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Loire to Atlantic 10-day Self-guided Cycling Tour Level 2
The wild-romantic Loire is one of Europe’s last remaining unregulated rivers flowing through gently undulating terrain towards the Atlantic. This river accompanies the culture-enthusiastic cycling-holidaymaker following its course along the Loire-cycle path from Orléans to Saint Nazaire past magnificent palaces and blooming gardens taking you back into France‘s glorious past – and you are off into the heart of the royal cycling holiday bliss. Look forward to one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, enjoy
The route is signposted well and follows the course of the river and is without any ascents worth mentioning. The majority of the route leads along country roads with very little traffic or cycling paths. Only maybe the length of the daily tours and some headwind require a bit more than just a basic fitness level. There are bypass options by train always available along the entire route.
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Arrival in Orléans
Orléans – Blois (approx. 65-80 km)
Shortly after Beaugency you decide whether you want to embark on the shorter option and cycle along the Northern shore, the official Loire-cycle path, or pick the longer option along the Southern shores with a detour to Chambord palace. As far as the eye can see the "Domaine de Chambord" expands here. Already from afar you can see the walls of this largest and most magnificent residence of the Loire, shimmering through the trees, the immortal legacy of a disloyal king.
Blois – Tours (approx. 70 km) A stupendous day of cycling with fascinating views onto the gold-shimmering sandbanks of the Loire and with the characteristic cliff dwellings of this region lying in front of you. Half way along the route the most royal palace of all Loire-palaces awaits: Amboise palace. It was home to five kings and one Roman emperor. Also a genius from the 16th century, Leonardo da Vinci, who spent his last few years here in Amboise, draws attention to it. You can also visit his manor. You proceed along the shores of the Loire until Tours.
Tours – Chinon (approx. 60 km)
The river Cher, a Loire tributary, leads you directly to Villandry palace with its terraced gardens. Certainly, you should not miss paying a visit to this famous installation. Every visitor will be amazed by the shadowy footpaths, the flower-bedecked bowers, the fountains and the artistically laid out vegetable gardens. Some kilometres further on you will exchange the bank of the Cher for the bank of the famous Loire. And again you will be tempted by the next castle – Langeais. From the top of the fortified tower (this castle exclusively served for military purposes) you will see the river and its whole surroundings lying in front of you. Via small villages and on side roads you will reach today’s Day Finish – Chinon, impressing visitors with its mighty castle complex.
Chinon – Angers (approx. 80 km)
You leave Chinon with its medieval alleyways and follow the river Vienne to Candes-St. Martin. A charming stroll through the village up to the highest point of the hill enables an impressive view onto the confluence of both rivers Vienne and Loire. We highly recommend another panoramic view onto the vast Loire-valley from Saumur palace. After that you enter the vineyards situated at the southers shores of the Loire and cycle towards your next big Day Finish Angers. In case this tour is too strenuous for you, you can bypass the route by train from Saumur onwards.
Angers –Saint-Florent-le-Vieil/Surroundings (approx. 45-55 km)
Take a bit of time for the small, lively university town of Angers. Especially for the castle featuring a monumental tapestry sequence, the world-renenowned ‚Apocalypse of Angers‘ dating back to the 14th century and displayed in a specially built galery. Angers is situtated on the river Maine, the final significant tributary of the Loire before the Atlantic. You follow this river until is joins the river Loire at La Pointe-Bouchemaine. You continue along the foot of a slate-granite massif until Savennières featuring the oldest church of the region. Some of the best wines of the Loire-valley are grown here, fruity, dry white wines – we recommend a visit to one of the vintners. We also highly recommend a detour to Béhuard, the only village literally ‚in‘ the Loire. Béhuard is located on one of the numerous islands, created by the Loire river. From La Poissonnière the route leads you via dykes with wonderful views onto the river Loire into the trim little town Saint-Florent-le-Vieil.
Saint-Florent-le-Vieil/Surroundings – Nantes (approx. 50-60 km)
Another day along the Loire river through continuously changing scenery awaits. The Loire now finally enters Brittany and carves through slate- and granit rocks all the way to Nantes. The cycle path changes the side of the river several times, which also includes tackling a few smaller ascents – which again rewards you with beautiful views. The route leads you past market gardens, which produce lamb’s lettuce, carrots and lily of the valley on a large scale. The Loire ‚escorts‘ you into the centre of the historic capital of Brittany, Nantes. Although the Loire estuary into the Atlantic is another 70 km away the influence of the sea is already noticable and visible.
Nantes – Saint Nazaire (approx. 55 km)
Now the river becomes ever wider, the scenery increasingly placid. You proceed through little villages always downstream to the resort Saint-Brevin-les-Pins, with its location embedded between the Loire estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. Only the impressive bridge over the Loire River separates you from Saint Nazaire. The place of your overnight stay is one of the most impressive towns in the estuary delta. Visit the Atlantic shipyard, which is one of the largest ship building corporations in the world, or the submarine bunker, which is also accessible by bike.
Round Trip to the Sea (approx. 40 km)
At the end of your holiday allow yourself to leave all your cares behind. A beautiful cycle tour takes you along the coast to La Baule-Escoublac. The charming village with its 8 km long sandy beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful and most important beaches on the Atlantic coast. Full of impressions you cycle on quiet paths back to Saint Nazaire.
Departure or extension
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Shows in English in Paris: Paris offers a wide variety of shows accessible to English-speakers. One-man shows, classic & modern theatre, musicals, cabarets and more are all performed in the city every night. You can get the full programme of shows in Paris to fit your city break dates by emailing [email protected]