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The Valley of Kings and Playing Detective on EuroVelo 1

The Valley of Kings and Playing Detective on EuroVelo 1

With the south west of the UK and now Brittany in France ticked off the e-Bike Cycle Tourists to-do list, we have finally arrived in Nantes in the Loire Valley primed for the ride across France to Switzerland and on to Austria via EuroVelo 6.

And what a journey it has been through Brittany after starting the French leg of our e-biking adventure in Roscoff after disembarking the ferry from Plymouth.

Brittany in a word is a ‘stunning’ region littered with picture postcard villages, amazing scenery, grand churches in even the smallest of villages, charming people and, of course, the Canal de Nantes a Brest – better known to cycle tourists as EuroVelo 1 or Velodyssee 1.

Built during the 19th century, the canal in its entirety is 385 km long and features 238 locks – all with lock houses in various states of repair - with EuroVelo 1 faithfully following every twist and turn of the canal from near Gouarec. 

After following the canal for more than 300 kilometres through to Nantes we can certainly vouch for three things – the genius of the French engineers who designed and built the canal, the beauty of the surrounding landscape and the suitability of the canal as a bicycle highway through Brittany.

What we didn’t realise before cycling on this section of EuroVelo 1from Roscoff  – especially on the final day coming in Nantes - was that we would require the detective skills of someone of the calibre of the incomparable Sherlock Holmes.

While most of the time navigating your way is a simple case of following the Velodyssee 1 signs, the interesting bit is when there are no longer any signs to follow.

“Do we go this way, that way or maybe even another way,” we all too often found ourselves asking.

After too many wrong turns, head scratching and confusion, in the end we worked out what proved to be a workable solution to the problem – think like a detective.

This would see us look at what clues we had, scout ahead, ask questions and generally go with gut instinct.

Sometimes it was the glue from the back of a Velodyssee 1sign that was still visible on a pole after being removed by vandals, sometimes it was a case of cycling a kilometre or so ahead to look for more signs and on other occasions it was our trusty compass that provided the necessary clue as to where to head.

The end result was that we always did find the right track eventually, with each clue found along the way the reason for high fives. After all it would be all too simple if every sign was where it was meant to be, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, after a well deserved rest day today, the plan is to start a meticulously planned tour – clearly that is said very much tongue in cheek - of the grandest Châteaux of the Loire through the aptly named Valley of Kings to Orleans in central France.

 The region is a fairytale land of 300-plus Medieval and Renaissance chateaux along the length of the Loire, Maine, Vienne and Indre rivers, with no visit complete unless it contains visits to as many massive chateaux as possible.

The plan at this stage is to base ourselves in Nantes, Angers, Saumur, Chinon, Tours and Blois for two or three days at a time to enable us to e-bike to the various chateaux in the various regions.

Basically it doesn’t get any better than that. Cycle touring for a day at a time without having to tow our heavy and cumbersome cycle trailers, get a dose of French history and generally immerse ourselves in everything the Loire Valley has to offer.
 


Gary Corbett is an award-winning Australian journalist who has written for a wide range of newspapers, periodicals and travel magazines for the past 30-plus years.

After years of writing about other people’s travel adventures, in the mid-2000s he  booked a personal holiday with a difference – a one week guided cycling tour in the Loire Valley in France – and was instantly hooked on those “how good is this” moments that only cycle touring can provide.

In ensuing years he has gone on to cycle well in excess of 30,000 kilometres completing guided, self-guided, bike and barge and solo long distance tours in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.

Gary now writes exclusively about cycle touring and travelling in general and as such the attempt to set a new electric bike world long distance record along with his wife, Rachel, is his latest “fact finding” cycling adventure – however this time it will be on an e-bike.

His future goal is to see more of the world from the seat of his trusty Trek 520 touring bicycle, and now that he has discovered the world of e-biking, his new Haibike xDuro Trekking RX e-bike. There is, after all, always another country to be explored, new cultures to be experienced and more cycle tours to be completed.


Before this epic journey Gary (a.k.a. The Cycle Tourist) contributed many excellent cycle touring articles to the Cycle Tours Global blog - you can read them at cycletoursglobal.com/Gary-Corbett.To find out even more about the expedition please visit http://ebikecycletourists.com.

 

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By: Gary Corbett
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