Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do you get onto the route?
R: You can always take the train instead of the car with Regional Express Trains (TER) stopping at most stations between the various cities of Orléans, Blois, Tours, Angers, Saumur, Nantes – which are all at anything between 1 hour and 1 and a half hours from Paris. The train is also an excellent way of getting from place to place if you don’t want to do the whole route from start to finish. You can "Bike" it by train: as the TER (Regional Express Trains) have carriages where you can put your bike – these carriages are the ones that have the symbol of a bicycle on them. For more information www.velo.sncf.com
Q: Do I have to bring my own bike with me?
R: Yes, if you can’t bear not using your own bike! Otherwise there are around fifteen bike-rental companies. With some of them you can drop off your bike at any of their hire stations meaning that you don’t have to return it to the point where you hired it.
Q: What do you do about luggage?
A: For those who are used to travelling light there is a luggage transfer service run by specialists and offered by the network of approved professional hosts called "Accueil Vélo" but also by some of the rental companies.
Q: Is there accommodation designed for cyclists?
A: Once again the approved professional network “Accueil Vélo” and signatories to the cycling tourist welcome charter have accommodation facilities which are generally less than 5 km off the route. As well as providing special services (such as high-energy breakfasts), there are secure locker rooms for bikes and a a basic repair kit.
Q: Do you need to be a proficient cyclist and can the route be used by children?
A: The fact that there are no virtually no hills, that you can choose how far along the route you want to go and that there are numerous stopping areas mean that The Loire à vélo is a route that everybody can use for a relaxing cycle ride during their leisure time. It’s therefore absolutely ideal for the whole family to use. Parents and children alike can stop off at the very many sites of interest which offer fun tours for children. Also no need for a compass to find your way along the Loire à vélo as there are numerous signs along the route. Recommended family rides indicated on this website are an invaluable guide to help you work out a route for you and your children. There are short tourist guide packs offering you advice and information on the route.
Q: When can you do the Loire à vélo?
A: There is always something going on throughout the year. However, However, the weather is better suited to cycling between April and October than in the winter months. Moreover, the Loire is a wild river which does sometimes burst its banks, especially in winter and at the start of spring: during these rare occurrences certain sections of the route may not be accessible. The Loire is first and foremost a place which is home to local people, fishermen, farmers, walkers but also to birds, insects or beavers all living in peace and harmony together… we promise you'll see more than a few things that will truly fascinate you.
Q: From West to East or from East to West?
A: The wind is the only obstacle along the Loire à vélo but even this is not overbearing: the dominant westerly winds tend to push the cycling tourist inland away from the Ocean. But as any inhabitant of the Loire valley will tell you, the Loire has two sides to it depending on whether you're heading toward its source or to its mouth. Therein lies the secret of all that is wonderful about it.
Q: Is the ‘Loire à Vélo’ route accessible to road bikes, roller skaters, visitors with limited mobility etc.?
A: Loire à Vélo is a cycle route, which alternates between small roads with little traffic, cycle lanes or trails, paths and green ways. Road bikes and roller skates are not practical for the whole route, as they require a smooth surface. Only the sections along green ways (reserved for non-motorised transport) are accessible to visitors with limited mobility.
Q: Is it essential to bring maps?
A: The Loire à Vélo route is clearly laid out and signposted all along its 800km, in both directions. Still, a document containing details of the route, such as an on-board map, can help you plan stages and visits, and organise your schedule. These documents are not just maps, but also contain a wealth of practical and tourist information: sites to visit, viewpoints, distances in kilometres, recommended accommodation, details and addresses of cycle rental shops etc.
Q: Is it possible to rent a bike in one town and give it back in another?
A: Yes, it is possible to rent a bike in one town – or have it delivered to the station, for example – then to return it to another branch of the same rental provider. Check the section ‘Organising your stay – Where to rent a bike’ and visit the websites of the various rental agencies to find out about their network of rental points, and to find all the information you need to plan your trip.
Q: Can I take my bike on the train?
A: More and more trains now accept bikes, with or without reservations depending on the train. For example, bikes are accepted free of charge and without reservation on all TER trains, up to a maximum of 6 per carriage. Similarly, some TGVs, Intercité and Interloire services have special areas reserved for bicycles, available upon reservation. See the section ‘Practical Info – Getting to the cycle route’
Q: Is it easy to stop along the way?
A: There are rest areas all along the Loire à Vélo route, to allow cyclists to stop, relax and enjoy the scenery. Some have picnic tables, drinking water and cycle parking. Others are ‘natural’ areas, encouraging visitors to stop and check out the view.