10 Days with a 10 year old in France. Paris and a Bike Tour along the Loire River

I recently took my 10 year old to Paris, then on a 140 mile bike ride along the Loire River.

My wife was kind enough to give Kimball and I 10 days leave to live it up in France! Brittany, I salute you. Thanks for your support!

A supportive smile from one of our FaceTime calls.

Kimball had just turned 10 and we figured it would be a good opportunity to spend some one-on-one time. I also had some neighborhood friends that wanted a taste of bike touring, so last October we started planning for the trip. If you’d rather watch a video about this experience, you can find it here.

I’ve ridden along the Loire River in two other occasions, and always told myself that if you were going to tour for a week in France, that you’d better see a few famous castles and also save some time at the end to rest at my favorite campsite in a little town called Muides Sur Loire. In French that means, “our small town is nothing but a little village with the best campsite in the world.” It also May mean “Muides on the Loire”, but it depend who you ask. So when we started planning this trip, I already knew where I’d be finishing up, the only question was how many miles kilometers we wanted to ride.

Most people don’t plan their European vacation based on the quality of mini swimming pools, but I’m not most people. In a former life I purchased plane tickets to tradeshow in Taiwan based on a craving for some $3 dollar street food.

Since our ending point was pretty much a non negotiable (we’ll talk more about those later), we began to discuss our exact itinerary. Okay, let’s just talk non-negotiable right now. On a bike trip, my main non-negotiables, or rules that we don’t break unless my wife insists, are as follows:

  • Don’t ride at night in unknown territories – you could die by being struck by a vehicle. Enough days on the road and you’ll eventually get hurt.
  • We stop on Sundays – we like to keep Sunday as a rest day.
  • Leave early each day. It’s lame to leave late.

Okay, that’s not a very comprehensive list, turns out we’re pretty negotiable.

In the past we’ve brought our own bikes, which can be quite the ordeal. Boxing them up, ensuring you pack them in a way to withstand a drop, then hoping you remembered to pack everything to put it back together again. That’s not even considering having to box them up again when you’re done. Even though it’s a lot of work, I still prefer tiding my own bike when we’re out for 4 plus weeks. This time though, we rented bikes, and the pick up and drop off needed to be considered when planning the route. We planned to start in Tours, because they had a “Detours de Loire” bike shop location, and it was only about 200k or 120 miles to Orleans, which is where we’d take a train back to Paris. So it was decided, Tours to Orleans.

Laying everything out.
American Airlines Entertainment Center – he was obsessed. This is was my view for 10 hours, the other two hours were spent with him laying on my lap, while trying to keep him from kicking the nice lady by the window in the face. True story.
Obligatory picture in a London phone booth. Don’t call any of the numbers that may be plastered on the wall.
Punk Jump!
Picking up our bikes in Tours, we used a shop called detours de Loire to rent our bikes. They have several shops along the Loire from Nantes to Orleans and have everything you need for a tour. One week cost about 80 euros for the bike, and ability to drop off at another of their locations. I believe it’s 20 euros to drop off at another of their locations.
You served me well shoes, but this is your last stop. If you’re about to throw anything away in America, you may as well enjoy it for a few days before your bike trip, then ditch them there. I’m quite sure the food delivery guys next door made good use of them after I left.
Kimball in the palace at Versailles – learning how big castles are. Watch the video for more info, he actually picked up quite a bit of trivia.
Man, it was fun to hang out with this kid for 10 days. This was the castle at Chenanceaux
Smile Kimball!
Chambord – good group of guys!
Just another bike path
A beautiful cathedral in Orleans France

Random lunch stop – a big feast.
This was our campsite in Muides Our Loire
Notice anything about this particular toilet – something is missing. They’re all like this! (At least they’re usually super clean)
candidly in Paris
How in the heck are we going to take all this stuff from Paris, to the train station then down to pick up the bikes?
Die Tick – Die.
This was a 45 mile day – Kimball was struggling a bit in the heat, but handled it like a champ.
Every last bag of my favorite candy – Haribo Rainbow Pik. I’d gone off sugar, and had to warm up to it again before this trip just to enjoy my favorite treat…
Gotta love sitting on the bike top tube
This is where we dropped off our bikes in Orleans.
Thanks Joan of Arc.
Angel Baby
Happiness on Hyper Space Mountain

So, we rode from Tours to Orleans then took a train back to Paris. We rode 140 miles in all. Let me now answer some questions about bike touring…

Q: How many miles per day do you typically ride?

A: We did a 50 , 45, 25 and 15 mile day. Since you stretch the miles out between 9am and 5pm, you don’t have to ride that fast to cover a decent amount of miles.

Q: Delicate Bathroom Issues?

A: There are fewer public restrooms, and WAY fewer drinking fountains in Europe. Since it’s quite rural, you can get creative. The campsites have great facilities.

Q: Isn’t camping hard, only fit for adventurers and rednecks?

A: The campsites in Europe are classy. The facilities are clean, the showers are hot, and the Wifi is… not so fast, but the campsites have WIFI! You’ll pay between $5 and $12 euro’s a night. I didn’t take that many pictures of the bathrooms because that would be creepy. Most the facilities are unisex, which takes some getting used to.

Q: How can kids ride so many miles?

A: Kids are tough. Also, the only qualification I have to write an answer to this is that I’ve taken a few kids on trips, so for a more logical and academic answer I’d refer you elsewhere. We don’t go fast, we don’t hurry the kids, and we have a rule that it’s better to go slow than to stop. We also stop at playgrounds and make sure to have things to look forward to. We eat well, and make sure to have lots of snacks so there’s a constant flow of calories. Kimball listened to books along the way too, which I think is fine if you’re on a trail. We had a rule of turning the book off when there was traffic. I think there’s a lot for kids to experience with mental toughness through bike touring, and they’ll rise to the challenge. again, kids are tough. You can also check out this video of Kimball, talking about his experience riding 1,000 miles over a summer.

Alright, that’s it for now. If I missed anything that you’re curious about, leave a comment and I’ll add to the article. So you made it this far? I appreciate it. for reals, thanks for checking it out and taking the time. Until next time! (In a couple days we’re heading to do a family trip in Couer D’Alene Idaho on that dedicated bike trail! You can also find us on Youtube.

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