The Loire Valley really captures what makes France such an incredible travel destination. And one of the most popular and incredible ways to see it is by bike. Following the Loire River as it winds through the soft green landscape, the journey can be rigorous or slow-paced making it perfect for every kind of cyclist: from beginners to experts.
A region of châteaux, vineyards, culture, gastronomy, and a mixture of rustic and elegant architecture, the Loire is often referred to as the ‘Garden of France’ and is a must-see for any Francophile traveller.
To help you plan your Loire Valley adventure, Booking.com used its internal data to pick out the highlights for you along the way. *
Orléans – Monuments, Gourmet food, Shopping
The Loire passes by Orléans’ neo-Gothic Cathedral
A close neighbour to Paris, Orléans’ neo-Gothic Cathedral, classical architecture, grand stone bridges, rich culinary scene and shopping are similar to the French capital. . But cycling through Orléans’ Old Town, with half-timbered houses and cobbled streets, is a considerably more rustic experience. Museums, statues, and stained glass windows of the city’s most famous resident, Joan of Arc, can be seen at every turn.
Blois – Castles, City Walks, Architecture
Reflections on the Loire River in Blois
The Royal Château de Blois, right in the middle of the city, is a magnificent Renaissance fortress consisting of four wings surrounding the courtyard. Exploring Blois by bike is the great way to take in all the pretty cedar tree parks, churches, mansions, and other fine edifices.
Amboise – Wine travel, History, Cycling
The hills are covered with vineyards around Amboise
Once the cherished home of Renaissance kings as well as Leonardo da Vinci, you’ll want to delve into Amboise’s long history during your visit. Not to mention the fine wines, produced by local vineyards. As a small town, it’s particularly cycle-friendly as well as quick and easy to get out into the surrounding countryside.
Tours – Cathedral, Old Town, Ambiance
Elegant architecture in Tours
The provincial town of Tours, though hot on the heels of Paris in many respects, is known for its unhurried pace and approachable people. The Old Town is an enticing maze of well-preserved medieval cobbled-streets and houses. And the Roman Catholic cathedral, with its two vast towers, Renaissance belfries, and Romanesque buttresses, gives Notre Dame a good run for its money.
Saumur – Vineyards, Museums, Culture
Attend a wine tasting in the cellars of Saumur
The historic town of Saumur has is its own wine region of the same name and produces some of France’s finest wines. After a bike ride through the sprawling vineyards, attend a wine tasting or sommelier course in one of the town’s wine cellars. As the birthplace of Coco Chanel, Saumur has a strong cultural heritage, with museums dedicated to the trailblazing designer, as well as galleries and sites of historic interest.
Angers – Friendly People, Tranquility, Scenery
The stunning Angers Cathedral
Like many destinations in the Loire Valley, Angers’ castle is the emblem of the city. But the town is also spectacularly green, dotted with parks and gardens and built around the tree-lined Maine River. The tendrils of willow trees sweep the pavements and the locals so welcoming that it makes for a special stop on any Loire Valley cycling adventure.
Nantes – Nightlife, Walking, Restaurants
It's easy to hire a public bike to get around Nantes
Nantes is a celebrated cultural destination, with an ever-evolving offering of restaurants and venues. With everything from classic wine bars to converted biscuit factories where you’ll find live music and art, Nantes has something for everyone. It’s also super easy to get around on foot or by bike, with bikes for public hire in the city centre.
**From a list of key destinations along the Loire Valley cycling route, the data analysts at Booking.com found the top endorsements for each of these destinations, according to Booking.com customers.