Saint-Clair-du-Rhone, France to Blois, France

Day 111 – Thrusday 12/08
Saint Clair du Rhone to Saint Galmier – 76kms Total 5678kms

An unexpected tough day today. We knew we had to go over a pass of sorts to get to the other valley and I had chosen the right route. We only had to climb to 450 meters than back down near Rive-de-Gier where we followed the D88 (next to the E70) on a steady climb to St.Etienne.
Now St.Etienne is not a nice place to cycle through but with the help of a couple of locals we found our way to the D1082 and we were out of there.
We had one more small climb to Veauche than to the D12 and on to St.Galmier.
A good days cycling, great weather and good roads.
Camping here is OK, very peaceful, we recommend it.

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On the climb out of the Rhone river valley on the D28. Click to view larger.

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There were a couple steep places.

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One last look at Condriue and the river Rhone. Click to view larger.

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Our steeds posing in Parc naturel regional du Pilat before Longes.

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Continuing North on the D28 right after Longes.

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Looking at the E70 below just before Rive-de-Gier.

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Cresting another hill right on the D1082 right after Saint Etienne.

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On the D1082 just before Saint Galmier.

Day 112 – Friday 13/08
Saint Galmier to Balbigny – 53kms Total 5701kms

Started late this morning, it was around 10:00 before we were on the road.
We mostly kept to the west bank of the river as the small village roads hugged the river best. We did cross the Loire a couple of times during the day. Another very nice day of cycling.
At Balbigny we found this very nice little camping which we highly recommend.

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Another great day on the saddle.

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We can never get enough of this.

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Our first view of the Loire.

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We are really looking foreword to cycling along this river till Nantes.

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A very healthy looking specimen would you say?

Day 113 – Saturday 14/08
Balbigny to Pouilly-sous-Charlieu – 59kms Total 5760kms

Got on this nice and quiet road at 09:00 that runs along the Loire. Not long after came the first of four climbs we had to go over this day, and the last one being the hardest.
We rode through the Loire Gorge and past Chateaux La Roche, it was nice seeing them again last time being on our 2006 Barcelona tour.
Later on we past through Roanne and about 13kms later we found this gem of a camping. The cheapest so far at 7 euros, it has a kitchen with 2 fridges, microwave oven, small gas canister’s, etc…
Also the grounds are immaculate, we felt we were camping on the grounds of a chateaux.
That evening we also met Chris another like minded cyclist on his first solo ride to Italy and back. Good luck on your future tours mate 😉
We highly recommend this place.

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On the D56 just before Saint Georges de Baroille.

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Still on the D56, a great road for cycling.

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The very calm Loire.

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On the climb to Pinay.

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Back down to the Loire before Chateau de la Roche.

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Chateau de la Roche

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Chateau de la Roche

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View from the D56.

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View from the D56.

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View from the D56.

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View from the D56. Click to view larger.

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The dam before Villerest. Click to view larger.

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The dam before Villerest. Click to view larger.

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If we could only do this for the rest of our lives.

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Church with cute little house next to it in Roanne.

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Great wall murals in Roanne.

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Difficult to see what real and whats painted.

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They’ve planted many colorful flowers in Roanne.

DAy 114 – Sunday 15/08
Pouilly to Digoin – 47kms Total 5817kms

Today was quite ordinary and we could go as far as to say boring. Cycling along quiet farm lanes picking berries from wild bushes until we got bored than going onto a more straight “D” road to Digoin. The day was mostly grey and our moods also until we finally found the Loire Velo route.
In the afternoon we even had to put on our sweaters as it got so chilly.
Camping here is OK.

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Breaking camp.

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Chris the Dutch guy we met yesterday on his solo tour to Italy and back.

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On the D982.

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On the D982.

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On the D982.

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Finally dedicated cycling route.

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Without the worry of cars it made cycling a lot more care free.

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Too lazy to even climb off the bike.

Day 115 – Monday 16/08
Digoin – Rest day

We took care of some business, got supplies and worked on the webpage. After yesterday feeling a bit down we needed a rest day.
It had rained through the night with some high winds and the whole day was really gray and cold but stayed dry.
Anyway it wasn’t a nice day to cycle that’s why it was perfect day to rest, besides we hadn’t taken a rest day for a while and were really due.

Day 116 – Tuesday 17/08
Digoin to Nevers – 110kms Total 5927kms

Wow what can I say it was a great cycling day. We got on a nice cycling path along the canal for about 10/15kms and when that finished we followed small rural roads hugging the Loire lateral canal.
The roads were good, hardly any traffic (maybe 4/5 cars every 10 min.), sunny and warm.
We both started listening to our own mp3’s, don’t know what Monique was listening to but I was tripping on the best of Pink Floyd. We were both in a trance listening to our favorites and watching the French countryside roll by, it was excellent 😉
Camping is OK for the a night.

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Crossing the Loire on the D779.

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We’re trying to get to Canal Lateral a la Loire.

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Canal Lateral a la Loire. My view for most of the day 😉

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Canal Lateral a la Loire. My view for most of the day 😉

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On the D979 and the great view continued 😉

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On the D979 and the great view continued 😉

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On the D979 and the great view continued 😉

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On the D979 and the great view continued 😉

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Crossing the Canal just before Nevers.

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Cathedral in Nevers.

Day 117 – Wednesday 18/08
Nevers to Saint Satur – 74kms Total 6001kms

Got up at 07:00 to heavy drizzle so we just waited it out. After we got our stuff together we got on the road around 10:15 or so.
Today we finally got on the official Loire cycling route with its special signs and all. We saw many people of all ages and different types of bikes enjoying this nice cycling path. Today we also crossed the 6000 kilometer mark.
It seems to be very well organized with camping’s and B&B’s everywhere.
Camping here is real good with a large supermarket near by.

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Back on the Canal Lateral a la Loire.

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The canal going over the river L’Allier.

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Many informative signs along the canal.

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The Loire is lined with beautiful chateaus.

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Monique getting out her mp3, on a bike path like this with on one around its great.

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Lovely picturesque villages on the Loire.

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This guy seemed so proud we just had to take a picture.

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From super smooth cycling paths through open fields to dirt tracks through the woods cycling along the Loire is great.

Day 118 – Thursday 19/08
Saint Satur to Gien – 68kms Total 6069kms

Great cycling day. Good weather and perfect cycling paths.
Today we saw our first proper chateau at Brisson.
The camping in Gien is good and while talking to the owner/manager he found out we wanted to visit château Chambord he gave us a couple of free tickets worth €19, what a great guy.

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Another beautiful sunrise.

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Another great cycling path.

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What more can one say about cycling along the Loire?

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Enjoying some fruit.

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No comment.

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We even rode under the canal.

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Chateau de saint Brisson.

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Close up.

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Gien

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Camping on the Loire in Gien.

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This is a very beautiful town, even more so in the evening light.

Day 119 – Friday 20/09
Gien to Jargeau – 69kms Total 6138kms

Another great cycling day along beautiful cycling paths. We saw another château today at Sully-sur-Loire.
We didn’t go inside but it was nice to see it from the grounds.
It is difficult to visit all these chateaus because we really don’t want to leave our bikes and stuff unattended so we’re going to pick just a few large chateaus to visit inside. Besides now we have a reason to cycle the Loire at some point in the future maybe when we retire as its an easy route and we’ll have the time to just visit more points of interest.
Camping at Jargeau is ok.

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Railroad bridge over the Loire from Rue des Iris.

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Cycling heaven.

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A lot of villages had little parks some were particularly beautiful.

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Chateau de Sully sur Loire.

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Crossing the Meridian line.

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Taking in all in on a quiet spot before Jargeau.

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I can really see myself living like this for the rest of my life 🙂

Day 120 – Saturday 21/08
Jargeau to Blois – 99kms Total 6237kms

Another great cycling day with good weather and perfect cycling paths. We saw the Cathedral in Orleans while trying to locate the tourist office without any luck I might add. We also passed by the château in Meung-sur-Loire.
Camping in Blois not good, avoid if possible. We wanted to stay here another day so we could visit the château Chambord but this place is very bad so we will look for another tomorrow.

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Back on the saddle early in the morning.

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We what can one really say, yet another great cycling day.

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Cathedral in Orleans.

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Pont de l’Europe bridge in Orleans.

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Chateau de Meung sur Loire.

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The D925 bridge at Beaugencey.

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More great cycling before Blois.

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So far we have seen many grand buildings along the Loire, and a few really stuck out like this one here just before Blois.

We believe that the decision to cycle along the Loire was a good one. There is a great cycling infrastructure that makes cycling along this river a real joy. So far the Loire has proven to be a great cycling experience.

Continue to part three, Blois to Nantes.