Cycling Loire Valley: the Loire by bike trail
The great châteaux in Amboise, the Montlouis-sur-Loire vineyards, the pretty town of Tours, the chateau and gardens of Villandry, the castles of Langeais and Azay-le-Rideau, the royal fortress of Chinon… when you are preparing your cycling holidays in France along the Loire by bike trail (“The Loire à vélo”), don’t forget, along with the distances to ride, to set aside time for sightseeing.
The Loire by bike, a unique route
In France, the Loire by bike trail was the first marked and safe cycle route. The project was initiated in 1995 by the Centre Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire regions to form the western section of Eurovélo 6. This major route thus runs alongside three major European rivers (the Loire, the Rhine and the Danube), crossing France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, the Servie, Bulgaria and Romania.
From the foothills of the Massif Central to the beaches of the Atlantic, the Loire by bike follows the banks of Europe’s last great wild river. Over almost 900 km, an exceptional diversity of landscapes is on offer to lovers of nature and heritage.
In Touraine, to be precise, cycling along the Loire River itinerary takes you to the heart of the Val de Loire and its great châteaux, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For just under 100 km, your knurls will take you to the ramparts of Amboise, the lively heart of the city of Tours, the entrance to the gardens of Villandry or the walls of the royal fortress of Chinon.
The castles of Langeais and Ussé are also on your route, as is the great aquarium of Touraine. And that’s not all! Antennas allow you to deviate from the main route, to reach the castles of Chenonceau and Azay-le-Rideau, The Rétro Mecanic City Maurice Dufresne, the Haute Couture gardens, the Royal City of Loches, but also to catch up with other major routes such as the Indre by bike, Cœur de France by bike (Val de Cher – Canal de Berry) or even the Camino de Santiago by bike. Note also that in Chinon, a greenway leads to the “ideal city” of Richelieu, via the fairy-tale gardens of the Château du Rivau.
In addition to the castles, the Loire by bike itinerary will also take you through several vineyards. It’s up to you to improvise a tasting break in the tourist cellars of Amboise, Montlouis, Azay-le-Rideau, Chinon or Bourgueil!
An easy cycling route, even with children!
With its flat, safe, well-marked route and numerous facilities, the Loire by bike itinerary is accessible to all. From the age of 7 or 8, experience is possible, with stages of 20 to 30 kilometres per day. Of course, the little ones can also make the journey, using a cargo bike or a suitable trailer. This makes it possible to combine a visit to the châteaux of the Loire Valley with the adventure of a family cycling tour. A very fun way to visit France and its wonderful heritage!
To get to your starting point, or to get back to it (if, for example, you need to pick up your vehicle / practical: link to the parking areas in Tours), rail links pass through the stations of Orléans, Blois, Amboise, Tours, Chinon, Saumur, Angers and Nantes. During the summer, the Train Vélo Loire operation even allows you to take your bike on board free of charge: they have specially equipped carriages. Given the success of this event, please make sure to book!
For accommodation, there are campsites, hotels and guest houses all along the Loire by bike route. Many of them have the “Loire à Vélo” label, which means they propose good services, adapted to cycling visitors, like luggage transfer (Bagafrance…).
Practical tips to cycling Loire Valley:
- Bike rentals
- Accommodation and restaurants with the “Loire à Vélo” label
- Sites to visit with the “Loire à Vélo” label
- Exact locations of the Electrically Assisted Bicycle recharging stations (Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Rigny-Ussé, Chinon, plus Tours with the Accueil Vélo Rando).
Map of the Loire by bike route
Download a pdf of the “Loire by bike” route to cycle in Touraine:
Cycling Loire Valley: dynamic map
Distances for the Loire by bike route
To prepare your stages each day, book your hotel for the night, and spot your Loire Valley chateaux visits, count on an average of 15 km/hour (around 9 miles/hour) and make your calculations using the distance table below.
|Orléans||65 km||103 km||130 km||159 km||209 km|
|Blois||65 km||38 km||65 km||94 km||144 km|
|Amboise||103 km||38 km||27 km||56 km||106 km|
|Tours||130 km||65 km||27 km||29 km||79 km|
|Langeais||159 km||94 km||56 km||29 km||50 km|
|Saumur||209 km||144 km||106 km||79 km||50 km|
Cycling Loire Valley – Logistics
To get to the starting point of your route, or to come back again (for instance, if you have to pick up your car), connecting train services run to the stations of Blois, Amboise, Tours, Chinon, or Saumur. In summer, the Train Vélo Loire operation even lets you take your bike on some trains (with specially designed carriages) running between Orléans and Nantes.
Also in summer, you can add some variety by crossing the River Loire free of charge by boat near Chapelle-sur-Loire (on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays in July and August). The crossing, run by the boatmen of Les Vents d’Galerne, will open up the way to the Bourgueil wine region, where there are several cycling trails: Au gré de la Loire & Grands Crus et Belles Demeures. On the french website https://www.enrouelibre-centrevaldeloire.com, you can find the different circuits and routes criss-crossing the Loire à Vélo trail.
The Loire by bike… all inclusive!
If you are planning a cycling holiday for the first time, with accommodation to be found for each stage, it is certainly easier to go through one of the agencies specialising in organised trips. Below are some agencies and examples of all-inclusive “Loire by bike” trips:
- RandoVélo. In the heart of the greatest castles of the Loire Valley. 3 days, 2 nights, from 300€ TTC. 40 to 50 km per day. Blois, Chambord, Cheverny, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Amboise, Chenonceaux.
- Abicyclette Voyages. Loop on the Loire, the Cher and the Indre by bike. 7 days and 6 nights, from 725€ TTC. Between 22 and 41 km per day. Passage through Tours, Amboise, Chenonceaux, Loches, Montbazon, Azay-le-Rideau, Langeais.
- The Vélo Voyageur. The Loire by Bike between Tours and Saumur (canoe + bike). 4 days, 3 nights, from 439€ TTC. Between 21 and 35 km per day. Passage through Tours, Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Ussé, Chinon, Montsoreau (if canoe option) or Fontevraud (if bike option), and Saumur.
- Evazio. The castles of the Loire Valley by bike from Blois to Saumur. 8 days, 7 nights, from 740€ TTC. Between 36 and 57 km per day. Passage through Blois, Cheverny, Amboise, Chenonceaux, Tours, Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Ussé, Chinon and Saumur.
- Safrantours. The Loire by bike from Amboise to Saumur. 7 days, 6 nights, from 1140€ TTC. Between 24 and 39 km per day. Passage through Amboise, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Tours, Villandry, Langeais, Azay-le-Rideau, Ussé, Chinon, Candes-Saint-Martin and Saumur.
- La bicyclette verte. The Loire by bike, from Orléans to Tours. 5 days, 4 nights, from 539€ TTC. Between 25 and 65 km per day. Passage through Orléans, Beaugency, Blois, Amboise, and Tours.
More information on the Loire by bike route
Taking you beyond Touraine, on the general website www.loirebybike.co.uk you can see the entire route from Cuffy (in the department of Cher) to Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique), including the chateau of Chambord, the chateau of Blois, the royal chateau of Amboise, Tours and Chinon.