By Maggie LaCoste
Cyclotourism is becoming a huge pastime in France, and no where is this more true than along the Loire River. If you are a follower of my blog, you know that the Loire River Valley is one of my favorite bicycle destinations in France and even Europe, and it has been my destination of choice for the last two summers. Despite having logged over 600 km along this route, there are still many more areas I have yet to explore. Every day along the Loire is an adventure into French history and culture and it is hard to not want to go back to this area again and again.
The regional governments of the Loire have invested over 52 million Euro to improve and signpost this route. And this investment is beginning to reap rewards: well over 700,000 cyclists travel some part of the 800 km Loire a Velo each year.
If you’ve thought about taking a bike trip along the Loire, but couldn’t find the right resources, or weren’t interested in a packaged tour, it’s time to reconsider! Planning a bicycling trip to the Loire region has become much easier with the release of a greatly improved website by the Pays de la Loire and Centre Regions. The new Loire a Velo website is a wealth of basic information to help you plan a trip to this beautiful area. From information on what to see, where to stay, where to rent bikes, how to arrange for luggage transfer, chateaux to visit and wines to drink, this website is one of the best resources for bicycling in France.
This destination is perfect whether you are biking alone, with a friend/spouse or with a family. The route is very safe and is popular with families from throughout Europe. The Loire a Velo route is comprised of quiet roads with little traffic (about 37%), greenways, roads reserved exclusively for non-motorized traffic and pedestrians (about 27%), no-throughfare roads (24%), cycle tracks and lanes reserved exclusively for cyclists (12%). This route is unlike anything that you may have experienced in the US. Even first time bicyclists find this route a fun and safe adventure.
There are itineraries for a long weekend, and there are itineraries for a week or more. The 800 km stretch of the Loire a Velo is part of Eurovelo 6, the European cycle route that runs from the Atlantic to the Black Sea via the Loire, the Rhine and the Danube Rivers. So if you are really industrious and have two months or more, you could even tackle bicycling the entire Eurovelo 6 route.
So if you have started thinking about planning a summer bicycling vacation, or if you are considering adding a weekend bike excursion to a trip in France, take a look at the new Loire a Velo website to get some great ideas for itineraries.