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Discover the Treasures of the Loire Valley Countryside the ‘Smart’ Way

Ever tried riding an e-bike? You can go faster, further, and with far less effort: 100% pleasure, 0% pain! Pascal Boudard, founder of the Vélo ValdeLoire boutique in Sury-aux-Bois, a charming little village in the forest, about 40 km east of Orleans, and an incurable nature and biking enthusiast, offers two intriguing options to discover the joys of this new way of travelling. So adopt the French way of life and go easy as you plunge yourself into the heart of the Loire Valley countryside to track down its secret treasures and hidden landscapes.
 
Option 1 – 2 to 4-hour tour: test your ‘sea legs’ with an easy itinerary: rendezvous with Pascal at the canal’s restaurant in Sury-aux-Bois. He will guide you on a tailor made tour along the waterway and across the 35,000-hectare national forest, the largest in France. 

Climb up to the Caillettes belvedere, its highest point, or visit the étang de la Vallée, a eco-friendly leisure centre, the Ingrannes or Lorris massifs, or the Arboretum des Grandes Bruyères, listed as a ‘Jardin Remarquable'. You can even schedule a stop at a local farm or artist’s workshop - it’s entirely up to you! 
 
After this little warm-up, why not move on to more serious things?
 
Option 2: 3-day, 2-night tour, 200 km.
 
Looking for a complete change of scene? Get on your e-bike and embark on an expedition on a new ‘green lane’ that runs along the fabulous ‘Golden Triangle’ waterway, between the Orleans and Briare canals and the Loire! Your journey will take you along the shady banks of these ancient canals, some of the prettiest and most peaceful in France, past Montargis, a town with 131 bridges, also known as the little ‘Venice of the Gatinais’. Then glide down the bustling Briare canal, a paradise for boat-lovers, past Châtillon-Coligny and Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses, with its seven picturesque locks.
 
In Briare, you’ll cross over the Loire on Gustave Eiffel’s famous 19th century canal-bridge, and pick up the Loire à Vélo cycling trail on the opposite bank. There’s lots to see along the way: the Châteaux de Gien and Sully-sur-Loire, two imposing medieval fortresses dominating the Loire; the Abbey of Fleury, founded in 640, and one of Western Europe’s most celebrated Benedictine monasteries, and the beautiful Carolingian Oratory at Germigny-des-Prés. Finish off with a visit to the historic city of Orléans and its old town, an absolute must, before you wind your back to your starting point.
 
Pascal will provide all the equipment, recommend the best stopovers and arrange for baggage transfer during the tour. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?
 
For more information on ‘ The Golden Triangle’ waterway and to book a tour, click here 
For more information on Vélo Val de Loire

 
Some suggestions on where to sleep while you’re there:   
 
Montargis, Hôtel de la Gloire, comfortable city hotel, known for its Michelin-star restaurant.
Briare, Le Domaine des Roches, 4-star hotel with spa, park and excellent restaurant, just a step from the lovely little port of Briare.
Germigny-des-Prés, La Bonnée d’Ane, cosy country ecolodge near the banks of the Loire.
Orléans, Hôtel Marguerite, attractive, family-style 2-star hotel, or Le Patio St Marceau, a charming guesthouse, both in the heart of town.