Situated in the central portion of France and comprised of valleys, rivers and other natural sites Loire continues to be a prime destination for cycling tours in Europe. Loire’s rich history proudly shows in its many castles, chateaux and villages. You can experience this richness and much more as you bike ride through Loire’s varied terrain.
Bike Friendly Loire
The Loire Valley is one the most bike friendly places in the world. Largely flat, it has a large bike path that makes riding here a safe experience. The people of the Loire river valley have been working on a bike trail which will extend from Cuffy to St Brévin-les-Pins. Running along 497 miles of the Loire river banks, this trail is filled with amazing architecture, beautiful landscapes, and amazing cuisine. Being such a long trail, there is also an option to divide this trip into twelve smaller excursions. The highlights will definitely be the Grand Chateaus.
Unique Tourists Sites and Cycling Tours in Loire
The #1 thing to see in the Loire are the grand chateaus. The ones probably worth your while are Château d'Amboise, Château de Chambord, Château de Chinon, Château du Rivau, Château d'Ussé, Château de Villandry, Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, and Chenonceau. All are reasonably accessible via bike. We recommend Chambord and Chenonceau for everyone, and Villandry for the gardeners. Chinon and Amboise are spectucular as well, and are towns with a bit more to offer, making them a good place to plan a stop or overnight stay and see the chateaus. Many of the chateaus run major light shows at night.
Orleans, a major city in the province of Loiret, boasts many museums, churches and other architectural finds. The paved city streets are ideal for family road bike tours to see historical sites, such as Groslot Mansion and a replica of Joan of Arc’s home.
The town of Tours is another interesting cycling destination for tourists. Tours is home to the Cathedrale St-Gatien (magnificently designed in Gothic architecture) and the grand Basilique de St-Martin. Shopping and dining in Tours is not hard to do. Over 30 markets sell their vegetables, fruits and souvenirs in the city.
The cathedrals, music festivals and gardens of Bourges are some of the reasons you should visit this small town located on the outskirts of Loire Valley. Visiting this town is also a good way to take a short break from cycling.
Popular Loire Valley Wine Regions
Loire Valley’s wine country has both hilly and flat terrain, so using a hybrid bike is most likely the best choice to get around. Tour operators provide fully guided luxury bike trips to this wine region as well. You can find several guides offering all-inclusive cycling packages that include van transportation, hotel accommodations and food.
A combination of fertile land and temperate climate are two of the things that make Loire Valley a wonderful place for cycling and wine touring. In the province of Indre-et-Loire (Touraine), thriving appellations produce numerous high-quality red, white and blended varietals, such as sparkling Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Many of these fruity wines blend well with Cot or Rose to create unique and tantalizing flavors. In Vouvray, Chenin Blanc is the wine of choice for anyone who enjoys a good meal of seafood and fish. Vouvray is also noted for the limestone-constructed chateaux and friendly townships found on the region’s flat terrain. Domaine Huet and Marc Bredif are great wineries to check out here.
The deliciously distinct and crisp flavors of Sauvignon Blanc are very popular in Sancerre. Sitting upon a hilltop overlooking flat, sprawling plains and the Loire River, Sancerre is a village very well known for its wines, including those (le Chêne Marchand and Cuvée Prestige) produced by Lucien Crochet.
Anjou favors Bonnezeaux, Red Anjou and other sweet varietals. The ever-popular Savennières varietal is a favorite of the locals and visiting cyclists alike. The town of Saumur is famous for producing the best sparkling and red wines. Self-guided hybrid bike tours in Saumur are not complete without stopping by the Chateau Saumur, a castle constructed in the 14th century. You can choose Sentiers de France for an all-inclusive cycling package that comes with hotel accommodations and two delicious meals.
Getting to Loire
Loire is just a short train ride from Paris. Paris’ high-speed rail system in Gare Montparnasse takes you to the region’s heart. In most cases, it only takes an hour or slightly less to reach Loire. You can even bring your bike aboard.