The Loire Valley offers outstanding wines, French splendour, sophisticated cities and fairytale fortresses, ideal for exploring on two wheels. Contrary to popular belief, it’s perfectly possible to squeeze an awesome cycling holiday in the Loire into a short stay and Brittany Ferries offer some great options for cycling holidays in Loire. Of course, the more time you’ve got, the better, but this doesn’t mean that even a few days can’t be used for a simply outstanding cycling trip around the Loire.
A cycling holiday in the Loire means gaining the opportunity to take in magnificent mountain scenery, unbroken countryside and the chance to sample some of the world’s most incredible food and wine. And the fact that all of this is right there on your doorstep is nothing less than the cherry on the cake! There are three ferry routes that Brittany Ferries recommend for a cycling holiday in the Loire – Plymouth to Roscoff, Portsmouth to St Malo and Portsmouth to Caen. Each of these will get you and your gear where you need to be in no time at all, allowing you to make the most of your short trip.
Where to Cycle
The Pays de la Loire and Centre regions are home to some of the very best cycle routes in the whole of France – not to mention a LOT of them. The Loire à vélo in particular is nothing short of a masterpiece, crossing two regions, six départements and six major urban areas at a cost of €52 million to the French government. It begins at the Atlantic coast and represents one of the EuroVelo 6’s dozen cycling routes, which cross an incredible 10 European countries.
With limited time available, it’s a case of choosing one or two stretches of the cycle route available, to ensure you get a taste of the region’s best. Some of the most popular and highly recommended examples include the route from Sancerre to St Nazaire, along with the ride from Le Puy en Velay to Sancerre or indeed Gerbier de Jonc to Le Puy en Velay. Research the routes available to you before you go, or you run the risk of being spoilt for choice upon arrival.
When to cycle in the Loire Valley
For most types of holidays, including those in the saddle, the very best time to travel to the Loire Valley is the spring or the autumn. While the summers tend to be extremely hot and rather on the congested side, the warm days and pleasant evenings outside these peaks make for premium cycling conditions. The Loire Valley is known for its temperate climate which makes it the ‘Garden of France’ – snowfall is usually rare, quite light and doesn’t stick around because the climate is so mild.
Where to Stay in the Loire
Accommodation options are certainly not in short supply, though across much of the Loire you won’t find a great many five-star hotels or boutique bedsits. And nor should you be looking for them, as this is just the kind of place where you should be embracing farmhouses, gites and even the chateaux that are open to the public. If you come across one serving up the very best local produce too, jackpot!
I’m always looking to add new destinations to my cycling travel wish list and taking a bike away with you on a ferry trip is super easy. Let me know your favourite destinations to visit by ferry in the comment box below.
*This article was written by fellow cyclist, travel lover and UK blogger Mark Shaw from Cool Things*