By Maggie LaCoste
June is the official kickoff of the summer festival season in France! Music festivals, wine festivals, garden festivals, festivals of light at various chateaux, and even bicycling festivals have joined the mix. If you are lucky enough to be near Saumur along the Loire in mid-June, be sure to check out the Fete du Velo Anjou, the 15th Annual Cycling Festival in Anjou on Sunday, June 19. For one day, 170 km of one of the most beautiful roads in France, the levee of the Loire will be open to bikes only. Absolutely no cars! About 35,000 people are expected to take part in this extremely popular event. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the riverbeds and villages of the Loire in Anjou in a safe, fun, family-oriented atmosphere without the worry of cars. The 170 km Tour de Loire will have 26 stop offs where cyclists will be welcomed by local businesses. If you are interested in more information, you can visit the Department of Tourism for Anjou or you can check out the event website, Festival of the Bikes where you can find a map for the course and information on the many fun stops along the route.
If you are a vintage bike nut, you’re in luck, because on Saturday 18 June, the Festival is also holding a vintage bike festival called Grande Journee Velo En Anjou. To enter, you must ride in the event on a bike from the early 20th century to 1987, and dress in funky, vintage type clothes. Vintage bikes and vintage bike rides are a big deal in France, and I can only imagine that this will really be a sight to behold. If you are in the area, this would definitely be a great picture taking opportunity! The event will feature three different rides for varying abilities: a 31 km ride, a 71 km ride and a 98 km ride with each ride beginning and ending in Saumur. Registration is limited to the first 1,000 registrants and the cost is 10 Euro. Information on the vintage festival is also available from the Anjou Department of Tourism or the event website.
On July 2, the Centre Region will host La Loire a Velo En Fete, a bicycling festival between Orleans and Tours along the Loire. The main purpose of this new festival is to showcase the beauty of the Loire a Velo bike path, the beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage site, and the food and wine of the Loire region. This is a great family event, with safe, well-marked routes along the Loire. There will be three main hospitality villages along the route: Orleans, Blois and Tours where participants can pick up food and beverages or shop for local produce, products and wine. Four other communities will also provide a special reception for participants: Beaugency, St. Dye, Chaumont-sur-Loire and Amboise. All along the route there will be animations about the bike to entertain riders along the way. The day will end with a huge concert in Blois along the banks of the Loire. The communities along the Loire are extremely proud of the Loire a Velo network, and this event is certain to continue to spread the word to the French about this terrific bicycling route through the heart of the Loire.