Skip to main content

The Loire Valley Itinerary

Day 2

A Spectacular Underground Chateau, and Some Pretty Nice Vineyards

Entrée in the Loire Valley ©2012 Roberto PeixotoBetween Montreuil Bellay and our first sight of the Loire lies the vineyard of Saumur-Champigny, rated by many as the finest red wines of the Loire Valley.

Our first stop is at Château Brézé, a wine-making estate, but most famous for it's amazing underground château. Dating back to the 7th century, these troglodyte homes and villages are a feature of this area. The limestone is so easily worked that it was easier to carve out a new bedroom than to build one!

One of the reasons behind the underground Château at Brézé was to avoid the attention of invaders, such as vikings, and the whole château is geared toward defence, including the deepest dry moat in Europe. There are fascinating defensive structures here, but most interestingly, it was never attacked, let alone defeated. All that effort over more than 1,000 years, and nobody ever attacked it.

If time permits we can also stop for a wine tasting with the Comte de Colbert, still resident at the château. Afterwards we make our way to the Royal Abbey at Fontevraud. This huge Abbey was traditionally the home of many French Queens and other royalty, but is most famous as the resting place of Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine & their son Richard the Lionheart.

Today we can choose to pass through Montsoreau where the Vienne flows into the Loire. The Loire is very wide here, and Montsoreau looks beautiful stretching along the south bank. We end the day in Chinon. To my mind Chinon boasts one of the only 'true' château in the Loire - i.e. it was English, and it's ruined.

In the 12th Century Chinon was effectively the English capital as successive Kings made their home in the château. It is much older than most Loire château, and its military purpose is obvious from its commanding position along the ridge that overlooks the medieval town of Chinon. We stay at the Hotel Chinon facing the chateau across the river Vienne.

Click this link for Day 2 route map on mapometer.

More About Your Bike Tour In France, Italy and the UK

Every month we send out a newsletter full of cycling trivia, food and wine, Chain Gang bike tours and other useless information. We try hard to make it interesting, I'm sure you'll enjoy it, please enter your name and email address to sign up.