The Indre à Vélo bike route follows a tributary of the Loire on tiny lanes up to its source, before crossing over to the valley of the Cher. Combined with the Loire route and other nearby véloroutes, it could make an engrossing 10-day circular tour.
It’s entirely on quiet roads, generally little more than a single car’s width, and almost entirely rural. When there’s a road on either side of the valley, this route follows the quieter one.
The early stages are very much in the hinterland of the Loire and its châteaux, giving a chance to appreciate these opulent buildings that the cyclotourist faithfully following the Loire itself might pass up. But by the time you reach Montbazon, the Indre route takes on a character of its own. This fortified monastic settlement has the oldest castle in France, topped by a rather unsubtle mid-18th century statue of the Virgin Mary.
This part of France is some way off the tourist trail, and you’ll generally be untroubled by passing traffic. The gentle valley road through sleepy villages leads to Loches, the medieval town which is perhaps the jewel of this route. This was a residence of French royalty until the 16th century, and it has survived unspoilt since then.
The lanes continue upriver to Châteauroux, capital of the Indre, the largest town en route and a generally successful mix of ancient and modern. After La Châtre the (briefly unsignposted) route on ever smaller roads becomes rather hillier: the summit is at Toulx Sainte Croix where an observation tower gives superb views in all directions. The route finishes at Chambon sur Voueize where it meets the V87 Massif Central route.