I love to ride my bike, but I don’t love to slave over strenuous terrain. In New Jersey where I live, there are terrific, flat bike trails along former train lines and canal networks. It’s delightful. The French equivalent is cycling along the Loire, among all of the magnificent châteaux.
When you explore à vélo (ah vaylow), or “by bike,” the discovery of the treasures of the Loire happens in total serenity. Cycling and hiking paths cross 500 miles of the Loire Valley, which is classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO, and it’s easy to cycle dozens of miles a day. Eight hundred thousand cyclists a year whir along the river.
If you prefer wine to châteaux, you can chat with vineyard owners whose properties abut the pathway. The French have a reverence for terroir, that je ne sais quoi that is incorporated into a natural product by the soil where it grows. The land along the Loire has been adding that little something extra for four hundred years.
Since multi-day trips along the Loire are so easy, you’ll want to make arrangements to stay overnight. You’ll have lots of choice – hotels in any of the towns you pass, gîtes in the more remote areas, or camping grounds for those who wish to truly rusticate (not me, by the way).
To plan your trip, you’ll want to consult the web site Loire à vélo. You’ll find everything you need to rent a bike, to have your luggage moved from one location to the next, to find places to eat, sights to see, and things to do along all 500 spectacular miles.