La Rochelle to Arcachon Cycling Holiday
Duration/s7 or 8 nights
Start / FinishLa Rochelle / Arcachon
Distance190 miles/306 kms
Follow the Velodyssey Cycle Path from La Rochelle through Charente Maritime and Aquitaine to Arcachon Bay near Bordeaux. Easy riding on idyllic, beach-side cycle paths punctuated with stays in pleasant seaside towns characterizes this highly enjoyable cycling holiday.
The holiday starts with 2 nights in the harbour town of La Rochelle (the White City). From here you’ll enjoy a loop ride around the beautiful island of Ré, connected to the mainland via a 1.8 mile bridge.
Heading south you enjoy wonderful coastal views and visit historic towns such as the ancient shipbuilding town of Rochefort and Royan with its lovely covered market.
After crossing the mouth of the impressive Gironde Estuary you spend the next three days following an idyllic cycle path through pine forests just inland from wide sandy beaches washed by atlantic surf. One of the beauties of this route is being able to turn off the path for some beach-time whenever the mood takes you. The dappled light and fresh scent of the pine forest mixed with the salty air and distant boom of the atlantic rollers provides a pleasant and memorable accompaniment to your journey.
The laid-back, surfer town of Lacanau Océan is a pleasant overnight stop and you’ll love the charming fishing villages of the Cap Ferret. The bustling town of Arcachon on the beautiful bay is a fitting finale to such a pleasant route and if you like you can opt for an extra day to visit the impressive Dune du Pyla a little further south.
The vast majority of the ride is on dedicated cycle paths with some short sections on shared lanes. It is mostly flat and any inclines are gentle and short. As such, this holiday is a good choice for families and newcomers to cycling holidays.
Itinerary & Map
Day 1: Arrive La Rochelle
After checking into your hotel, the rest of the day is yours to discover the delightful port town of La Rochelle. The grand facades and whimsical turrets of the old limestone buildings in the historical centre create a unique atmosphere and a stroll around the narrow, winding streets is definitely time well-spent. If the weather is warm, you may be tempted to stroll out to the town beach for a swim and in the evening the bars and restaurants clustered around the Vieux Port draw tourists and locals alike.
Day 2: Ile de Ré loop ride, 19 to 37 miles/30 to 60 kms
Today’s ride leads you on a gentle loop around the island of Ré. After crossing the 3km bridge from the mainland on a dedicated cycle path you enter a world of quaint, ocean-side villages, sandy beaches, oyster beds and salt marshes. It’s easy to shorten the route if you like, so take your time and stop whenever the mood grabs you. At the end of the day you’ll return to La Rochelle for a second night.
Day 3: La Rochelle – Marennes, 37 to 44 miles/59 to 70 kms
Today you bid La Rochelle ‘adieu’ and head south along the coast. Easy pedaling on quiet roads and cycle paths leads you past pleasant coastal towns such as Chatelaillon and Fouras – both of which have lovely sandy beaches if you fancy a swim. After Fouras, the route heads inland to the garrison town of Rochefort on the Charente River. Originally built around a naval base and dockyard the town has a distinctly nautical flavour, even though it is some 10 kms from the open ocean. We highly recommend a visit to the fascinating Royal Rope-works Museum on the banks of the Charente and you can hardly miss the imposing Transporter Bridge built in 1900. A few more kilometers of enjoyable riding through open countryside delivers you to the pleasant town of Marennes, famous for it’s oyster farms and your home for the night.
Day 4: Marennes – Royan, 30 miles/48 kms
Shortly after leaving Marennes you cross a bridge and enter the forest of Coubra, over 5000 hectares of pine and holly oak trees. You’ll enjoy the pine scented air and dappled sunlight accompanying your ride south along the quiet cycle lane. If you fancy some beach time just take any of the right turns that punctuate the forest cycle path and after a few hundred meters you’ll arrive at the pristine white sand beach. You can also ascend the lighthouse at the southern end of the forest for some amazing views before cycling on along the coast to Royan, your overnight stop. The town has a lively waterfront and popular covered market.
Day 5: Royan – Vendayes/Hourtin/Montalivet, 22 to 28 miles/35 to 45 kms
Today starts with a ferry ride across the mouth of the Gironde Estuary. After disembarking in the small town of Le-Verdon-sur-Mer the route leads you to the nearby resort of Soulac and its stunning beach. From here the day’s ride is all about idyllic cycle paths, peaceful pine forests and wonderful beaches. Take your time and stop for some beach-time if you like as the going is easy and and it’s not far to your overnight stop in either Montalivet, Vendayes or Hourtin depending on availability.
Day 6: Vendayes/Hourtin/Montalivet – Lacanau Océan, 22 to 25 miles/35 to 40 kms
Today you continue south along an idyllic cycle path through the pine forests. Feel like a dip? Then just turn right along any of the access paths and after a few hundred meters you’ll find yourself on a beautiful sandy beach groomed by Atlantic rollers. At Hourtin it’s worth making a short detour inland to visit Lake Hourtin, the largest freshwater lake in France. Its warm, shallow waters are perfect for a refreshing swim before carrying on down the coast to your overnight stop in Lacanau Océan. Famous with surfers the world over, this laid-back beach-side town lying at the foot of expansive sand dunes is a very pleasant place to spend the night.
Day 7: Lacanau Océan – Cap Ferret – Arcachon, 29 miles/47 kms
Today you enjoy another day of cycling along the beach-side cycle path. The pine forest provides dappled shade and the beaches here are the widest and most deserted of the Aquitaine Coast. In Cap Ferret you can stop to explore the pretty oyster villages with their brightly painted fishermen huts – to your left are the calm waters of Arcachon Bay and to your right the pounding surf of the Atlantic ocean. A short ferry journey takes you across the bay to the bustling seaside town of Arcachon where you spend the night.
Day 8: Arcachon – Dune du Pyla (Roundtrip), 15 miles/24 kms
This day is omitted unless if opt for the 7 night itinerary
Follow a pleasant cycle path along the coast to the Dune du Pyla – the highest sand dune in Europe. Climb the dune for some amazing views of the surrounding area – we recommend visiting either early in the morning or late afternoon when the shadows are longer and the light is fantastic for photography. The beach at the base of dune is a lovely place for a dip before cycling back to your hotel in Arcachon.
Day 9: Departure
After breakfast it’s time to head for home or your next adventure.
Dates & Prices
|2019 Arrival Dates|
|Arrivals daily from 01 April to 14 October|
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|Deposit per person||£125|
7 or 8 x Breakfast
Maps & route information
The Estuary ferry crossing in Royan & Arcachon Bay ferry crossings
The Arcachon Bay crossings
GPS route data
Bike hire (see supplements)
Optional crossing of the river Charente (approx €2 pp)
Extra night in La Rochelle/Arcachon/Bordeaux single, superior (£132)
Bike with pannier & lock 7 nights. See practical information (£101)
Bike with pannier & lock 8 nights. See practical information (£111)
Electric bike with pannier & lock 7 nights (£186)
Electric bike with pannier & lock 8 nights (£208)
The bikes provided on this tour are modern alloy framed, hybrid/touring models with 21 or 24 speeds and comfortable saddle with an upright riding position.
The bikes come equipped with two rear panniers, handlebar bag, lock and puncture repair kit.
E-bikes as well as children’s bikes and trailers are also available.
We suggest you bring your own helmet for safety and hygiene reasons. Alternatively, helmets are supplied on arrival.
Children under the age of 12 are required to wear a helmet in France and we always advocate their use for riders of all ages.
Below you will find examples of the accommodations typically used on this tour. Please note that the hotels we book for you may differ slightly from those described but they will certainly be of a similar standard.
Superior: Good quality hotels and a charming guesthouse
Local taxes: Some hotels have started to charge a local/tourist tax. These taxes are not included in the sale price of the tour and must be paid directly by you at check-in or checkout at the hotels. The fee varies and is frequently changing but as a guide, you may be asked to pay between €1-€4 per person per night.
Ideally you should fly to La Rochelle and home from Bordeaux – which is just a short train ride from Arcachon, however it’s also feasible to fly home from La Rochelle as there are good rail connections from Bordeaux back up to La Rochelle.