The world-renowned Loire à Vélo bike route begins at the coast and goes as far upstream as Nevers; EuroVelo 6 continues on cycleways quiet lanes as far as Paray le Monial, where it branches off towards Besançon and Mulhouse.
But the upper Loire valley offers still more fine cycling, and that’s what route V71 provides. As far as Pouilly sous Charlieu, it’s a fine new paved rail-trail, the Véloire. It then switches to the banks of the Canal de Roanne à Digoin for an easy entrance to Roanne.
From here, the valley becomes a steep-sided gorge with no space for canal, railway or roads even. Instead, V71 follows minor roads high above the Loire, climbing 200m in 10km but with many ups and downs along the way. The views are as good as anywhere along the Loire, but the gradients make this a stage for experienced cyclists.
After Pinay, the valley widens out and easy riding resumes. Rural lanes continue through Feurs to the current terminus at Montrond les Bains. Ultimately the route is planned to continue to the Via Fluvia at Lavoûte sur Loire, and from there to Le Puy en Velay.