In May/June 2013 28 intrepid travellers from our cycle group back home undertook a 10 day cycling tour in the Loire valley. We started our journey in Blois and rode through to Saumur. Initially we looked for an organized tour but not being able to find exactly what we wanted we ended up arranging it all ourselves (with a subsequent saving of about $1000 per couple). There is a fantastic route known as Loire a Velo ( Loire by bicycle - see their very comprehensive website and download their smartphone app) that is well signposted that runs for about 600km along the Loire which is probably the easiest way to travel but we opted for the route recommended by Lonely Planet (you can download the Loire section for a few dollars from their Cycle France publication). Their route used sections of the Loire a Velo but avoids the larger city of Tours by going down to the Indre river (a tributary of the Loire) and joining another signposted route, the Indre a Velo at Loches before heading back in the general direction of the Loire. It is a brilliant route as you are virtually never on any main roads and wind your way through rural France on a combination of cycle paths ,tracks, lane ways and quiet rural roads. Many of the group said it was an experience of a lifetime and the only way to truly appreciate the French country side and all it's beautiful chateaus.
All our hotels were excellent (while only being 2 star) and were all very cycle friendly (all chosen via TripAdvisor). We arranged bike hire through Detours de Loire and they delivered our bikes to the hotel in Blois and collected them at the end of the trip in Saumur. They also provided the bag transfer service between our hotels.
Maps are a little harder to get from outside France (email the tourist offices in each of the towns and they will send a good lot of info) but when you get there you can pick up a lot of useful info from the tourist offices.
The towns in which we stayed were Blois, Amboise, Loches, Azay le Rideau, Chinon and Saumur.
The detailed route maps (with turn by turn directions on a cue sheet) are available on the website RideWithGPS (just search under the town names for jdmcgreg)
If you love cycling it is an experience not to be missed.
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