Home > Cycling along the Velodyssey from Nantes to La Rochelle
If ocean views and oysters are your idea of heaven, then this tour is certainly for you! Following the Velodyssey cycling route between Nantes and La Rochelle, you will be greeted with a huge variety of landscapes. Moving out towards the ocean from Nantes and then heading south with the Atlantic on your right, you will leave behind the majestic estuary of the Loire Valley and the emerald-colored coastline of southern Brittany and meet the sandy beaches and rugged Atlantic coast.
The route predominantly follows this coastline, though at times moves further inland as you ride past the marshes of the Vendée region - a real haven for wildlife - and through tall pine forests further to the south.
Along the way you will pedal through charming seaside resorts where you can stop-off to enjoy a stroll along the sandy beaches or even a quick swim, and through oyster farming villages, a vital industry in this region of France. As you can well imagine, the culinary delights don’t stop there in this area brimming with produce, pulled straight from the ocean – the perfect accompaniment to a day in the saddle!
Arrive into Nantes at your leisure and enjoy exploring the “capital of the Pays de la Loire region”, which is famed for its wealth of art and history. Amongst some of its main attractions are the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, a renaissance style fortress which is also home to a museum on urban history, and the Machines of the Isle of Nantes. This is an extraordinary artistic project where designers let their imagination run wild to build incredible “living machines”, the most famous of all being the Gigantic Sultan’s Elephant. You may like to cap off the day with a stroll around the Jardin des Plantes, one of the four biggest botanical gardens in France. Either way, enjoy some time relaxing back at your hotel in the evening ahead of your first day’s riding tomorrow.
Your first day riding begins by following the southern side of the Loire Valley. Although you will be predominantly following the Eurovelo 6 and Velodyssey route, which become one and the same between Nantes and the ocean, your itinerary will divert at times to take in some of the pretty, neighboring villages. This is the perfect ride to get well acquainted with your rental bikes (if you haven’t brought your own with you!) as the going is nice and flat. Along the way you will pass by wetlands and small canal ports before arriving at your destination, St-Brevin-les-Pins, a small coastal town where you can enjoy ocean views and great sandy beaches!
On this leg, you will be riding through villages and small towns that are famous for French vacationers. They are also perfect spots for cyclists, whether it be for a coffee, or a full lunch! In the latter section of today’s ride, you will leave behind the sandy beaches and cycle through a swampy area (Marais), remarkable for its unique ecosystem and wildlife! It is worth noting as well that you are on the route de l’Huître Vendée Atlantique (the Vendée Atlantic Oyster Way), so you may like to make a stop for a quick tasting session! Your hotel is located in Bouin, in the heart of the Marais Breton Vendéen.
On the itinerary today is the famous and legendary Gois passage, a 4km long stretch seemingly through the ocean to the Ile de Noirmoutier, and along which it is only possible to ride at low tide (make sure you check the tide timetable beforehand!) If the low tide timings do not allow for you to ride the passage, then you will pedal an alternative route through the Marais Vendéen and via the beautiful 17th century village of Beauvoir. Continue on, following the Velodyssey route, and passing by striking cliffs and rocks, the most famous of which being the “Cinq Pinneaux”, five huge rocks in a line, jutting out of the ocean. You will be staying overnight in the coastal town of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie.
Your cycling journey continues today initially on a designated bikeway along the coast. Make sure to have your camera close to hand as you will be treated to great views out over the Atlantic! The bike path will take you through the towns of Brétignolles-sur-Mer and Brem-sur-Mer. The route then moves away from the coast and winds its way inland through ancient marshland and the Olonne forest before rejoining the coast at Les Sables d’Olonne where you will be staying this evening. Enjoy the beautiful beaches and wandering around the charming, narrow streets of Les Sables d’Olonne this evening!
The Vélodyssey winds its way through state-owned forests and along this indented section of the coast, and you will ride past some remarkable sites on today’s stage! Marvel at a terrific panorama from the Bay of Cayola and at the marshlands near the Pointe du Payré. You will ride through some small port towns as well, including the Port de la Guittière, a famed oyster-farming village, an important industry in this area of France, as you will have undoubtedly seen at this stage of your tour! A section through pine forests towards the end of today’s ride will offer a moment of cooler air and freshness. Home for this evening will be La Tranche sur Mer, a seaside town boasting 13km of sandy beach.
The final stage of will see you ride past one of the last natural lagoons of the Atlantic coast, the Belle Henriette lagoon. Located in a wild setting, it is home to a large number of protected birds and will be an exciting stop-off for nature lovers! The route continues on along paths and tracks crisscrossing canals and the now dried section of the Poitevin marshland. Eventually you will follow one of these canals into La Rochelle, the culminating point for this tour! Enjoy visiting the old-port and the towers, which used to guard the entrance to the city and take some time to reflect on a fantastic voyage along the Atlantic coast and the Velodyssey.
After breakfast, depart from La Rochelle at the time of your choosing.
It is also possible for us to arrange an extra night in La Rochelle and a loop ride onto the Ile de Ré. Details available upon request.
7 nights’ accommodation (3-star hotels)