What better way to reconnect with nature than a cycling weekend? Surrounded by green, with no constraints and no car, set off at you own pace along the banks of the Loire to discover some exceptional natural sites.
Day 1 : The riverbanks by bike
Ever heard of the Loire à Vélo cycle route? It is without doubt one of France’s best-known cycle routes, and a must when visiting the region. Stretching over 800 kilometres, the Loire à Vélo offers a panorama of outstanding scenery. Although the Loire doesn’t actually pass through the city of Angers itself, it runs right nearby. Cycling enthusiasts or occasional cyclists, get ready to come ride with us on the Anjou circuit of the Loire à Vélo (known as the Boucle Angevine).
This route starts in parc Balzac in Angers and will take you on an approximately 40-kilometre ride. Before reaching the Loire, you will first pedal alongside the Maine with its beautiful swans. Very soon, you will come to the Lac de Maine, a tranquil spot on the edge of the city. Continue along the route and make a first stop in La Piverdière, in Bouchemaine. This 17-acre natural site offers a unique vista over the Maine and the Basses Vallées Angevines wetlands from the belvedere, which you can access on foot from the towpath. After this short pause, next stop: Bouchemaine village. If you fancy, you can continue exploring as far as the old harbour village of La Pointe, which lies at the confluence of the Maine and the Loire.
If you like picturesque, floral character villages, you should make Béhuard Island your next stop. This village on an island in the Loire is car-free, which makes for an even more pleasant and authentic experience. Take time here to stroll the cobbled streets at your own pace..
Keen on wine and vineyards? Pedal a few kilometres further and you will come to Savennières, with its old village centre and wine estates. Don’t hesitate to drop in at one of the wineries that are open to the public, for a tasting of the exceptional white wine AOC Savennières. It’s a delicious experience not to be missed.
After stopping briefly in Béhuard and Savennières, set off again towards Bouchemaine and Sainte-Gemmes-sur-Loire. On your way, take time to admire the beauty of the surrounding scenery and enjoy a well-earned picnic stop on the banks of the Loire, or stop for a bite at the riverside café, the guinguette de Port-Thibault. After a good relax, it’s just a short ride to the Mediterranean garden in Sainte-Gemmes-sur-Loire. This is an idyllic place with its aromatic plants, vines and olive trees and there is an exceptional panoramic view over the Loire
With the wind in your hair and free as a bird, ride on through Ponts-de-Cé and then La Daguenière. Head slightly north now towards Trelazé and to the 750-acre natural site of : les Ardoisières. The dazzling blue colour of the lakes gives this place a unique and magical character. Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere for a few moments – you’ll feel like you are in another world. While you are there, make a visit to the slate museum (Musée de l'Ardoise), and watch a demonstration of slate splitting.
This first day of cycling on the banks of the Loire is nearly over. The route brings you back to the centre of Angers, marking the end of your ride.
Day 2 : City & nature combined in one ride
After a good night’s rest, you are ready to go again for another day of cycling. Angers has some superb natural scenery along the banks of the Loire, but the city centre is also worth a visit.
There’s no need to abandon your two-wheeled friend, though, as Angers is an extremely bike-friendly place to explore! Start by discovering the cobbled streets that give the city centre such a special character. Rue du Musée is an excellent example. Continue on to Place Saint-Eloi to see the magnificent sculpture in the middle of the square. Opposite you, you’ll see the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum). Push the door for a colourful journey through the works of art. After this visit, take a break away from the hustle and bustle of the city in the peaceful gardens of the Musée des Beaux-Arts.
It’s time to hop back on your bike now for a short ride to Château d’Angers, one of the city’s most emblematic sights and home to a world-unique treasure : la tenture de l’Apocalypse. Measuring over 100 metres long and listed as a piece of UNESCO Memory of the World heritage, this impressive tapestry will leave you speechless. Wander the castle gardens with its aromatic plants and vines for a while. At the end of your visit, don’t forget to go along the Promenade du Bout du Monde for a fabulous view of the city and the river Maine.
In need of a good lunch to regain your strength ? The area around the castle is teeming with excellent quality restaurants offering no end of choice.
Back on your trusty steed, it is time to cross the Maine and ride along to the Jean Lurçat and Contemporary Tapestry Museum, which is an enchanting place ! Pedal now in the direction of the Doutre district, a tranquil corner of town with a real village feel. Place de la Paix, Place du Tertre-Saint-Laurent… Give yourself time to explore this historic part of town and admire the charming half-timbered houses. The next and final stop on the route is the Cale de la Savette wharf area for a breathtaking view of the city. Where better to end this second day than the banks of the Maine, at the guinguette du Héron Carré a relaxing and friendly spot surrounded by green?
What if you were to extend your weekend ?
Tempting, isn’t it? There’s no chance of you running out of things to do! Here are a few additional “slow tourism” ideas that you can do either by bike or on the water :
- You could take a cruise on the Loire, with Loire Odyssée or Terre et Loire. With one-hour or two-hour sightseeing cruises or “apéro cruises” including food and drinks, these boat trips are the opportunity to see the pristine scenery of the Loire in a new way and offer a perfect escape from it all.
- For courageous cyclists who want to do more, why not try the 52-kilometre Loire and Aubance circuit ? This ride will take you through charming little villages and past châteaux and churches. The many viewpoints over the Loire Valley along this route mean you will stop regularly to take in the beauty of the scenery.
Accommodation suggestion for your weekend break in Angers :
Looking for accommodation recommendations? You’ll find just what you need in our list of cyclist-friendly hotels and gîtes (all with the Accueil Vélo® label):
Visitor tip :
The 72 hr Angers City Pass is a practical and economical way to visit Angers Castle, the Jean Lurçat Museum and the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Visiting Angers for one or two days? Choose a pass to match your length of stay!
*ALCOHOL ABUSE IS DANGEROUS FOR HEALTH. ENJOY IN MODERATION.