Martin Chambers

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Cycling in France. The Loire Valley

Published in the newsletter of the Mundi Biddi track foundation.

We have recently returned from a week cycling through the Loire Valley, France. This is an area to the southwest of Paris centered around the town of Tours where the Loire river meanders through lush farmland; vineyards, corn, sunflower, and cereal crops, ancient settlements and castles. A cycle trail follows the river, along back roads and tracks through wooded hunting grounds and only occasionally onto busy roads where the drivers are courteous. This cycle route will eventually lead from La Rochelle on the coast through Switzerland and into Germany. 

We hired bikes and panniers and most night we camped in the village camp ground, although those who preferred could easily stay every night in accommodation ranging from luxurious chateau to budget hotels. More information:

So, excellent though it is, I have a few suggestions on how to improve the Mundi Biddi track. 

Firstly, there are not enough castles. If we built castles every ten kilometres or so it would add considerable interest and many could become viable alternative accommodation. The modern architectural trend of using distressed surfaces would go well with these castles, we could even go so far as to call some of them ruins. Might be a little earner, too. In France, people pay to visit old castles and look at art that is hundreds of years old.

Secondly, and perhaps in conjunction with some of the castles, a few small villages, not more that ten kilometres apart. Each village of old stone buildings and narrow lanes must have a pub with cheap meals and great coffee, a bakery, and a patisserie. Not much else. Shouldn’t be too hard to organise that. 

Now third, this is tricky, but it is essential that vineyards and wine cellars providing tastings and selling really great but cheap wine are laid out not more than a stagger or short meandering ride apart. Going to have to clear-fell some of the forest, I’m afraid. 

For camp grounds, lush green lawns and spacious gardens along the banks of the river. I admit, the river might be a difficulty because it has to be deep and gently flowing and contain fish and boats and stuff like that.

High speed trains. In addition to the local trains, each with a dedicated carriage for carrying touring bicycles, there must be a high speed train back to the city. With a dining car and delicious wine and cheese.

That should just about do it.