Route Description The lands of kings and queens: their castles, residences, cathedrals, gardens, foods and wines. It’s almost possible to get a sense of just how good life was. Or how good it can be, even for non-royalty today.
The Loire Valley World Heritage Site has castles, gardens and wine. Tours definitely has all that, plus: a well-preserved half-timbered medieval old town; the final resting place of Saint Martin, patron saint of France; and a knack for celebrating food the way only a Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie could. Learn more about Tours
Given their strategic locations along the Loire River, some major cities' histories stretch back well before their castles. Orléans, for example, has special significance as the town liberated by Joan of Arc in 1429. Unrelated but important to cyclists: Eurovéloroute N°6 runs most of the length of the Loire. Learn more about Orléans
Louis XIV had a vision and transformed a hunting lodge into France’s most incredible palace and gardens – a long-time UNESCO World Heritage Site – official residence of the kings of France from 1682 until the 1789 Revolution. Versailles, the city, is a treat too, with amazing gardens and lovely nearby forests. Learn more about Versailles
Three Cs – cathedral, coronations and champagne – are the pillars of primary interest in Reims. The powerful Gothic cathedral (UNESCO World Heritage Site) hits home first, but not just because 34 sovereigns were anointed here. Then they no doubt drank bubbly from one of the local vineyards blanketing the surrounding area. Learn more about Reims
How to Cover the Route
||Approximate shortest-path road distances between cities||Approximate shortest train/bus travel times between cities|
|Tours ↔ Orléans
||75 miles||1 h 20 min (regional train)|
|Orléans ↔ Versailles||75 miles||2+ hours (multiple trains)
|Versailles ↔ Reims||104 miles||2+ hours (multiple trains)
Travel to/from Versailles by train requires travel into Paris and changing stations. That adds time and complexity to an otherwise easy trip. But car travel in the Paris metropolitan area can also be complicated, subject to traffic delays. So the choice of mode of transport will likely be influenced by other things: number of people, number of bags, time of day, down time in Paris etc.