Best Cycle Paths Near Bordeaux

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.

Along the Roger Lapabie car-free cycle path

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.

Cafe at Latrense train station along the route

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.

Cycle paths are easy to find right from the center of Bordeaux

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.

Oyster farms along Atlantic Coast near Arcachon

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.

Dune du Pyla on a very foggy morning

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!

 

Posted by Maggie LaCoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow way....by bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.

  1. Hello, Maggie
    Your blog is wonderful! It is useful information for planning our rute  cycling in France.
    I would like rent a bicycle and panniers for my trip . I have thought to spend 10 days.

    What is your opinion about rent a bike an Créon Station?

    I have a fair budget and i afraid the bike can be stolen o damaged. I would like have some information about insurance in France.

    thank you very much

    1. Experience France by Bike June 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Hi Maria Teresa!

      Glad to hear that you have found my blog helpful! I would love to help you more with renting a bike in/near Bordeaux for your upcoming trip, but need to ask a couple of questions. Will you be traveling by car or by train? This will really determine where the best place is to rent a car. I am not certain if you can reserve a bike in advance at Creon, I don’t recall them telling me this was possible. Several of the places that I recommend in my blog post about renting a bike in Bordeaux deliver to your B and B or hotel, so this would probably be my suggestion. Here is the link for this blogpost:
      http://experiencefrancebybike.com/renting-a-bike-in-bordeaux-france/

      We rented our bikes for our last trip from O2cycles and they were some of the best bikes we have ever rented. We worked with the owner in advance to make sure that things we wanted on the bikes were arranged in advance, so that when the bikes were delivered, we were all set. The bikes came with heavy duty locks, and overnight the bikes were usually stored inside our B and B. In some locations, it is required that you pay for theft insurance, this is something that you always need to check in advance.

      So, look over the blog post above, and let me know a bit more about your travel plans and if possible, I can send some more specific information!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike

  2. Hi, Maggie
    Thank you very much for answering so quickly.

    We, my boyfriend and I will travel to Bordeaux by plane. We have 11 days to spend the last week of July and early August. This is our first experience cyclist. (Thanks, thanks for your blog!). The route we plan to start our route in the Garonne Canal and finish watching the sea at Narbonne. But that depends on how comfortable we are of the bikes in our first route. I think what conseguirimos. The next weekend, we will conduct an experiment to test 3 days, about our city, Seville.

    We have no hotel reservation, because we want to enjoy the benefits of cyclocamping. Our plan is to Bordeaux and out quickly on the road. The main concerns we have are:

    1-Where to begin the route. As we have little time and go slow, we had thought to start at the beginning of the greenway, Catets-en-Dorthe. But like you better start in Bordeaux … do not know, we are confused.

    2-bike rental. This worries us because it is not yet closed. We have read all the information in your blog about it. We met with esamos o2cycles and awaiting response on our questions: insurance, collection, delivery, tools, payment … etc.

    3 – We are afraid for the safety of the bikes at the campsite.

    4- Station Créon Veil, I think a very interesting place. I received an email where I am informed that rent bikes gitane Mississippi.

    We are very excited about the trip and would like to come out well, we’re very grateful for any help from you.

    thank you very much

    1. Experience France by Bike June 19, 2012 at 11:24 pm

      One of the biggest problems is that without a car, the only way to get to Creon is by bike as there is no train that goes there. The bike path that goes through Creon (Roger Lapabie Trail)is on what used to be the rail line. I really love Gitane bikes, but the Cube bikes that O2cycles use got us through some very nasty weather and through trails through the grass and we never had one problem, and they are very comfortable. Where you rent your bikes will depend in part on where you begin your route. I will take a look at your route and will send you a note with some additional suggestions.

      Regarding the safety of the campgrounds, I am not sure what you have in mind regarding French campgrounds, but many of them are as nice as hotels. France has a star rating system for campgrounds, just like hotels. We stayed at a cottage in a 4* campground this trip. It had a tennis court, swimming pool, kids playground, bocce court, etc. The better campgrounds are generally frequented by families and young professionals and I generally think they are very safe. If you lock your bikes securely and you have insurance, I would be surprised if you had a problem. I would, to be sure, speak with whomever you rent the bikes from regarding the most secure way to lock them for the night.

      Once I review your route, I will send a note regarding additional suggestions!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike

    2. Experience France by Bike June 28, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      Just a quick follow up regarding where to start your bike trip from Bordeaux. The easiest thing to do is to bike right from Bordeaux. The bike paths are very well-marked throughout Bordeaux. I recommend that you go to the Bordeaux tourism office and ask for a bike map, and ask them to show you how to get to the bike path that runs along the river. You will want to head for the Roger Lapabie trail, I believe the bike signs will say “Latresne” or “Sauveterre-de-Guyenne”. Latresne is the first town that you come to on the Roger Lapabie Trail. Once you get on the bike route, you just keep following the signs. Depending on the time of day you are riding, the first campground you will come to is just west of Creon, the next one might not be for quite a distance. Once you get to Sauveterre-de-Guyenne, you are going to need to start going south to connect to the Garonne. There is a “route in progress” for cyclists to take from Sauveterre to Fontet on the Garonne. I have not ridden it, so I cannot vouch for the condition, but I would suspect it is a good path as it is used by many cyclists. Once you get to Fontet, you are on the Garonne and you just follow the signs to Toulouse, and then Sete.

      There are 2 maps that you need to request from the Office of Tourism in Toulouse:

      The first is called “Carte Touristique Voie Verte Bordeaux-Toulouse a Velo”
      the second is called “Carte Touristique Voie Verte and Chemins Toulouse-Sete a Velo”

      You should be able to get them before you leave my e-mailing the tourism office at: infos@ot-toulouse.fr and request that they mail them to you. Be sure to include your mailing address. Otherwise you can go to the tourism office when you get to Toulouse, but you may want them to travel from Bordeaux.

      Hope this information helps. Send me a note after your trip and let me know how it goes!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike

  3. Maggie,

    Thank you very much again. It’s a luxury to receive your advice.
    Everyone told me about the quality of French camping and they were a great option to travel free with the bike. I’m sure it will be as great as food, beautiful landscapes, people, wine and French culture .. . We are very excited, we love France.
    I will be very grateful to receive information on our bike trip.
    I hope to write you again when our first experience.

    With warm regards,

  4. any idea where I can purchase 2nd hand bikes in Bordeaux??

    1. Cindy,

      Summertime seems to be a difficult time to purchase used bikes. All of the rental companies turn their bikes over in September-October, so unfortunately, I do not have any advice for you. Sorry.

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