France Cycling Holidays – Discovering the Loire Valley by bike (Part Two)
For cycling holidays France offers so much choice! We are cycling holiday specialists, here in France and run centre-based cycling holidays in the Loire Valley. The easiest way to get a flavour of our holidays is to follow recent guests as they spent a fantastic September week on our Loire Valley Discovery Cycling Holiday! This continues from Cycling Holidays France – Discovering France by bike (Part One)
Our cycling holiday in France continues….
So we left the last blog post on Day 4, having visited some of the smaller Chateaux France has to offer the intrepid cyclist. Day 5 of our Discovery Tour Cycling Holiday is spent concentrating on two of France’s passions – cycling (of course) and wine!
Day 5 – French wines @ Le Tasting Room
We offer a french cycling and wine experience you wont find on any cycling holidays in France by pairing our cycling holiday with a fun and informative wine tasting meal at Le Tasting Room, west along the Loire at Cumeray.
For our September cycling guests it promises to be another hot day (unusually hot for this time of year in this part of France). So its a quick getaway after breakfast with the plan of arriving at early at Cumeray. This avoids the heat and gives the chance to spend some time at Le Thoureil, a really picturesque village on the banks of the Loire.
Much of the cycling follows the River Authion and four guests take the opportunity for a picnic lunch on the Authion’s banks, while others have a light meal in a restaurant at Les Rosiers-sur-Loire – the Menu Ouvrier in France are just such good value – what ever sort of holiday in France you are having!
All our cyclists arrive at Le Tasting Room around 3pm and are welcomed with apperetifs and an introduction from Cathy on Loire Valley Wines and wine making. A three course dinner follows, accompanied with more wines, including a Chinon Red, a Tourraine Sauvignon Blanc and a sweet wine to accompany dessert. Throughout the meal our guests discover the complexities of making wine in France and much much more besides.
By 6pm we’ve arrived at Le Tasting Room in the mini-bus and loaded bikes (plus boxes of wine as some couldn’t resist buying some of what they drunk over dinner) and its a sleepy bus drive back to Gue de Ray.
Summer still hasn’t left France and the day is finished off with late plunges in the pool (a nice 27c) and the hot-tub, (an even nicer 38c!) with everyone relaxing in the living room making the most of the tea and coffee facilties. As we near the end of the week, some guests also make use of the laundry. For our Australian guests this is just part of their overall holiday so the laundry is a brilliant for making their entire trip more comfortable.
Day 6 – Troglodytes – France’s cave dwellers!
Weather decides to break today and we wake up to light rain rolling from the French Atlantic coast. Forecast is for improvement by lunchtime, so for some of our cycling guests we offer a drop-off in the mini-bus, 16kms along their intended route.
For this, the final day of cycling in France, the planned cycle route is to head southward (and mostly downhill) and explore the area along the Loire between Saumur and Candes-St-Martin.
A couple of guests decide they don’t want a drop-off and ride anyway, taking the morning route through apple, pear and soft fruit orchards to the Loire at Varennes. The remaining guests are driven direct to Varennes and by the time we arrive the sun is out and everyone crosses the river at Montsoreau by 11.30am – dry and in good spirits!
From south of the river our guests head in different directions. Our returning guests cycle the Loire a Velo cycle-path along the Vienne river to Chinon, two guests take a trip inland from the Loire to the Abbey at Fontevraud, while the remaining cyclists follow the Loire to visit Montsoreau, Candes St Martin, the artisan shops at Turquant and finally the Troglodyte village at Souzay Champigny. For these guests there is also artisans shops in the caves at Turquant and the mushroom caves – so much to do and never enough time!
So what’s a Troglodyte? Its the term used in France for a cave dweller and in this area there are many caves dug into the limestone cliffs that line the river. Firstly the excavated stone was used to build the white Chateau of the Loire and other parts of France, then the caves were found to be perfect for storing wine, growing mushrooms and for creating, with the help of ornate house frontages, comfortable dwellings. It makes for a magical landscape!
By 1pm the sun is back again, but with the temperatures at a more friendly level for French cycling! The mini-bus is in situ by 4.45 for the afternoon pick-up, just north of the Loire and with everyone arriving pretty much together we’re on our way back to Gue de Ray by 5pm. No-one on this final day has decided to cycle home!
Back at Gue de Ray the bikes and equipment is all handed back (while cups of tea and coffee are brewed) and guests head off for a final dip in the pool or hot-tub.
Evening meal is taken in the dining room with Courgette and Ricota rolls to start, an Asian style tray baked Salmon and stir-fry for main, followed by a very cheeky chocolate mousse. There was of course the obligatory cheese-board (France really does have an infinite number of cheeses!), as ever served between main and dessert. To reflect the location of today’s cycling, the white wine was a medium-dry Chenin Blanc from the Cave du Vins de Saumur, and a fruity Tourraine Cabernet-Franc red from Chateau du Petit-Thouars.
Day 7 – Au Revior to France and cycling! (For some that is….)
It’s come round quick, but this morning its just a case of having breakfast and then heading off to Saumur station – with guests catching the 10.22 en-route to Eurostar via Paris and others picking up a hire car at Europcar Saumur, before heading down to the Dourdogne. Those guests that drove themselves to Gue de Ray have a slightly more relaxing morning, before heading off to the ferry port at Caen by 11am.
For us, the team arrive to help us with preparing for another Loire Valley Discovery Cycling Tour!
More on this cycling holiday in France
The Loire Discovery Tour Cycling Holiday is run by Loire Life Cycling through June, July and September. It costs £855/1050€ per person based on two people sharing and includes breakfasts, evening meals and bike equipment. Its a centre-based cycling holiday and appeals to those who want to relax and see the sights from a bicycle! See more about our cycling holidays France by following this link.