Nevers to Blois
(Not paddled most of this – cribbed from the internet – but I will in May). This stretch passes medieval Orleans, the china factories of Gien, three of the four Loire nuclear power stations, and some magnificent canal engineering at Briare. The big chateaux are mostly set well back, but the river touches many vineyards; the famous Pouilly and Sancerre, and the less famous Coteaux du Giennois, Orleans-Clery, and Cheverny. The finish at Blois is just upstream of the Coteaux de Touraine and three more famous Appellations of Vouvray, Chinon and Borgeuil, as well the source of sparkling Crémant de Loire, at least as nice, and quite a bit cheaper than champagne. The Canal latéral à la Loire has followed the left bank from Digoin and continues to do so till crossing at Briare.
0 km – Nevers-sur-Loire. Camping left bank (click here), upstream of the bridge (1832). A few yards from the campsite, the Nevers branch of the canal latéral ends in a marina.
Tricky step below bridge. Launch downstream or shoot right (click here).
200 metres – Nevers Railway bridge (1946)
7 km – River Alliers joins left With similar length and flow to the main river, some argue that the Loire is a tributary of the Allier!
8 km – Iles-de-Marzy Main channel left.
13.5 km – Fourchambault Givry bridge Givry left. Fourchambault right. Camping de la Loire right bank just above the bridge (click here)
14 km – Canal du Givry joins left. A branch of the canal lateral
21 km – Marseilles-les-Aubigny left The canal du Briare, running along the left bank, is close here.
28 km – La Marche right
Iles-du-Voluray. I think main channel right
LaBlancherie left. Weir. Shoot channel left to pass left of Charité island and under the new bridge. Stay right for the beautiful old bridge, the oldest crossing of the Loire.
31 km – N151 bridge. New bridge (1951) over left channel. Old bridge (original 1520. This one 1731) right. La Charité right. The Abbey was an important stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route from Scandinavia and Germany. Shoot 3rd arch from right.
Camping (click here) on the island downstream of the bridges
45 km – Pouilly-sur-Loire bridge (1902) P-s-L right. The vineyards right behind the town mostly grow sauvignon blanc for Pouilly-Fumé. A minority grow the chasselas grape for the slightly inferior Pouilly-sur-Loire wine. (Click here for more)
55 km – Saint-Thibault-sur-Loire bridge The walled town on the hill left is Sancerre, surrounded by the famous vineyards.
55.5 km – Junction canal left The river lock is no longer working and the junction canal is now a marina. Followed immediately on left bank by Flower Camping Les Portes de Sancerre (click here)
60 km – Port Aubry railway bridge (1893)
63 km – Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire suspension bridge (1959) Camping left bank just upstream of the bridge (click here)
75 km – Belleville nuclear power station left The beautiful cooling towers, among the largest ever built put most of the water it uses back in the river.
76 km – Pont de Neuvy-sur-Loire (1984) Bellevue power station left
82 km – Bonny-sur-Loire suspension bridge (1902) Bonny-s-L right. Beaulieu-sur-Loire left
86 km – Ousson-sur-Loire right Weir left. Main channel right.
87 km – Mantelot lock left Prior to the opening of the Briare aqueduct, boats coming from the south on the Canal Lateral a Loire crossed the river here to reach the Canal de Briare on the other bank.
88 km – Chatillon-sur-Loire bridge (1951)
91 km – Aqueduct de Briare (1896) Briare right
92 km – Briare canal lock right No longer in much use since the aqueduct opened. But looks like it still functions
The vineyards on the low hills to the right are the Coteaux de Giennois, the tiniest Loire appellation. The red and white wines are collector’s pieces according to Hugh Johnson, but ery little ever leaves France. The winery Domaine Poupat in Briare (click here) is the place to buy them.
98 km – Gien D951 bridge (1980) Home of Gien china (click here)
99 km – Gien bridge (1734)
Camping Gien left bank 200 metres downstream of bridge. (Click here)
100 km – Railway bridge (1893)
106 km – Weir. Inflow channel to Dampierre nuclear power plant right. I think you can portage/line down left end of the weir. See below taken from here
117 km – Sully-sur-Loire road bridge (1986). Followed by rail bridge. S-s-L left. Saint-Pere-sur-Loire right
Le Clos d’Argerie right
132 km – Chateauneuf sur Loire bridge (1946) Chateauneuf sur Loire right. Campsite La Maltournee left bank about 100 metres upstream of the bridge (click here). No good local wine is made here, but one of the few small breweries on the upper Loire, La Brasserie des Ecluses (click here) is a couple of miles up the road at Vitry aux Loges.
138 km – Jargeau bridge (1988) Jargeau left. Saint Denis de l’Hotel right
148 km – Combleux right. The canal d’Orleans runs along the right bank from here to Orleans. The right bank of the river is the Orleans Appellation Controlle. A few small vineyards around Checy. Not a very special AC (details here), although a few locals are making an effort (click here)
152 km – Vierzon railway bridge (1947) followed by Pont Rene Thinat (1977)
Canal d’Orleans junction right
153 km -George V bridge (1763) Orleans centre right.
154 km – Marshal Joffre bridge (1958)
155.5 km – Europe bridge (2000)
Camping right about 200 metres upstream of motorway bridge (click here)
157 km – A71/E9 motorway bridge (1980)
Saint Ay right. The right bank from here on is AC Orleans again. Left bank AC Orleans-Clery (red wine mainly from cabernet franc). One of the best is Clos Saint Fiacre. None of the vineyards are along the bank. Most are located in or around the village of Mareau-aux-Prés.
168 km – Meung-sur-Loire bridge (1948) Meung-sur-Loire right. Chateau Meung-sur-Loire (click here)
Shallows at site of old bridge/ford about 200 metres above the new suspension bridge
174 km – Beaugency bridge (14th century) Beaugency right. Camping on left bank just upstream of the bridge (Click here)
179 km – Weir. Not sure how to portage. Suspect portage right. Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power station left.
La Pouperie right
186 km – Muides-sur-Loire bridge (1932). Left bank is now AC Cheverney. Domaine du Croc du Merle, farm and vineyard (click here) lies on the left bank. There is also a special Appellation Cours-Cheverney for wine made from the traditional grape, Romorantin, not found anywhere else.
200 km -Blois. Charles-de-Gaulles (D174) bridge (1970)
201 km – Blois Jacques Gabriel bridge (1724)
201 km – Francois Mitterand (D766) bridge (1994)