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Pays de la Loire - Cycling country

21st May 2012 Print
Mayenne River

The Pays de la Loire is one of the most popular areas of France for cyclists. The country lanes are quite, the landscape undulates gently, while hotels, B&Bs and restaurants are cycle-friendly. In 2012, the Pays de la Loire is even more appealing, with the completion of the 500-mile/800 km Loire à Vélo cycle trail.

La Loire à Vélo 2012: A 500-Mile/800 KM Cycle Trail!

June 2012 marks the completion of the longest and most ambitious sustainable tourism project in the past decade. This summer, the 500-mile/800 km Loire à Vélo route opens. Running from Cuffy in the Cher to Saint-Brevin-les-Pins, on the coast in Loire-Atlantique, La Loire à Vélo is a wonderful way to explore the Loire Valley and links everything from heritage to food and wine. Today, the Loire à Vélo is a major attraction in France, with more than 700,000 visitors in 2010!

Did you know?

The Loire à Vélo is part of Eurovéloroute, a trans-European river/cycling project. The Loire Valley trail is a segment of Eurovélo 6, a route that joins the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean by following the Loire, the Rhine and the Danube, three of Europe's most important rivers for history and culture.

La Vélodyssée: Bike The Atlantic!

As well as the east-west Loire à Vélo route, June 2012 marks the opening of a north-south trail that links Brittany to the Basque Country, from Roscoff to Hendaye. That's more than 750 miles/1200 km of signposted cycling, the longest in France. Running through 10 of France's coastal departments and with the constant backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean, 80% of this route has been finished. In the Pays de la Loire, the Vélodyssée follows the towpath along the Nantes to Brest Canal. Then, after crossing Nantes, it joins a section of the Loire à Vélo trail before connecting with the cycle paths on the Vendée coast.

More information:

Did you know?

The Vélodyssée is the French part of Eurovélo 1. This trans-European cycle route runs through Portugal, Spain, France, Britain, Ireland and Norway and is a major attraction for cyclists visiting France.

Explore The Vendée By Bike: Do The Grand Tour In 2012

With its unspoiled countryside and coastline, the Vendée is perfect for exploring by bike. And it is easy to create an itinerary to match your interests, your fitness and your age. Choose a short or long tour from the 550 miles/900 km of marked trails - one of the largest cycling networks in France. In 2012, the new circuits in the Marais Breton (Breton Marshes) make it possible to loop round the Vendée, a total of 600 miles/1000 km. Some 70 different routes lead through countryside, along the coastline and across the Marais Poitevin (Poitou Marshes).

Anjou Velo Vintage: Tour Anjou On A Retro Bike

After a successful first season in 2011, Anjou Vélo Vintage (Anjou Vintage Bikes) returns to Saumur to offer a taste of yesteryear. All the bicycles date from a bygone era, between the early 1900s and 1987, without new-fangled gear-shifting. The company has created three loops (20 miles/31 km, 45 miles/71 km and 60 miles/98 km) that crisscross the Saumur region, taking in chateaux, vineyards and troglodyte villages.

On Sunday, June 24, 2012, there is a special "vintage bike day" with old bikes and vintage accessories for sale, food stands, music and more.

Diary Date

Sunday, June 24, marks Anjou's Fête du Vélo (Bike Festival). For one day only, one of France's most scenic roads is closed to cars and dedicated to cyclists. Some 35,000 cyclists will pedal along the dyke that runs parallel to the Loire for 100 miles/170 km, from Montsoreau to Notre-Dame-du-Marillais. It is Europe's largest cycling get-together!

Mayenne River Towpath: Part Of La Loire À Vélo Route

There is no better way to appreciate the unspoiled beauty of the Mayenne River than on a bike, pedalling along the towpath. Stretching for 60 miles/100 km, the path is flat and signposted with distances between points of interest, such as chateaux, villages and old watermills. Towns along the way include Mayenne, Laval, Château-Gontier, and (soon), Angers. In 2012, the trail will extend to the island of Saint-Aubin, near Angers; in 2013, it will connect to the Loire à Vélo network.

Voie Verte Du Saosnois: New Path In Northern Sarthe

Inaugurated in July 2011, this new "green trail" runs from Mamers to les Mées along an old railway line. Eight miles/12 km long, this is part of the network in the Sarthe, the Saosnois Greenway, that connects with paths to Mont St-Michel, the Le Mans nature trail, and, by extension, to the Loire à Vélo trail. Soon, it will also link in with the Mayenne greenways. Limited to hikers and cyclists, the trail is the culmination of a year-long project.

More Photos - Click to Enlarge

Mayenne River