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Discover France Loire Valley Bike Tour - very satisfied

Saskatoon...
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Discover France Loire Valley Bike Tour - very satisfied

I don't see a listing for Discover France Bike Tours, so I'm posting this in the Loire Valley forum. My wife and I, along with our 15 and 12-year-old sons had a 6 day bike trip with Discover France in early August, 2012.

Overall, we thought the tour was excellent. There were some minor areas that could be improved, and they are noted near the end of the post. I've reviewed each of the hotels we stayed at separately in TripAdvisor (listed below). We didn't "upgrade" our accommodations at all, and still they were all very nice. The rooms were small (as is the European custom), but clean, comfortable and nicely decorated. Staff at all 4 hotels were friendly, courteous and helpful.

As we were booking the trip, we found the Discover France staff very helpful (and patient!) with our questions. Their email replies were prompt and thorough. They helped us with booking rail connections for the start and end of our trip. (Also, we can't say enough about Rick Steeves France guide book. It is fabulous and was our main reference for our trip. Study this book before you leave on your trip!)

We flew overnight from Toronto and arrived in Paris mid-morning. We took the TGV train to St. Pierre des Corps and then transferred to a local train to Amboise. Discover France's host, Sebastien, met us at our hotel and gave a very thorough orientation. We rented hybrid bikes from DF and they were very good. There were several spots on the trails where road bikes (i.e narrow tires, no shocks) would have been a little dodgy - although these spots are noted in the daily travel instructions with options given to avoid these areas. The bikes come with panniers, handlebar bags, repair kits and locks. We brought our own helmets. We are not avid cyclists, but after much consideration, we bought padded bike shorts to bring with us. Good choice! The rides were 35-45 km/day and the padding made a perceptible difference in comfort.

We stayed in Amboise, Tours, Azay le Rideau and Chinon. We were blessed with excellent weather. If it had been raining, I suppose this review would be less enthusiastic. The paths that Discover France chose were beautiful, taking us through the countryside and by fields, farms, forests and rivers. There was an obvious effort to stay away from busy roads and larger towns. Many of the roads were dedicated bike trails which made the riding very relaxing.

The daily rides were easy or easy-moderate. The easy ones were quite flat. The moderate ones had some hills that required effort, but weren't challenging. Our 12-year-old had to walk up a couple of hills but managed to pedal up most.

We chose the "Multi-sport" option. This included canoeing around/under the Chateau of Chenonceaux, and cycling to the forest adventure park near Chinon. Both were fun, and we especially enjoyed the adventure park. We had not seen one of these before and we had a great time climbing trees, sliding down ziplines and tackling aerial obstacle courses. Highly recommend this option.

The minor areas for improvement were in the navigation systems. Discover France provides a detailed daily itinerary that lists each step of the trip with odometer markings and instructions on where to turn and local landmarks. They also provide a GPS that clips to your handlebars. There were a few spots on the trip where the map and the GPS showed different turns. This gave us a few moments of frustration when we tried to decided which instructions to follow. In every case, within a few minutes of cycling, the written map and GPS converged again. We were never lost, but it was a little annoying when there were these disagreements between the two systems. Overall, the GPS was invaluable! Make sure you have extra batteries so that you are not without it. (Discover France also provides plenty of extra batteries for you.) I should emphasize that this was a minor concern and that we cycled confidently with the instructions and GPS maps that Discover France provided.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip with Discover France and look forward to booking another trip in another area of France with them.

Our hotels were:

La Breche - Amboise

Central Hotel (Best Western) - Tours

Le Grand Monarque - Azay Le Rideau

Le Diderot - Chinon

Sydney
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1. Re: Discover France Loire Valley Bike Tour - very satisfied

This is great information. We are looking at a similar trip in September 2013. Thank you!

Paris, France
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2. Re: Discover France Loire Valley Bike Tour - very satisfied

That's a really thorough review that covers the concerns of a lot of bikers (or non-bikers) who want to do something like what you did on their own. Very good review.

St Kilda, Australia
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3. Re: Discover France Loire Valley Bike Tour - very satisfied

Yes, thanks for that great information, Planning on doing this tour in July!

San Diego, CA
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4. Re: Discover France Loire Valley Bike Tour - very satisfied

Did you prefer Tours or Amboise better if you had to base there?

5. Re: Discover France Loire Valley Bike Tour - very satisfied

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