By Maggie LaCoste
You can imagine how excited I was to learn that the grand opening of La Velodyssee route, the French portion of EuroVelo 1 will be in June. I will be spending almost 3 weeks in May riding this route, so I will experience this route right before its grand opening.
EuroVelo 1 is one of 15 long distance routes on the European bicycling network. It provides a connection between northern Europe and Spain and Southwest England, beginning at Norway’s North Cape and ending in Sagres, Portugal. La Velodyssey is the French portion of the route and it runs 1,200 km from Roscoff in Brittany to Hendaye on France’s Spanish border. The route provides access to many other popular French cycle routes including the Nantes to Brest Canal, the Loire a Velo, part of EuroVelo 6, EuroVelo 4, the Channel to the Black Sea, and the very popular route around the Bay of Arcachon. La Velodyssey is also one of the two itineraries that make up the Cycle West project that plans to connect Brittany and Normandy with Dorset, Devon and Cornwall in Southwest England.
About 80% of La Velodyssee is on dedicated cycle paths reserved exclusively for bicyclists, passing through four major regions: Brittany, the Pays de La Loire, Poitou-Charente and Aquitaine. This mostly flat, safe, well signposted route is perfect for everyone from families to experienced bicyclists, to the most beginner level recreational cyclist. Whether you are interested in bicycling for a weekend, a week or a month, this route has something to offer every level of cyclist.
When you want to take a break from cycling, La Velodyssee has plenty of historical, cultural and natural attractions. From visiting vineyards in the Medoc, to climbing the Dune du Pilat, exploring the Landes Forest, visiting the lighthouse at Cap Ferret, bicycling around the Bay of Arcachon, visiting historical towns like La Rochelle, Rochefort, Royan and Bayonne or the oyster farming area of Marennes Oleron, this route has something for everyone. The Velodyssee bicycle route is France’s longest, and it is certain to quickly become one of it’s most popular. With uniform signage on the entire route, once you get on the path, it is almost impossible to get lost. Just point north or south, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
La Velodyssee utilizes the “Accueil Velo” label, which provides cyclists with reliable services including lodging, bike rental and repair, tourist information, including route maps,area attractions and leisure activities. To be an Accueil Velo partner, businesses must meet stringent criteria regarding the services they provide to cyclists. In addition, partners must not be located any more than 5 miles from the cycle path, something very important to a weary bicyclist who is hungry, tired, or has a broken bike. This list of partners is currently being developed and should be available sometime near the end of June. I will publish a link for it as soon as it is completed.
Few will probably ride the entire 1,200 km route, so stay tuned for Part II of this post for an in-depth look at the three main segments of the route.