Loire Valley 1: Nevers to Blois
Loire Valley 1 Nevers to Blois
The Loire Valley bike route is a stunning beautiful cycling odyssey that follows much of the Loire river in central France. Almost completely flat, it passes through beautiful farmlands, forests, world famous vineyards, and an astonishing amount of French history. It's 860 km long, from Cuffy (near Nevers) on the eastern end to Saint Brevin (across from Saint Nazaire ) at the western end. It's well marked, but not perfectly so, so you'll find our maps come in handy quite often. Since 860 km is a long way, we've created 3 tours that divide the whole length of the route into 3 somewhat more manageable pieces.
Our first tours begins in Nevers, a nice little town on the Loire, with easy train access from Paris, several nice places to stay, good restaurants and readily available bike rentals. If you're into gardens, it's worth the time to take an extra day in Nevers and make a day trip to Apremont sur Allier and it's gorgeous Parc Floral.
The ride out of Nevers to Km 0 of the Loire à Velo route is about 15km along the canal lateral de la Loire. It's glorious, flat and mostly without traffic. After crossing the rather impressive Pont-canal d'Allier, the route passes through the little village of Bec-Allier, where the Allier river enters the Loire. The valley here is wide and flat, and the meeting of these two rivers is impressive.
The Loire à Velo route, properly speaking, begins where the route joins the Canal laterale de la Loire just outside of the tiny village of Cuffy. We continue along either the canal or the elevated levee along the river to La Charite.
From La Charite we ride on to the famous wine town of Sancerre, a hilltop city (worth the climb). Sancerre is a very nice place to spend a couple of days, and we have suggestions for a day ride, or you can just take a nice hike to several wineries in the area.
After Sancerre. we head for Gien, with it's fine Chateau and history of porcelain (faience)
From Gien, the next stop is Saint Benoit, with it's fine church, and the magnificent Chateau de Sully.
After Saint Benoit, we continue on to Orleans, stopping off to see a couple of very fine churches. Orleans is vibrant, fascinating city well worth a couple of days to explore.
From Orleans it's a pleasant ride along the river to Meung-sur-Loire & then Beaugency. There arechateaux and gardens galore on this portion of the route.
From Beaugency, the next stop is Blois and the heart of the Loire Valley. Blois is also the starting point for our next tour, Blois -Saumur. If Blois is your end point, be sure to take a couple of extra days to take in Chambord, and Cheverney.