Philippe and Julia from Nevers to Saint-Brévin-les-Pins

  • © Philippe et Julia
  • © Philippe et Julia
  • © Philippe et Julia

We're Philippe and Julia, a Swiss couple and we love traveling, cycling and challenges! During the summer of 2019, we travelled to Brittany in our motorhome. We stopped in Nevers and took the opportunity to do a bit of cycling. A few days later, we arrived on the coast of Brittany and happened to pass through Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, where we saw the sign marking the end of the Loire à Vélo. As we chatted to the man at the checkpoint at the end of the route, we realised that the start was in Nevers! We naturally decided to return the following summer to cycle the whole route (although it was actually two summers later because of COVID)!

Nevers - La Charité-sur-Loire - 45 km

A leisurely 45km stage to start our adventure on the Loire à Vélo. The weather was cloudy but the sun came out at intervals and we avoided the rain. The wind turned. It could be worse! It was not long before we arrived in La Charité-sur-Loire, almost surprised at how little time it had taken us. Let’s hope it lasts! 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

La Charité-sur-Loire - Cosne-sur-Loire - 51,7 km

A fantastic sunny stage with a small climb at Sancerre. We were tempted by a quick glass of wine but decided it was wiser to stick to a refreshing iced tea before continuing our journey along the canal. The route was always very well indicated and the people we met were very friendly. In the morning we passed the 50km mark, a sure sign that were on the right track! 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

Cosne-Sur-Loire - Gien - 48,8 km

The weather was overcast when we set off in the morning, but the road ahead was straight and as the kilometres rolled by the clouds gradually gave way to sunshine. The route was increasingly beautiful, alternating between the canal, the banks of the Loire and forest shade. We hit a couple of small climbs and appreciated the downhill ride each time! When we arrived in Gien, we had a really amazing view and the sun come out for good. 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

Gien - Orléans - 75,7 km

Don’t change a winning team: another cloudy start to the day! We saw the very pretty Château of Sully-sur-Loire. After stopping for a picnic lunch in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, we set off again under threatening skies, but thankfully the rain stayed away. There was a noticeable headwind for last 20km, but we arrived in Orléans in the sunshine and still smiling! 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

Orléans - Blois - 74.1km + loop via Chambord - 41.7km

We continued our journey with a mixture of sunny, cloudy and windy weather (sometimes with a strong headwind) but nothing could take the smiles from our faces! The scenery was as beautiful and varied as ever and the people were just as friendly. 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

Blois - Tours - 79,26 km

“Rain before seven, fine by eleven, so they say! Summary of the day’s stage: clouds, rain and a full headwind all the way, 400m of climbs (not along the Loire à Vélo, which is always flat!), a lovely lunch in the company of some really nice people, plenty of laughter and arrival in Tours in the sun. 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

Tours - Brehémont - 46,58 km

We had planned a shorter stage and the timing was perfect because it poured with rain for much of the day! Along the way, we got chatting to a farmer who told us that we were on the “3 grams” route, a detour that the locals take in the evening after pre-dinner drinks. We passed in front of the Château of Villandry, whose gardens we’d visit three years previously. It was very odd because the place was deserted! The terrible weather and the pandemic seemed to have put tourists off. The next day we would continue to Saumur and were really looking forward to it. 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

Bréhémont - Saumur - 60 km

One of the best stages so far! After 8km, we passed in front of the magnificent Château of Ussé, which inspired Sleeping Beauty! The sky was still filled with threatening clouds but we refused to get our macs out and it worked because the rain missed us! Next, we crossed the charming village of Turquant and visited the troglodyte dwellings dedicated to pommes tapées, which were really interesting! We had a very nice chat with a couple of Belgians, before attacking the last few kilometres via the hills and arriving in Saumur with its magnificent Château in style! The sun had finally put in an appearance and we were delighted. 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

Saumur - Les-Ponts-de-Cé - 61,6 km

Today, the sun was back and it was nice being able to ride without having three layers on. There was still a headwind, but we were used to it by then! We saw the first sign for “Nantes”, which showed we were still on the right track. 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

Les Ponts-de-Cé - Ancenis

Great roads for cycling + great legs + a good wind = the winning recipe for an easy 73.54km stage. We even made a bit of headway on the following day’s stage. You never know, you might come across some nice open-air cafes along the way! 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

Ancenis - Nantes - 55,6 km

A clear blue sky that morning, beautiful! The route was as pretty as ever and easy riding. We arrived in Nantes. It was the third time we had been to the city (but the first time by bike!). It’s a real gem. We treated ourselves to the world’s best strawberry ice cream. After a two-year wait, it was well deserved! 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

We had arrived. It was two years ago, almost to the day, that we came to Saint-Brevin-les-Pins and stumbled across the finish/start of the Loire à Vélo. We didn’t even hesitate. We promised ourselves we would do it one day. Two years later, we had completed the cycle route. 

© Philippe et Julia © Philippe et Julia

The Loire à Vélo left us with loads of great memories.

In a nutshell: 

– 12 stages and a loop via châteaux 

– A total of 793km 

– clouds, rain, wind and sun 

– stunning scenery 

– hours of chatting on the bike 

– countless friendly encounters with locals and other cyclists 

– great SNCF rail service 

– 0 punctures 

– tonnes of great memories 

Thank you to everyone who followed us and see you soon for more adventures (we’ve already got plenty of ideas in mind)!