Throughout summer, a special bike train operates along the Loire à Vélo bike route. Here's what you need to know.
The service runs roughly from mid-June to mid-September each year when it's possible to use InterLoire trains between Orléans and Le Croisic with no reservation (bikes travel free); all you need is a standard ticket.
There are usually three daily return services during the week and two at the weekend. Most run between Orléans and Saint Nazaire, but some go on to Le Croisic. You can check times locally or buy tickets via the OUI.SNCF website.
You do not need to serach for bicycle tickets. All local TERs on this line take bikes – you just search for/buy a regular ticket.
The train has special carriages to accommodate bikes of all sizes, including trailers and tandems. There is one carriage per train, and each carriage can carry 40 bikes. (Just look for the distinctive branding as in the photo above).
Trained staff are onboard to help cyclists on and off, and to store bikes.
The train was first introduced on a trial bases in 2013, with almost 10,000 cyclists using the service. Regional authorities for the Centre and Pays de la Loire departments, in conjunction with SNCF, then decided to make it an annual fixture on timetables.
Organised holidays along the Loire à Vélo
If you don't fancy doing it yourself and need a little locak advice to plan your cycling holiday in the Loire Valley, see some of these self-guided rides.