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France Woos Bikers To The Gorgeous Loire Valley

Aug 17, 2007
The central part of the Loire Valley was named a UNESCO World Heritage in 2000 for its cultural landscape and historic towns and villages.

France in 2005 suffering from a minor slump in American tourism, introduced the "Loire a Velo" biking program, designed to allow cyclists to explore the 880 kilometers of breathtaking cycling trails and roads that wind along Europe's last wild river past vineyards, mysterious troglodyte homes (limestone caves), picturesque french villages, ancient churches and monasteries. When the whole trail is eventually completed it will stretch approximately 500 miles from Saint-Brevin-les-Pins in the Atlantic region to Cuffy in the Cher region, near Sancerre.

The countryside is a mix of vineyards, sunflower fields, leafy forests, green valleys and charming villages, and is ideal for undemanding cycling. The attractive market town of Amboise, under the reign of Francois 1st historically important during the 15th and 16th century and nestled under its fortified chateau, makes a perfect starting point. The routes move between the Loire and Cher rivers, and visit some of the prettiest chateaux along the way.

The Loire is the longest river in France, rising in the Massif Central and flowing over 1000km to the Atlantic Ocean. Along its lower reaches lodges of the kings and noblemen of the 15th to 18th centuries grew into extraordinarily ornate chateaux and hunting domains, a short trip for them from Paris and a world away from the lives of their subjects.

You can ride across the Cher river southeast from Amboise to the castle of Chenonceau, one of the loveliest sites in the Val de Loire. Straddling the River Cher and backing off into an expanse of forest, the chateau is hemmed in by two outstanding gardens. Chateau Chenonceau is the most visited chateau of the Loire with over one million visitors each year.

After you've had your fill of ogling architecture, cycle around beautiful Amboise on the Loire River with its medieval chateau and charming village. Leonardo Da Vinci's home, the Chateau du Clos-Luce where he spent the last three years of his life, is located within walking distance of Amboise. In fact King Francois 1st had an underground tunnel built so that he could go and visit his good friend without having to mix with his subjects. At Clos Luce you can visit his sitting rooms, chambers, and kitchen. There is a working museum with over 40 models of some of his incredible inventions.

Fairs, festivals, pageants and concerts fill the Loire calendar from spring to autumn. Sound and light productions at Amboise, Chenonceau, Blois, Valencay and Azay-le-Rideau bring royal chateau tradition and history to life.

The patchwork fields, cool forests and lazy rivers of the Loire Valley invite the active holidaymakers to cycle, walk, windsurf, sail and canoe in the gentle countryside. Tennis players and golfers will find first rate facilities throughout the region. Visitors can also drift leisurely over the chateaux and countryside in a hot air balloon.

Luxury castles are scattered throughout the region, ready to soothe away any saddle sores with their great cuisine and crisp, cool acclaimed local wine. Some of the best wine in France is produced in the Loire Valley. Someliers, wine merchants, wine-bar owners know it and spend their vacations here in the Val de Loire. You can chose to hire a room or a whole chateau together with your friends or family members.

You couldn't select a more palate-friendly, more picturesque, more comfortable and leisurely vacation destination anywhere in the world.
About the Author
Corina Clemence operates a luxury french chateau in the Loire Valley near Blois, for up to fifteen people perfect for family holidays and for touring vineyards and chateaux and relaxing. It is ideal for a french wedding, party or event. Rent the whole castle or rent a suite. Rent a castle in France. Hire castle - hire chateau Rent castle http://www.loirechateau.com Rent chateau France
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