Route 5 – Down the Loire

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





Pays de la Loire:;


La Loire à Vélo:


Ferries (Portsmouth/Caen):

A new bike

The Loire at Decize. No spoilsport deterrents to taking the aerial route

Jaugenay, chapelle désaffectée

Route barrée. On the Canal latéral à la Loire, near Nevers.



Le Bec d’Allier (Loire/Allier confluence).


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 ….

The Sancerrois


Breaking in is not so very hard to do. Chavignol


which way?


The Loire near Briare


off-piste between Gien and Briare


Sully sur Loire, return visit


The Loire near Orleans


Easy access to ankle deep water




Place du Martroi, Orleans


Breakfast, Hotel de l’Abeille (reading Higginson)


Turner’s Beaugency


Le Gué Péan


Troglo-vélo, near Montrichard


Chenonceau (Zone Libre)


Amboise conspirator-in-chief de la Renaudie and his nemesis, the duc de Guise. At the château de Noizay


Loose gravel alert. The Château de Noizay

Floods at Tours


La Loire à Vélo, near Villandry


Rude not to ….




La Loire à Vélo is not always well signed. If in doubt, follow the river

After the lesson. Saumur




Piscine municipale, Ingrandes


The Loire from Champtoceaux



The Loire at Mauves



Nantes cathedral


Loire ferry at Le Pellerin


Wind against. Near Paimboeuf


Great Scott


St Nazaire bridge. Cyclable?


Tour de France, la Caravane