The treasures of La Vélodyssée
Tackle La Vélodyssée, France's longest cycle route that links Roscoff with Hendaye across 1,200 km and, most importantly, passes through the Loire-Atlantique and the Vendée! Here's a little overview of the unmissable parts of this 400-kilometre portion in the Pays de la Loire.
La Vélodyssée, through Nantes and the estuary...
It all begins on the tow-paths of the famous Nantes to Brest canal, following the water as you discover locks, authentic villages and little ports. In the Pays de la Loire, La Vélodyssée actually begins in Saint-Nicolas-de-Redon, which marks the border with Brittany. The track then follows the Erdre until it reaches Nantes, which cyclists can cross to reach the charming fishing village of Trentemoult with its colourful houses. From there, take in the Loire estuary that leads to Saint-Nazaire, which is scattered with amazing artworks such as the Villa Cheminée, the "bateau mou" or bendy boat, or the Constellation Garden!
Along the Côte de Jade
The route then descends towards Saint-Brévin and the South, revealing the Côte de Jade (Jade Coast) with its little coves, rocky coastline, fisheries, bourgeois villas and charming seaside towns. These include Préfailles, Pornic and La Bernerie-en-Retz, which populate the bay of Bourgneuf and are charming places to stop off. On the horizon, Bouin announces your arrival in the Vendée. One of the first discoveries in the land of the Chuans (the Vendée rebels who were part of the Chouannerie uprising against the French Revolution) is the disorienting Port du Bec, also known as the Chinese Port and located en route to Beauvoir-sur-Mer. There, the journey takes the Passage du Gois, a globally-unique 4.5-km road that's liable to flooding! It links up with the island of Noirmoutier, where you might like to stop off for a little while.
The iodine beauties of the Vendée
Next, join the circuit at the part that connects La Barre-de-Monts with Saint-Jean-de-Monts, which in particular offers an 18-km change of scene through a magnificent state-owned forest. After that, cycle through Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez and its old fishing village, the Vendée corniche and the pretty little town of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Further on are Brétignolles-sur-Mer, the amazing vine-growing area of Brem-sur-mer and above all the majestic marais d'Olonne salt marshes, with their captivating viewpoints. A few more turns of the pedals through Les Sables d'Olonne, Talmont-Saint-Hilaire, Longeville, and La Tranche-sur-Mer, before finally arriving at the bay of l'Aiguillon, a wonderful ornithological reserve that opens onto Charente-Maritime. We wish you an outstanding odyssey!