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Top tours for food lovers

Posted 23 Jan 2017

What could be better after a long day’s cycling than a hearty meal consisting of delicious and intriguing regional cuisines? In a continent as chequered by national identities as Europe, no two days' eating are alike; whether you’re sampling Catalonia’s ingenious seafood creations, the unbeatable pasta of Tuscany and Umbria, or imbibing the glorious wines of the Loire. Better still, research shows that eating within an hour of cycling helps boost recovery from exercise, stimulating muscle growth and shortening the amount of time it takes to recuperate (as if you needed an excuse!)

Catalonia 

Our packed itinerary along Catalonia’s sunny Costa Brava will take you to some of Spain’s most famous vineyards and restaurants. Beginning in Figueres, the birthplace of artist Salvador Dalí, the tour kicks off with a celebratory glass of Cava and a traditional Catalonian meal. Moving on to Perelada, enjoy a 5,500-strong wine, and in Torroella de Montgri sample seafood tapas at Bar Riba on the glistening waterfront. Don't forget to pop into family-run pastry and cake shops here too. On day five, try some of the region’s most celebrated reds and whites during a visit to Mas Oller vineyard. 

Tuscany and Umbria

Explore one of the world’s most renowned culinary regions by cycle and take the opportunity to visit some of its off-the-beaten-track restaurants and vineyards too. Start off your trip by savouring local delights at Trattoria La Grotta. On day three, you can try a simple, traditional workers' lunch in a trattoria in historic Pietralunga, having spent the day following the trail of St Francis of Assisi, the 12-century Roman Catholic. Of course, the trip includes indulging in some serious fine dining as well. You’ll be treated to dinner by celebrity chef Giancarlo, and a traditional Italian meal made from ingredients that have been freshly picked from the café garden in Umbertide. The tour ends on a convivial note with a wine tasting by the serene Lake Trasimeno.

Châteaux of the Loire

Yes, the Loire is a true delight for foodies – but, in all seriousness, this trip is also an oenophile’s dream. And why? Because this cycle ride meanders through some of France’s finest vineyards and restaurants. On day four you'll visit the fortified Château de Brézé which, with its intriguing underground fortresses and gaping dry moat, is one of the most remarkable examples of traditional château architecture in France. 

A visit to the castle is essential; any fans of the French baguette will find it impossible not to imagine the delicious smells which will once have wafted from its underground medieval bakery. The castle is also home to one of the best vineyards in the region and, with a relatively small 30 hectares of vines, produces an impressive variety of wines. Visitors can see the house’s vintage presses squashing grapes in exactly the same way they have for centuries, giving wine connoisseurs a true appreciation of the skill and handicraft involved in making French wine the traditional way.

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