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No. 312-314: La Loire à Vélo, Bike Share Programs and Biking in Dresses

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la_loire_a_velo_bike.jpgFor a Colorado girl accustom to always having to ride the hills, the Loire à Vélo is a gem of a bike trail. The 800km path spans two regions of France, the Centre and the Pays de la Loire, and connects six cities: Orléans, Blois, Tours, Saumur, Angers, Nantes. There are no hills, en fait, recreational and professional riders are faced with nothing more than minor “bumps” as they make their way to or from the Bay of Biscay. Hands down, it is one of the most enjoyable vélo paths in France. La Loire à Vélo was an enormous public works undertaking that took the better part of two decades and cost a whopping €52 million to develop and signpost. A favorite among the French and tourists alike, over 800,000 cyclists follow some part of the trail each year. Happily our family is a lucky addition to that statistic.

There is really no excuse not to give it a go, as the usually friendly (when not striking) folks at SNCF make it an extremely easy bicycle holiday by allowing you to take your bike with you on their Interloire-trains. Between Orléans and the bay there are over 20 train stations with quick access to the trail, which makes it very easy to cycle as far as you want and then hop the train back to where you started.

We have biked the Loire as day trips from Paris and as long weekends. I plan to celebrate the BIG 50 by biking the whole 500 miles in 2015. Even if you are not as ambitious as me, or don’t have your own bike, it still makes a super fun and undemanding afternoon outing from any of the cities listed above, because the French have made it super easy. If you only want to go for an hour or two, you can rent a bike for a few euros in most cities from their vélib or bike share programs. So even if you spend the morning visiting museums and lunching on the local cuisine, you can still hop on a bike (ladies, go ahead and bike in your dresses—the French are not the “gearheads” that Americans are), and enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes in France…mais, bien sûr don’t forget your (chic) bicycle helmets.

Bon vélo!

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13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nice pics. This one is on my list of things to do but not certain when we will be able to fit it in…too many things to do before we leave next year!!! (Suzanne)

    July 21, 2014
    • Too many things to do before I leave in 40-odd days…so sad.😦

      July 21, 2014
      • I understand what you mean…we will get to the same point sooner than we think. Good luck in filling the next 40 days with as many discoveries as possible…

        July 21, 2014
      • Merci–I’m doing my best. I wish I didn’t have to work these last few months. Keep enjoying your next 400+ days.😉

        July 22, 2014
      • Good luck with everything…I hadn”t yet started counting the days but I did now that you made me think about it and we have grosso modo 305 days left to our life in Paris…10 more months.

        July 22, 2014
      • I know you will make the most of every minute!

        July 22, 2014
  2. Wow! 500 miles! That would be quite the ride. Your photos are great.

    July 21, 2014
    • Thanks. Yep 500 miles –10 miles for each year. Not so bad when you break it down that way. We are planning to take 7-8 days, and hope my daughters will join us for the last few days. Definitely something to look forward to. Thanks for the complement on the photos. Both cameras are cassé, so I am only working with my iPhone these days.😦

      July 22, 2014
      • That sounds a wonderful trip! I’ll be looking forward to that 2015 post. Thanks for sharing :0)

        July 22, 2014
  3. What a lovely insight to this trail. I’m thinking that I may soon not to be able to go walking and am thinking that bike trips may provide an alternative. Hmm now where are my trouser clips?

    July 21, 2014
  4. I can’t wait to do this one day!! I’m intrigued by the “bumps” as hills! My kinda ride😛

    July 22, 2014
    • Put it on your bucket list. It’s nice and flat and very accessible, with lots of cutie little villages to visit as you ride. And, lots of lovely nature too.

      July 23, 2014

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