My partner and I set off on the Loire à Vélo cycle route. Equipped with our two e-bikes, we arrived in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire for our first stage to Orléans. We boarded a Loire à Vélo train to Nantes and continued to Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef, from where we travelled up along the coastline for the return journey. In total, we cycled more than 900km… it was a unique experience!
From Châteauneuf-sur-Loire to Orléans - From Nantes to Saint-Julien-de-Concelles - 60km
Nous prenons notre départ depuis Châteauneuf-sur-Loire sous les trombes…. Heureusement, nous étions en bivouac sans tente à démonter. Arrivés à la gare Orléans, nos vélos ont été pris en charge dans le TER La Loire à Vélo. On souligne la super organisation de la SNCF avec des réservations gratuites pour les vélos à faire avant le départ.
Nous arrivons au Camping du Chêne à Saint-Julien-de-Concelles sous le soleil. Mauvaise surprise cependant avec le snack du camping fermé et les tables/chaises sont squattées par les camping-cars.
Autre mauvaise surprise… aucun restaurant n’est ouvert dans le village un mardi soir. Nous nous reportons des burgers à emporter que nous dégustons sur une table de bar.
From Saint-Julien-de-Concelles to Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef then Pornic - 143km
First sunny departure, at last! We took a route along the north bank and crossed the Loire after Saint-Herblain.
We crossed on the ferry in Basse-Indre (which was free) and continued to Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef in the sunshine. We spent two days in a really nice hotel in order to visit the area.
After a good night’s sleep in a real bed, we set off for an enjoyable coastal loop. With blue skies and pleasant temperatures, we took a detour along the Vélodyssée before returning to Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef.
From Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef to Sainte-Luce-sur-Loire - 94km
A pleasant stage that marked the start of the return journey. Our route along to coast to Saint-Brevin-les-Pins was very scenic. We then reached the Loire estuary but the wind changed to an easterly direction and we had a headwind on all the following stages. E-bikes are really useful in these cases! We met lots of families on bikes and the journey was enjoyable. In Paimboeuf, we visited the Jardin Étoilé.
We decided to stay on the south bank of the Loire to return to Nantes. The route is much more pleasant but much hillier… thankfully we had electric motors!
We reached Nantes and went to the Belle Rivière campsite, which is 10km further along on the north side of the Loire and offers a superb welcome for cyclists. We ordered dinner from a food truck in the evening. We had a really good evening and there was a great atmosphere.
Sainte-Luce-sur-Loire - Oudon - Ancenis – Chalonnes-sur-Loire - 81 km
An enjoyable stage on well-maintained paths with picturesque scenery. Around midday, we stopped in the pretty village of Oudon, where we enjoyed an excellent platter of charcuterie in the local café.
Our next campsite was called Les Portes de la Loire and was friendly but offered limited services. It was noisy but very well located and the village was very pretty.
We could start to feel in our legs that we had already ridden nearly 500km!
Chalonnes-sur-Loire - Montsoreau - 94km
A tricky stage but pretty scenery. We had planned to do 70km but a campsite mix-up threw our plans into disarray. I thought I had booked for Saumur…. But when we arrived we realised we were 17km off. We decided to look for a reasonable campsite nearby and found our luck in Montsoreau: very cycle friendly with a restaurant and a swimming pool… luxury after a tiring day!
We visited to the troglodyte houses after Saumur. Some cyclists we met along the way came to see us because we were a bit lost. Very nice people. We didn’t sleep well in the campsite because of a group of party-goers on the pitch next door.
Montsoreau - Amboise - 108km
A pretty stage but some steep climbs at the end.
We passed in front of the magnificent Château of Ussé in its picturesque riverside setting.
We continued through Tours then attacked a tough climb through the vineyards from Montlouis-sur-Loire to Amboise. When we arrived, we were quite tired after the long stage but there was a gite waiting for us for the night. Our host offered us a guided tour of the town and pointed out the best places to eat. As the gite was quite far from the centre, he offered to drop us off and come and pick us up again. Really nice of him!
Amboise - Blois - 60km
We found a glamping campsite 3km after Blois: the Val de Blois campsite in Vineuil.
It was the best campsite of our journey: a traditional Canadian tent with real beds and electricity for €30. What more to say? We admired the banks of the Loire and paid a visit to the on-site snack bar. It was a welcome break to help us recover from all the emotion!
Blois – Sully-sur-Loire - 123km
A great stage to Orléans. The banks of the Loire were very pretty and the surrounding landscape was picturesque. Unfortunately, the cycle path after Orléans was very monotonous with no shade until Châteauneuf-sur-Loire.
We arrived in Sully-sur-Loire rather tired. We had to recharge our bike batteries in Jargeau to avoid running out of power (1 hour’s recharge in a bar). We spent our last night glamping and had dinner in Sully-sur-Loire.
Sully-sur-Loire - Savigny-en-Sancerre - 70km
We ended our trip with a visit to the bridge in Briare, in the sunshine this time, and returned to our starting point.
We rode approximately 930km over 11 days. Our bikes proved faithful: no punctures or battery failures the whole way! We met some really nice people, but also a few drivers who were much less friendly. Oh well, that’s just how it goes… We’ll retain very fond memories of our first cycle touring holiday and we’re already thinking about our next trip!