15 must-see places on the Loire by Bike cycle route

A couple cycling past a castle

The Loire à vélo, a varied and remarkable route

We invite you to discover the Loire by Bike ®, as a family, as a couple or alone. This cycle route is one of the most famous in France and is used by cyclists from all over the world. The Loire by Bike® is an integral part of the magnificent EuroVelo 6, a trans-European cycle route linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, from Saint-Brévin-les-Pins in France to Constanta in Romania.

La Loire by Bike® is 900 km long. The project was launched in 1995. The natural and historical richness of the banks of the river and of the Valley of the Kings quickly made this journey a success. The quality of the route continues to improve each year with the creation of new greenways, loops and connections. This gives cyclists safe access to the region’s most beautiful tourist sites.

It’s not just one famous route, but a series of smaller, interconnected routes that allow you to make the bike trip you want, whatever your interests.

A family-friendly route along Europe’s last wild river

The Loire à Vélo route is rich in sights and tourist attractions. But if there was one place to focus on, it would be the Loire itself. With its well-preserved banks and diverse wildlife, the river is even partly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the Loire Valley.

And when you think of a river, you think of a route that’s accesible even for the youngest visitors. That’s a big advantage that makes this route the ideal choice for first-time bike travelers. An easy route in an exceptional setting, rich in natural, cultural, artistic and historical heritage, the Loire by Bike offers great touring opportunities for young and old.

A remarkable, flexible and well-developed itinerary, it appeals both to beginners looking for a first experience and to more experienced cyclists looking for a route with many important sites to visit.

Accompanied cycling holidays on the Loire by Bike

If you are looking for a safe cycling holiday, contact our agency. At Abicyclette Voyages, we offer a wide range of customizable Loire by Bike tours. If you’d like to vary the pleasures by opting for a family itinerary, or alternate canoeing and cycling to visit the Loire castles, it’s perfectly possible.

Do you have a specific idea in mind? Our agency also offers customized stays!

The most beautiful places on the Loire by Bike

From Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, representing the mouth of the Loire, to Cuffy, a few kilometers from Nevers, the Loire by Bike is a very rich itinerary. It’s not easy to choose just 15 places, and the choices are sometimes painful. Fortunately, on a bike you don’t have to choose.

Here’s a subjective selection of the highlights of your bike trip. For once, let’s cycle up the Loire from the estuary to the source.

The Loire estuary

Whether it’s the end or the beginning of your adventure, it starts or ends with a bang at the Loire estuary. The route is dotted with carrelets, part of the traditional Atlantic coastal landscape.

The view of the Saint-Nazaire bridge and a visit to the pleasant seaside resort of Saint-Brévin-les-Pins are sure to delight. Here, the Sea Serpent is a very original local attraction that you’ll be delighted to discover at sunset.

Nantes, the city of Anne

Just a few kilometers from downtown Nantes, Trentemoult is a charming old fishing village with colorful houses. Situated on the banks of the Loire, it’s a delight to get lost in the maze of narrow streets.

In Nantes, the Château d’Anne de Bretagne is well worth a visit, but the curiosity of the machines on the Île de Nantes is even more compelling. An original and exceptional place, a visit to the gallery is a must.

Mount Glonne

Located in Saint-Florent-le-Vieil, Mont Glonne offers an exceptional panorama of the Loire and the surrounding plains from its esplanade. The abbey church of Saint-Florent du Mont-Glonne, perched on its promontory, is certainly the main tourist attraction of this small town of character.

Built in the 8th century, the Benedictine abbey bears witness to the region’s turbulent past. The abbey church dates from the 14th century.

Ile de Béhuard

Île de Béhuard is a small, picturesque town located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of two river islands in France and the only inhabited island in the Loire.

A major pilgrimage site since the 5th century, its charm and flower-filled streets invite you to stroll through its unspoiled natural environment.

Troglodyte sites in Anjou

To discover the troglodyte sites of Anjou, you don’t have to leave the Loire by Bike. To get to know the region and its historic sites, some of which date back to the 5th century, the itinerary includes the caves and troglodytic buildings of Souzay-Champigny, a few kilometers from Saumur.

For a more in-depth look at these unique sites, take the opportunity to visit the region’s mushroom farms. The Château de Saumur, overlooking the Loire, is another must-see in the region.

Royal Abbey of Fontevraud

Just a few miles from the confluence of the Loire and Vienne rivers, the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud is the place to follow in the footsteps of Richard the Lionheart. The abbey was founded in 1101 by a monk who took a decision that was surprising at the time: an abbess was to govern the abbey.

After the French Revolution, this religious building, which attracted many nobles of royal blood, was turned into a prison by Napoleon. A visit to this historic site is well worth a detour on the Loire by Bike!

Château du Clos Lucé

Famous for the Mona Lisa and its extraordinary works, the Château de Léonard de Vinci plunges you into the world of the man who was invited to France by François I and appointed the king’s first painter, engineer and architect.

Immerse yourself in the multifaceted world of the painter, sculptor, astronomer, architect, philosopher and inventor in this museum where the artist’s works merge with the mathematician’s scientific research and inventions, each more surprising and innovative than the last.

Located in the royal town of Amboise, this château completes your visit to one of the most beautiful towns in the valley.

The International Garden Festival

From April to October, you can make a colorful stop at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, just two pedals away from the Loire by Bike. Created in 1992, the festival celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2022 on the theme of the “ideal garden”.

A world-renowned laboratory for landscape design, the International Garden Festival offers a fireworks display of plant art. For cyclists, the estate has a bicycle parking area and free luggage storage.

Blois and its royal castle

Built into the side of a hill, Blois offers a charming tour of its cobbled streets and half-timbered buildings, of which the Gothic cathedral of Saint-Louis is one of the city’s highlights.

But Blois’ greatest achievement is its royal castle. No less than 7 kings have resided here over the centuries, leaving a testament to the past of France and its monarchy.

Chambord Castle

A short detour on the Loire bike Bike path will take you to the Château de Chambord, probably the most spectacular castle in the region. A true Renaissance masterpiece, it is built in the heart of a large forest estate.

Commissioned by François I, this well-proportioned castle is an exceptional work of art and a visit will amaze you with the details of its construction and its magnificent formal gardens.

Sully-sur-Loire and its castle

The gateway to the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sully-sur-Loire is a medieval town. Its fortress in the heart of the town, crowned by the water, gives it an enchanting charm.

The Château de Sully was built in the 15th century to defend the bridge over the Loire and to impress the guests of the Seigneur de Sully. Listed as a historic monument, the château is close to the Loire cycle path and has been awarded the “Accueil Vélo” label.

The Gien pottery

Although Gien also boasts an impressive castle overlooking the Loire, its main attraction is the earthenware factory. The expertise of this factory, unique in France, dates back two hundred years.

To find out more about Europe’s largest earthenware factory, you’ll need to visit the factory, a former industrial building. On site, an exhibition tells the story of this living heritage.

Val de Loire National Nature Reserve

The Val de Loire National Nature Reserve straddles the border between the Centre region and Burgundy. Known for its preserved environments, it is the most representative stretch of the wild Loire and its flora and fauna.

The small town of Charité-sur-Loire, an integral part of the nature reserve, will lead you to visit its magnificent Notre-Dame Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Briare Canal Bridge

Built by the Eiffel Company, the Briare Canal Bridge was the first of its kind in France. Built between 1890 and 1896, this exceptional structure, 662 m long, is probably one of the most beautiful canal bridges in France. You won’t want to miss it, as the Loire by Bike cycle route runs along it.

The visit can be completed with a visit to the Pont-Canal Museum, which tells the story of the canal-building town of Briare and the technical prowess of the town’s emblematic structure.

The Bec d’Allier

The Bec d’Allier is a remarkable natural site where the Allier and Loire rivers meet. It is the last stage of the Loire à Vélo and marks the end of the route in style.

However, for those who wish to continue cycling, EuroVelo 6 will take you along the Allier, which you can admire from the Guétin canal bridge, an exceptional second structure with 18 arches!

Practical information on the route

Which bike to use for the Loire by Bike?

The Loire by Bike is made up of small paved roads and large unpaved white paths. The ideal bike is a Hybrid Bike, equipped for travel and touring. A gravel is suitable for those who want a more sporty or faster ride. The mountain bike can be used anywhere, but is not the most efficient here. Road biking requires a search for many unmarked variants. Therefore, apart from the specific holidays we offer for road bikers, this is not the bike we recommend.

To make your trip more comfortable, use our bike rental service with quality bikes designed for touring.

When should you set off?

The Loire by Bike is a route that can be enjoyed all year round. Most of the tourist attractions remain open and the mild climate – almost all year round – means you can plan your trip throughout the year. However, we recommend spring, when the gardens come into their own and the trees and vines regain their foliage. This lush natural environment offers unparalleled scenery.
If you’d like to know more about the Loire by Bike and the most beautiful places to discover, we suggest you take a look at our Abicyclette Voyages Loire by Bike stays. Then set off on a wonderfully accessible and enchanting journey!