A friend and I are planning a cycling trip through a part of the Loire Valley in France next April. We want to visit some châteaux but aren't interested in an organised tour. Is Blois the best town to base ourselves in? We are limited to about six days, so want to book accommodation and take day trips to places of interest. Also, would it be feasible to take the bikes by train to another part of the Loire Valley to see other highlights?
- Tania

Lonely Planet's Asia-Pacific travel editor Shawn Low writes:

Cycling independently is one of the best ways to get around the Loire Valley. With six days, you should be able to create an itinerary that takes you through several towns. Accommodation is easily found in the form of B&Bs.

I've listed an itinerary that takes five to six days at a moderate pace. The 232km route will take you across quiet back roads and over gentle hills. Best of all, you'll tick off many of the region's best châteaux, abbeys and medieval towns.

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Day one:

Sanmur to Chinon.

Day two:

Chinon to Azay-le-rideau.

Day three:

Azay-le-rideau to Loches.

Day four:

Loches to Amboise.

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Day five:

Amboise to Bloise. You have one day left for side trips.

If you don't want to take your bikes to France, you can hire bikes there. Various companies specialise in this and you can get a bike from €60 ($111) upwards for the week. The same companies also help organise packages (rental, reservations, baggage transfer).

Lonely Planet has a

Cycling France

guide ($55) that details trips, towns and accommodation, and has good maps and directions. These are also several websites worth checking out:

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This is the letter of the week and earns Tania a copy of Lonely Planet's

Discover Greece

($55).

Kidding about in LA

We are looking at going to Los Angeles with our baby and 5-year-old son. What is there for young children to do besides the theme parks?
- Adam Buckingham

Lonely Planet's travel editor for Asia Pacific Shawn Low writes:

First off, Why? OK, obligatory joke aside, LA has a fair bit to keep children entertained. You will no doubt spend a few days in Disneyland and perhaps the Knott's Berry Farm theme parks.

You'll be able to spend the rest of your time in and around downtown LA. First off, museums. The Natural History Museum has some great displays: huge dinosaur bones, insects and more. And which city worth its salt doesn't have a science centre? The Californian Science Centre has plenty of hands-on displays that kids can push, poke, prod and learn on. The IMAX is incredible.

Los Angeles Zoo, located in Griffith Park, is worth a visit and Griffith Park also houses the Museum of the American West - think Americana related to the westward expansion.

The Santa Monica Pier has carnival rides and Long Beach has the high-tech Aquarium of the Pacific. Then there's Venice for its boardwalk of characters.

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