Timing is everything. For three weeks, sandwiched between the cold mistral winds in May and the June’s canicule heatwave, was a grace period. Warm days, clear skies with a light breeze made it a cycling sweet spot in the idyllic (when weather conditions prevail) French countryside. Cycling holidays are the greatest … when the weather’s good.
Our trip with Inntravel http://www.inntravel.co.uk started and ended in Azay- le-Rideau, a compact, bustling castle town and for the next week we cycled via Usse with its romantic chateau, Fontevraud, with its wonderful monastery and Chinon, a food obsessives dream, which at 8,000 people, felt like the big smoke. In between we cycled through wheatfields, country lanes, forest green belts and riverside cycle paths. On average we cycled around 30km a day – Tour de France this ain’t – but as a confirmed dilettante cyclist that allowed me plenty of time to stop and take photos, start early to get to the destination by lunch, followed by a siesta and then a spot of sightseeing before aperitif time. We stayed in charming auberges where meals were usually included, and in bigger towns we had free rein and were given handy restaurant and bar suggestions in our notes.
The Loire is a great place to cycle for those wanting to dust off cycling legs. I had done only minimal preparation but found the good terrain, courteous drivers and flat roads ideal for an easy cycling trip and it gave me a taste to return and do it all again – hopefully with the same perfect weather.