Top Resources for Bicycling the Loire

If  you’ve read my Top 10 Reasons to Bike the Loire, I hope that you are interested to learn more about planning a trip there.  If so, this post will provide you with some of my favorite resources for planning a bike trip along the Loire.  To begin with, the Loire cycle path is one of the best marked in France, with train service and bike rentals in every major city.  You do not need a $500/day per person bike tour to have a great bike experience along the Loire.  This region of France has made it very easy for anyone to bike here.  Some basic up-front planning is all that you need to prepare for a great adventure along the Loire.

Bike path along the Loire

If you want to see a side of France, and in this case, the Loire, that few tourists see, then bicycling is the way to do it.  The top requirement to insure a great trip is to embrace the idea of adventure.  If you are looking for a perfectly choreographed itinerary, then an on-your-own or self-guided bike trip is probably not for you.  A great bike trip in France is all about seizing the moment: stopping at odd attractions along the way, having that second cup of caffe au lait, enjoying the local village market that you stumbled upon, basically enjoying all the things that you would miss if you were whizzing by in a car at 80 kmph.  And there is no place better to do this that along the Loire.  The following resources will get you quickly familiar with the Loire and the many choices that you will have, whether you will be spending a day, a weekend, a week or longer.

Loire a Velo

The single best resource for planning a bike trip on the Loire.  The Loire a Velo website breaks the river into 28 overall stages from Saint Brevin in the west to Cuffy/La Chapelle-Montlinard in the east.  A simple click on each stage provides information ranging from hotels, guest houses, campgrounds, attractions, bike rentals and restaurants for that stage.  Specific stages are recommended for families and couples.  With this resource, you can easily outline the major stages of your trip, and then fill in the blanks when you arrive.  One of the site’s best resources is the map:  La Loire a Velo, and while you can access this map online, it is really great to have a hard copy, which is available on request online.  This map is also available at every tourism office in every town along the Loire, along with other Loire biking materials.

Map Series, La Loire a Velo for Eurovelo 6

This great Loire bicycling resource is produced by Huber Verlag and is available free of charge at all tourism offices along the Loire.  These maps come in a number of different languages, so make sure that you get a map marked GB in the upper right hand side. The series currently includes 5 maps, from east of Saumur to Amboise.  These maps are also downloadable online from the Touraine Tourism website. but they’re really difficult to read.  It is a much better idea to do your planning with the map from Loire a Velo, and then pick these maps up along the way during your trip.

Les Chateaux a Velo

If you want to center your bicycling in the heart of chateau country, then this is the perfect resource for you.  Cycling in Chateau Country provides route information on over 300 km of additional well marked cycle routes, broken into 11 itineraries near Chaumont, Cheverny, Chambord and Blois.  If you are short on time, think about using this website’s trip planning resources for a fun weekend trip easily accessible from Paris by train.  Information on each of the 11 itineraries is available, along with information on what to see, where to rent bikes, and free audio downloads for the itineraries.

Loire Valley Tourism

This is an information-rich website for the eastern region of the Loire.  Be sure to check the downloads section for many resources that will help with trip planning.  Also helpful is a comprehensive list of local festivals for the busy summer and fall seasons.

Regional Tourism of Pays de la Loire 

This website for the Western Loire is not as packed with information as its counterpart, the Centre Region, but there are several sections with interesting information on the caves and chateau of the region as well as some specific bicycling itineraries along the Loire.

Loir-et-Cher Department Tourism

Many resources for planning where to stay and what to see in the heart of the Loire including routes through the vineyards. At the current time, this website is only in French.

Department of Touraine Tourism  

This well designed and easy to navigate website has plenty of information to help you explore different accommodation options and things to do in the Touraine.  There is a great section on chateau of the Loire, gardens of the Loire and local vineyards. The website also has information on bike routes along the Indre River, with a number of downloadable itineraries.

Anjou Department of Tourism

This website is a great resource for everything in the Anjou Department.  In addition to all of the normal information on attractions, where to stay, summer festivals, there are a number of special features.  There are virtual visits to major attractions, and audio tour downloads.  The virtual visits are really great as they can help you narrow down the list of attractions you plan to see…or if you are like me, they will expand the list of attractions that you want to see!  There are also a number of downloadable guides, including a cycling map for routes in the region, over and above the route along the Loire.

Chateaux de la Loire

This website is the best resource for advance research on the major chateau of the Loire.  The website is in French, but you can use Google Babelfish to translate any particular sections that you want translated.  19 of the best-known chateau are promoted on this site which is run by a Loire government consortium not a for-profit travel group.  There is a great photo and video library which lets you see first hand the unique characteristics of each chateau.  There are suggested itineraries, and in-depth information on the major towns along the Loire. The website also has links to each of the chateau for additional information as you narrow down your selections.

Vins de Loire

The Wines of the Loire website is the resource for anything you want to know about Loire Valley wines.  From terriors, grape varieties and climate to AOC wines and lists of all wine growers and merchants in the Loire, this site has it all.  There is a list of the Maison du Vins de Loire in Nantes, Angers, Saumur and Tours where you can learn about all the Loire wines, and sample over 75 wines from 40 appellations.  This makes it easy to determine which vineyards you may be interested in visiting. One of the best resources on this website is the 85 page downloadable Guide to Loire Valley Vineyards.  This guide is packed with every piece of information you need to understand the vineyards of the Loire.

Orleans Tourism

Amboise Office of Tourism

Angers Loire Tourism

Best secret on this website is the “cyclopedia”, a multi-media guide to touring the region around Angers.  The CDT Anjou has developed this touring technology which marries multi-media touring information with a GPS, guiding bicyclists to points of interest along the Loire from Gennes and Montjean-sur-Loire.  Cyclopedia can be borrowed/reserved by contacting the tourism office in either Angers, Gennes, Montjean-sur-Loire, Saumur, Chalonnes-sur-Loire or Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire.

Saint-Nazaire Tourism

Azay-le-Rideau Tourism Office

Saumur Tourism Office

Office of Tourism of Blois-Pays de Chambord

Detours de Loire

One of my favorite bike rental agencies along the Loire.  The company has divided the Loire into 20 zones and you can pick up and drop off your bike in any zones.  For example, if you want to start your trip in Nantes, you can pick the bike up there, and return it in Tours, seven zones away.  The drop off fee is 8 Euro for the first zone and 2 Euro for each additional zone, over and above the cost of your bike rental.  This drop off service makes it very easy to plan your trip as you don’t need to worry about doubling back to return your bike.  It really saves time, giving you more time on the bike!  The company also offers other services ranging from baggage transfer to self-guided tours in the Loire region. Bike rentals are available from May 1 to September 30.

Michelin Maps 316, 317 and 318

Even though the Loire is signposted so well that you don’t really need these maps, some people like to have them, just in case.  Perhaps you might want to take a deviation into the vineyards, or to see some attraction and it would be good to have a map of the region with you.  These can be purchased in any book store, tourism offices and some bike stores along the route.  Be sure that you are buying the most recent versions of the Michelin maps with the voie verte or greenways and cycle paths marked. Most of the Michelin maps that are available in the US are not the most recent version, some even several years old.  I have not yet found a source in the US to purchase the most recent version of these Michelin maps, so I buy mine in France.

Obviously there are many more resources on the Loire, but these will get you pointed in the right way planning your trip.  Please let me know if you have any favorite resources that you find and I will add them to my list!  Have fun planning your trip!


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. Can you please describe how to carry a bicycle by train.

    1. The overall best way is on the TER or regional trains. Supposedly there are some TGV’s where you can take a bike, but I have never wanted to deal with that uncertainty as I have not found this to be the case. This is the main reason that I never rent a bike in Paris, but wait till I get somewhere close to my destination, as TGV is usually the best way to get in and out of Paris the fastest. I find that the German train website, Deutche Bahn has the most complete train schedules for all of Europe, and it is the website that I use to plan my train routes. The website address is http://www.bahn.de/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml . To find out which trains to your destination carry bikes, enter all your travel specifics, and click both prefer fast connections and local transport. The next screen may require you to enter passenger name, and once you do that, you will get a list of all the train possibilities for that route. On that results page, click on the arrow on the far left, next to the train you are interested in. That will bring you to another screen that will provide the details about this train, and most importantly, indicate whether bikes are accepted. Even though several posters state that some TGV’s allow carry on bikes, I have never found any TGV routes that state they accept carry on bikes–so I don’t try. If for example, you input Paris to Orleans, you will find that most of the results are either RE trains that accept bikes, or Schnellzug–fast trains but not TGV–and both of these trains accept bikes. I have never had a problem traveling by train in France, the main thing to understand is that you will need to do some upfront planning using a resource like Deutche Bahn, and you need to take the slower trains. The good news is that the slower trains do not require upfront reservations, are not nearly as expensive as the TGV and more and more of them have platform level cars so you don’t need to lift your bike and panniers up steps. I did a post in January about renting or bringing your own bike, and that may also have some additional information for you. Unless you are riding a high-end road bike, it often just isn’t worth the hassle to bring your own bike. Hope this helps!

  2. Le traccie da scaricare per il GPS ?

    1. Io non sono a conoscenza di tutte le risorse che hanno il percorso della Loira su GPS. E ‘un sentiero ben segnalato che io non conosco molte persone che usano il GPS sulla strada principale. Chiederò alcuni dei miei contatti per vedere se hanno tutte le raccomandazioni. So che molti degli alberghi e ristoranti lungo il percorso di fornire le loro coordinate GPS. Se sono in grado di ottenere tutte le informazioni supplementari, lo manderò a voi.

      Maggie LaCoste