If there is “slow food,” then consider trying out “slow touring.” Touring Loire Valley by bike allows you to stop, ponder, photograph and enjoy while not missing a bit. Forget whizzing past to get to the next castle or winery. You’ll still get there. It’ll just be a bit slower and a whole lot more fun.

Therese taking a rest in Tours while touring Loire Valley by bike.

Heading out on the Loire Valley bike path from Tours after a picnic lunch.

France knows how to join forces for a common good: Voilà, the beautifully organized, mapped and signed “Cycling the Loire” (“Loire à Vélo”) route, jointly promoted by a collective of several official regional tourist organizations. In its entirety, the bike route is 800 kilometers long, passes through two regions of France, six “departments” or areas, and six cities and numerous small towns. On western end is Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic Ocean. So bring your swimsuit (just kidding).

Loire Valley bike path Amboise Castle

Amboise Castle on the Loire Valley bike path.

Follow the green cyclist icon when touring Loire Valley by bike

If you stay on the route, there are special green-highlighted signs with an icon of a cyclist that show you where you are, where you are going and how far. The signs are designed for travel either eastward or westward. And there are other signs that will direct you onto offshoot explorations to villages, wineries or castles, such as the Villandry castle and gardens we visited on one outing.

Some of the route is traffic free, while some is on small roads with little traffic or, in some towns, you may be on marked bike routes along a road.

No matter where you go, signage is supreme.

Take time to stock up for picnics for your Loire Valley bike tours.

Deli counter at a local market – time to stock up for picnics!


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Do-it-yourself touring Loire Valley by bike

Now, you don’t have to do it all at once. Short trips, long trips, area trips, family trips – the route can be what you want it to be:

  • You can rent a bike for a day or weekend and just tootle about, visiting a site or two or just enjoying the landscape, then return the bike and drive (or train) onwards.
  • You can bike it all but leapfrog between main areas, just jumping on many trains with your bike to skip from area to area since there are 20 stations directly in towns on the route. During the summer, the French train service SNCF operates special wagons for bike travelers along the route with staff to help you on and off, no reservation needed. Click here for more on the “Train Vèlo Loire” service.
  • You can book package trips, hire guides or figure it out yourself by using the accommodation planner on the official cycling Loire website. The listed accommodations, from hotels to campsites, called “Accueil Vèlo” (loosely put, “Bike Hosts”) offer services for cyclist such as secure bike storage and repair kits.

The collective’s Cycling Loire website  is so detailed – with everything also in English — that you’ll want to spend some time reading it thoroughly. The interactive map is very helpful too.

Then get ready to get excited and plan your adventure to tour Loire Valley by bike, making time to see the cities, such as Tours and just enjoy the many town squares and markets in any direction.

Tours Place Plumereau on the Loire Valley bike path

Tours’ Place Plumereau is a wonderful square to sip some cool wine and let time pass before jumping on your bike again.

Chez Paulette Restaurant and Wine Bar

Comptoir du Panthéon - Paris

Heads up! This information on touring Loire Valley by bike was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.

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