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Loire

Affectionately known as the Garden of France, the fertile Loire Valley is replete with opulent estates and châteaux that date back thousands of years. Once a popular region with kings, queens and nobles who established their feudal castles and ornate palaces, it hasn’t lost its character. The valleys yield abundant fruit, asparagus and grape vines. The Loire Valley is France’s biggest producer of white wine, including the Sancerre, Vouvray and Quincy appellations.

Cycling in the Loire tends to be quite flat, making it good for leisurely cyclists and families. There are well-marked routes along the Loire, Indre, Cher and Vienne rivers, through beautiful villages and past some of the region’s most notable attractions. Don’t miss the quirky troglodyte caves dotted through the valley, especially the system of caves where mushrooms are grown.

Insider tips:

  • Stay at the sumptuous Château de Candes
  • Admire the gardens at Château Villandry
  • Canoe between Chinon and Montsoreau
  • Discover Turquant’s troglodyte houses
  • Taste the Chinon red & Saumur sparkling
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George, Cycle Expert

Brimming with châteaux as far as the eye can see, Loire is famous for its aristocratic estates and rolling vineyards. Boasting outstanding wines and top-quality local cuisine, Loire is a must-visit region.

Châteaux of the Loire

Awarded UNESCO status for its staggering number of medieval châteaux, admire the poignant turrets, cupolas and enormous banquet halls. Cycle to the Renaissance Château de Chambord, which is the largest château in the valley and was constructed as a hunting lodge for King Frances I.

 

Château de Villandry is known for its triple-terraced gardens that are open year round. On the banks of the Vienne river, Chinon Fortress was the meeting place of Dauphin Charles VII and Joan of Arc, before her battle to free the city of Orléans from the British.

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Loire Valley cuisine - Textbox Image

Loire Valley cuisine

Salmon and pike perch are line-caught and perfectly accompanied by locally grown mushrooms, white asparagus and artichokes. Fruit bowls are overflowing with cherries, pears and strawberries, and both crisp, dry Sauvignon Blancs and sweet Chenin Blanc white wine is produced from small, home-run vines.

 

If you are in Chinon on Thursday morning, pedal to the farmers market to pick up picnic supplies of fresh fruit, vegetables and locally made cheeses, Crottin de Chavignol in particular.

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