Cycling Through France’s Loire Valley

The Loire Valley region of France has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for more than 20 years. It is home to more than 3,000 miles of cycling routes, including scenic trails along the river and through the countryside, as well as stops at Renaissance châteaux, vineyards and more. Along the official “Loire by Bike” (Loire à Velo) route, spanning 560 miles along the Loire River, there’s a network of more than 700 professionals dedicated to welcoming bikers, including accommodations, tourist sites, bike rental companies and repair stations.

Below are a few of the many “Loire by Bike” routes and loops offered in the region:

Heritage in the Loir-et-Cher: This route passes by intimate châteaux such as Château de Beauregard in Cellettes (famous for its Gallery of Portraits, housing the largest collection of historical portraits in Europe with 327 artworks), Château de Troussay in Cheverny and Château de Villesavin in Tour-en-Sologne. The route will also pass Château de Chambord, Château Royal de Blois and Château de Cheverny. Luxury accommodations in this area include Les Sources de Cheverny, Fleur de Loire and Relais de Chambord.

The King’s Highway in Indre-et-Loire: This route starts at the Château Royal d’Amboise and finishes at Château de Chenonceau, allowing bikers to retrace the steps of the kings and queens of France, who once traveled these paths by carriage. This trail meanders through forests, winds its way through vineyards, then runs along the Cher River. Accommodations along the route include Auberge du Bon Laboureur in Chenonceaux and Le Manoir Les Minimes in Amboise.

Amboise (UnMonde A Velo)

Wine, goat cheese and more around Sancerre: This route requires a special bike equipped for more rugged terrain and hills, and includes a scenic trail along the Loire River, as well as through vineyards and the town of Sancerre. Recommended stops include the medieval town of Saint-Satur, wine tasting at Domaine de la Perrière and Sancerre, where travelers can dine at Auberge Joseph Mellot and sample the famous Crottin de Chavignol goat cheese at La Ferme de Saint-Louis.

Orléans to Beaugency in the Loiret: Beginning in Orléans, the city of Joan of Arc, this trail finishes in Beaugency, a medieval city with a château that has recently been restored as a Digital Art Center. Along the way, travelers will follow the river and pass through La Pointe de Courpain nature reserve, the gardens of Roquelin with its 450 varieties of roses and Château de Meung-sur-Loire (the former residence of the bishops of Orléans). This route takes approximately two and a half hours, and bikers can choose to travel back to Orléans by train.

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