logoThe Loire Valley for much of its more popular and accessible stretch is a flat lazy river, especially in summer. Nearer its source high in the Massif Central it is vigorous and dramatic, but by the time it gets to Briare (18 Cher, Centre) it has lost much of its energy and flows gently and sedately towards the Atlantic at St Nazaire, some 480km (300 miles) downstream. This is especially so in summer, but the evidence of some serious flood defences downstream from Tours suggests that it can be rather less benign in winter.
However it is this middle stretch which is best known and visited, especially for its wines and its Chateaux. But the gentleness of the river and its landscape also lends itself to easy exploration on foot, by bike, canoe or horse – of if you must, by car!
The departmental tourist office at www.anjou-tourisme.com has put together a series of signposted routes and maps to follow depending on your mode of transport. By car you can follow the banks of the Loire river or dawdle through the vineyards on the Route Touristique du Vignoble (wine route); There is an excellent cycle route close to the river all the way from Montsoreau to Champtoceaux; and there is the excellent idea of a network of places to stay where they actually welcome cyclists “Accueil vélo”

For walkers/hikers/ramblers there are various GR (Grand Randonnée) signposted long-distance walking route; plus a good number of PR (Petite Randonnée) routes.

Given that this is one of the closer regions to the UK within 4 hours or so of the Channel ports (or much less by low cost airline) it should have something to offer everyone – and don’t forget the wines from Touraine, Chinon, Saumur, Anjou……
For more info on Anjou routes www.anjou-tourisme.com
For some excellent Anjou wines visit our friends at Domaine Leduc-Frouin,

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