France: The bike is needed along the Loire - The360 Travel

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  • Sunday, December 15, 2019

    France: The bike is needed along the Loire

    France: The bike is needed along the Loire

    "France is a desert when you get off the main roads": like Michel, they are numerous every year to ride a bike along the 900 kilometers of the Loire, the longest river in the country, a journey mixing nature, heritage and gastronomy.

    Andrew Leask, 47, an Englishman from Stratford-upon-Avon, "the city of Shakespeare," he says, left Saint-Nazaire, the mouth of the Loire on the Atlantic coast, three days earlier. Equipped lightly, it is 80 kilometers a day and intends to reach Basel, Switzerland, within two weeks.

    Not sporty, he found that he had first grown. "I eat ice cream and a lot of pasta," he says after asking the local repairman to oil his chain and grease his derailleur.

    He leaves without paying. "It's the principle: three drops of oil, a stroke of the pump, my name is Accueil-vélo", explains Dominique Raclin, who runs the Bréhémont cyclocafé, a few kilometers from Tours, in central France . Dutch stop, ask for a card and drink a soda. In front of the shop, the Loire extends its sandbanks.

    If the hydrogen bicycles made available here by the local authorities do not yet find a customer, the electric bike is gaining ground.

    "It makes the customers who do not cycle," says Franck, who runs the Roue Lib shop near the train station in Tours. All day long, he greets customers and in the evening, after closing, he will drop off or pick up bikes in other towns on the Loire as Amboise. "There, in the evening, the whole city is dressed as a cyclist," he says of the royal city.

    All along the Loire, a labeled network has been set up. Renters, repairers, hotels, lodges, restaurants: more than 600 professionals coordinate and offer turnkey stays including accommodation. The famous castles of the French Renaissance (15th-16th centuries), the gastronomy, the vineyards, the Loire or the absence of unevenness (190 meters from the departure to the Atlantic) are also a reason for success.

    One million tourists

    According to a 2015 study, the economic benefits for the Center region were estimated at 30 million euros.

    "A cyclotourist spends 57 euros a day," says Michel Nadaud, 64, retired in Angouleme, "me, the tenth, because I sleep behind the hedges".

    With his horizontal bike, on which he is lying on his back, he carries his tent and his food: "I am one with the landscape, France is a desert when we go out of the highways," he said, resuming, tanned , the Atlantic road.

    Unlike him and those who make loops from a campsite, others have organized their trips more comfortably. Upon arrival at the train station Tours, companies receive luggage, deliver to the hotel booked for the evening and resume the next morning while their owners pedal.

    The cycle routes along the Loire 900 kilometers were thus borrowed in 2018 by a million tourists, most of them French, according to the regional committee of Tourism Center-Val de Loire.

    First cycling tour inaugurated in 2006, The Loire by bike was doubled, in attendance, by the Vélodyssée opened in 2012, a route of more than 1200 km along the Atlantic from Roscoff (Finistère) to Hendaye (Pyrenees -Atlantic), attended by 3.6 million people in 2018.

    With almost 16,000 kilometers of developed routes, France is the second most popular destination for cycling tourism and the 21 million French people who practice it during their holidays, 5% roam it, according to France Vélo Tourisme. About one-third of two-wheelers are foreigners, mostly from Northern Europe, according to the association.

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