Moulins to St Brevin. About 750km. June/July 2011
Following the lower half of the Loire, via the chateaux and vineyards of the garden of France, is a classic French bike ride that needs no introduction or justification. There are lots of ways to do it, using Eurostar and direct trains between Paris and any of half a dozen towns between Nevers and St Nazaire. We sailed through the night with Brittany Ferries to Caen, left the car at Angers, travelled by train to Moulins and rode up to meet the Loire at Decize; and caught a train back to Angers from St Nazaire at the end. Travelling down the Loire does expose you to the risk of a westerly headwind, strengthening as you approach the Atlantic; an easier ride might start at St Nazaire and proceed up-river. The Loire à Vélo is a cycle trail, partly on minor roads, partly on dedicated cycle paths, from Nevers to the sea. We found it incomplete and less easy to follow than we were expecting; our Michelin 1:200k road maps were not really up to the job.
To read my review of the English translation of Editions Ouest France’s guide book, ‘The Complete Loire à Vélo Trail’ click here . It’s disappointing and a missed opportunity, to say the least, and the publisher expresses no interest in my offer to help improve it. If I was doing the ride again I would use Huber & Verlag’s Loire à Vélo maps and the Michelin green and red guides.
View Moulins to St Brevin in a larger map
La Loire à Vélo: www.loireavelo.fr
Ferries (Portsmouth/Caen): www.brittany-ferries.co.uk
A new bike
The Loire at Decize. No spoilsport deterrents to taking the aerial route
Jaugenay, chapelle désaffectée
Sign on the bridge at Pouilly sur Loire (not my photo), self-proclaimed mid-point of the Loire. The river’s official length is usually said to be 1012km. The maths doesn’t quite work ….
La Loire à Vélo is not always well signed. If in doubt, follow the river