This itinerary, really only suited to cyclists in peak physical condition (60km/day !), tours the towns of the Val de Loire along what must be one of France’s most scenic and emblematic bicycle trails. Among the many famous sites are Saumur and its prestigious Horse Museum, Angers and its handsome fortress, the delightful town of Ancenis, without forgetting the lively, get-ahead towns of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire.
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The trip kicks off at Saumur, dubbed the “pearl of Anjou”. Wander around between the château and Cessart bridge, down the maze of narrow twisting lanes, strewn with medieval reminders. Don’t miss Rue St Jean lined in shops that leads to the Place St-Pierre. Hop back on your bike and make your way to Angers where you will spend your first night.
MyTripTailor advice : Park your bicycle and explore Saumur on foot, armed with a free booklet picked up at the tourist office.
From its high rocky outcrop, the dark forbidding outline of the castle of Angers looms over the town. Venture past its heavy doors into an edifice of pleasing and harmonious proportions that bear witness to a time when Angers was the home of art-loving princes; the Apocalypse Tapestry is a masterpiece of medieval art. Then make your way to Ancenis, home to a stunning 10C castle. The town’s houses, built out of soft shale stone and covered in slate, adorn the hill facing the Loire where a 500m-long suspended bridge spans the river.
The next stage is Nantes, capital of the Pays de la Loire region and sixth largest town of France. Highlights include the castle of the Dukes of Brittany, Pommeraye passage, the Lieu unique arts centre, the last remaining trace of the LU biscuit factory, the impressive Machines de l’Ile cultural project that will immerse you in a world poised between Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci and the Nantes-Saint Nazaire estuary art trail.
MyTripTailor advice: The sunset is particularly stunning during a boat trip down the Erdre Valley to the village of Trentemoult.
At Saint-Nazaire, you have reached the final stage of your tour ! Associated for many years with its historic image of industrial harbour and proud birthplace of some of the hugest ships on the seas, Saint Nazaire is now on a new tack and striving to enhance its past in a bid to breathe new life into the town, albeit without forgoing its prosperous shipbuilding activity.
MyTripTailor advice : Stroll around the recently restored docklands district established around the submarine base that has well and truly put St Nazaire on the cultural and festival map.
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