By Maggie LaCoste
During our two week trip along the Loire this summer we saw some interesting bike configurations, and interesting packing jobs, but nothing prepared us for the sight of donkeys on the Loire!
We saw families with the most inventive hookups for kids bikes:
We saw inventive carriers and packing jobs:
We saw bikes packed to capacity… and then more:
We saw bike carriers called Bob, the Chariot, Ulysses, Buzz Rider and Choozer:
But absolutely nothing prepared us for the sight of people hiking with donkeys on the Loire bike path! The first time, we were nearing Chinon, and I went around a bend in the road and right on the side of the road were two travelers, repacking their loaded donkey!
We thought it was a little weird, but then these days, who can say what’s weird?
Then a couple of days later, just outside Tours on the pathway to Vouvray, we saw a large crowd ahead of us on the path along the Loire. We slowed down to see what was going on. The crowd had gathered from a local park to look at the “touring donkeys” being walked down the path by a couple of elderly women.
This really intrigued my husband. Where we the donkeys from? How far did they walk? What did you do with them at night? How expensive were they? Why would anyone want to travel this way? So he did googled donkeys on the Loire and he was shocked to see the number of companies in the donkey-renting business in France, and along the Loire!
One of the more prominent donkey-renting companies is the eco-company Loire Velo Nature located in Brehemont, also a leading bike rental company along the Loire. Amazed as we were, it appears that donkey renting is very popular and a big business in the region. One of the most popular trips is a 5 day/4 nights Castles of the Loire trip from Tours to Chinon, seeing one castle a day. Your hiking adventure is sometimes along a riverbank, and sometimes through fields, sometimes in forests. You sleep in tents, which are of course carried by the donkeys. One of the most surprising things about walking with donkeys is that it is surprisingly inexpensive. A 5 day/4 night adventure with one donkey is 165 Euro, with 2 donkeys, 200 Euro, including donkeys and lodging at local campgrounds. I can’t imagine ever traveling this way. But obviously there are those who love it! So if you ever tire of traveling by bike……….!