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France: Loire Valley Bike and Barge (8 days)

Cycling the quiet roads of the Loire Valley and at night retire to your barge.  Encounter this region's rich history, culture and delightful scenery.

Our itinerary takes in the highlights including the magnificent 12th century castle and gardens at Apremont, the ancient Roman town of La Charité-sur-Loire and the local market in Châtillon-Coligny. Enjoy the charm of the rolling landscape as you cycle tour along quiet country roads passing world famous vineyards and charming old towns where there is plenty of time set aside for discovering the cultural and consumable delights the region offers. By night retire to our private barge custom built for sailing on the French canals. The relaxed atmosphere aboard will make you feel at home quickly as will the comfortable cabins, most of which have private facilities.


2014 Departure Dates and Costs

July 26 - Aug. 2
Aug. 9 - 16
Aug. 16 - 23
Aug. 23 - 30
Aug. 30 - Sep 6 ($ 120 for high season add-on)


Tour cost: $ 1,460 CAD

Contact us for other river cruises and cycling trips in Europe!


Itinerary

DAY 1: Paris (Gare du Nord) | Cours-les-Barres | Barge
Mid-afternoon we depart from Gare du Nord, Paris by coach to Cours-les-Barres. Arriving early evening in Cours-les-Barres we will board our barge and get settled in. Shortly after, dinner will be served aboard the barge, providing a chance to get to know other travellers in our small group, along with our crew and guide.

DAY 2: Cycle to Apremont (50km) – moderate terrain
Cycling Loire ValleyFrom Cours-les-Barres we commence sailing the barge across a mighty aqueduct over the Allier River. After passing two impressive locks (at a height of 9 meters), we disembark and get on our cycles for a trip to the picturesque and historic village of Apremont. Here a 12th century castle complete with five of its original 12 towers and a fabulous garden provides us with a welcome respite to wander around and relax. The castle and village defend a strategic point on the Allier River and the Boatman’s House in the village is another must-see. We continue on to the 14th century village of Nevers before returning to Cours-les-Barres where the barge awaits us.

 

DAY 3: Cycle to the ancient Roman town of La Charité-sur-Loire and the sample wines in Ménétréol (55km) – some hills
This morning we will sail to the village of Beffes before commencing our cycle over undulating countryside. We make our way to the ancient Roman town of La Charité-sur-Loire, crossing the 16th century stone bridge to the centre of this picturesque settlement. We will be afforded splendid views over this pretty town and its Notre Dame church. We continue by cycle into the eastern Loire valley, known for its unusual Pouilly Fumé white wines. Pouilly Fume is a dry white wine, with a distinctive taste of musk and smoke, and we will reward our day’s efforts in Ménétréol, with a glass or two of the local vintage as we gaze out over the vineyards.

DAY 4: Cycle through the picturesque Sancerre vineyards to Beaulieu-sur-Loire (50km) – some hills
We begin our day with a visit to Sancerre and its vineyards – renowned for their production of white wines, although lighter and fruitier than those of Pouilly Fume. We depart and cycle right across the breadth of the picturesque Sancerre vineyards and on through several wine villages – soaking up the classic scenery. Today’s trip ends in Beaulieu-sur-Loire, where we will overnight.

 

DAY 5: Pass the historic locks of Châtillon-sur-Loire and cycle through the Forest of St Brisson to Briare (40km) – moderate terrain

We will cycle past the historic locks of Châtillon-sur-Loire and the aqueduct that takes us over the river Loire. After St. Brisson, home to one of the region’s most charming castles, we wind our way back to the barge, enjoying the fresh forest air in the Fôret de St. Brisson. In the evening aboard our barge we will cross the river Loire through the magnificent aqueduct and stop for the night in Briare.

 

DAY 6: Cycle to the Castle 'Pont Chevron' to Rogny-les-Sept- Écluses, known for its seven historical locks (45km) – moderate terrain
This morning we explore Briare. Here the canal was constructed from 1605 to 1642 and served the local manufacture of fine pottery, and of so-called porcelain buttons made of felspar and milk. We will visit its chateau, town hall, church (with its modern mosaic), and the museum of emaynuel porcelain buttons which made the town world famous. Leaving Briare we head to the idyllic setting of the castle ‘Pont Chevron’ on the shores of a small lake. Via Ouzouer-sur-Trézée we traverse what is a lake filled region to the 16th century castle near Bléneau. Our evening is spent in the village Rogny-les-Sept-Écluses, known as an impressive monument of engineering for its seven historical locks.

 

DAY 7: Cycle to Châtillon-Coligny (50km) – moderate terrain
We ride out this morning to Châtillon-Coligny with its 12th-century château, built by the Count of Sancerre. There is also a lively market here to explore. Then we continue on to La Bussière where the abbey dates back to 1103, built under the guidance of the Cluny Cistersian monks. Here we visit the fabulous 17th century castle La Bussière, famous for its collection of ‘fish art’ and aquariums. We return to Rogny via Escrignelles where we spend our final night aboard our barge.

DAY 8:  Return to Paris, Trip concludes
In the morning you may wish to go for a stroll. At approximately 11.30am, your guide and crew will say good-bye and you travel by coach to Paris where the trip ends.


Additional Information

What's included:

  • 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
  • 7 nights accommodation in bunk bed cabin with shower/toilet
  • Bicycle with 21 gears, cycle bag and bicycle insurance
  • Several excursions
  • Travel guidance
  • Transfer Paris/Gare du Nord - Barge v.v.