When it comes to cycling, France just gets it right. Races like the Tour de France have made it the most well known country for cycling. When people look at cycling holidays in France, they often think of the legendary climbs of the Alps and the famous finish of the Arc du Triumph in Paris. Many people don’t think of the Loire Valley, but it is a hidden gem and has one of the best cycling routes in the whole of France, the La Loire à Vélo cycle route. In this article, we’re going to be telling you about the section from Blois to Angers, which is one of the best with so much to see.
Where is the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is situated in the western section of France and is about an hour and a half away from Paris on the direct train services. Train tickets are similar prices to the UK and easy to buy at the station. Tours is in the area and this is known as one of the major cities of the Loire. It is also known as the Garden of France because of all the lush greenery and beauty of the region. The international garden festival of Chaumont Sur Loire is a great example of how incredible this region is. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site so everything is well maintained and tourist offices are common to find and ticket prices are very good value for money.
Is the Loire Valley good for cycling?
The Loire Valley is an excellent place for cycling. It offers so much in the way of scenery, stunning architecture and flat, traffic free cycle paths. The La Loire à Vélo is the most incredible bike route that runs along side this great wild river. As far as bike trail goes, it doesn’t get much better. You get to go through beautiful medieval towns, past giant castles, enjoy excellent food and drink, and enjoy quiet cycling roads and bike paths that are smooth and easy to follow as it runs alongside the Loire river.
What’s in the Loire Valley?
If you’re looking for excellent food and wine, spectacular architecture, excellent guest houses, an incredible amount of wineries, and a lot of history, the Loire Valley is the place to go. It’s full of incredible Chateaux, including the famous Chateau de Chambord, which Leonardo da Vinci helped design and was the setting for the latest beauty and the beast movie. The gardens of the Chateau were recently refurbished at a cost of €3.5m!
Is Cycling from Blois to Angers easy?
It’s about 200 kilometres and we recommend taking 3 to 4 days to ride the route, with stays in Amboise, Tours and Saumur. The route is mainly flat with a few rolling hills, but certainly something that is manageable for most. There are many places to stop for great lunches and cafe stops and we recommend doing the trip over a few days and stopping lots to take in the local area and get the most out of your holiday.
The Start, Blois to Amboise
Starting just before the beautiful town of Blois, the route heads through the town where you can enjoy a morning coffee and onto the Loire a Velo cycle route, which sits alongside the river. As you follow the river Loire, you will soon come to Amboise, which is known for not only being very beautiful, but it accommodates the Clos Lucé Manor, where Leonardo da Vinci lived. Once home to the French Royal Courts (the Loire is known as the Valley of Kings), Amboise is certainly worth staying overnight on your route.
If you have some extra time and want to come off route, the incredible Chateau de Chenonceau is just ten miles south and worth the detour to see it. It stands beautifully on the river and is just incredible to look at. We highly recommend going inside for the tour as it is not just great to see but full of the most amazing painting and architecture.
If you don’t fancy the detour and want to see something special on the route, we can highly recommend the Royal Chateau de Amboise. It was a place of residence for French Kings from the 15th to 19th century and houses incredible grounds and gardens. Even Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb is preserved here at the Chateau.
Amboise to Tours
Cycling out of Amboise, the route will get quieter until the next major stop on the rivers cycling route, which is Tours. As far as destinations go in the area Tours is excellent. You will follow cycle routes, and after a few miles, head inland off the river, where you will pass through small towns. The roads are very quiet, and plenty of places to stop for food before you return to the cycle path by the water.
Tours is known as the garden of France due to its wide-open spaces and 19th-century botanical gardens, which not only have greenhouses but a petting zoo too. The city is full of great cycle paths and easy to navigate. While riding on, we recommend keeping an eye out for the historic buildings and a huge number of places to dine and relax. If you need to replace some calories, you might want to head to the Halles de Tours. Billed as the “Belly of Tours,” the local market has incredible local produce to try, and if you like cheese, you are in for a treat.
Tours to Angers
After you leave Tours the next major stop is Saumur, right by the river. Here you will find the Château de Saumur. This castle isn’t just beautiful, but it has a museum displaying archaeological finds. If you don’t fancy that, you have the cavalry museum, which houses hundreds of tanks, uniforms, and weapons. It’s an excellent place if you want to learn about the French army’s equipment.
The last push on the bike will continue the pedalling alongside the river all the way to Angers which is your final destination. The road is lovely and quiet, and the tarmac is smooth and fast. Angers in previous years was a stronghold for northwest France and is full of rich history, incredible architecture, and endless museums to visit. On our route, you will pass Angers and come in from the west. This cycling route is much quieter and gives you much more to look at. We recommend spending more than a day here as there’s so much to explore within the beautiful city streets. If you want to from here you can continue to Loire Atlantique out on to the coast and even see the Saint Nazaire.
Check out our guide from Orleans to Blois, the section of the Loire a Velo which precedes this route.