Biking the Loire River in France

Marc likes to bike, Julia likes to hike, so we switch off on trips. Biking the Loire River valley, with it surrounding chateaus and wines and history,  was a dream of Marc’s, so in June 2015, we loaded up the bikes and headed out. We spent sixteen days biking from Saint-Brevin-les-Pins to Nevers (including two rest days).  Along the way we learned a lot, drank a lot, ate a lot, and biked a moderate amount. Julia discovered that Marc’s Loire River route moved between different river valleys in order to maximize the viewing of certain Chateaus. This meant that while the concept that river valleys are essentially flat is true, the fact that rivers are separated by hills (hence why they are two rivers and not one) meant that the “flat” route wasn’t always so flat. But it was fun and unbelievably scenic!

Marc and Julia Loire Photo


Marc loves maps and planning and his GPS, and as a result we had the entire route planned out on the GPS (GPX routes can be downloaded here).  But in addition to the GPS, we found a great set of maps for the the bike route: the La Loire a Velo (Loire-Radweg, Loire by Bike) maps by Huber Kartographie. There are six maps that cover the entire Loire route and they are available at most tourist offices along the route. Sometimes the tourist office has all six maps as a set, sometimes they only have the map for their section of the trail, and you can’t get the next map until you get to a tourist office that is located on the next map in the sequence. The maps are great for planning your days, deciding if you want to detour around a steep section, and locating campgrounds (although not all the campgrounds are listed on the maps). They are also a really useful visual aid when trying to get directions using 30 year old high school French.

Map 1: from the Atlantic Ocean to Angers; Map 2: from Angers to Blois; Map 3: from Blois to Belleville-sur-Loire; Map 4: from Belleville-sur-Loire to Paray-le-Monial; Map 5: the Burgundy tour, from Paray-le-Monial to Dole (Jura); Map 6: the Alsace tour, from Dole to Basel. 

Below is our day to day itinerary with some commentary, photos, and of course links to the GPX files for download. If you get a chance to cycle this route, DO IT! It is beautiful, scenic, historic, low to no traffic, and best of all the French love cyclists. 

© Eat, Drink, and Carry a GPS 2013