Combine a river cruise with cycling in the Loire Valley. All of our cruises include the use of six bicycles. This package is for the more serious cyclists. Included with the barge cruise is an upgrade of the bicycles for the duration of the cruise and the services of a cycling guide with a vehicle and trailer for the bikes.
Tours to Larcay – You are met at 4.30 pm at the TGV railway station at St Pierre des Corps and transferred to Nymphea where a Champagne Welcome awaits you in the park of the village of Larcay. Dinner is served aboard
Larcay to Bléré – After a continental breakfast we follow the River Cher by bike, downstream (20kms), to visit the château and incredible gardens of Villandry. Cycling back is optional as the car and trailer meet us there after the visit.
After lunch on board we cruise past the hamlets of Azay and Vallet. After passing a few private châteaux on the left bank the small town of Bléré appears ahead.
Careful navigation is the order of the day under the multiple arched bridge. Pilings of a 10th century mill left underwater pose a considerable obstacle and its always comforting to arrive for supper in the lock to the warm welcome from the lock keeper.Dinner is served aboard.
Bléré to Chisseaux – Following breakfast and a stroll across the bridge to Bléré street market, we cross over to the River Loire by bike to tour the Château d’Amboise.
Afterwards we visit the former home of Leonardo da Vinci, Le Clos Luce which has a basement full of models of his inventions. (10kms).
After a tricky bit of navigation under Civray bridge and a late lunch we start up the Cher again and arrive safely into the lock. Shortly after, around the corner, we see Chenonceau Castle coming into view. It’s one of the most visited private châteaux in France, and belongs to Monsieur Meunier of chocolate making fame.
We aim under the second arch from the right while being recorded for posterity in about 400 tourists holiday albums. Being the only barge on the Cher has its privileges. We moor at the little village of Chisseaux and pedal back to the castle.
When the crowds start to diminish, we take a tour through the impressively decorated rooms, no expense spared by Thomas Bohier, Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici since its conception in 1515.
Château visiting can be thirsty work so a sip and a swirl of the regional vintages can be had in the Château’s winery or around the corner at the Caves de Pere Auguste in Civray. Dinner is served aboard.
Chisseaux to Bourré – After breakfast we cruise to the village of Bourré, where we moor under its imposing tuffeau cliffs.
In the afternoon we drive to the Château of Valencay, once the home of Talleyrand.
After the tour, we take to the bikes again for a return cross country (24KM) via the myriad lanes to Seigy where we taste a selection of regional wines at Domaine Max Meunier.
An optional cycle ride afterwards or a trip in the minibus returns us to Nymphea. In the evening we dine out in a regional hostelry.
Bourré to Montrichard – Following breakfast, a cruise or morning cycle ride to Blois, the capital of the region, to see the impressive 15th century Château Royale, then we pick up the bikes and cycle along the banks of the River Loire (15kms) to a picnic spot (15kms) for an al fresco lunch.
Those who wish can continue back by bicycle, (15kms) to Nymphea moored at Bourré.
A short walk from the lock takes us to La Magnaneraie, one of the more unusual dwellings in the Loire Valley. The Coquillat family have grown up in this hillside troglodyte habitation, which has been in turn a wine cellar, a quarry for the tuffeau stone, and lastly a silkworm nursery.
Returning to the barge we cruise to Montrichard where we moor for the night. Dinner is served aboard.
Montrichard to Nitray – After breakfast, a short stroll takes us to the heart of Montrichard, into the midst of one of the largest weekly street markets in Touraine.
There is much to explore at the 12th century Château of Foulques Nerra overlooking the mediaeval town square.
Following an early lunch, there is a choice of transport, bikes or barge cruise as Nymphea sets off downstream, for another passage under Chenonceau. We arrive at the hamlet of Nitray in time to visit the rose garden and Château of Nitray.
We meet up with the cycle party there and enjoy a pre-Captains dinner aperitif from Nitray’s vineyards.
Captain’s Farewell Dinner is served aboard.
Nitray to Tours – After breakfast guests are transferred to Tours or the TGV railway station at St Pierre des Corps for the 9.30 train returning to Paris.