With the e-Bike Cycle Tourists now in the Burgundy region of France at Chalon Sur Saone on the Saone River after two amazing weeks of cycling along the Loire River, we have been reflecting on everything we have seen and done over the past two or so weeks.
While clearly the magnificent Chateaus of the Loire – we lost count at about 40 – were a major highlight for us, it was clear that we were not the only foreign tourists captivated by the region.
Despite being early in the tourist season in May – still two months away from the peak season of July/August – there were droves of tourists everywhere.
At the more prominent chateaus, in village squares enjoying a quiet coffee or simply taking in the breathtaking scenery, they were everywhere.
But what was most pleasing was the fact that a large proportion of the people enjoying the best the Loire has to offer were cycle tourists.
Some, like us, were on long distance adventures, but many, many more were on one or two week guided, self-guided or personally organised tours along the more historic stretches of the Loire.
Such was the crush of cyclists at some of the better known chateaus such as Villandry, Usse, Chombord and Chenonceau that just about every leading American and European organised cycle tour operator was represented with their support vans and staff.
On more than one occasion we were tempted to make a cheeky pit stop to enjoy some of the local fruits, wine and food that the tour operator staff had provided for their guests as they reached yet another chateau to explore.
Clearly we didn’t, but the large number of cycle tourists not only underlined the huge drawing power of the Valley of Kings but the value in economic terms of cycle tourism along the EuroVelo 6 cycle network.
With an estimated one million-plus cycle tourists using the Loire à Vélo network of cycle tracks on a yearly basis, it is regarded as the most popular of all French cycle routes – and that is in a country that is not only cycling mad, but has magnificent natural attractions everywhere!
Clearly we aren’t alone in loving everything the Loire has to offer.
With 2600kms on the odometer since we left London on April 23, we have now got just 300km to go until we reach Switzerland at Basel. The plan at this stage is to continue along EuroVelo 6 for Vienna in Austria before turning around for the ride across Germany to Holland.
While every day brings new and amazing places to discover, it will be hard to better everything we saw and did along the magnificent Loire River.