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Bucket list experience:

Three cyclists, cycling down a road in Loire Valley towards Chateau Chambord
Last updated: 25 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Anna Brooke

La Loire a Velo is a waymarked cycle route that meanders for 900km along the River Loire – France’s longest river – with a prime central section amid the famous chateaux of the Loire Valley.

Much of the route is on car-free ‘green ways’, other sections are on quiet low-traffic roads. Supported by a network of cycle-friendly hotels and facilities, it’s a rewarding, family-friendly way to discover the Loire, drawing three-quarters of a million cyclists a year.

The best – and most popular – stretch is the central, 300km-long UNESCO-listed Val de Loire section, from Beaugency to Nantes. If you have only a few days, concentrate on the 50km-long Val de Loire section between St-Dye-sur-Loire near Chambord and Amboise.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: 1 day-2 weeks

Getting there & doing it

Although it’s easy to do on your own, package trips can help with planning or with transporting luggage for you between hotels.

Most people do just a section of the route, for anything from a day to a week. There are numerous places to hire bikes along the route, and many hotels have secure storage. The local railway line runs near to the route in many places so you can combine cycling with sections by train.

The route is well signposted, although the Loire à Vélo guide, with maps and addresses can be useful. Much of the route is very family-friendly.

When to do it

The route is accessible all year round.

Spring, early summer and early autumn are ideal times, when the route is not too crowded and it is generally cooler than in sweltering July and August.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Les Hauts de Loire

Veuzain-sur-Loire, Centre-Val de Loire, France[21.4 miles]

Uber-romantic hotel in a former hunting lodge, with a spa, outdoor pool & Michelin-starred restaurant.

Official star rating:

Le Clos d’Amboise

Amboise, Centre-Val de Loire, France[37.5 miles]

An attractive family-friendly hotel, with great staff and a perfect small-town location for exploring the Loire.

Official star rating:

Domaine de la Tortiniere

Veigne, Centre-Val de Loire, France[60.9 miles]

Relaxed, stylish family-run chateau hotel, well located in the heart of the Loire Valley.

Official star rating:

Chateau de Beauvois

Saint-Etienne-de-Chigny, Centre-Val de Loire, France[68.9 miles]

Stately chateau hotel in a magical woodland setting where Louis XIII once came hunting.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

10 Must-see Chateaux of the Loire Valley

Loire Valley, France

The Loire’s extraordinary chateaux are a vision of architectural splendour and stunning gardens, and offer an insight into the lavish lifestyles of France’s 16th- and 17th-century royalty and bourgeoisie.

Best for ages: 18+ | £11

Website >
Overview >

Hot-air balloon flights over the Loire Valley

Amboise, Centre-Val de Loire, France[38.4 miles]

Hot air balloon flights offer a serene, crowd-free way to appreciate the Loire’s spectacular landscapes and chateaux, as you drift silently above treetops and turrets.

Best for ages: 6+ | £180 | 3 hours

Website >
Overview >

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

A view of Chateau Chenoncea from the river where a girl is kayaking

Kayaking on the Loire River

Vineuil, Centre-Val de Loire, France[1.1 miles]

Paddling along the Loire is a dreamy was to see its waterfront chateaux, plus the region’s rich flora and fauna. Loire Kayak offer trips ranging from 1 hour to up to 8 days (with camping).

Best for ages: 10+ | £14 | 1 hour - 8 days

Website >
Overview >
Inside view of the sculpted arches and glass windows from the early 13 century inside the cathedral

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres, Centre-Val de Loire, France[93.1 miles]

This historically important Gothic cathedral is famed for its rare medieval stained-glass windows and floor labyrinth.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

Website >
Overview >
Landscape view of Chinon Fortress on a rocky spur during a summery blue day

Royal Fortress of Chinon

Chinon, Centre-Val de Loire, France[99.6 miles]

A dramatically-sited fortress-chateau, with a fascinating royal history. Joan of Arc came in 1429 to persuade the Dauphine Charles to go to Reims to be crowned.

Best for ages: 18+ | £9

Website >
Overview >
stall selling bric-a-brac at the weekend flea market in the city center.

Montsoreau Flea Market

Montsoreau, Pays de la Loire, France[109.1 miles]

Seek out bargains at this riverside fleamarket held on the second Sunday of each month at Montsoreau. Old books, trinkets, lace, furniture and more.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Website >
Overview >