It’s been since forever I wanted to visit the castles on the Loire Valley. I always imagined one or two weeks visit from castle to castle, from city to city, by bike. Little had I known that you must be prepared… mentally prepared to endure butt pain from riding the bike for only few hours, not days. Luckily it was only a day trip to Chambord by bike.
This weekend we went to Blois, a magnificent city on the Loire River, at only 2h (drive or train) from Paris. As I can’t afford holidays brakes from my job, my only option is to take advantage of weekends.
An adventurous weekend in Blois
Getting from Paris to Blois
My adventure started even before the departure, as I almost missed the train due to Paris public transportation. I had prepared my itinerary online, and with enough 10 min marge I quit my office on Friday evening. My train was scheduled at 17h56, and I planned arriving at 17h30-35.
But then again, thanks to Paris public transportation, the subway line I had planned on taking was interrupted. In the urge of “getting there” in time, I decided to run between train stations and to take another line, which turned out it was slowed down due to traffic/reparations/etc. In my mind everybody moved in slo-mo on purpose. The train stopped between the stations for 5 minutes… BAH!
Finally, I arrive at 17h53 and with superhuman speed I climb the stairs 2×3, while slaloming everyone around me. I am on the train platform at 17h54. I made it in time!
Renting the bike for a day trip to Chambord
Like everywhere I go, the Tourist Office is my first stop. They recommend the same bike rental shop I had found on internet. On place, the rent-a-bike store was closing because the storekeeper was ill and needed medical assistance, but nothing serious. Fortunately, we could rent a bike in the nearby hotel, Anne de Bretagne.
More info on the bike rental: Détours de Loire.
Bike ride from Blois to Chambord Castle
On the road to Chambord many areas of the bike lane were muddy due to the multiple inundations of Loire; some of them were in reparation or under construction. Often we had to stop and walk next to our bikes due to the mud. We also had to stop to take pictures of the Loire river. To sum it all up, more than half our day trip to Chambord was the bike ride along the Loire, in the nature.
An old guy on a mountain bike came from behind, and I didn’t hear him until it was too late to regroup on the right side of the lane. So he wanted to avoid me without braking and instead he ended up on the grass and bumping into me.
The lesson of history
I strongly recommend the guided tours when visiting the castles. Most of the time they are comprised in the ticket fee. Guided tours are very educative and you can learn a lot about history and architectural styles. Possibility of renting audio guides too.
Francois I, king of France, wanted this castle in the middle of nowhere, so with the help of Leonardo Da Vinci he makes the plans for Chambord Castle. This castle is a masterpiece, but inhabitable; the King (and the ones to follow too) only visited it 72 days a year, never spending more than 2-3 days in a row, because no matter the season, it was freezing inside!!!
If you come to France, the Loire Valley Castles are worth your attention. A day trip to Chambord directly from Paris might be a good idea if you lack of time. This area is filled with history and architecture, and the bike tour has its benefits: you get to breath fresh air, you get to see the beauty of the nature and you work your cardio.
- Obviously, there are lots of possibilities to visit around Paris in a day trip. Mont Saint Michel is a good idea too.