Cycling Holidays France - Courleon France

Cycling Holidays France – Saumur by Bike

If you like this article and fancy cycling in the Loire Valley then check out our fantastic self guided cycling holidays in France.

The Loire a vélo is the official marked cycle way which follows the entire length of the river Loire.  Some people have the time to cycle the entire route, but more likely  you will travel a portion during a week’s cycling holiday in France.  The 15 kms stretch between Candes St Martin and Saumur in the Anjou region pacts in a huge amount of sights, tastes and smells!  How much could you cram into one day?

There are many French cycling holidays which ply this route including LoireLifeCycling.  There are also bike rental companies in and around Saumur.  There’s no excuse not to give it a go!

The terrain at this point is fascinating, with a steep white limestone (called ‘Tuffeau’) ridge rising on the south bank, and excavated to create caves in the rock face.  The cycle route spends time on top of and in the shadow of this escarpment and as you cycle you see a romantic jumble of stones houses half in and half out of the rock face.  You don’t build an extension in these parts, you dig one!

The Loire is famous for its historic chateaux, castles and abbey and this short stretch of the Loire cycle route has these in abundance.  If you’ve only one day then you’ll have to choose between the Chateaux of Montsoreau or Saumur or the Abbey Royal at Fontevraud.

A visit to any of these will also give you plenty of opportunity to find anything from a simple baguette to a full blown dish of the day for lunch.

Head along the route westwards towards Saumur and you’ll pass through the village of Turquant, nestled in a cleave in the escarpment with vineyards behind and above. The village has a growing reputation as a home for local arts and crafts.  This has been aided by the creation of a row of boutiques set in the Tuffeau caves above the Loire.  You can easily spend an hour looking at glassware, jewellery, pottery, leatherwear and local artwork and all with the artisans working from the boutiques.  There is also a neat bar – a great place for a refreshing mid trip break.

As you cycle onward through vineyards, its worth making a short detour to St Cyr-en-Bourg.  At the ‘Cave de Vignerons de Saumur ‘ you can have a relaxing and fun tasting of all the wines that Saumur produces.  The wine tasting is free and for a small charge you can also be taken on a tour of the 6kms of underground caves which houses most of the production equipment and of course, millions of bottles of wine.

If wine’s not on your agenda, then maybe mushrooms?  The Tuffeau caves are ideal for cultivating mushrooms and consequently it has become a big industry in and around Saumur.  Between Candes St Martin and Turquant is the mushroom cave Le Saut aux Loups with a museum, guided tours through the underground growing areas and restaurant.  Just keep a look out for the large sculpted mushroom on the ridge above the river.

The cycle way is well marked throughout the route and enables you to approach Saumur along the river or through the vineyards.  Although more undulating, the vineyard route is the more picturesque, taking you along the top of the ridge and arriving opposite Saumur Chateau high above the town.

And once you’ve arrived at Saumur?  Well, that’s the subject of another article.  Enjoy your ride!