the tranquil waters of the Mayenne. The village of Ménil is a nice place to stop and eat. Once in Daon you’ll have time for a wander around this lovely little village before your transfer by taxi back to Moulay, where we say "Au Revoir". (9 miles/14km)
Not to be missed:
Exploring the beautiful towns of Mayenne, Laval and Château-Gontier
Cheese-making at the Notre Dame du Port du Salut abbey in Entrammes
Enjoy lunch riverside ‘La Guinguette’
A fine selection of hotels to choose from
This quaint rural guesthouse is set in a 15th century manor, surrounded by 7 acres of wooded grounds and just a short ride from the town centre of Laval. A real haven of tranquillity with service that will make it feel like a home from home.
A magnificent hotel set in an old country manor on the banks of the Mayenne river. Here you can take a dip in the outdoor pool, enjoy a glass of wine in the pristine garden or go for a relaxing stroll along the riverside path.
Located on the road of the Loire Châteaux, this fantastic place is nestled in the heart of Château-Gontier in Mayenne, a town listed in the Michelin Guide’s 100 best detours in France. Anne-Laure and Olivier Alléard will give you a warm welcome in their characterful home with heated pool and spa. Nestled in a large shaded park teeming with century-old trees, the 3* Parc Hôtel & Spa provides the comfort, wellbeing and peace you need for your holiday.
April to October
|Group/Period||3 nights Apr - Oct||6 nights Apr - Oct|
|Child (2-6)||On request||On request|
EXTRAS: Pre-bookable picnics available for £11 per day
All prices per person, based on two people sharing and two nights per hotel. Includes breakfast, gourmet evening meal, bikes and equipment and luggage transfers unless otherwise stated. Travel not included. Single supplement: £48 per night. E-bike supplement: on request.
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