Cycling in Charente-Maritime – The department of Charente-Maritime is at the forefront of developing cycling as a tourist activity and is working with national and international organisations to make this one of the most important areas for cycling holidays in France. The new Vélo Francette opened in June 2015, and the next project – EV3 is due to launch this year. Further down the line the V92 is being created to run between Rochefort and Saintes along the Charente River. Charente-Maritime is proud to be in the vanguard of promoting cycling holidays in France.
Family cycling in Charente-Maritime
Safe, flat and brimming with beauty spots, activity zones, outdoor itineraries that are great fun for all the family, Charente- Maritime is a veritable joy as a cycling hotspot for mums and dads and the children too. There are six different tow-paths and rural roads that are truly green car-free zones. These are:
- The five kilometre maritime canal route is the start of the Vélodysée© cycle path when arriving from the north.
- The shoreline road between La Rochelle and Esnandes – eighteen kilometres of gorgeous coastal scenery.
- Another part of the Vélodysée© – twenty kilometres of lush green routes along the Marans Canal
- The Cabarlot – Bellevue route has been created along the course of an old railway track, opened now for seven years and is another sixteen kilometres of the Vélodysée©.
- The green route of the Forest of Coubre criss-crosses this beautiful woodland and opens out onto the wild coastal area of the department with its magnificent beaches. Another sixteen kilometres of the Vélodysée©.
- Another old railway track, the Chevanceau-Clérac road will be part of the new EV3 which will connect to the Charente department.
Cultural breaks… on a bike!
Three great places to experience the culture, history and heritage of Charente-Maritime.
- La Rochelle – classic circuits or relaxed itineraries, traditional tours or unusual expeditions, the Yélo organisation has yellow bikes for hire at various points throughout the city, throughout the year. The famous towers, the Old Town, the port and the new Maritime Museum – see it all on two wheels!
- Rochefort – a great way to explore the town that is truly a maritime marvel is by bike. Visit the Hermione, the Arsenal, the streets made famous by Gene Kelly and Catherine Deneuve in Les Demoiselles de Rochefort…the home of the French RSPB and of begonias…. And Pierre Loti – a town with a difference.
- Saintes feels more like a southern town with winding streets, quays along the river Charente, squares, gardens, sculptures, secret passages. Saintes is full of history and is home to some remarkable monuments. The bicycle is the perfect way to explore ‘Mediolanum Santonum’.
Cycling and Gastronomy – There are four lovely itineraries through Cognac Country which are brilliant to ride between mid-November and mid-February to learn more about the making of this most famous of eau-de-vies. The rolling countryside and enchanting landscape make these dream itineraries for families and friends alike.
Likewise the ‘Route des Huitres is famous – running through the oyster farms of the Ile d’Oléron for example. Other famous culinary delights include the white beans (mojettes), Surgères butter, potatoes from the Ile de Ré, goat’s cheese – the Charente-Maritime has a wealth of delicious food and drink that will delight the gourmet, bike or no!
Island Fun! Festivals, happening bars, trendy venues – are accessible by bike on the holiday destinations of the Ile de Ré and Ile d’Oléron. There are plenty of handy places for groups of pals to stay when visiting and these are fabulous places to meet up with pals and family members alike no matter what their interest – music, sports, etc…
New since June 2015
Le Canal des 2 mers à vélo – From the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean sea. 750 km along the
Gironde and the ‘Canal du Midi’. 70 km in Charente-Maritime from Royan.
La Vélodyssée® – This cycling tour takes place between Roscoff in Brittany and Hendaye in Aquitaine – 1250 km. In Charente-Maritime there will be 150 kilometres of cycle routes right across the department. This is a nationally sponsored event although organised in France by the Charente-Maritime.
Coming soon – end of 2016
The Scandibérique – The Pilgrims route, 30 km in the south of Charente-Maritime.
Notes to Editors: Situated in the heart of the French Atlantic coast, the Charente-Maritime destination is the third most important tourist destination in France for French travellers after the Var. The Charente-Maritime offers the visitor a lovely choice of coastal destinations such as Royan or the Ile de Ré, city breaks to Saintes or La Rochelle and beautiful countryside such as the Marais Poitevin or Cognac Country. Charente-Maritime has more wellness centres (six) than any other French ‘department’ and a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is a gastronomic destination of note – oysters, mussels, sea salt, pineau des Charentes, and is easily accessible by road, rail or air from the UK. It boasts a Mediterranean climate of around 300 sunshine days a year. There are many events that take place in the area throughout the year including, in 2015, the fourteenth Anniversary of the music festival Francofolies.