Gravel Cycling in France - Loire Life Cycling Holidays

Gravel Cycling in France

gravel cycling in france

Gravel biking is massive and if you know where to look, there is some amazing gravel cycling in France.
Mention gravel cycling in Europe and most people will talk about cycling the strada bianche. These are the white roads of the Crete Senesi region of Italy. Trouble is, you get there and everyone else is there too!

You want to cycle somewhere less discovered right? You’ve also bought your dream gravel bike and need to find somewhere to give it a really good try.

Gravel cycling in the Loire Valley

I live in the Loire Valley, just north of the town of Saumur. Our cycling holiday business, Loire Life Cycling Holidays, has been quiet due to the pandemic. In the downtime we’ve had time to explore the gravel cycling opportunities on our unmodified road bikes.

And wow, what a discovery!

Cycling the Falun tracks of the Loire

In the Loire Valley we have our own version of the strada bianche. The gravel tracks are made from a fine white limestone called Falun and it’s a well kept secret!

Eons ago the Loire was an ocean. Falun is the compact limestone formed from the shell debris of the seabed. Quarried here for centuries, it’s cheap and used for small countryside routes through vineyards, countryside and forest. In summer it’s hard, dusty and compacted. With a little rain you get a technically challenging gravel ride as ruts form and grip reduces.

We’ve spent the last 6 months discovering and mapping out amazing gravel bike routes, mixing up pure gravel with sandy forest trails and beautifully paved country lanes.

Our gravel cycling routes keep way off the beaten track and end up at destinations with a coffee and cake.

What’s the point of gravel cycling in France if you can’t find a croissant and a coffee?

Using the RidewithGPS mapping app, we’ve created routes that you can easily follow with voice navigation prompts. No problem with keeping the pace up!

Gravel cycling holidays in France

So how can you access fantastic gravel cycling in France?

We run cycling holidays from our base in the heart of the Loire Valley. Gravel bike riding options can be added into any of our Loire Valley cycling holidays.

Gravel biking segments can be added into our top of the line Loire Discovery Tour. This is perfect if you are a mixed group and want to arrive at the same destination, but with different cycling terrain.

There are pure gravel routes available on our short break cycling holidays.

And, if you are a group of up to thirteen cyclists, we can turn your group cycling holiday into a full on gravel cycling holiday. Choose one of our gravel routes and give that bike you’ve invested in a real run out!

What gravel bikes are we on?

We’re not – I’m a marketeers worst nightmare!
I’ve been using an Orbea Avant H50, with old style pull brakes and carbon forks. Alison is on a Canondale Synapse with disc brakes.
So far all I’ve added is some extra storage for puncture related spares, which I’ve used once.
When the tyres are due, I’ll look to go a bit wider (forks permitting) and get some more grip on the rubber.
There is something in being able to take your normal ride into places you didn’t think it could go!

So, now you know where you can find some brilliant gravel bike riding in Europe. Do us a favour and don’t tell everybody!

Contact us

+33 6 25 81 98 51

Ask us anything, we’re happy to help and always reply within 24 hours

By Jon Lethbridge

Jon, along with Alison created Loire Life Cycling in 2009. Moving to France in 2006 they spent two years renovating an Anjou farmstead Le Gue de Ray. Today Loire Life Cycling welcomes guests from all over the world including Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK. There is nothing more Jon enjoys than showing off his adopted home - the lovely Loire Valley, France!