The Centre-Val de Loire region is a mecca for cycling enthusiasts. Cycling in the Loire Valley guarantees you a relaxing ride along the river and its magnificent castles. The region is full of peace and tranquility, making it one of the most popular cycling areas in Europe. The national roads and cycle paths are flat or slightly inclined. Along the way, you will find idyllic castles, picturesque villages, watermills, and nature. Add to that good food and good wine, and you have all the makings of a great cycling holiday!
1) La Loire à Vélo
La Loire à Vélo (the Loire by bike) is the most obvious way to discover the richness of the Loire region. It heads downstream from Cufi and follows the course of the famous river that flows into the Atlantic Ocean. For more than 20 years, “La Loire à Vélo” has attracted hundreds of thousands of cyclists to the Loire Valley every summer. The well-maintained route, totaling 900 kilometers, includes many famous castles with beautiful gardens, such as Chambord, Villandry, Amboise, etc. No other cycling route has such a high concentration of historical monuments.
2) The Heart of France by Bike – From Tours to Chenonceau along the Cher River
The route through the center of France by bicycle is new. Here you can enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery of the Touraine region. There are few cars, and the roads are safe and perfectly marked. Listen to the birds chirping and the sun shining on the water as you cycle, feeling as close as possible to the nature around you.
3) La Scandibérique – The Pilgrimage Route
La Scandibérique is the longest cycling road in France at 1,700 km long, crossing France from northeast to southwest. The route is also known as “la Véloroute des Pèlerins” because it passes through one of the old pilgrimage routes.
In the Centre-Val de Loire region, the route passes through three departments (Loiret, Loire-et-Cher, and Indre-et-Loire) and along the Canal de la Loire. It can be enjoyed in various ways, from a family stroll for a few hours to cycling during the summer vacations, between plains and hills, towpaths, national forests and moors, places of remembrance, historical towns, and medieval forests. This route is away from the big tourist attractions, remains a bit wild, and twists and turns along the curves of canals between forest clumps, ponds, and farms.
You can also indulge in various local specialties such as Malloire beer, Sancerre wine, Poitou lamb, foie gras, and Bordeaux cannellés. In the towns and villages you pass through, there are many good restaurants that try to pass on the rich local flavors. On a sunny day, you can have an exciting time on the terrace or in the village market.
4) Cycling along the Indre River
You can enjoy the quiet country roads under the flowering weeping willows along the Indre. The route is also dotted with many heritage sites, such as the mills of the Indre Valley, the Gupillière Cave Valley, and the abbeys of Colmery and Beaulieu-les-Roches. There are also picturesque villages such as Shedigny with its old rose and blues festival, and Colmery with its abbey and monastery.
Along the way, you can see historical monuments that contribute to the fame of the Loire. See the Château de Chenonceau with its graceful arches reflected in the water of the Cher River. Admire the Royal Castle of Loches, a masterpiece of medieval military architecture. In the heart of the town of Montbazon is the imposing Château de Fauconnoir, with the oldest keep in France (the Black Eagle Tower). At the end of this route, you will see the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, located on an island in the middle of the Indre River.
Do you enjoy cycling? What are some of the best cycling routes you’ve been to? Let us know in the comments below!