vendredi 12 juillet 2013

Biking in the Loire Valley

   What better way to see the back roads of the Loire than on a bike. There are so many things you can see on a bike that one would miss if driving. I have always wanted to do a bike trip in France...... So I checked out some sights and opted to go with Rando Vélo. The Loire has around 800 km of bike routes with varing degrees of difficulty. Since it was myself, my younger daughter (11) and my Dad (81) we opted for the family route. My daughter had no problem at all. The route is mainly flat with a couple hills. The first day we got completely lost just getting started! It took us about an hour and many laughs to finally get going on the right direction. Once we got going it was easy peasy. The route was quite easy and the scenery was gorgeous. You follow the Loire Velo signs which are clearly marked. Often times there was no one on the route and other times a few bicyclists. Everyone is quite friendly and there are many "bonjours" along the way. We passed fields of poppies, old farmhouses and the beautiful Cher River with lots of wildlife in and among the marshes. We stopped in Sassionnieres to have lunch before heading on to Our first stop - Villandry for the night. The gardens at the Chateau here are so worth a visit. At a distance of 16km I was so happy to make this first stage. If you opted for a car, you might miss this view:

Poppy Field


The next day the trip continued on to Azay Le Rideau- 25 km in all. Again a gorgeous ride along the river. On these routes there are places to stop to grab a picnic lunch and admire the along the river. There were bakeries in the town and butcher shops that one could buy everything for a nice picnic lunch, meat, cheese, wine and bread and dessert at the bakery. Much better than any café! Many of the businesses along the way have the "Accueil Velo" sign which welcomes travelers on bikes. This is a charming town which boasts a beautiful chateau. The route for bicyclists gets a bit hairy going into town- this was the only thing on this route I was uncomfortable with.

The third day we needed to do 33 km to get back to Tours and catch a train. When we booked this trip I never paid attention to the fact that the Tour de France was running all through this area. We decided to take the D751 route from Azay and then follow the Loire Velo Signs all the way back to Villandry. At first I was a bit skeptical as this part of D751 follows along a highway even though there is a dedicated bike route that is buffered from the road. We only had to travel about 2 km before the 751 veered off and we were among forests only.  It was so peaceful and such a lovely ride. We continued on following the Loire Velo signs and before we knew it we passed backroads and farms and animals we never would have discovered had we taken the suggested route by the company.  We maybe passed 2 bikers along this whole stretch until we got to Villandry.  Here is was a bit busier as things were gearing up for the Tour De France. We continued on to Savonnières and 3 hours later we were back in Joué le Tours having a picnic at the lake.

If you have an opportunity to do a bike trip and you feel a bit adventurous, you can check out the Loire Vëlo site and plan your own routes.  The Loire routes are well marked with this velo sign:

 


A necessity!



I highly recommend doing a bike tour- it's a super way to see the backroads of France. To read more about cycle routes in the Loire, check out this site -Cycling Loire. I'm all ready for my next trip!!




Ready for the next Tour de France!