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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.

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photo credit: Bonnie Munday

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!

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photo credit: Bonnie Munday

Easy Flight

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.

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photo credit: shutterstock

No-Stress Riding

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).

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photo credit: shutterstock

Guilt-Free Cuisine

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).

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photo credit: shutterstock

Freewheeling Days

Bike routes in the Loire Valley are clearly signposted; it would be tough to get lost. It’s such a feeling of freedom to stop whenever you want to snap some photos, or pop into a cafe for a coffee and croissant. We felt so free that on one hot day we found a walk-in fountain in a town square and, laughing, literally soaked ourselves!

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photo credit: Bonnie Munday

Breathtaking Scenery

photo credit: bonnie munday

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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photo credit: Bonnie Munday

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.

(Note: Air Transat and l’Agence Regionale Pays de la Loire supported this trip.)