after living right in the heart of the loire valley on my study abroad,
i’ve always had a thing for the chateaus and this gorgeous valley.
i visited most of the castles by train while staying here in college…
but i’ve always had it in the back of my mind to bike through
the loire valley châteaus one day. with the castles rising in
the distance and vineyards along the way, i think it’s really
the best way to see this area. so get your bike, & let’s go!
first things first, those french royals really knew how to
do their summer homes right. the loire valley is jokingly called
“the original hamptons,” since one french royal built a grand
château way out in the countryside and soon many other royals
followed suit. these châteaus became status symbols and the fanciest
type of summer home you can imagine. today they are mostly uninhabited
but they are absolutely amazing in their grandeur and style. i also think that
they look even prettier from a bike, since we had worked hard to get there :)
my three favorite castles in this area are chenonceau, chambord, and cheverny.
on the actual bike tour we couldn’t go to all of them due to time, but those are
probably the top 3 if you want to see the best ones. chenonceau was my favorite
when i visited before, with its arches over the water and the option to canoe under.
cheverny is fun to see for the hunting dogs (especially when they are fed daily…)
as well as the lovely interior furnishings. chambord is the grandest and largest,
almost looking like a small city from afar. this hunting lodge sits on acres of
beautiful land and it is so worth exploring. don’t miss the major double-spiral
staircase which was designed by leonardo da vinci near the end of his life!
on this fat tire bike tour we met the group in blois as they had come from paris,
then began to learn some of the history of the entire area from our AMAZING
guide dan who was a history major and knew so many interesting details. we asked
him endless questions and he knew all of the answers. we stopped at a local market
to pick up some picnic supplies, then headed on our way through the valley.
we arrived to chateau chambord after a pretty ride through the green vineyards and
countryside. we had a cheese tasting and picnic together with our fun group first, and
then visited the castle which was such a highlight. we spent hours going through it!
every turn we made on the terrace had a new view of the
chateau and had to keep taking pictures. too amazing!
the breathtaking terraces of the chateau offer the best views of the manicured grounds.
after the picnic and tour, we made our way back toward blois along bike paths winding
through the countryside and along the loire river. it was a full and amazing day!
dan really was our favorite. i think he is leaving his job with this company
soon since he’s been doing it for years, but it showed us what knowledgeable
guides they get. it makes a huge difference to be led by someone who knows
so many facts and can explain them in interesting ways. we loved hearing
crazy stories about the royals, and facts about all of the different chateaux.
we went back through the total french countryside.
i was almost falling off my bike trying to snap pictures.
the french countryside is one of my versions of heaven.
just look at these tiny french towns!
we just had a few more stops through some castles..
this guy started to get a bit tired on our way back. we were almost
on mile 17 and had been up since 6 AM. after almost 12 hours
chase had been such a trooper. it was all worth it!
we did get a cloudier day with a few sprinkles of rain, but it didn’t
take away from the fun memory of biking all through these stunning
castles and french villages. there are few places better on earth!
this valley of a thousand châteaux is the very best
when it comes to castles. don’t miss it!