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near Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent, Pays de la Loire (France)
Nice and varied cycling tour along the Loire, with forests, vineyards and caves, countryside, rivers, castles and villages. You can find something to eat and drink mainly in Gennes and Saumur, and also in the vineyards around Turquant. The tour is suited for the racing bike, although it includes three very short stretches of semi-paved roads/cycling paths. The trip is relatively easy and flat apart from one short 18% climb near Turquant, and a few short other climbs. The trip starts at the hotel where I was staying. If you are not staying there, you can best park in nearby Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent.
From the starting point you cycle down into Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent, and then up and down to the D161 on the river Loire. You choose a small road/cycling route along the Loire until it ends up at the D161, and then follow this relatively quiet and well-paved road along the Loire River through a few villages. In the village of Cunault you turn away from the river, climb a little hill and then descend into Gennes. Here is a small stretch of badly paved cycling path, which you could avoid (see waypoint). You cross the Loire and Île de Gennes here on two bridges to Les Rosiers-sur-Loire. Here you turn eastward on the busier D952, on the river dyke along the floodplain. After 2.3 km you turn away from the river, through flat countryside to the smaller river Authion. You follow this river, cross it again, and keep following it for a bit more than 7 km. You then cycle south towards the Loire River, which you meet again in Saint-Lambert-des-Levées, across from Saumur. Here you follow the busier D952 again along the river, with occasionally magnificent view up and down the river. After about 6 km you cycle away north from the river again to a small forest with little streams and lakes. From here you continue to Varennes-sur-Loire, where you cross the Loire again. The south bank is lined with white chalk rock faces in which mushroom growers, troglodytic houses and wine caves can be found. In Turquant you cycle close to the rock face for a while, and then take a steep 18% road up the chalk cliff to the countryside with vineyards on the hills beyond. You cycle through this undulating countryside until you are close to Saumur. From the Rue des Moulins in Saumur you have great views across the Loire, Île d'Offard, Saumur and at the last moment also Saumur castle. You cycle around the castle down to the center. You cross the bridge to Île d'Offard and cycle around the entire island. Near the eastern end is about 120 m of semi-paved road. When you have completed the circle you cross the bridge back to Saumur and cycle along the river to cycle paths through Parc du Breil. The cycle path takes you across a bridge of the Le Thouet river. Here is a short stretch of semi-paved cycling path. After crossing the river you cycle uphill to the starting point.
Steep but short climb along the white chalk cliff which brings you to the undulating landscape with vineyards lying beyond.
From here you cycle about 6 km along the Authion river.
Bridge across the Authion River. There is a restaurant here as well.
Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians across Le Thouet river. There is a bit of semi-paved cycling path here as well.
Town with notable church. From here you go uphill a bit.
Short stretch of badly paved cycling path. Can be easily avoided by continuing on the road and take the first road on the right.
You cycle on the D751 along the Loire.
Busier road on river dyke towards Tours with occasionally nice views of the Loire river
Stretch of quiet cycling route along the Loire.
Bridge of the D952a across the Loire. You ride towards the south bank with white chalk rocks with mushroom (champignon) growers, wine caves, and troglodytic houses.
Bridge across the Loire from Saumur to Île d'Offard
Short stretch of semi-paved road, directly after a nice river viewpoint. Not worth trying to avoid due to it being very short.
Undulating countryside full of vineyards
You leave the Loire and cycle towards the Authion river through flat countryside
Village with wine caves and troglodytic houses built into the white chalk.
Two bridges bring you across the Loire and the 'Île de Gennes
View of Saumur, Loire and Île d'Offard
Small section with little streams and lakes in a forest
Island in the Loire across from Saumur