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Between nature and castles — exploring the Loire by bike

Martin de La Riche Soleil

Between nature and castles — exploring the Loire by bike

Bike Touring Collection by Guillaume Favez

6-13

days

3-6 h

/ day

411 mi

6,250 ft

6,925 ft

From the center of France to the Atlantic Ocean, the Loire à vélo bicycle route stretches over 600 kilometers (373 mi) and crosses six French departments. As this route follows the Loire River, it is relatively flat. The Loire à vélo is an integral part of the Eurovélo 6 cycle route, linking the Atlantic to the Black Sea, and has a fantastic, smooth surface to suit cyclists.

It starts in Nevers, easily accessible by train, and ends in Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, on the Atlantic coast, not far from Nantes. Between these two cities, the Loire has remained mostly wild and the banks are home to a wide variety of fauna and flora. The route nevertheless links several cities: Orleans, Angers, Nantes, and a host of impressive cathedrals.

What makes cycling the Loire so popular is the amount of famous castles in the valley: Chambord, Villandry, Saumur and many others are accessible by bike. It would be impossible to include them all in this Collection, so don't hesitate to make a detour if you want to visit one of them. Most of them are only a few kilometers away from the royal river, however, as soon as you move away from the Loire, the difference in gradient can be more pronounced.

This Collection proposes riding along the Loire over two weeks: 14 stages of less than 50 kilometers (9.3 mi) each. The route is very popular and there are many accommodation options and restaurants along the path. From Nevers to Orleans however, the area is more rural, so I recommend booking in advance and planning well.

If you’re in a hurry and only want to visit the castles, you can start halfway along the route, between Orléans and Angers. If you’re more keen on the wild Loire, with its blissful peace, the segment from Nevers to Orleans might suit you better.

Some accommodation and attractions close in winter, so it’s best to explore the Loire à vélo between May and October. During the high season in July and August, book your trip in advance.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Intermediate
    02:46
    29.4 mi
    10.6 mph
    200 ft
    325 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    With a total of just 60 meters of elevation gain spread over approximately 47 kilometers, this Tour is flat and suitable for everyone for a day trip.This first stage of the Loire by bike takes you from Nevers to La-Charité-sur-Loire.
    After a few detours in Nevers to visit its historical monuments, I suggest you take the Pont de Loire …

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  • Intermediate
    02:42
    28.7 mi
    10.6 mph
    200 ft
    250 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Like most Towers that run along a river, this stage is very flat. Like any EuroVelo 6 route, it can be used regardless of the type of bike.A few kilometers from the start, the bar farm restaurant welcomes young and old alike for a discovery of the most unusual animals. The majority of the journey takes place on a track with a surface in excellent condition, along a Loire that has remained untamed.

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  • Intermediate
    03:04
    29.7 mi
    9.7 mph
    400 ft
    375 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This 47.8-kilometer Tour only includes a few small climbs for a total of 120 meters of elevation gain: enough to remain accessible to the majority of cyclists.After having skirted the Loire via a pretty cycle path punctuated by pastures, wild islands and small villages, this circuit offers to cross the river at the 17th kilometer. From there, you follow the Canal Lateral à la Loire for 5 kilometers, until you reach the Pont-Canal de Briare.

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  • Intermediate
    02:59
    30.7 mi
    10.3 mph
    275 ft
    450 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Totaling less than 50 kilometers and less than 100 meters of climb, this Tour does not involve any particular difficulty.Did you know that the other name for the “Loire à Vélo” cycle route is “The châteaux of the Loire by bike”? Most of the Loire Valley castles are located between Orléans and Angers, but you shouldn't miss the Château de Sully-sur-Loire, located in the immediate vicinity of the cycle path at the fifteenth kilometer.

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  • Intermediate
    03:08
    31.3 mi
    10.0 mph
    400 ft
    450 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    As always along the Loire, the difference in height is very low, with 100 meters of climb for a total length of 49 kilometers.This Tour combines the wild Loire and urban landscapes. After having skirted the natural banks of the Loire for about ten kilometers and observing a beautiful castle ruin, we arrive in the city of Orleans.This …

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  • Difficult
    03:03
    29.9 mi
    9.8 mph
    375 ft
    425 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This 48-kilometer Tour is relatively flat, with 120 meters of elevation gain. Most of the climb is concentrated around the Château de Chambord, but it is well worth the detour and the route does not include any really steep hill.On this Tour, we follow the EuroVelo 3 and EuroVelo 6 cycle routes, which means that you should meet some travelers on bikes! Although the area is touristy, there shouldn't be any traffic jams with bicycles ...

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  • Intermediate
    03:25
    30.8 mi
    9.0 mph
    875 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This 49-kilometer Tour includes 270 meters of elevation gain. Although this figure is not very high, it is more than double that of most of the other stages of the Loire by bike. To avoid this drop, you can leave the official Loire route by bike to take rue du Général de Gaulle from Mosnes to Amboise.In Amboise, I …

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  • Intermediate
    02:51
    28.6 mi
    10.1 mph
    450 ft
    575 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Totaling 47 kilometers for a 150-meter climb, this Tour is not perfectly flat but the climbs are neither long nor too steep.This route starts shortly before the city of Tours and quickly joins this ancient Gallo-Roman city. Between its cathedral and Place Plumereau, Tours is full of good reasons to make detours in the city. However, although touristy, the city of Tours is not always suitable for cyclists.

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  • Intermediate
    03:00
    29.5 mi
    9.8 mph
    475 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    With a length of 49.7 kilometers for 140 meters of elevation gain, this Tour should be completed without problem in one day ... unless you spend too much time visiting the Château d'Ussé which is located on a small hill, the only climb of the whole route.Departing from Villandry, we leave the Cher to join the Loire, into which …

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  • Intermediate
    02:40
    26.6 mi
    10.0 mph
    975 ft
    1,025 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    With a total of 300 meters of vertical drop, this Tour is a little steeper than the other stages of the Loire by bike, but it is also a little shorter, in order to compensate for the effort.From the fourth kilometer, a first break awaits you to visit the Saint-Pierre de Parnay church. The most original point of the …

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  • Intermediate
    02:46
    29.1 mi
    10.5 mph
    500 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Divided between nature and urban area, near Angers, this Tour of nearly 47 kilometers includes only two small climbs, for a total of 150 meters of elevation gain.The first 15 kilometers of path, between the Loire and the fields, do not suggest a passage close to a big city like Angers. Around the 20th kilometer, Angers offers many reasons …

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  • Intermediate
    02:50
    30.3 mi
    10.7 mph
    350 ft
    350 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    48 kilometers long for 100 meters of elevation gain, this Tour located halfway between Angers and Nantes presents no particular difficulty, unless the wind is blowing, because when approaching the west coast, the wind usually comes from the front.Do not miss the Lenin café, a unique place located just 3 kilometers from the start, on the island of Chalonnes. …

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  • Intermediate
    02:37
    25.5 mi
    9.8 mph
    375 ft
    400 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This penultimate stage of the Loire by bike reaches Nantes while maintaining a very low vertical drop: 110 meters uphill for a total distance of 41 kilometers.To vary the landscapes a little, you walk along the Divatte, a small local river, before joining the Loire again. Surrounded by fields and small woods for about twenty kilometers, you will end up crossing the Loire to arrive in Nantes.

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  • Intermediate
    02:57
    30.6 mi
    10.4 mph
    400 ft
    425 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    The last stage of the Loire by bike, this Tour presents no difficulty, both in terms of its length of 49 kilometers and its vertical drop of 120 meters. At most you will have to climb a hill in the fourth kilometer, the rest being very flat.From the start, the crossing of the Loire is done via a ferry. …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    14
  • Distance
    411 mi
  • Duration
    40:47 h
  • Elevation
    6,250 ft6,925 ft

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Between nature and castles — exploring the Loire by bike