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Loire Valley by bicycle

Is there a more perfect place for cycling?



The region of Centre-Val de Loire offers such a diverse range of cycling options that you could spend every holiday you have left available to you and still not discover the treasures it can reveal to you.


Let us look at the Loire à Vélo route first.



You get many opportunities to cycle along designated paths on the banks of the mighty Loire river on this route. It is a unique 800-kilometre cycle route that is a tourist's dream. It stretches from where the river meets the Atlantic in the west to the town of Cuffy just west of Nevers in the east. It is also part of the Europe-wide 'eurovelo' route.

From the west coast this passes through the UNESCO Loire Valley world heritage site including Angers and Saumur in the Pays de la Loire region and many of the vineyards, major chateaux and towns of the Centre - Val de Loire region. The route is not 'cast in stone' and you can stray off and on as often as you want - indeed at certain spots you are encouraged to do so!

The stage within our regions can be divided in to the following sections:


Angers to Saumur > 50km


This stage which passes to the south of Angers skirting around the ‘Lac de Maine’ is actually an optional part of the route which allows for a visit to this fine city.When you leave Angers you head for Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire where you cross over to the south bank of the Loire. You continue on this side of the river passing vineyards and cycling through charming towns and villages before catching you first glimpse of the town of Saumur - its dominant chateau.


See map and more detail of this section plus things to see en route here on the eurovelo6.org website


Saumur to Rigny-Ussé > 38km

This stage leads you through the Loire-Anjou-Touraine region nature park. Leaving Saumur you head for Montsoreau, there is an option here to take to the high ground -if you are up for - it through the vineyards or to take the  slightly easier route along the banks of the Loire. You still get the option of a slight detour at Montsoreau itself up into the vineyards at Souzay-Champigny and Parnay.You also have the option here of a visit to the abbey at Fontevraud but you'll have to do 12km there and back which we think is worth it.If you choose not to do this then push onto Candes-Saint-Martin, designated one of the 'most beautiful villages of France' where you can get terrific views of the confluence of the Loire River and the Vienne river.



You then cross the Vienne itself - great opportunity to get views back to Candes-Saint-Martin - and on to Savigny-en-Véron where you are again given different options. You can continue  on towards Avoine and the cycle path at Néman, which takes you Rigny-Ussé where you can visit the fairytale chateau Usse, or you can dip south into the the medieval town of Chinon with its mighty fortress. If you choose to visit Chinon (which is a good choice) be prepared for some hill climbing to return to the main route, cross-country, via village of Huismes. The third option is to travel north over the Loire to the vineyards of Bourgueil - and return by same path to rejoin the main route.


See map and more detail of this section plus things to see en route here on the eurovelo6.org website


   Rigny-Ussé to Tours > 43km


Returning from Rigny-Ussé brings you back on to the levee of the Loire, cycling on brings you to the riverside 'port' of Bréhémont (website) where they have created picnic areas to encourage you to stop. A stop may be necessary to decided whether you want to take the diversion of to the right to visit Azey-le-Rideau or continue on the south bank of the river Loire and visit Langeais. You actually have to cross a very interesting suspension bridge over the Loire river to get to and from Langeais. Both routes will eventually lead you to Villandry, from Azay-le-Rideau you'll have more work to do, where a visit to the chateau gardens is a must, though you can pass on the chateau itself. Leaving Touraine's best garden you cycle along the river Cher into the city of Tours and all it has to offer the discerning tourist..


See map and more detail of this section plus things to see en route here on the eurovelo6.org website


Tours to Blois > 77km


You leave Tours on the south side of the Loire and head out towards Montlouis-sur-Loire. You will climb up to the high ground through vineyards including vines of one of our favourite vintners (berthelot-lacroixmelier.fr/) at Husseau before starting your decent back down to the very popular town of Amboise. On the outskirts of the town you have the option of taking a detour south and heading for the 'Ladies chateau' that is Chenonceau. If you choose to visit this, the most popular of the Loire Valley chateaux, you can always double back to take in the sights of Amboise that include 'Clos Luce' where Leonardo de Vinci spent his last 3 years, or loop back up to join the route at Chaumont-sur-Loire where gardeners will love the annual 'Garden Festival'. If you visit Amboise head across the bridge to the island on the Loire to get amazing views and photographs of the chateau.


From Chaumont-sur-Loire you take the cycle path towards Candé-sur-Beuvron which draws you away from the river and you head towards the Montrichard road - but just as you hit it you immediately veer left away from it towards Chailles. You catch site of the river a bit before entering  the charming city of Blois along a very popular stretch of the route;

See map and more detail of this section plus things to see en route here on the  eurovelo6.org website


   Blois to Orléans > 79km



There is a shorter (66km) more direct route to Orléans using the route along the north bank but this means missing out on a detour to to over extravagant chateau at Chambord - you will be gobsmacked at you first site of this glorious 'hunting lodge' -hard to believe -but that's what it was! To take this route you leave Blois and head away from the river Loire in the direction Vineuil and then through some pretty countryside and forest tracks and on through Huisseau-sur-Cosson and on to Chambord. After visiting the chateau you head back up to the Saint-Dyr-sur-Loire on the south bank of the Loire Then on to Muides-sur-Loire where you cross the bridge to the other side. Then it's on to Lestiou where, just before you arrive, you are given two options to continue on to the town of Beaugency. There is an unpaved bike path along the river or you can take the normal road - both will get you to Tavers - then it's a short cycle to Beaugency.  .

From Beaugency to Orléans you cross over to the south bank at Meung-sur-Loire then the route follows shared roads taking you through Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Mesmin where you cross the Loire again using the Pont de l'Europe on the outskirts before arriving in the historic city itself.


See map and more detail of this section plus things to see en route here on the eurovelo6.org website


If any of the maps above fail to work then the 'La Loire à Vélo' website also has an excellent, interactive, section-by-section map of the bike route.


Of course with the diversity of the Loire Valley you are not restricted to the formal route along the actual Loire river as the 

whole of the region offers designated cycle tracks to suit all standards  (check with your  nearest tourist office) plus you are spoilt for choice with quiet roads through charming villages in all the departments of the region. A lot of the major attractions, like Chateau Chambord, offer bicycle hire at their locations




External links:

www.cycling-loire.com        'Loire à Vélo' route.

www.eurovelo.org/               Wider European network

www.telegraph.co.uk           Route suggested by 'Telegraph' newspaper


bilbyandbear.wordpress.com/       Inspirational travel blog (photos 1,2 & 4 courtesy of here)




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"Author: Jim Craig"


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