We want to propose you a new bike route, this time along the river Loire in central France. This valley is famous for its castles and its majestic landscapes, and has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
We followed a 520 km route that starts in Orléans (120 km south of Paris) and finishes at the Atlantic Ocean. However, you can shorten or lengthen as you want, since all the major cities that we'll pass through are linked by train. You can also modify the stages in which it is divided, as there are numerous campsites and "gîtes d'étape" (bed & breakfast) along the way. The route is marked with signs of the "Loire à vélo" (www.loire-to-velo.fr) so that we can't get lost, and we won't get tired because it's really flat!
The trail runs along the river, crossing between lush vegetation and picturesque villages as well: for example, at Souzay we'll pass through the streets of an ancient underground troglodyte village ...
We can also take different routes that turn aside from the river to visit the impressive castles that are found in the area, such as Chambord and Chenonceau.
It passes through important historical cities such as Tours, Saumur, Angers and Nantes, where you can "park" the bike and visit the streets and Renaissance buildings. In reaching our destination, we'll find a spectacular bridge, 4 km long, crossing the river at its mouth, and we can take a refreshing bath in the beaches of the Atlantic sea ...
We encourage you to try this different experience, very refreshing in the summer. You just need a bike, some panniers to carry your luggage and you can start pedalling!
- Although the route is marked with signs, is recommended to bring a map (especially the topoguide published by Esterbauer, see below), especially because the entrances and exits to cities are confusing and signs sometimes are lost.
- If you decide to stay in campsites, we recommend you check their location in advance at Internet (http://www.campingfrance.com), as some campsites marked in the maps may not exist, or there may be some more than the marked ones... Generally you don't need to reserve a place, unless you sleep in St-Brévin-les-Pins, where it's almost impossible to find a place without booking! Many people choose to sleep in hotels or bed & breakfast along the route. If so, we recommend you book your places, specially if you go during the holiday season, because it's a very visited area.
- No need to bring supplies of food or drink, as we'll find many restaurants and grocery stores along the trail. It is also very common to find public toilets, even in small towns.
- To return by train with the bike, there is a TER (regional train) which goes from St. Nazaire to Orléans. You don't need to reserve the bike place in advance. To pass from St-Brévin-les-pins to St. Nazaire, we suggest to take a bus from the company LILA (line 17) which will take you to the train station of St. Nazaire with the bikes, so that you avoid crossing the dangerous bridge, where traffic is very dense and fast.
- Although the trail is paved almost in its entirety, we recommend taking a mountain bike, to avoid punctures.
- Waterproof panniers are very useful (it rains often in the area), but also take sun protection because it's really strong when it shines...
- Many people take the route backwards (that is from the sea to Orléans) because the wind tends to go in that direction (sometimes it's so strong that it doesn't let you move!)
Loire-Radweg. Ed. Verlag-Esterbauer (In German, it has complete maps) .ISBN: 978-3-85000-063-5
L’intégrale de la Loire à vélo de Nevers à la mer. Ed. Ouest-France. ISBN: 978-2-7373-4907-2
Eurovelo 6. Ed. Huber-Verlag. ISBN: 978-3-9406860-1-5
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