If you’re planning a trip to Bordeaux, consider adding a weekend of cycling to your itinerary. You won’t be sorry! Bordeaux is an extremely bike-friendly city, which is quite understandable since it’s the gateway to the unbelievable Atlantic Veloroute, La Velodyssee! There are many itineraries you can ride right from Bordeaux or others you can connect to with a short train ride. Most routes are voie verte, car-free cycle paths, or veloroute, low traffic country roads. There are no mountains and very few hills to contend with, most routes are virtually flat, making paths in this area perfect for recreational cyclists of any ability. By bike is the perfect way to see France in a different light than being a mere tourist. If you want to really experience France, consider adding one of these bike excursions to an upcoming trip.
The Roger Lapebie Cycle Path
Named after the 1937 Tour de France winner, this voie verte or green path is the home to the very first bike station in France in Creon. Located in the region of the Entre-Deux-Mers, this itinerary is a visual delight, with gorgeous landscapes and lush wine growing terroir. The cycle path is easily accessible from Bordeaux, follow the path along the river, take the St. Jean bridge and then follow the cycle path up the valley to Creon and beyond, depending on your schedule.
The 58 km Lapebie path was built on the foundation of the rail line that ran from Latresne to Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. Not only was the rail line converted into a bike path, but the old stations along the way have also been transformed into restaurants, wine bars and bike stations. This is a really popular cycle path, especially on the weekend, providing plenty of opportunities for a relaxing and enjoyable bike excursion on your own, with friends or with a family. The Creon bike station is located right along the route and it provides a full range of services to meet the needs of cyclotourists, including bike rentals for adults and kids. If you are driving to the route, there is also a large car park and picnic areas as well as facilities for large events.
This is really a social cycling itinerary and there are a number of festivals that are held throughout the year along the Roger Lapabie Trail. You can check out upcoming events by visiting the Creon Station. You’ll also find plenty of tourism related information, including restaurants and accommodations along the way, maps of the Roger Lapebie itinerary and other bicycle itineraries in the Entre Deux Mers at the station. This is a perfect distance for a two day trip, with an overnight stay in a lovely vineyard B and B along the way.
Bordeaux to Lacanau
This 60 km cycle track runs from Bordeaux to Lacanau-Ocean via an old abandoned railway line. The path starts north of Bordeaux, with direct access from the city center. Depending on what part of the city you are starting, there should be signs to direct you to the route, but you can always double check at the Bordeaux Tourism Office when you stop to get a bicycling map. The path crosses the city and then heads straight for the pine forest.
First you reach Lacanau on the lake, and then Lacanau-Ocean. From Lacanau on the lake, you can connect to a cycle bath to the Bay of Arcachon and points south. From Lacanau Ocean, you can connect to the Atlantic Veloroute, heading north to Point de Grave and the ferry to Royan, or heading south to Arcachon and Cap Ferret. This area is paradise for the recreational cyclist and there are as many cycling options as you have time for. There is no train service to Lacanau from Bordeaux, but there is a train to Arcachon which takes about 40 minutes. If you only wanted to cycle one way, you could rent a bike in Bordeaux, take the train to Arcachon, bike north along the ocean cycle path, head east at Lacanau, and back to Bordeaux. This would be a perfect itinerary for a 2-3 day weekend.
Bordeaux to Arcachon
A quick 40-50 minute train ride from Bordeaux and you are really in another world. The Arcachon Bay is an outdoor lover’s paradise. No matter what sport you like, or if you just like laying on the beach and soaking up the sun, this is the place to come. Arcachon is at the northernmost tip of the biggest stretch of sandy beach in Europe, almost 120 miles to the popular resort of Biaritz on the Cote d’Argent. As if the beach was not a big enough natural asset, the coast in this area is backed by the largest forest in Europe, Les Landes which provides much-needed shade for cyclists even on the hottest days. The beach and forest create some interesting opportunities for exploring the Arcachon region.
For recreational cyclists, Arcachon is right in the middle of some of the best bike paths in France: the Atlantic Veloroute coming down from Brittany, and many, many offshoots, including a path that goes around the Bay of Arcachon. The Arcachon Basin is a perfect destination for safe and relaxing exploring by bike, alone, with friends or with a family for a weekend or longer. That’s exactly what residents of Bordeaux and farther do every weekend in June and July, and sometimes the whole month of August. May, June, early July, September and early October are perfect months to visit. A big bonus for cyclists: many of the best beaches are not accessible by car, they can only be accessed by foot or by bike and during busy times, the only traffic that is moving is bike traffic!
There is a lot to see and visit in the Arcachon Basin. One of the popular attractions is the Reserve Ornithogique du Teich, one of only two bird sanctuaries in France. The website for the park has an English version which is amazing, giving you a small sense of the incredible wildlife in the park. The sanctuary is easily accessible to bicyclists from anywhere in the Arcachon area. Another major attraction is the Dune du Pyla, the largest sand dune in Europe, over 100 meters tall and 3 km long.
Visiting this remarkable natural wonder is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and to reach it by bicycle is even more incredible. Cap Ferret is another “must” on a visit to this area. Whether you visit the chic town, the famous lighthouse or one of the many oyster farms near Cap Ferret, this area is France at its best and not to be missed. The Arcachon Basin is a perfect place to explore by bicycle, and then sit back and enjoy the incredible beaches and seafood. Two good bets for bike rentals in Arcachon are Locabeach and Dingo Velo. Both websites are in French only, so use Google to translate.
Don’t forget you can always rent your bikes in Bordeaux from my favorite bike rental agency, O2Cycles. You’ll get the best bikes for traveling around Bordeaux, and you can also get travel advice from Norbert and Jonathan who know the area cycle paths better than anyone in the region!