The Loire Cycle Route

From the source in the Massif Central to the Atlantic coast

By Mike Wells

Guidebook to cycling the Loire, France's longest river, from its source in the Massif Central to the Atlantic. The 1052km (654 mile) route incorporates a section of EuroVélo 6 and the popular, waymarked Loire à Vélo, taking in extinct volcanos, vineyards and châteaux. Cycling is mostly on cycle paths and minor roads.



The whole route can be cycled when the mountains near the source are snow free, usually April-October. Stages 7 to 26 can be cycled at any time of year, though April-October is the best period.


A point-to-point route with no particular bases.


Apart from a steep 1000m climb to reach the start and a few ascents and descents in the first six stages this is a straightforward route that is generally downhill or level. Mostly asphalt surfaces in good condition suitable for hybrid or touring cycles. Much of the route follows dedicated off-road cycle tracks, suitable for family cycling, though there are a few short sections where main roads are used.
Must See

Must See

Mont Gerbier de Jonc and the volcanic hills of the Ardèche, Le Puy-en-Velay, Charollais hills. After Nevers the route follows La Loire à Vélo, France's most popular cycleway, passing many of the royal châteaux (Chambord, Blois, Chaumont, Villandry, Amboise), vineyards (Sancerre, Touraine, Chinon, Saumur, Anjou, Muscadet), and historic cities (Orléans, Tours, Angers, Nantes) of the Loire Valley.
13 Apr 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.4cm
  • Overview

    This guide describes a 1052km cycle route that starts at source of the Loire in the Massif Central mountains of central France and finishes at the Atlantic opposite St Nazaire. It descends past extinct volcanoes, crater lakes and deep gorges before joining EuroVélo route 6 and the fully waymarked Loire à Vélo, France's most popular cycle trail. Following the river downstream in 26 stages, the route is generally downhill or level often on dedicated traffic-free cycle tracks.
    Packed with a wealth of useful information - from practical planning advice to fascinating insights about the river and its surroundings - the guidebook features detailed route descriptions and informative mapping. Details of facilities and places to stay, and a French glossary are included.
    The route goes through the heart of France as the Loire becomes the royal river, bounded by extravagant châteaux, fields of Charollais cattle and vineyards. It passes through historic cities like Orléans and Tours, continuing past Angers and France's fourth largest city Nantes.

  • Contents

    The route
    Natural environment
    Getting there and back
    Food and drink
    Amenities and services
    What to take
    Safety and emergencies
    About this guide
    The Loire Cycle Route
    Prologue Getting to the start
    Upper Loire
    Stage 1 Gerbier de Jonc to Goudet
    Stage 2 Goudet to Le Puy-en-Velay
    Stage 3 Le Puy-en-Velay to Retournac
    Stage 4 Retournac to Aurec-sur-Loire
    Stage 5 Aurec-sur-Loire to Feurs
    Stage 6 Feurs to Roanne
    Stage 7 Roanne to Digoin
    Middle Loire
    Stage 8 Digoin to Bourbon-Lancy
    Stage 9 Bourbon-Lancy to Decize
    Stage 10 Decize to Nevers
    Stage 11 Nevers to La Charité-sur-Loire
    Stage 12 La Charité-sur-Loire to Sancerre
    Stage 13 Sancerre to Briare
    Stage 14 Briare to Sully-sur-Loire
    Stage 15 Sully-sur-Loire to Orléans
    Lower Loire
    Stage 16 Orléans to Beaugency
    Stage 17 Beaugency to Blois
    Stage 18 Blois to Amboise
    Stage 19 Amboise to Tours
    Stage 20 Tours to Bréhémont
    Stage 21 Bréhémont to Saumur
    Stage 22 Saumur to Angers
    Stage 23 Angers to Montjean-sur-Loire
    Stage 24 Montjean-sur-Loire to Ancenis
    Stage 25 Ancenis to Nantes
    Stage 26 Nantes to St Brevin-les-Pins (St Nazaire)

    Appendix A Stage summary table
    Appendix B Facilities summary table
    Appendix C Tourist information offices
    Appendix D Youth hostels and gîtes d’étape
    Appendix E Useful contacts
    Appendix F Language glossary

  • Updates
    Receive updates by email
    Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction

    May 2018

    Stage 7 - A new traffic-free voie verte route for stage 7 between Roanne and Digoin is nearing completion. This uses canal towpaths and an old railway track-bed for most of the stage. The section from Iguerande to Vindecy Gare had already been constructed when the guide was published in 2016 and forms part of the route. Since then work has started on the rest of the stage. From Roanne to Briennon a voie verte is being developed along the towpath of the Canal de Roanne á Digoin starting from the canal basin in Roanne. A road bridge is used to cross the Loire from Briennon to Pouilly-sous-Charlieu Just N of Pouilly-sous-Charlieu, a new voie verte along the old railway is joined and followed to Iguerande where it joins the book route. This is 3.5km longer than the route in the guide but is mostly traffic free. North from Vindecy Gare the voie verte route now continues to St Yan. Turn L in centre of St Yan (D982) and follow this to reach beginning of Digoin. Turn L at second roundabout (Bvd de Macon) to reach cycle route V51 along towpath of Canal du Centre in Digoin. This is only 1km longer than the book route.Work started in autumn 2017 and is due to be completed by the middle of 2018. When complete the route between Roanne and St Yan, which will become part of véloroute V71, will be 4.5km longer than the current stage 7.

  • Reviews

    This book contains all you need to know, as well as a sense of the spirit of the river and life along it to inspire you.


    Seven Day Cyclist



    It’s the usual high-quality stuff that you’d expect from Cicerone with detailed maps, altitude profiles, tourist
    information etc… and, from the English-speaking perspective, probably the definitive description of the route.
    Leafing through the book, it does make me wonder why I am sitting at my computer here at home with the
    prospect of returning to work tomorrow morning rather than out there doing Mike’s job… Mmm…


    Andrew Sykes, Cycling Europe

  • Other eBook Retailers

    Google Play

    Google Play Books available for Windows, Android, Mac and iOS

    Google Play


    Kobo eReader devices plus Kobo App available for Windows, Android, Mac and iOS



    Kindle Reader devices plus Kindle App available for Windows, Android, Mac and iOS

  • Downloads
    GPX Files
    Requires sign in or registration

Mike Wells

Mike Wells has been a keen long-distance walker and cyclist for over 20 years. He has walked all the major British trails, the GR5 through the Alps from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean and has explored the Italian Dolomites' Alta Via routes. He has also walked in Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Norway and Chilean Patagonia.
Mike has cycled the C2C route across northern England as well as the Camino and Ruta de la Plata to Santiago de la Compostela. He has completed an end to end traverse of Cuba, a circumnavigation of Iceland and a trip across Lapland to the North Cape.

View Articles and Books by Mike Wells