Don LaVange's Loire River Valley, France, Bicycle Tour
(last modified September 2, 2005)

This trip and variations of it have been ridden about 15 times by us. Costs vary, but generally you can self tour for less than half of what it costs to take a guided tour and you can have more fun with the freedom that self touring provides. If you send me (Don LaVange, 12 White Hill Lane, Cumberland, RI 02864), a Michelin map number 64 (Angers, Tours, Orleans) of the area, with the proper SASE (stamped, self adressed envelope), I will mark the routes for you and return the map. Many people report that they are told that Map # 64 is not published any more! That is not the case! If you cannot find one locally, you can obtain one from the linnk here to The Map Center, 671 North Main Street, Providence, RI .

You can scroll through this document (12 pages), print it, or jump to areas of interest in the table below:

Day One Day Two Days Three & Four Day Five Day Six Day Seven Day Eight Day Nine
E-Mail information from others! Physical Requirements Bike Rentals Time Needed Weather Hotels, Etc. Clothing &

Equipment

Other Sources

Other questions, E-Mail me at tandem401@mac.com Back to my Home Page

This is a moderate mileage trip with the longest required riding day of less than 50 miles. The shortest is about 22 and the rest fall in between. It can easily be extended in mileage or in time by spending two days in each location and riding a loop one day from each location.

We have always ridden the bicycles in Paris from the Air France bus at L'etoile to the Montparnasse train station. If you prefer to wait until you get to the Loire before re-assembling your bike, you may want to check out the Air France busses that operate from the airports directly to Montparnasse station (70FF). However, if you are using a re-usable hard shell case, you will want to have it stored somewhere in Paris for your return trip and you will have to ride from your hotel to the train station. We used a hard shell case this year (1999) for our Co-Motion Sky Capp S & S coupled tandem and we did not assemble the bike until we reached Angers (see below). It is important to note that the trucking service SERNAN has assumed transportation responsibility for bicycles. Reports are that bicycles are not transported by train anymore and the timing has been changed. In the past the train would get vyour bike to your destination by the next day. My experience with SERNAM is limited and I have had reports that SERNAM wants as much as 3 days!!! I am trying to gather information on this subject and I will publish messages that I get that shed light on the way to get around this reported barrier!


DAY ONE: Take your bike and panniers to the AIR FRANCE bus to Paris. The Charles De Gaulle terminal is round and the bus leaves from a location behind the main arrivals board, the "meeting place". I am sure you will have no trouble finding it. You can ask other passengers that are arriving with you or walk out to the exit and make a choice of turning left or right and then walking around until you come to it. Then buy round trip or one way tickets to Paris. The fare rises each year and is only 60FF. Your destination is L'etiole (the star) better known by we Americans as the "Arc de Triomphe". It can be the second stop you will come to but lately it has been the first. Get off there and follow the map to the Gare Montparnasse (train station). The exact directions are as follows:

(1) Walk your bicycles around the Arc de Triomph to the right until you come to Avenue D'Iena.

(2) Turn right on Ave D'iena and ride to the end of the street which will place you at the Jardins Trocadero in front of the Palais de Chailot across the river from the Eiffel Tower.

(3) Cross the Seine on the Pont (bridge) D'iena and ride under the Eiffel Tower and continue through the Parc du Champ de Mars.

(4) At the end of the park is the Military School ( Ecole Militaire). Turn right in front of the Ecole Militaire and ride to the end of the grounds which will be Avenue de Suffren.

(5) Turn left and ride to the major Intersection of 6 roads called Place Henri Queuille and ride out on Boulevard Pasteur.

(6) Take the 4th left which is Boulevard de Vaugirard and ride to the Gare Montparnasse.

There you will buy tickets on the train to ANGERS for the next day. Check with SNCF (French Rail System) for the latest fares $35 to $75 depending on class (1999 430.FF for 1st class on the TGV) and speed. Then go to the check baggage area and check your bikes in to be transported to ANGERS. You want to send your bikes ahead because the French Rail system does not guarantee that your bike will travel with you on the same train even though they usually do. The charge for the bikes is about $30. You can purchase a corrugated cover that protects the finish of the bike for a couple of dollars (15F, some folks get these free. . .ask). You an also purchase insurance. . .but I have never known anyone that needed it. This choice is up to you! Of late, there has been much discussion over whether or not the trains will take the bikes as baggage. Lately there are reports that all bikes must be shipped by SERNAM which always has locations next door to the train station. This year, we took an S & S equipped tandem that packed into a suitcase so we just carried the bike on as luggage (more on that later). We have used SERNAM and it worked as promised. Please E-Mail me with your experiences regarding bicycle transportation and I will publish the letters for others.

Then after checking in your bike, take the METRO or a CAB to the Hotel in Paris that you have chosen. A Best Western Associated hotel near the Gare Montparnasse is the Hotel Montparnasse. Another nice hotel in the same general area of Paris is the Hotel Sophie Germain on the street of the same name. A narrow street, some cab drivers have difficulty finding it. The lowest price (and smallest room) hotel we have ever used in that general part of Paris is the Hotel de la Paix. No garage but they took the bikes into a hallway! In another part of Paris is the 2 star Hotel Batignolles Villiers, very comfortable but not near the train station. Paris hotels should not be a problem unless you are trying to come in during some huge event such as the Paris Air Show which usually runs during the second week in June. This year we used the Best Western, St. Honore which cost FF1200. plus FF75. per person for breakfast. not a low priced hotel! We also stayed a night at the Best Western, Etoille St-Ferdinand, 36 Rue St. Ferdinand 75017 at a cost of FF850. This hotel is just aroungd the corner from the restaurant L'Entrecote!

Use your travel agent to book all your Paris nights when you obtain your airline tickets. As you check into hotels it will be assumed that you want "breakfast" and the charge is around 80FF in Paris ans as low as 40FF in the smaller towns.. If space is tight the hotels might not give you a room if you don't elect the breakfast option. The $8 to $16 gets you coffee, a croissant, bread and jam. That's all! OJ and some other minor choices are available some places. Blois has a fast food type place that you can get breakfast but in some locations the only place to eat is the hotel. If you require something other than bread and coffee for breakfast, be sure to buy it the day or night before at a store or at least question the hotel as to what will be available.

The METRO is the subway and is real fast, easy to use and by far the best way to get around PARIS. However they will not allow bikes so you have to ride point to point in Paris when you have your bikes with you. The first night in Paris it is absolutely required that you eat at Le Relais de Venise, 271 Boulevard Pereire, better known as Le'Entrecote (means steak or cut of meat). It is located just off Port Maillot near the first stop the bus makes on the way into Paris. I have been going there since 1967. It has not changed and is, in my opinion, the best restaurant I have ever been to. They serve only steak (sliced) with a strange sauce, Pomme Frittes and salad. I almost guarantee you will return the night before you leave! This year the cost with wine, dessert (profiteroiles) and coffee was about 220F per person. We averaged the cost of evening meals outside Paris and found them to be about 110F to 160FF per person this year and that included wine, salad, the meal, dessert and coffee. Most of the meals were in Italian restaurants because of bicyclists lust for pasta. Most Italian restaurants have other dishes that may be more suited to your taste, but pasta is so good for bicycle riders. Back to top.


DAY TWO: Return early to the montparnasse station for the train you booked to ANGERS. The tracks are clearly marked with train numbers and destinations. When you arrive at the ANGERS station, you can claim your bikes. Then go to the "Syndicate d'initiative" (tourist bureau which is located near the Chateau. There is "always" an English speaking person at these locations. Have them get you a room at a 2 or 3 star hotel. There is always a small charge for this service (12FF) but it is well worth the cost. We have stayed at the Ibis, the Mercure and the Anjou and found them all quite nice. We usually stay at the Anjou .

The Anjou this year was FF480 plus FF60 each for breakfast plus FF12 tax and a garage fee of FF48.(Whatever hotel you stay at make sure that you make known your need for a garage or a place to store the bikes. If they take the bikes into some part of the hotel there should be no charge and the bikes will be safe. If they have a garage you will be requested to use it, and in France unlike the US, there is a garage fee for "parking" your bicycles. It's as much as (48FF) but it is comforting to know that the bikes are in a protected area. Do not leave your bikes outside unprotected. We have had experience with losing seats, front wheels and the like.

Angers is a large city and the tourist bureau will make reservations in SAUMUR, CHINON and TOURS. We recommend the Londres or the Central Hotel in SAUMUR (FF390 plus FF78 breakfast for 2), The Chris in CHINON and The Hotel de la Loire or the Le Royal in TOURS (FF355 plus 78 breakfast for 2). The Central in Saumur and the Le Royal in Tours are in the Clarine chain and have CNN on the TV. Back to top.


DAY THREE: The next day follow the map to SAUMUR. Leave ANGERS from Bd. Du Marechal Foch on the N160 road toward the Pont de CE on Rue Paul Bert. At the circle (Place A. Leroy) bear right onto Rue Rabelaise, Bear right onto De Lattre de Tassigny, Bear right onto Rue David d'Angers stay straight through the town of Les Ponts-De-Ce and over bridges You will be on R. Pasteur ,N160. Just after the third small bridge you will see D 132 on your left. Take it and it will join N(D)751 after a short distance in the town of Juigne-Sur-Loire. The D roads, shown in yellow on the Michelin maps are secondary roads and are always preferred for cycling over the busier N roads. D751 runs all the way from ANGERS to SAUMUR and goes through Juignes s-Loire, St Jean, St Aturnin, Coutures and Gennes. If you reach Gennes at lunch time or if you would like refreshment, there is a small cafe at the turn by the bridge, or more preferred, you can go left across the bridge over the Loire to the town of les Rosiers. There are several sidewalk cafes one block off the river. Worth the time!In the country near Saumur

After lunch continue on to SAUMUR on D751. If the "Syndicate d' Initiative" got you a room at the Londres or the Central Hotel, go directly there, check in and park your bikes as directed by the hotel. SAUMUR is a nice small city to walk around. Lots of shops and restaurants and the Chateau which can be visited. For Restaurants, try La Coscana, Auberge Saint-Pierre (Traditional French) or La Trattoria-Paul Paillat. Another good spot very close to the Londres is Le Chianti. This year we again used Le Chianti for dinner and the cost was FF267 plus a 90FF bottle of Saumer Champigny (2 people).


DAY FOUR: The next day follow the map to CHINON. Again leave town on D751. At Montsoreu there are a few cafes and you might want another coffee. This is a short 23 mile day so take your time. Turn right at Montsoreau toward Fontrevraud. Stop and vist the Abbaye there where Richard the Lionhearted is laid to rest. Outside the Abbaye go down the tiny road toward Couziers. You will pass through a military reservation and the roads are narrow and quiet. This is a great ride! Continue on toward Chavigny, then Lerne and return to the main road by way of Seuilly.

As you approach Chinon you will come to a circle, D751 goes straight. Stay right toward St. Lazare then turn left into the beautiful medieval city of CHINON. We usually stay at the "Chris" which is a right turn after you cross the River Vienne bridge at the foot of CHINON. Ride along the river and by the shops to a parking lot on the left. The Chris is located one block off the river and has a locked and enclosed yard and a shed for the bikes. There is a picnic table in the yard if you prefer to sit out and have wine and bread from one of the many area shops. The Family that runs the Chris is friendly and the rooms are clean and comfortable. A hotel close by the Chris is the Le Jeanne de Arc which is sometimes used by guided cycling tours. The narrow ancient streets of CHINON are fun to explore and there are many very good restaurants there. On the main street in the town center is a Pizza, Grill, Crepe, and Ice cream place called Jeanne de France. this year we again ate at the restaurant Le Grappa (FF221 plus a bottle of wine @FF110). La Grappa makes a great dessert called cafe Liegois (FF32 each)!

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DAY FIVE: The next day follow the map to TOURS. Ride to the right from the Chris along the Vienne and follow the road up behind the old Chateau. Yes up! This is the location of one of the few hills on the whole trip and it comes long before you are warmed up. Ride it if you can, or walk it if you must. At the top of the hill take the road to the left, it's still D751 but you are going to leave D751 just down the road a few hundred feet on D16 toward Huismes. No river in sight here, just a long slow descent and then a slow hill to Huismes. From Huismes you descend back to the Loire and Route D7. When you reach D7 ride toward Usse where the famous castle noted for the inspiration of "Sleeping Beauty" is located. After visiting the castle , taking photos in front of the castle, or just resting, take the road opposite the castle. Look back towards the castle as you ride away. This is a memorable sight!

Ride to the end of that road and turn right, this is still D16. It's also such a memorable part of the ride that you should ride slowly savoring the sights sounds and smells as you ride along what is actually a road built on a dike to hold the flood stage river back from the farms to your right. Tiny towns have evolved on or beside the dikes and the folks that live there are used to seeing cyclists. A wave from you is often ignored but the response of an old woman waving and saying "Bon Voyage" makes you keep smiling and waving. This is a beautiful part of the ride because you can look down into the yards and windows of the houses and because traffic is almost non-existent on this 10 ft. wide road. Ride through the tiny villages of Brehmont and la Chappelle and follow the road out to D7 right in front of the castle at Villandry. Two little restaurants beside the Chateau are great for lunch or snack before continuing.

Ride by Villandry on D7 toward Savonnieres. At Savonnieres turn left onto the bridge over this tributary of the Loire and turn right at the end of the bridge. This should be D288 which you will follow to D88. D88 is another dike type road, but the towns like St Genouph are the last small villages as you enter the out- skirts of TOURS. If you keep riding straight you will eventually dead end by a city map and a pedestrian road, Keep straight and you will come into the "oldtown" portion of TOURS. Good spot for more refreshments and for dinner later on.

No matter what district you stay in, Tours has many fine eating establishments. TryIl Cappaccino, Leonardo de Vinci, Le Palazzo, Aux Trois Carnards, or a new vegetarian find, Le Point de Jour. Because we had a soaking rain this year we ate close to our hotel, the Le Royal at a restaurant called Le Palatino almost in the Center of Tours at 3 Av. de Grammont. We were pleasantly surprised by the food (FF248 plus a FF97 bottle of Valpolicella Caleselle).

Ride to the Hotel des Chateau de La Loire if that's where you are staying and park in the locked and secure yard in back. This hotel has great bathtubs and the hot bath feels great after todays' ride. You will always remember today's ride. If you don't have a hotel, the Syndicate D'Initiative is near the train station in the city center. They will help you there for tonight and you will be sure to use them to book two nights for your stay in BLOIS, your next stop. Two other hotels good for cyclists in Tours are the 2 star Moderne and the upscale 3 star Univers or 3 star Le Royal at 65 Av. de Grammont. You will see Americans around the Univers because TWA and other airlines use it as a tour source. A good laundromat is nearby all these hotels and you can find quick photo development nearby on Av de Grammont if you have given in to the curiosity to see pictures by now.Back to top.


DAY SIX: The next day follow the map to BLOIS. Go across the river and ride on N152 very carefully until you come to Vouvray, the home of the most famous of the Loire white wines. Go left into Vouvray and pick up D46 toward Vernou-s-Brenne where you will pick up D1 toward Nazelles-Negron. A side trip into Amboise back across the Loire is in order here to wander the narrow streets and to visit the Chateau that commands the ultimate view of the river. Here ,within the chateau grounds is found the tomb of Leonardo DaVinci. After seeing Amboise, ride back across the river, pick up D43 to Poce-s-Cisse were you will rejoin D1 which joins with D58. You will stay with D58 toward Monteau. After Monteau you will approach Onzain, a good lunch stop.

Onzain is a good sized town where you can have a sit down lunch at a cafe or shop for lighter fare to eat in the town square. Because of todays milage a light lunch is in order. After lunch you can ride across the river again to visit the chateau at Chaumont. Return to D58 to Chouzy-s-Sisse where you can make a choice of going toward Coulanges on D135 where you will enter the Forest of Blois (Foret de Blois) or you can continue from Chouzy straight along the edge of the forest entering at any of the many entrances you will encounter. Eventually you will want to pick up the main unnamed road through the forest that ends as you enter the large city of Blois.

We have stayed at many hotels in Blois and we like the old Renaissance but this year because we were alone, we "winged it" on hotels and found the Renaissance full. We got a room at the 1 star Relais de L'Octroi, 14 Avenue Gambetta, 41000 Blois. The cost was only FF220 and breakfast was FF35 each. The rooms were clean and well appointed with showers and a bathroom. We think that given its' location near the train station and the quality price factor, We will stay there again. Make sure you book two nights because the trip out to Chambord for day Seven is a short loop that brings you back to Blois.

For breakfast in Blois, try the "Packman" which will remind you of home (fast food and teenagers). For dinner, don't miss Le Maidi. The Cous-Cous is the best to be had. Again because of rain and a desire to try something new, we ate at the smart looking Le Duc de Guise located right in the square over a brasserie at 13 - 15 place Louis XII. We are giving you this address so that you will not make the same mistake. It was awful and it was overpriced! Stay with Pizzarella and or Le Maidi. Back to top.


DAY SEVEN: The next day go out to CHAMBORD. This is a day trip and is the picture spot SUPREMO. No panniers today, this is a light load day without the bags. Go across the bridge at the end of the main street (rue Denis Papin) in Blois. Continue straight past a large bike shop. Ride out through a rotary circle and look for a left turn toward Husseau-Cossen and Chambord on D33. Go through the towns of Husseau-Cossen and enter the Parc de Chambord. Take your time and watchAt Chambord for the first view of the castle at Chambord. You can spend a long time exploring the grounds and taking photos. Reasonable restaurants are found within the grounds and a tour of the castle is definitely in order. Note the mysterious double helix stair case designed, some say, by Leonardo Da Vinci. We usually ride south from Chambord on D112 to Bracieux and then return to Blois via D923. This takes us to a few small towns and we ride through the town of Mont Chambord on the way back to Blois. Back to top.


DAY EIGHT: Return to Paris by train today. You will be coming in to Austerlitz station rather than Montparnasse from which you left Paris. The fare is less than that from Paris to Angers. The baggage people in Blois used to prefer that you put your own bike on the trains special baggage car yourself (free of course). Before checking your bikes see if that option is available, however we have been required to check for the last few years. Make sure that the train you are catching has a baggage car that carries bikes. There will be a map of the train on the platform showing where the baggage car stops. There are usually a native or two doing the same thing, so just follow their lead. When it does just slide open the door, hop up and hook your bike to the hooks and return to the passenger compartment for the trip to Paris. But make sure that your bikes get on the same train with you if you are flying out the next day!!

This is where I am embarrased to say that this whole SERNAM thing could be a problem. If you cannot get your bikle aboard the same train with you, you would need to drop your bike at SERNAM in Blois when you return from Chambord the night before your return to Paris! We used SERNAM to get our S & S tandem case from Angers to Blois and it worked . . . . well, almost as we planned. To be certain, we asked that the case be available for pickup on Thursday, May 13 in Blois when we did not need it until Friday night. But when we arrived at the SERNAM location (next to the train station) it was closed and no sign or any other indicator said why. It turned out that May 13 is a holiday in France (Acension Day). We got the case on Friday and it did not affect our schedule but I cringe at the thought of having them closed on a more critical day. Check out French Holidays in advance of your trip! The cost of shipping our case from Angers to Blois was FF190. The cost of first class seats on the train from Blois to Paris was FF184 each. We chose first class because we had a great deal of luggage with the panniers, helmet and pump bags as well as the 26" by 26" tandem cases and we wanted to make sure we would have a space for them.

When you arrive in Paris, you will be at the Austerlitz station. As you exit the station with your reclaimed bikes, you will be on the left bank of the Seine once again. Ride carefully to your hotel location and enjoy your last night in Paris! Eat at L'entrecote again?? I could not possibly see why you would not. I know rabid vegetarians that "break faith at this place! Back to top.


DAY NINE: Get to the airport by bus EARLY, the AM busses are crowded and the bikes do not get priority. You may have to wait for a second bus before the driver 'honors" you by loading your bikes into the baggage compartment of the bus. If you get in a jam for time there is always a cab which charges by the meter to the airport. With no traffic, the meter will hit about FF235 and you will be charged FF6 for each bag. Traffic can add to this by FF50 to FF75 so get to your bus on time! At the airport, box your bikes and check in for your return flight to the U.S. Sorry folks, but the best part of the trip is over. . . back to the grind now. E-Mail me and let me know if you enjoyed it and look for us along the way. We will be riding the tandem from here on! Back to top.


Another valuable source of information on cycling in France is Sheldon Brown.


I have had scores of questions about renting bikes in Paris or France in general. We have never rented, although we understand that rentals are available. We have met other tourists that have had rented bikes with them. There are several large bike shops on the North side of the Avenue of the Grand Army between the Arc de Triumph and Port Maillot. Perhaps they can help. If you have success or know a location, please let me know.

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If self touring and providing your own bike is too much a challenge, Try a guided tour:

Duvine Adventures
Hotel, Restaurant & Other Resources

Names of restaurants, hotels and laundromats are all places we have used over the years. We have not verified each on an annual basis so you should phone ahead if visiting that location takes you off course to any degree. Be sure to check out Jacquelline and Claude Blanchard at Le Clos de la Touche just Southwest of Angers. He provides lodging, he can help you with advance lodging as well as tour advice, and bicyle rentals. His web address is http://www.anjou-bike-center.com and his e-mail address is info@anjou-bike-center.com

1. Hotel Montparnasse, 126, Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris, Tel (1) 45 48 37 48-Telex 205 228

2. Hotel Sophie Germain, 12, Rue Sophie Germain, 75014 Paris, Tel. (1) 43 21 43 75-Telex: SOFIGER 206 720 F.

3. Hotel Ibis, Paris Alesia, 49, rue des Plantes, 75014 Paris, Tel 40 44 50 51, Telex: 206 995 F

4. Hotel de la Paix, 166 Boul. de Grenelle, 75015 Paris, Tel (1) 43 06 98 80, Telex: 206 552 F

5. Plaisance Hotel, 53 rue Gergovie, Tel 45 42 11 39.

6. Hotel de Blois, 5 rue des Plantes, Tel. 45 40 99 48.

7. Hotel Batignolles Villiers, 11 Rue des Batignolles, 75017 Paris, Tel. (1) 45 22 50 58-Telex: 281 280 F.

8. Le Relais de Venise, 271 Boulevard Pereire, Paris, Tel 574 27 97.

9. Banani, 148 rue de la Croix-Nivert, 75015 Paris, Tel 48 28 73 92.

10. Ibis Hotel, Rue de la Poissonerie, Angers, Tel, 41 86 15 15, Telex 720916

11. Mercure Hotel, Place Mendes-France, Angers,Tel. 60 34 81

12. Hotel d'Anjou, 1, bd Marechal-Foch, 49000 Angers, Tel. 41 88 24 82-Telex 720 521, A Best Western Associate

13. Restaurant "La Salamandre", 1 Boulevard du Marechal Foch, 49100, Angers, Tel 41 88 99 55.

14. Hotel Climat, Rue du Chateau-d'Orgemont, 49000 Angers, Tel: 41 66 30 45, Telex 722 747.

15. Papa Tino, Place Romain, 49000 Angers, Tel 41 87 46 24 16. Le Charolais (Grill), Place Romain, 49000 Angers, Tel. 41 87 58 26

17. Hotel de Londres, 48, Rue d'Orleans, 49400 Saumur, Tel. 41 51 23 98.

18. La Coscana, 44 rue du Marechal Leclerc, 49400 Saumur, Tel. 41 51 04 14

19. 33 Rue de la Tonnelle, 6 Place Saint Pierre, 49400 Saumur, Tel. 41 51 26 25.

20. La Trattoria, 60 rue Saint-Nicolas, 49400 Saumur, 41 51 12 01.

21. Le Chianti, 65 rue Saint-Nicolas, 49400 Saumur, Tel. 41 51 15 05.

22. Laundromat (Saumur), 12 rue Marechal Leclerc, Saumur. 9

23. Chris Hotel, 12 Place Jeanne-dlArc, 37500 Chinon, Tel 47 93 36 92, Innkeepers M. & Mme A. Girard

24. Hotel le Jeanne-d'Arc, 11 rue Voltaire, Chinon, Tel. 47 93 02 85.

25. Jeanne de France, 12 Place du General-de-Gaulle, 37500 Chinon, Tel 47 93 20 12.

26. Le Panurge, place de l'Hotel de Ville, 37500 Chinon, Tel 47 93 09 84

27. Au Bois Dormant, 37 420 Rigney-Usse, Tel 47 95 57 51

28. I1 Cappuccino, (Place Plumereau), 14 rue du Grand-Marche, 37000 Tours, Tel 47 20 87 51.

29. Leonardo de Vinci, 19 Rue de la Monnaie, 37000 Tours, Tel. 47 61 07 88.

30. Le Pallazo, 50 rue du Grand Marche, 37000 Tours, Tel. 47 38 63 52.

31. Aux Trois Canards, 16 rue de la Rotisserie, Tours, Tel. 47 61 58 16.

32. Le Point de Jour, 38bis av de Grarnmont, Tours, Tel. 47 05 34.00.

33. Hotel des Chateau de la Loire, 12 Rue Gambetta, 37000 Tours, Tel. 47 05 10 05.

34. Bureau de Tourist, Place de la Gare, Tours, Tel. 47 05 58 08.

35. Hotel Moderne, 1 & 3 Rue Victor Laloux, Tours, Tel 47 05 32 81, Telex: 750008 MODERNE

36. Hotel Univers, 5 Boulevard Huerteloup, Tours, Tel. 47 05 37 12, Telex: 751460.

37. Laundromat (Blois), 20 rue Bernard Palissy, Tours, Tel. 47 28 64 34.

38. Le Chaptal, 13 Rue Chaptal, 37400 Amboise, Tel 47 57 14 46.

39. La Pergola Hotel, 33 bis, route de Tours, 37400 Amboise, Tel: 47 57 24 79.

40. (Creperie-pizzeria) Anne de Bretagne, 37400 Amboise, Tel: 47 57 05 46.

41. Hotel Saint-Jacques, 7 rue Ducoux, Blois, Tel. 54 78 04 15.

42. Hotel Climat, 48, rue des Quatre-Vents, 41350 Vineuil, Tel: 54 42 70 22, Telex: 752 302.

43. Hotel Renaissance, 9, rue Pont du Gast, 41000 Blois, Tel. 54 78 02 63

44. Hotel Relais de Landes, 41120 Les Montils, Ouchamps, Tel. 54 44 03 33, Telex 751 454.

45. Packman (Fast food U. S. Style), 25 rue Denis Papin, Blois, Tel. 54 74 11 88 (mornings here see lots of kids ala McDonald's.

46. Le Maidi, 42 Rue Saint-Lubin, 41000 Blois, Tel 74 04 90 10.

47. Pizzarella, 5 Rue des Trois-Marchands, 41000 Blois, Tel. 54 78 05 07.

48. Laundromat (Blois), 1 rue Jeanne de Arc, Blois, (very expensive, but worth it if you need it!)

49. www.hotelchantepie.com , on D751. Have not stayed there, but we will try it soon.

TIME:

This trip assumes a one week vacation with you starting out on Friday evening from the US and flying directly to Paris' Charles De Gaulle Airport and returning home to the US the Sunday of the following week. The trip can be modified by any number of days by simply adding extra days along the way and either relaxing, shopping or taking circle rides out of the towns in which you are staying. These circle trips give the added benefit of touring sans panniers (without baggage).


WEATHER:

The Loire is not wet and from late May to late August rain is not too common. The average we have experienced is about 3-4 rain days per 30 day span. Temperatures are usually comfortable ranging from the low 60s to the mid 70s. Sorry, but no one can guarantee it will always be the same. We have seen temperatures during this time period to be as hot as the 80s, or as cool as the lowest 50s!

1999 will go down in our history as the worst weather we ever encountered. We had rain at some point every day and rode in heavy rain all the way from Saumur to Chinon and again the next day from Chinon to Tours. Even Gore-Tex failed us and we were wet to the core. Our plane tickets, kept in a waist belt, were almost obliterated. But that was the first time in 15 trips that that has happened. . . . and even with that weather, I would return again next week to repeat it. As we rode down the road opposite the Chateau at Usse, I looked into my helmet mirror and thought of just how beautiful the view is, even wet and in the rain and how much we missed our friend Bill Ransom who made this trip with us so many times before his untimely death last year. Back to top.


CLOTHING:

Shoes, 1 pair bicycle touring type & 1 pair tennis or similar for walking.

Gloves, Padded Bicycling

Sox, 6 Pair (4 riding, 2 casual)

Shirts, Bicycling, 1 long sleeve & 2 short sleeve, Casual, 1 long sleeve & 1 Short sleeve

Pants, Bicycling, 1 Padded long & 2 Padded short Pants, Casual, 2 Casual

Jacket, 1 all purpose bicycling (Gore-Tex is great for rain protection (see weather!))

Underwear, 3 to 4 sets


EQUIPMENT:

Bicycle, Touring type (long wheelbase). Get it from a bike shop, not a department store and explain that you are going to go on a tour where you will be carrying everything but your shelter and sleeping equipment. We have done the trip with people who have ridden mountain bikes and they did well. We believe that the added positions allowed by the traditional handlebars and longer wheelbase are worthwhile. If you must use a mountain bike, add bar extensions for a change of hand positions.

Rear racks are required to carry the panniers

A lock and cable

A tool and Patch Kit Tools (sets available at any bike store) including tire irons (plastic)

2 extra proper size tubes per bicycle. The new "goop" tubes that have a sealant inside are virtually flat-proof. They add some rolling resistance but you are doing this ride to "smell the roses" rather than race.

Computer, Although far from required, a computer will give you data on speed, time and distance. Some models give cadence data (how fast you are pedaling). From 80 to 90 cycles per minute are the most efficient and can assist you in shifting and conserving energy, but don,t worry if you cannot maintain a cadence of over 80. Just be "mindful" of your cadence and keep spinning.

Helmet, ANSI standard (available from any bike shop) , also consider a "third eye" mirror that attaches to your helmet. Consider a rain cover for rain days.

Panniers Two 1500+CC rear panniers & a front bag. You should consider a "Cannondale" removable (so that you can remove your valuables such as camera, money, plane tickets, and passports when you leave your bike unattended at meal or coffee time. An alternative to a removable front bag is a "money belt" large enough to hold your cash, travelers checks (don't use them myself), passports, and plane tickets. It should be slim enough so that it can be worn without causing problems during riding. Samsonite has one. Belly bags are too bulky!

You will also need a large nylon bag that folds easily into your panniers. This is required to carry things like helmets, pumps, computers and other equipment that you do not want to leave on the bikes when you check them. A nylon sports equipment bag that fold small will do.

Other: Voltage converter. Your hair dryer or other small appliance that you are planning to bring must have dual voltage capacity and you must have a plug modifier to adapt it to the French standard plug. 3 star hotels now seem to sport hair dryers!

Personal items. Hotels do not supply shampoo or wash cloths. Bring both! Again some hotels are beginning to supply both but washcloths are a rarity.

Camera and Film: You will want a small automatic camera. Film is expensive in France so you should bring as much as you think you will need. The small batteries that these automatic cameras use are very expensive in France, so make sure yours is new before you leave! When we first started these trips it cost about $35 to develop a roll of 24 at a 1 hour location. This year we found it to be about $20 versus $12 in the USA. Back to top.


E-Mail me at tandem401@mac.com or write to Don LaVange, 12 White Hill Lane, Cumberland, RI 02864 and let me know when you are going (or coming) . Best of luck! Back to my Home Page


If you think that you may not be fit enough to undertake a trip of this type, you should consider following the suggestions listed below:

PHYSICAL CONDITION: Any reasonably healthy person can do a trip of this type. However, only a physician can make the judgement, after examining you, as to your candidicy for a bicycle tour. See your doctor and get his or her blessing first.

From an out of condition status, one can train within a period of 12 weeks to ride the distances quite enjoyably. A wind trainer, available at most bike shops, will make the task easy and the weather won't interfere allowing you to start in any part of the country in February or March. The best indicator of the extent of physical condition is the ability to process oxygen and the rate of oxygen utilization is indicated by your hearts response to the stress of physical activity. Tracking heart rate while exercising can help you reach peak condition faster than any other method. The simplest method of measuring heart rate is to take your own pulse for 6 seconds during exercise and then add a zero to the result. A much more convenient and accurate system is to use one of the many types of heart rate monitors available. The least expensive heart monitor has an ear clip wired to a monitor which attaches to the handle bar while the bike is on a wind trainer. The most accurate and useful, are the types that utilize a chest strap with a wireless monitor worn as a wrist watch. These have the added benefit of being available to use while out riding or during any other activity.

Your theoretical maximum heart rate can be determined by subtracting your age from 220. Then by keeping your heart rate in the "training range" of between 65% and 90% of theoretical maximum you can achieve fitness in the shortest time span. There are other more accurate methods of determining maximum heart rates and you should be satisfied that you have determined that rate properly. If you have questions, refer them to your physician.

You should try to train every other day (4 Days weekly) for the most effective results. During the first week, exercise with your heart held at the 65% range or just slightly above. Thereafter allow your heart rate to increase to 75% or slightly above for the next week. In subsequent weeks you should begin to utilize the "interval" method of training.

In the interval method you exercise in a manner that requires that you warm up to a 70% heart rate. Once 70% has been attained you will increase effort until you reach 85% of maximum. In the early weeks of interval training you should hold the 85% for one minute after which time you ease up on effort until your heart rate returns to 70% once again. Repeat the process over and over again throughout your training period, watching to make sure that heart rates return to 70% within 3 minutes. If it takes a longer time to get back to 70% than the 3 minutes you should suspend interval training for that day. In later weeks of your training program you can increase the upper interval time to 3 minutes and 90% of theoretical maximum.

You should notice shorter periods of time to get your heart rate back to the 70% range. The training is working its' magic on your body and you are becoming more fit and ready for your trip. If you don't see increases in efficiency you should recheck with your physician. Back to top.