Take a full-day detour from Paris to explore the history and beauty of the Loire Valley by bike. Make your way to the Gare d’Austerlitz station in the morning to meet your guide and board a train to the beautiful hillside town of Blois, situated on the banks of the Loire River. Enjoy a snack of fresh-baked French pastries (not included), and then head to the spectacular Château de Blois in the center of town.
Built between the 13th and 17th centuries, the castle was home to a series of French monarchs and is celebrated as the site where Joan of Arc received a blessing from the Archbishop of Reims before conquering the English army at nearby Orléans. Explore some of the 564 rooms, restored to their former splendor with ornate period furnishings and décor.
Next, hop on a bike and ride to a local open-air market for picnic provisions (own expense). Cycle out of Blois along scenic country trails to your second royal stop — the neighboring Château de Chambord. Considered one of the region’s most exquisite estates, this castle was originally enjoyed as a hunting lodge by King Francis I and served an important function during World War II as a safe hiding place for artistic treasures from the Louvre.
Picnic on the park-like grounds surrounding the castle, and then head inside for a self-guided tour of the lavish corridors, salons and apartments used by French nobility.
Bike back to Blois to catch the return train to Paris, where your tour concludes back at Gare d’Austerlitz in the evening.