Biking Vacations: You Need To Take A Spin In The Loire Valley
If you love food, wine… and fitness, you must bike the Loire Valley. Not only do you indulge in all the French treats, you get some exercise, too.
Biking in the Loire
Biking in the Loire Valley, France, was a dream come true. It was easy to get there, and our cycling tour company took care of everything. Meanwhile, I got to exercise in amazing scenery, and enjoy incredible cuisine. Come along for the ride!
I went with a couple of girlfriends, Diana and Ilona—and we had a ton of fun. We flew direct from Montreal to Nantes, and picked up our touring bikes on arrival at Savennieres, near historic Angers. This part of France is bursting with colourful fields of flowers, chateaux and of course the Loire River itself, a UNESCO World Heritage area (see Atout France for information about the region). After a riverside lunch, we changed into our padded cycling shorts and wheeled away into an awesome adventure.
There are many bike rental companies in the Loire Valley; we used Detours de Loire. They mapped out our self-guided route; booked hotels along the way; and transferred our luggage along our route. All we needed to bring on our bikes was water and essentials like sunscreen, cellphone and money. Prices and routes vary, but a four-day, three-night tour with Detours de Loire is listed on their website at 410 Euros (C$605).
Over four days, we cycled 40 to 70 kilometres daily. It was mainly flat but there were challenging hills, so we burned lots of calories. Naturally, we deserved amazing wine and food each evening, and I can’t remember ever refusing dessert. My favourite was the Loire classic Cremet d’Angers (pictured) at Le Relais in Angers, made with cream cheese, eggs and sugar. Divine. A fantastic three-course dinner typically cost around 20 to 30 Euros (C$30-$45), and a glass of wine around 3 Euros (C$4.50).
The beautiful Chateau Amboise was the centrepiece of our final destination, Amboise. We stayed at Hotel Bellevue, right beside the Loire. (In June, doubles here start at 100 Euros, or C$145.) It was amazing to wheel up to this place all sweaty, bring our bikes to the nearby drop-off point and get showered and dressed for our final dinner out – after a little stroll through the medieval town centre for a couple of souvenirs.
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Ahhh, Embracing Life
We loved our time biking in the Loire (from left to right is Diana, Ilona and me after a great day’s riding from Saumur to Langeais). In all, we cycled about 200 kilometres. We laughed and toughed it out together, taking in breathtaking scenes of rolling vineyards, wheat fields dotted with poppies and plenty of chateaux. What an amazing way to live the dream of getting exercise while living in the moment.