Outdoor Activities in Pays-de-la-Loire

Information on hiking, biking, canoeing and horse riding in the hills and valleys of western France. With contact details of regional sport and activity associations...

There is an endless supply of activities for the adventurous and much useful information available.

Find below information on:

Hiking and Walking

The Pays-de-la-Loire has over 13,000 Km of hiking and walking trails. The GR3 is over 200 Km long and joins La Baule to Saumur across vineyards and through forests. The Chemin de Halage in the Mayenne is over 85 Km long and follows part of the famous canal from Nantes to Brest. Another well-known hiking trail is the Sentier des Douaniers on the Atlantic coast.

The Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pedestre (FFRP) is the overseeing body for all marked and maintained walking routes in France. It provides information and guide-books (most in French) for walkers in the Pays-de-la-Loire area.

Top 25 hiking maps issued by the Institut Géographique National (IGN) are available from newsagents (presse) and bookshops.

All nationally recognised trails are categorised as follows:

  • GR (Grand Randonnée): Registered hiking trails that often run across the entire country.
  • GRP (Sentiers de Grande Randonnée de Pays): Registered regional trails that will take you around a particular region for several days.
  • PR (Sentiers de Promenade): Walking and hiking trails for short circuits, lasting several hours.
  • Clear explanations of the waymarks, or blazes (balises), of the French route marking system on this website: Click here

Contacts

  • Comité Regional de la Randonnée Pédestre des Pays-de-la-Loire
    At
    : 44 rue Romaon Rollan, 44103 Nantes Cedex 04
    Tel: 02 40 58 61 21

Cycling and Mountain Biking

Loire-à-Vélo is a relatively new concept in France with hundreds of kilometres of sign posted cycling trails along the Loire Valley. Some of the cycling trails go into the Pays-de-la-Loire and in the long term there will be over 800 Km of trails that will link to the Loire-Atlantique region.

The Vélocéan itineraries run along the Atlantic coast over a distance of 160 Km. There are four different itineraries: Piriac to Guérande, Guérande to La Baule, St- Michel-Chef-Chef to Pornic and Pornic to Les Moutiers-en-Retz.

In all, the Pays-de-la-Loire region has over 1,000 Km of sign posted itineraries for cyclists of all levels.

Contacts

Canoeing and Kayaking

The Pays-de-la-Loire is an ideal place for canoeing and kayaking with its many rivers: the Loire, the Sarthe, the Mayenne, the Don, the Sèvre, the Loir, or on the Marais Poitevin or the Breton Vendéen.

Navigable rivers for canoeing and kayaking are classified into six grades, Classes I to VI. Class I being for easily navigable rivers, Class V for extremely difficult, and Class VI for rivers that are only navigable depending on the water level and presenting many risks.

  • For information on the classification of navigable rivers (in French): Click here

There are many organisations providing training, transport and equipment for trips, either one day or several.

The sport is monitored by the Fédération Française de Canoë-Kayak (FFCK). It has information on appropriate rivers and expert guides, where available.

Contacts

Horse Riding

Many horse-riding trails exist in the Loire Valley along the River Loire and past some of the famous castles, vineyards and typical villages.

The National Horse Riding School (Ecole Nationale de l’Equitation), the world famous equestrian school is situated in the region, in Saumur, and offers visitors guided tours of the stables.