You have already visited Paris or La Provence and want to discover La France in a different way? Why don’t you try a bike tour. Past magnificent castles such as Cheverny, which inspired Hergé; Chenonceau, with its amazing bridge, or the castle of François Ier: the famous Chambord castle!?
In 2020, starting from Blois, my friend and I decided to travel by bike for 5 days. Let me give you a glimpse of our trip. Full of energy and motivated, we started with the hardest stage of the tour: le château de Chenonceau. After a 41.9 km (26miles) ride from Blois, we arrived at the castle. You can enjoy the castle, les jardins or rent a boat for a couple of hours and drift along le Cher under its famous bridge. This castle is known as Ladies’ castle because Henri II offered it to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. However, Henri’s wife, a jealous Catherine de Medici asked him to give Diane Chaumont-sur-Loire instead, which he eventually did.
We followed Diane de Poitiers’ steps the next day and went to her Chaumont-sur-Loire castle. Along the Loire river, through forests, small villages and the riverbank, it was an easy part of the tour, in spite of the 12 miles we rode during the day. The castle’s gardens are stunning, but it is the sight of the castle itself with its imposing towers that is just spectacular!
After an athletic day, we needed rest and some comfort food. On the banks of the Loire river, we enjoyed a French guinguette: charcuterie board, cheese board, wine, folk music and dance, the perfect vacation! We ended the evening at le château de Blois where we enjoyed a wonderful sound and light show on the ramparts.
After 10 more miles of biking, we discovered Cheverny, a typical Loire castle, with a lot of symmetry and fully furnished (which his very rare!) Simple, elegant, not too crowded, it might be my favorite of the five castles. Fun fact: Belgian cartoonist Hergé used Cheverny as a model for his fictional ‘Château de Moulinsart’ in the Adventures of Tintin.
The final stop of our tour took us to Chambord castle! One of the most famous things to notice about this castle is the staircase. Did you know that Leonard de Vinci came to France after an invitation from François Ier? He built two spiral staircases so that people could use them at the same time: an amazing innovation at that time (16th century!) A visit, a pique-nique, and it was time to go back home.
We made wonderful memories and had beautiful encounters. I did not mention flat tires, moments lost without internet, or a rainy day in the woods… Even if some things were challenging, they are after all, the funniest things to fondly remember after the trip. So don’t hesitate to ride your bike this summer!