When we get to a town or region we’ve never been before, our first stop is always the office of tourism. Some of you may find this habit really “touristic”. We see it as a way to give us information on what we really want to do. Office of Tourism will know about the touristic areas as well as the hidden gems you may not find on your own. Our other sources of information are hotel concierge, restaurant servers, and people we meet at cafes.
On Wednesday afternoon, after we dropped our luggage at the hotel, we walked to the Office of Tourism located downtown Tours. We decided we wanted to visit a couple of castles [has to be done in this region of France], go on a bike ride, and visit local wineries [another must in this area].
Thursday was the day we thought about renting bikes. We got up around 10:00 AM [an early morning when you are jet lagged] and walked to the bike rental shop. When we got there, all bikes were already gone. We had not plan on a holiday. The entire 4 days were booked solid with close to no chance of getting bikes. To tell you the truth we were pretty disappointed, but did not give up. After talking to the guy behind the counter, he finally agreed to take down our names and he would reserve the first bikes returned, if any, for Friday. There was one condition, be there right away in the morning when they open the doors. Friday morning we walk up at 8:00 AM to be first in-line. When we arrived, there were 3 people already waiting. The shop was not open yet. The three young guys decided to walk around for a while, which put us first in-line. YES! When the store open, 3 bikes had been return and we got 2 of them. SCORE!
We decided to go east towards Vouvray, a little town located 7 km from Tours. The town is known for its vineyards. It was close to noon when we got to the village. The church bells were ringing and we decided to find a café. Not knowing where to find one, I told my friend to find the church. There is always a café by the church in France. Bingo, I was right. We sat at the terrace and had a wonderful glass of Vouvray Petillant [A sparkling white wine]. A young couple seating next to us had bought some bread and fresh cheese at the market. When they left, they offered us what was left of their purchase as they were going on with their day. We enjoyed an atypical lunch on the terrace overlooking the town.
“La Loire a Velo”or Loire by Bike is a route following the Loire river from Cuffy (Cher department) to Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins (Loire Atlantique department) and covering 800 Km. Visitors can rent bikes in other 10 places along the route. These various points are part of a network of businesses working together to give tourists the best experience possible. Rent for a day or a week, enjoy the ride, and they’ll take care of all your belongings from point-to-point. We rented for one day, but saw their work in action at one of the stop in Villandry.
We rented with Detours de Loire located downtown Tours, just steps away from our hotel. The cost for the day was 15 euro per bike, including lock, pump, and repair kit. For a full week rental the price is only 60 Euro. There is an additional cost if the bike is collected in a place and dropped off in another. The fee is calculated based on a zone. Within the same zone, the fee is 8 Euro per bike, in a different zone, you pay 8 euro for the first zone plus 2 euro per zone. I do not know if these prices include luggage transfers and/or storage. The network is available from the beginning of May to the end of September.
- Reserve online in advance to insure availability at locationdevelos.com
- Confirm opening hours (not all partners have similar hours, some of them are located in small villages and may have different hours from the ones located in larger town).
- Check French Holiday Calendar to avoid last minute surprises.
- Have a credit card with you or lots of cash. (A deposit of 300 Euro per bike is required. It’s refunded when you return the bike)
- Enjoy the ride!