Loire Valley Bike and Barge Review

Group on the Loire Valley Bike & Barge | Joycee Smith
Group on the Loire Valley Bike & Barge | Joycee Smith

According to Joycee, who completed our Loire Valley Bike and Barge trip in 2018, there’s no better way to see the French countryside than on two wheels. She’s written a blog post about her trip of a lifetime that is bound to make you want to add the Loire Valley to your travel bucket list, if it isn’t already there.

  Group on the Anna Maria IVOur group was made up of Australians, New Zealanders, Dutch and English people ranging between 55 and 80 years Over a glass of wine one day, a decision was made to change our regular bicycle ride route, so we headed off to France. For eight incredible days we cycled through the lush Loire Valley followed by relaxed evenings on the ‘Anna Maria IV’ barge with our hosts, their young son and our guide. Our travel agent booked through UTracks – a well-organised company that we would highly recommend. There’s absolutely no need to be a professional cyclist for this type of trip – you just need to be able to ride and stay upright. Let’s face it, most Baby Boomers rode a bike in their younger years, and you never forget how to ride. Being of grey nomad age and now adverse to really steep hills, we decided to hire electric bikes
 
Cycling in Loire ValleyThe bikes had large panniers that could be unclipped and used as bags when walking around Distances travelled each day ranged from 40-60kms at an easy pace with plenty of photo stops. The guide was always at the front and a ‘sweep’ at the back of the group ensured no-one got lost. There were also cyclists placed on corners at various points to make sure the group turned when needed. These positions were changed each day and worked a treat, with no-one going missing in action. 
 
Meeting at the Gare du Nord in Paris, we met up with the other 16 riders and were whisked off to Cours-les-Barres to settle into our cabins on the ‘Anna Maria IV’. Maybe because we booked 12 months ahead, we scored a porthole in our cabin, but not everyone had these. The barge cabins were basic but comfortable with bunks, a shower, a sink, a toilet and enough space to get changed one at a time. 
 
Fresh baguettes for breakfastOur guide returning from buying fresh baguettes from the village we were moored at Each day in the small but cosy dining room we were served a continental-style breakfast of fresh baguettes, cold meats, cheese, fruit, yoghurt and tea and coffee, and wonderful traditional dinners. For lunch we would make our own sandwich at breakfast and were provided with drinks and fruit to take with us for the day. We were all very excited to get into our saddles on the first day. Before we set off, a few early birds went to the village markets which sold everything from fresh produce to antiques from 14thcentury old castles. Afterwards, we rode 60kms through the picturesque and historical villages of Apremont and Nevers. When we returned we headed to the barge’s bar for a well-earned coldie. 
 
To top off a satisfying first day we were treated to fireworks in the village of Cours-les-Barres, which was holding its annual summer festival. The next day the barge cruised to the village of Beffes before we set out for the day to explore the undulating countryside. This was all feeling a bit surreal at this stage – I mean, cycling through the Loire Valley had always been a dream of mine. The ancient Roman town of La Charite-sur-Loire was the first stop on day 3, where we were treated to wonderful views of the valley. A highlight was a wine tasting of Pouilly Fume dry whites in Menetreol, for which the region is famous. While some of the group pretended to be expert sommeliers, I was happy to drink in the views of the magnificent vineyards laid out before us. 
 
Sancerre vineyards in the Loire ValleySancerre is the oldest wine area in the Loire Valley, with origins dating back to the 12th century The vineyards of Sancerre are renowned for their light and fruity wines. In the town we were met by welcoming wine cellar owners at every corner encouraging us to sample the result of their grapes. Most of us resisted knowing that we had many kilometres to pedal before day’s end. Cycling through this region’s vineyards and villages was absolutely magical. Passing crops of corn and maize, and fields of bright sunflowers with flowers so big that you wanted to stop and run crazy amongst them brought a smile to everyone’s face. 
 
That afternoon we found our faithful barge was waiting at Beaulieu-sur-Loire with tempting smells of dinner being cooked wafting up from the galley. Another highlight was on day 5 when, after cycling past the historic locks of Chatillon-sur-Loire and visiting two castles, we headed back to the barge and cruised across the River Loire on an aqueduct. What an odd feeling to look over the edge of the barge at the Loire River beneath us. 
 
Locks in the Loire ValleyI felt like the Queen welcoming weary riders back on board after spending a day going through locks on the barge Towards the end I decided to take the day off and stay on the barge. This gave me the chance to catch up on writing and experience going through 12 locks while the others headed off on bikes to explore more castles and green countryside. The Lock Houses all had an amazing assortment of brightly coloured flower boxes and gardens which were in full bloom. Another executive decision I made was to explore the town of Rogny, with its famous locks, at a slower pace instead of riding the group one day. That evening stands out in my mind because it was full of laughter, three birthday celebrations, cycling stories and one of my favourite dinners (Poulet Casserole). 
 
After farewelling our hosts on the final day, it was back on the bus to Gare du Nord, Paris, where our trip finished. By the time we had reached Paris, plans were already in the making for cycling trips in other areas of France, Italy, Spain or Holland!
> See all departure dates for the Loire Valley Bike and Barge
View our range of Guided Bike & Boat trips 
> Read the original blog post by Gypsy at 60
 
Bike and Barge, Cycling France, electric bikes, Loire Valley, Review

Comment (0)

Your comment will be visible after the administrator's approval.







b i u quote


Save Comment
Join Newsletter
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ADS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Adventure South</div>
Adventure South NZ is unrivalled in their geographic coverage, originality and overall quality of adventures holidays in New Zealand. Choose from walking, cycling, winter or multi-activity holidays, on either the North or South Island.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/AWH.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Walking Holidays</div>
Australian Walking Holidays specialises in small group guided walking adventures. Since 1982 we have been guiding small groups of travellers on Australia's finest walks across our tropical, coastal or red centre landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GCT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Canadian Trails</div>
Great Canadian Trails specialises in active holidays in Canada. With both guided and supported self-guided options available, our unique itineraries draw upon some of Canada's most inspiring parks, trails and landscapes from coast to coast.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/HUM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Huma Charity Challenge</div>
Huma enables those with adventurous spirits to challenge themselves and make a difference for a cause close to their heart. Travel, fundraise and meet life-long friends on one of Huma's meaningful and unique challenges around the world.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/SHX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Sherpa Expeditions</div>
Sherpa Expeditions is a specialist in self guided and guided walking and cycling holidays in the United Kingdom and Europe. Detailed route notes provide a definite guide to places in Europe for active walkers and cyclists.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Youth Adventures</div>
World Youth Adventures is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.