EuroVelo 1 in France: La Velodyssee, Part I

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.

2 thoughts on “EuroVelo 1 in France: La Velodyssee, Part I”

  1. Experience France by Bike

    Hi George!

    Thanks for the note and I am jealous that you will be riding La Velodyssee next month! I wrote a blog most days on the road in May–you can read my blog posts from May 15, Crossing the Ile de re Bridge to May 30, St. Jean de Luz to Hendaye, for a first hand look at my trip. All in all, I thought it was a great adventure. There were parts of the route that I really liked, some that I would have loved to have spent more time, and some that I would like to have avoided. We found the route markings from La Rochelle to the ferry crossing in Royan to be generally poor, and better, but still spotty in the Medoc peninsula. One reader is currently bicycling the route and he reports that the signage is improving, particularly in the Charente Maritime. Despite the fact that the website says that the route is completely signposted, live reports indicate that the signage is still spotty in areas. So it would be great if you could send in a report either during your trip, or at the end of your trip that I can post to help others know how things are going.

    For those of us who have cycled other major routes in Europe, there is a big expectation for a well-signposted route and I think that it will take some time for La Velodyssee to be in the same league as other routes such as the Burgundy Canal, the Loire, the Danube etc. So hope you have time to look at some of my posts from the road and look for my upcoming post on “Likes, Dislikes and What I Would Do Differently” later this week!

    Maggie LaCoste
    Experience France by Bike

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