By Maggie LaCoste
After a great deal of research and debate, the Loire River is my summer bicycling choice for 2011! The two runners up were the Atlantic Coast veloroute, and the Canal du Midi, both of which lost out because of the timing of my trip–late July to mid-August. The Atlantic is too busy with French vacationers, and August is too hot in the South of France! So next month, I will continue the slow travel adventures that I began along the Loire last summer, a week that provided some of my favorite bicycling memories. This summer, I will spend 2 weeks biking the Loire a Velo, looking for the best attractions, the best accommodations and the best stages along the route. I’ll share my route planning thoughts with you, my checklists as my trip gets closer, and I’ll also bring you stories from the road during my trip.
Good planning will be more important this summer, especially in lodging choices because of the declining value of the American dollar this year versus last. My strategy will be to stay more nights in smaller towns and villages where costs are much less than in the larger cities. Over a two week trip, the savings really add up, so I will be scouring the internet looking for the best small inns with the best prices. I will be renting my bike again this year from Detours de Loire. Their Trek bikes are perfect for biking along the Loire, and they have an extensive network along the river, in case we have any problems. My husband and I will take the TGV direct from Charles de Gaulle Airport to St. Pierre des Corps, the TGV station for Tours, and upon our return, we’ll take the same TGV back to Charles De Gaulle Airport after returning our bikes. It is possible to return to Paris from other destinations along the Loire, but since we will not be spending any time in Paris, I prefer taking the TGV direct to the airport. This not only saves time and money, but it will also allow us to spend most of our last day on the Loire.
This week I will finalize my starting point, which will be somewhere between Nantes and Angers. From there, we’ll travel along and around the Loire to Orleans, and then back to Tours on our last day. There is so much to see along the Loire, and so many new bike trails to explore that the decisions are always so difficult. We will spend more time this year exploring the vineyards around Angers, Saumur, Chinon and around Tours, so I know that two weeks will go by very quickly. I’ll look forward to keeping you up to date on my planning, and new routes that I am considering. When I look over my pictures from last summer, I can only imagine the adventures that await me in just a few weeks! Here are just a few of my favorites: