Saint Nazaire Bridge Crossing By Bike Update

If you’re planning a bicycling trip along the Loire this year, and you’re thinking about taking the bridge from Saint Nazaire to Saint Brevin-les-Pins, do yourself a favor and watch this YouTube video.

 

 

Experiencing this bridge by bike definitely isn’t on my bucket list, and, unless you are a very experienced cyclist, it shouldn’t be on yours either. Crossing this 5km long bridge on a narrow bike lane on a bike with panniers, with cars passing you at speeds of 70 km/h+ isn’t my idea of enjoying France by bike.  In the summer season, the bridge is gridlocked, and throughout the year, the bridge is often closed to cyclists for winds in excess of 80 km/h.  My advise:  don’t do it.

Several years ago there was talk about a ferry service in the plans for bicyclists, but unfortunately this service never materialized.  So for now, there are 2 alternatives for crossing the Loire at Saint Nazaire, and 1 alternative for crossing the Loire east of Nantes for free:

  1.  Take the LILA bus #17 across the bridge from either side.  The cost is 2.10€ each way, per person, no charge for the bike.  Buses can accommodate up to 8 bikes and reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance.  The phone number for reservations is +33(0)2 40 21 50 87.  Reservations can be made between 9 am and 4 pm from Monday to Thursday and from 9 am to noon on Fridays.  If you need to cross on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, you must make your reservation on Friday before noon.  Unfortunately you can’t make reservations by e-mail, only by phone.  I’ve not used this service, so I can’t give you any insight on how easy or difficult it is.  The LILA website is only in French, so reading the schedules can be challenging.  My advice to you if you are thinking about this alternative would be to visit the Nantes Office of Tourism enroute to Saint Nazaire and enlist their help in making a reservation.
  2. Cross the Loire by taxi.  Since last summer, Saint Nazaire taxi drivers have offered a new service, “20 minutes for 20€”.  This is a fixed price and it’s good for 4 people and 4 bikes.  The service also operates in both directions, and reservations are also required.  But with the taxi service, transport is available within 20 minutes after your reservation request.  The phone for taxis from Saint-Nazaire is +33 (0)2 40 66 02 62 and from Saint-Brevin +33(0)2 40 27 23 07.  If you can find a couple of cyclists to share the cost, this is a very cost effective alternative.
  3. If you don’t plan to visit both Saint Nazaire and Saint Brevin-les-Pins, you can take the free ferry from Le Pellerin to Coueron, east of Nantes.  This ferry operates in both directions, from 6:30 am in Coueron and 6:20 in Le Pellerin, and then 20 minutes all day.

Which of these alternatives you choose will depend on your time requirements, budget and bicycling itinerary, but they all offer a safe way to get across the Loire.  You’ll encounter enough adventures on your Loire bicycling adventure.  Crossing the Saint Nazaire bridge by bike doesn’t need to be one of them!

Posted by Maggie LaCoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow way....by bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.

  1. Hi – just a comment about the Bridge. We had read a number of accounts of cyclists not enjoying the bridge and were quite worried about it as we finished cycling the Loire and wanted to head north to Roscoff. We thought we would have a look, and then try and pick a suitable time, early Sunday morning, we then spread out so each bike, 2 singles and our tandem had plenty of space, for stopping etc. The cycle lane is narrow, but nearly all vehicle drivers, as in the video, gave us plenty of room. The rise is not steep which means you can go at a steady speed, and once past the high point you can coast down. In the end it was nowhere near as bad as the reputation. It does need to be treated with care and common sense, but it is doable. Lunch times through the week can be quieter.
    2nd point, the crossing on free ferry from Le Pellerin to Coueron is West of Nantes, and the route from here is well signed right to the bridge.

    1. Hi John!

      So nice to hear from you and I especially appreciate you taking the time to comment on the Saint Nazaire bridge!! I definitely would put you and Ann in the category of more experienced cyclists who would weather the crossing better than some of us! Personally I have real issues with narrow spaces, so I know I would probably find it harrowing, with or without panniers. I particularly liked your comments on the courtesy of the drivers to cyclists, as we have found that to be generally true across the board in France. I know your comments will be useful to those cyclists who are more seasoned and steady than me! Hope you have a fun bicycling trip in mind for this year. I am getting ready for a birthday adventure in March to Puglia in southern Italy, one of the few places warm enough to cycle in March, at least for me! I can’t wait! Thanks again!

      Maggie LaCoste