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La Vélo Francette

La Vélo Francette is a cycle route covering over 600 km, taking you from Normandy to the Atlantic. It generally follows the course of river valleys, introducing you to beautiful towns and villages along the way, as well as to the gentle French countryside all around.

Over 600km of cycle route, largely running beside rivers

The new cycle route baptized La Vélo Francette® has been created to complete the network of major cycle routes crossing western France. It offers an unbroken, signposted track, mainly running beside waterways, along which you can appreciate the joys of pretty towns and villages and the peaceful French countryside. It really provides cyclists with an intense taste of gentle, unspoilt France as you enjoy what can definitely be classed as ‘slow tourism’!
  • 617km along which to meander by bike
  • 7 départements, or French counties, to discover along the route
  • 3 protected regional natural parks to cross
  • 25 towns and villages especially distinguished for their historical and cultural riches to visit
 

Discover specifically French pleasures along the route...

Major attractions aren’t lacking along the route: the Normandy D-Day landing beaches; the towpath along the Mayenne River (in the historic province of Maine, now part of the Pays de la Loire Region); the stunning Loire Valley between Angers and Saumur; beautiful riding along the Thouet Valley as you enter the Poitou-Charentes Region; the Marais Poitevin, a magical marshland… and an ending at the great port of La Rochelle, where you might even allow yourself a dip in the Atlantic to celebrate!

artannes sur thouet

British tourists in particular should appreciate the very French character of this route, as well as the ease of joining the route at its northern starting point, at the port of Ouistreham, served by cross-Channel ferries.
 

Look up the sections that make up the cycle route La Vélo Francette®:

© La Vélo Francette - J. Damase

Specialist cycling services to meet your needs all along the route

You’ll find a wide range of specialist service providers, including accredited bike-hire companies, accommodation providers, tourist offices, sights to visit and leisure activities centres on or close to the route. Our website allows you to locate easily the services and amenities close to the route.
cyclist services along the velofrancette

On our interactive maps covering La Vélo Francette’s sections and stages, it’s easy to locate:

-Accommodation

-Bike-hire companies

-Tourist offices

-Tourist sights to visit

-Train stations to help you get around

-Warnings about any difficulties along the route  

 

Accueil Vélo accredited organisations (including accommodation providers, bike-hire companies, tourist offices and sights you can visit) have signed up to provide services specially geared to cyclists using the route. They are signalled on our maps by dark green pictograms (see the example on the photo).

How to join La Vélo Francette cycle route

arrival on the ouistream harbour by bikeNote that in France, it is still relatively difficult to travel by train with a bike. The French national rail company, SNCF, is making efforts to make access for cyclists easier and the opportunities are gradually improving.

Going by train from Paris, it is possible to reach La Vélo Francette’s starting point or its end point with ease with your bike:
  • Paris - Caen by Intercité train (c.2 hours)
  • Paris - La Rochelle by high-speed TGV train (c. 3 hours 30 mins – 4 hours)

For further information about taking your bike on trains or to use trains to move around the cycle route, see this page for further information...

By ferry, there are generally 3 sailings a day each way between Portsmouth (southern England) and Ouistreham (in Normandy), run by Brittany Ferries.

 

Information about La Vélo Francette’s route

The surfacing and security along the route

Signposting is being set up along La Vélo Francette; see here for information on the state of signposting along the route to date.

Maps and descriptions of the route

For you to be able to access information on La Vélo Francette more conveniently, we’ve divided the route into 5 sections and 24 stages. 

The different levels into which we’ve divided the route are reflected in the maps and in the specific information given at each level.

On the pages covering the various sections of La Vélo Francette, you’ll find:

An interactive map indicating the precise path taken by the route, as well as the different types of track along the way (greenways, roads shared with motorized traffic, links, provisional stretches…), plus information on specific services and amenities available on or near the route (notably accommodation, stations, tourist offices, bike-hire companies…)

See the various sections along the route:

On the pages covering La Vélo Francette’s various stages you’ll find details on:

- The stage’s level of difficulty

- The number of kilometres on the stage

- An interactive map indicating the types of tracks along the stage and the services and amenities available along the way

- The change in altitude along the stage

- A technical description of the stage

- Practical information

- Comments posted by other internet users who’ve already cycled along the stage

You can download the tracks in GPX format and print out the path and description for each stage.

Calculating how many kilometres to cycle each day

When starting out, consider just tackling shorter stages, between 15km and 25km in length.
If you set off early you can make the most of your day’s cycling and an early start also leaves room for manoeuvre in case of unforeseen circumstances.

As you become more accustomed to tackling the cycle route, why not lengthen your daily ride?

If you are used to cycling days out, count on covering an average of 10km per hour, allowing you to enjoy both pedalling along and stopping to explore.

How to calculate your budget?

Of course your budget will very much depend on your choice of accommodation.

For a mid-range hotel, count c.€60 per night for a double room. However, in more renowned tourist spots, count up to 30% extra.

Remember that the price for staying in B&Bs (‘chambres d'hôtes’ in French) includes breakfast.

Camping offers the cheapest form of accommodation, prices ranging from c.€8 to c.€30 for a pitch.

As to dining out in restaurants, count on anything between €10 and €30 for a traditional type of French meal. Opting for a picnic lunch is a good way of making your budget go further, as well as encouraging you to make the most of the great outdoors!