The River Loire Cycle Route
From the source in the Massif Central to the Atlantic coast
By Mike Wells
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Guidebook to cycling the Loire, France's longest river, from its source in the Massif Central to the Atlantic. The 1061km route incorporates the popular, waymarked Loire à Vélo and takes in extinct volcanos, vineyards and châteaux. Predominantly downhill or flat, the route utilises mostly cycle paths and minor roads.
SeasonsThe whole route can be cycled when the mountains near the source are snow free, usually April-October. Stages 7-26 can be cycled at any time of year, though April-October is the best period.
CentresThe route passes through Le-Puy-en-Velay, Roanne, Nevers, Orléans, Tours, Saumur, Angers, Nantes and St Nazaire.
DifficultyApart 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 SeeMont Gerbier de Jonc and the volcanic hills of the Ardèche, Le Puy-en-Velay, Charolais 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.
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Mike Wells is an author of both walking and cycling guides. He has been walking long-distance footpaths for 25 years, after a holiday in New Zealand gave him the long-distance walking bug. Mike has also been a keen cyclist for over 20 years. After completing various UK Sustrans routes, such as Lon Las Cymru in Wales and the C2C route across northern England, he then moved on to cycling long-distance routes in continental Europe and beyond. These include cycling both the Camino and Ruta de la Plata to Santiago de la Compostela, a traverse of Cuba from end to end, a circumnavigation of Iceland and a trip across Lapland to the North Cape. He has written a series of cycling guides for Cicerone following the great rivers of Europe.View author profile
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