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Loire Valley Bike & Barge

Loire Valley Bike & Barge

Trip Highlights

  • Cycling through the Loire countryside
  • Exploring the small towns and villages en route
  • Experiencing the timelessness of the canal landscape
  • Enjoying the wine varieties of the region
  • Soaking up the hospitality onboard the comfortable barge

Trip Summary

Cycling the quiet roads of the Loire Valley we 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.

Suitability

INTRODUCTORY to MODERATE – GRADE 2

The cycling is introductory to moderate (2) grade with daily cycling distances from 40 to 55km on undulating well graded roads and bike paths. The accent is on keeping a relaxed pace to take in all of the attractions, with time to stop and take photos. It is not suitable for children (minimum bike size for height 150cm). *For safety reasons, we insist that cycle helmets be included as a compulsory item on your equipment list.

detailed itinerary

Meet at Gare du Nord, Paris by 3:00pm to depart approx 3:30pm 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 guide and crew.

Meals:  D

From Cours-les-Barres we commence cycling to the picturesque and historic village of Apremont. Here a 12th century castle complete with 5 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. Cycle terrain - moderate.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we will cruise 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 there is the opportunity to reward your day’s efforts in Ménétréol, with a glass or two of the local vintage as you gaze out over the vineyards. Cycle terrain - some hills.

Meals:  B,L,D

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. Cycle terrain - some hills.

Meals:  B,L,D

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. Cycle terrain - moderate.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning you have time to 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. You can 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. Cycle terrain – moderate.

Meals:  B,L,D

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. The cycle continues past 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. Cycle terrain – moderate.

Meals:  B,L,D

In the morning you may wish to go for a stroll. At approximately 11:00am, your guide & crew will say good-bye and you travel with the group by coach to Paris where the trip ends, arriving at Gare du Nord at approximately 1:30pm (times subject to change).

Meals:  B

Rogny to Cours-les-Barres

Meet at Gare du Nord, Paris by 3:00pm to depart around 3:30pm by coach for transfer to Rogny (times subject to change). Arriving early evening in Rogny 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. The village of Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses is known as an impressive monument of engineering for its seven historical looks.

Meals:  D

Today the barge stays in Rogny. 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. The cycle continues past the fabulous 17th century castle La Bussière, famous for its collection of ‘fish art’ and aquariums. We return to Rogny via Escrignelles. Cycle terrain – moderate.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we ride via Bléneau and traverse what is a lake filled region to the 16th century castle Ouzouer-sur-Trézée. We continue to the idyllic setting of the castle 'Pont Chevron' on the shores of a small lake, before reaching our destination 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. This evening you can visit the town's chateau, town hall, church (with its modern mosaic), and the museum of emaynuel porcelain buttons which made the town world famous. Cycle terrain – moderate.

Meals:  B,L,D

In the morning the barge takes us across the river Loire through the magnificent aqueduct. We begin cycling and enjoy the fresh forest air in the Fôret de St. Brisson on to St. Brisson, home to one of the region's most charming castles. We continue past the historic locks of Châtillon-sur-Loire and end in Beaulieu-sur-Loire, where we will overnight. Cycle terrain – moderate.

Meals:  B,L,D

We begin our day riding through several wine villages soaking up the classic scenery and right across the breadth of the picturesque Sancerre vineyards. We will visit Sancerre and its vineyards - renowned for their production of white wines, although lighter and fruitier than those of Pouilly Fume. Today's trip ends in Ménétréol where you have the opportunity to reward your day's efforts with a glass or two of the local vintage as you gaze out over the vineyards. Cycle terrain – some hills.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today's ride leads us into the eastern Loire valley, known for its unusual Pouilly Fume white wines. We will sample the Pouilly Fume which is a dry white wine, with a distinctive taste of musk and smoke. We continue 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. Cycle terrain – some hills.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning the barge takes us on a short cruise to Cours-les-Barres. From here we cycle to the 14th century village of Nevers. We continue on to the picturesque and historic village of Apremont. Here a 12th century castle complete with 5 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 return to the barge in Cours-les-Barres. Cycle terrain – moderate.

Meals:  B,L,D

In the morning you may wish to go for a stroll. At approximately 11:30am, your guide & crew will say good-bye and you travel with the group by coach to Paris where the trip ends, arriving at Gare du Nord at approximately 3:00pm (times subject to change).

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners (does not include drinks) Continental breakfasts are served and will usually consist of breads, cheese, ham, tea, coffee & juices. At breakfast you will prepare your packed lunch for the day which will be sandwiches, fruit & juice. Dinner will consist of three courses inclusive of either a pasta, vegetarian or meat dish.
  • 7 nights accommodation aboard a category C barge with ensuite facilities on a twin share basis (2 cabins with shared facilities - discount applies, ask our office for details). The compact cabins are configured with bunk beds. If you are travelling by yourself you will be matched with another passenger. There are no single cabins available.
  • 24 speed ladies or men's bike rental with lock and pannier (electric bike available on request, 2 per departure - supplement applies, includes bicycle insurance). Men's bike frames are for body heights of 170-190cm or 185-200cm and can be requested for ladies, please advise your consultant.
  • Visit to a chateau (entrance fee not included) and winery
  • Information pack including route notes and maps (per cabin)
  • Return group coach transfer from Paris Gare du Nord train station to the barge
  • multilingual tour leader

What's Not Included

  • Travel to and from the start of the trip at Paris Gare du Nord train station and transfers not specified in the itinerary
  • Optional Bicycle insurance (EUR26 per person payable locally, subject to change) - please note that normal travel insurance often does not cover loss or damage to rental bikes. The replacement value of the bikes is between €350-400 approximately. If you do not take out bike insurance you will need to pay for the cost of the bike or repair of damages.
  • Helmets - mandatory on all bike tours, you are encouraged to bring your own well-fitted helmet
  • Drinks including water (the tap water on the barge is not suitable for drinking)
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Entrance fees and excursions not specified
  • Tips - while tipping is not obligatory, it is customary to offer a tip if the guide and crew have done a good job. As a guide we would recommend EUR35-70 per person (to be distributed between the leader, captain and crew).
  • Travel insurance - mandatory

Upcoming Travel Dates

Reviews

The bike tour was an absolute highlight of our six weeks of travel through France and Italy

S. Mitchell, Bondi, NSW


Hosts and group leader were fantastic.

M. & D. White, Orange Grove, WA


The trip was well run, food generous and fresh. As I am a vegetarian I received a special meal and it was very thoughtfully prepared. The cycling was through spectacular country and our guide was great fun to be with.

S. Ralston, Docklands, VIC


Everything was great and much appreciated! We were lucky to have the barge owners living on board during our trip. Being a single traveller I very much appreciate the style of trips you offer and (in my age group) that have you guided trips available. Many thanks!!

M. Birrell, Balgowlah North, NSW


We have booked holidays with W.E. and UTracks several times now and have never been disappointed!

L.Rutter, Melbourne, Australia


Barge crew and guide went out of their way to help us and ensure an enjoyable trip for all. We cannot recommend them highly enough. In a couple of distances the difficulty seemed to exceed the rating, but still found some days difficult.

P Stuart, Figtree, NSW


Cannot recommend this trip highly enough. Well organised, clean accommodation, friendly, helpful and informative guide.Excellent hospitality with fantastic food. Was expecting standard tour food but was pleasantly surprised with quality.

P Ockerby, Ulverstone, TAS


The guide we had was outstanding going beyond our expectations. He was professional at all times. The crew onboard was amazing and the food also surpassed our expectations!!

L and D Redman, Ulverstone, TAS


The guide and his team were all very professional, friendly and helpful. We could not ask for a better standard of service. The meals were fabulous. Our guide always had a smile on his face.

P and D Butcher, Ulverstone, TAS


We had a brilliant time. The other people in the group were fun and we all got on well together despite coming from different countries and walks of life. I'd go again anyday.

J & K Merritt & Bushell., Albany, WA Australia


My Bike and Barge holiday in the Val de Loire was one of my best ever: the roads/tracks/paths/weather, scenery, towns and villages were wonderful, the crew and bike leader were terrific, the barge (accommodation and food etc) was great (tho I was glad to pay for a single cabin!) and the rest of the bikers (Germans and Aussies) were wonderfully cheerful and friendly. I will be back!

Ian Mcpherson., Glasgow, UK.


The crew on the barge were delightful - nothing was a problem - and first class meals every day.

S. Fenton, TAS. Australia


We all had a wonderful holiday, I would do it all over again. We rode 55km a day and it was no problem. The meals of the barge were top class.

S. Perrior., Oatley, NSW. Australia.


Both trips in Europe - both the Danube and the Loire Valley bike/barge tours were just fabulous. They were very different - the Danube, bigger boat, more people on board, self guided etc. The Loire, small barge with only 15 passengers and we were guided. It was interesting to experience both in the one holiday. I truly enjoyed both trips and would certainly repeat this way of travel again....it is so good to have a base on the boat so as to avoid packing and carrying luggage each day.

L. Sheldon., QLD Australia


The Loire Valley Bike and Barge was an excellent trip, we had a great guide and he ensured that everyone enjoyed the experience. The itinerary was very interesting, although as we were the first tour of the season some of the sites were not open. The Barge was very comfy and the food provided was extraordinary. Would recommend the experience to all levels of cyclists.

P McDonald, NSW, Australia

AT A GLANCE

Duration:8 Days
Countries:France
Starting Point:Paris
Activities:GUIDED CYCLING
BARGE
Grade:Introductory to Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:BBB
Prices From:GBP£935 Per Person