We love... exploring the Vallée du Loir by bike
Whether you have a few hours or several days on your hands, the Vallée du Loir was simply made for cycling. An under-the-radar paradise packed with surprises...
The Vallée du Loir is one of those unspoilt havens whose myriad treasures are generally exchanged by word of mouth. It starts out at the source of the Loir in Saint Eman in Eure-et-Loir, then crosses Loir-et-Cher and Sarthe before entering Angers in Anjou.
The terrain here can be described as gently rolling. The trails marked out along the 320 km of shared roadways are classed as “Family” or “Intermediate” and are all accessible for anyone making their first cycling trip with friends or family. Between the towns of Le Lude and La Flèche, follow the extensive green way that provides a route well out of the path of vehicles.
A picturesque journey in the heart of nature
Peddling will take you through a beautiful patchwork of landscapes typical of the west of France. Vineyards, orchards, woods, marshland, troglodyte villages and small towns will all pass before your eyes.
Highlights of the trip include: taking a dip in Lac des Varennes, resting your weary limbs during a stopover at Jasnières vineyard, admiring the paddle wheel at the Rotrou windmill, and following the old railway line connecting Sarthe and Anjou, to name a few.
Vallée du Loir, a foodie hotspot
Exploring the Vallée du Loir by bicycle is also a fantastic opportunity to savour the simple pleasures of a local eatery. One of the most authentic ways to acquaint yourself with a place.
Cute bistrots, restaurants serving regional cuisine... or why not a simple picnic cobbled together from a local market? Epicurean cyclists might choose to stop for lunch at the Moulin des Quatre Saisons in La Flèche. This 16th century property is encircled by the Loir River and its menu has earned the place a Michelin star!
Discover the terroir of the Atlantic Loire Valley region on your plate after the kilometres devoured on your touring or electric bike. From Jasnières wine to a Crémet d'Anjou (a dessert made with crème fraîche), local produce will be your gratifying reward after a strenuous morning on the saddle.
Fun of the zoo in La Flèche
La Flèche makes a good excuse to take time out from the bike and explore the town’s zoo. Home to 1,500 animals from every continent, the largest animal park in Atlantic Loire Valley is also one of the most popular in France. An ideal jaunt for family fun.
For an overnight stay with a difference, look no further than the zoo lodges, each boasting a huge picture window affording direct views of lemurs, grizzly bears or wolves!
Sample the château life in the Atlantic Loire Valley region
There are lots of opportunities to visit the region’s châteaux with many dotted along your cycle route. In Sarthe, Château du Lude, noteworthy for its mix of architectural styles, has been the home to the same family for over 260 years – and is open to visitors. You will be spellbound by the charm of four centuries of French art de vivre.
As you venture further into the countryside, you can’t miss the formidable Forteresse de Durtal, towering over the Loir. Its guest rooms mean visitors can get to sample the château lifestyle for a night or two! In close proximity to the forest of Chambiers, the fortress was once a prime hunting ground for French royalty.
At the château in Baugé-en-Anjou, visitors can enjoy a dramatised tour guided by Good King René who knows all the secrets of the castle’s history.
Saving the best till last, your final stop in Angers will be simply majestic. This is because the Château des Ducs d'Anjou awaits you. You’ll be amazed at the contrast between its imposing ramparts and towers and the fine craftsmanship of the Apocalypse Tapestry housed inside.
At the end of your cycling adventure through the heart of the Vallée du Loir, you are sure to go home with plenty of special memories experienced with your two-wheel companion in Atlantic Loire Valley. And we bet you won’t stop dreaming about your next trip on the Vélo Francette or La Loire à Vélo cycleways.