France Loire: Nevers to Nantes
France is a great place to cycle and the Loire route – which is part of EuroVelo 6 (from the Atlantic to the Black Sea if you’re really keen) – is one of the easiest routes to follow and the most enjoyable to ride. You’re mostly on smooth tarmac bike paths or super quiet country lanes; the signage is excellent so navigation is easy; and there are lots of places to stop for food and accommodation.
Our itinerary allows for some sightseeing but you could easily take your time and do more – or add in a couple of days off.
The Loire à Vélo website includes everything you need to know, from distances and elevation to places to stay and bike shops.
Although the Loire route is well-signed, I would recommend this map. We found it useful for creating an itinerary and also for navigation and tracking progress en route.
Nevers to Sancerre
48 miles / 77 km
This stage follows the Canal Latéral à la Loire, taking in Le Guétin’s canal-bridge, before joining the Loire. We had lunch at a pizzeria in La Charité-sur-Loire. The final climb to the hill town of Sancerre is worth it. We stayed at Brit Hôtel Le Clos Saint Martin and ate at Auberge La Pomme D’or (both recommended).
Sancerre to Gien
Gien to Chateauneuf
32 miles / 50 km
This is a nice short stage – there’s more riverside cycling on the levees broken up by a short sharp hill up to Saint-Florent and down again. We stayed at the Hotel Parc which was functional but we liked it. There are gardens to explore at Chateauneuf. We had some good food in the garden of pizzeria/brasserie La Gabare.
Chateauneuf to Beaugency
40 miles / 64 km
We got to Orleans in time for coffee by the cathedral. Lunch was a picnic by the river just after Meung where we also managed a quick swim. Beaugency is seriously pretty. We stayed in the Hotel le Relais des Templiers.
Beaugency to Amboise
50 miles / 80 km
Even the unseasonal wind and rain couldn’t spoil the pretty ride to Blois. There were a few hills on the way from Blois to Amboise where we were staying right in the centre at a charming B&B above Italian restaurant Villa Roma opposite the chateau.
Amboise to Villandry
32 miles / 51 km
This was a short day so we had time to visit the impressive gardens and chateau at Villandry. The ride took us through Tours and along the river Cher – making a change from the Loire. We stayed at the Inter-Hotel Le Cheval Rouge and ate the best meal of the whole trip at L’Etape Gourmande, a 1km walk out of Villandry.
Villandry to Saumur
40 miles / 64 km
There’s lots of variety on this leg – some hills, some forest and lots of pretty villages, especially after Candes Saint Martin. Saumur is a bustling town; an umbrella art installation brightened up the main drag when we were there. We stayed in the Ibis near the station – clean, friendly and with a good breakfast buffet.
Saumer to Montjean-sur-Loire
52 miles / 84 km
The day started with a visit to a beautiful patisserie in St Clement des Levees, Les Douceurs de la Levée; and it ended with a fireworks display. There was a festival in full swing when we arrived in Montjean-sur-Loire; our hotel, the Auberge de la Loire, was in the centre.
Montjean-sur-Loire to Nantes
45 miles / 73 km
This was a very enjoyable last day; we criss-crossed the Loire a couple of times and bought some provisions in Oudon. We hit proper traffic once we got to Nantes as part of the cycle path was closed. We liked Nantes – especially our final breakfast at the famous Le Cigale. We stayed at the Hotel Voltaire Opera.