Loire

After a couple of nights in a lovely big bed, it was back on the bike and back into the tent. I dug the bike out the storeroom it had been hiding in, loaded up and we were off. First stop, a small supermarket near the hotel, so we could stock up on food for lunch and some emergency rations. We always had hard-boiled eggs, buying a half dozen at a time and boiling them on the burner. They would keep for a day or two. Sometimes I would buy a baguette but they went hard pretty quick in the heat. Fresh fruit was always on my list – a couple of apples, nectarines or peaches. We had a couple of tins of tuna, some artichoke hearts and tinned asparagus as reserves.

The Loire and the next stage of our tour.

Beaugency is less than 30km from Orléans and the cycle paths alongside the river are easy to follow. The first part was along dirt tracks but they were bone dry and hard-packed, so we kept up a good speed. Later we switched side on the river and soon after hit tarmac.

Running beside the Loire was quiet for long stretches and we would go for miles without seeing a soul.
At Orléans we stopped by the bridge for a coffee.

We stopped overnight at Jargeau and once again had problems finding somewhere to eat that served anything other than carbs. It was a small town and we cycled up and down a few times, eventually settling for ‘The Cheval Blanc’ Hotel. After we stopped in a bar run by a very old fellow. There was just him and a couple of regulars, and a dog. We all got on swimmingly, even though I doubt anyone really understood what anyone else was saying. The wine was ridiculously cheap, which made for an even better time.

The view from Jargeau to St Denis de l’Hôtel.

For much of the time we could follow the riverside tracks, though sometimes they were a little too rough and we resorted to nearby roads. The river meanders quite a lot too, and in places we cut across the neck of a meander to reduce distances. We took lunch at Sully sur Loire, opposite a very grand chateau.

Tracks varied from perfect tarmac to rough tracks that really weren’t suitable. We also came across a few barriers that we had to detour around.

The Chateau at Sully Sur Loire.
The good thing about all the tracks was that they were flat. The only time we had to climb was when we left the river to head into a nearby town in search of a bar or food.
Leaving Gien after an overnight stop.
The Post Canal at Briare where we switched sides of the Loire for a short stretch.
The campsite at Cosne Sur Loire was large and had a good restaurant and we enjoyed a great buffet in the evening with a view across the river.
Lunch stop between Closne Sur Loire and La Charité Sur Loire – our next overnight stop. It wasn’t much further but Karon’s blood sugar had dropped, so we had to stop where we were.
There was a lovely old part to Charité Sur Loire and we had time to walk there from the campsite and enjoy a couple of drinks before finding some food.

After a night at Charité Sur loire, we stayed by the river until Nevers, where we cut across a meander and into the town for lunch. Then we crossed the river and followed the Canal Latéral which ran along the south side of the Loire. There wasn’t always a towpath to follow, so we used nearby lanes and roads, but the route was generally pretty well marked. The only thing we had to watch out for were the ‘scenic’ detours that would climb away from the river and up to a village just for the view. We tended to avoid these most of the time as it could be a stiff climb.

DIY dinner at Decize. It was tricky getting out the town as we were following EuroVelo Route 6 signs but ended up going around in a loop, back to where we started. On our second attempt at leaving we followed the map back to the Canal Latéral and the road that followed its course.

Our next campsite after Decize was planned to be at Diou, by the river, but when we turned up we were not impressed with the facilities (almost non-existent) or the quality of the pitches – stoney and no shade, so we headed ‘inland’ for Dompierre Sur Besbre and the Municipal campsite there. It was a good move, apart from the hill we had to go over to get to it.

Next day we ran back through Diou to pick up our route then headed to Digoin, not too far upstream. Here the Canal du Latéral crosses the Loire from the south bank to become the Canal Central, which we were going to follow for a couple of days to get to Chalon Sur Saône.

The Canal Central >