Two wheels to Creon – The Bordeaux – Sauveterre railway cycle track!

Bordeaux was voted the world’s 6th most cycle-friendly city in 2017 and has a colossal selection of routes for the budding cyclist. The boucle vert covers the entire city and has an impressive 241km of pristine cycle tracks. To get the full low down on cycling within Bordeaux, as well as a range of other bike-related services, head over to MAMMA (la maison métropolitaine des mobilités alternatives) on 69 cours Pasteur near place Victoire.

However if you’re looking to get out of the city for the remainder of the decent weather, there are several next-level cycle routes in the Bordeaux region.

Here are the main ones…

The Canal des 2 Mers

The Canal des 2 Mers (850 kilometers - from Royan to Sète) is an insane cycle route linking the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean. It starts at Royan and goes along the Gironde estuary to Bordeaux. It then takes you south where you pick up the Canal de Garonne to Toulouse. It then transforms into the infamous Canal du Midi, which you follow to eventually reach the Mediterranean at Sète!

I cycled the Royan to Bordeaux section in 2004 and it’s simply amazing. The route takes you through the backroads and past the sublime viewpoint at Talmont-sur-Gironde. You then head down to Blaye where you take the ferry across and cycle on to Bordeaux through the endless Medoc vineyards. It’s about a 7 hour cycle and can be done in a day if you’re on a mission…

The Bordeaux-Lacanau cycle path

This is a 60km flat trail on an old railway track that takes you in a direct line to the beach at Lacanau. You can set off from the quais or join it from Eysines and roll out of town into the vast expanse of pine forest that leads to the Atlantic - take a walkman!

For more information, check out this all-encompassing article from Tim Pike at Invisible Bordeaux.

The Vélodyssée

La Vélodyssée (1200km from Roscoff to Hendaye) is the French section of Euro Vélo 1 (European cycling path linking Norway to Portugal). This major bike route crosses Brittany from Roscoff and follows the Atlantic coast to Hendaye. The Vélodyssée is the longest waymarked cycle trail in France.

To reach it from Bordeaux, follow the Bordeaux-Lacanau cycle path to the beach and follow the signs.

The Scandibérique

La Scandibérique (1600km; from Namur, Belgium to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port) is the longest cycling route in France and is the French section of Euro Vélo 3 (the ‘Pilgrims route’ from Norway to Spain). It diagonally crosses the entire length of France from the Belgian border to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the merging point of the Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage walking paths. It slices through Paris, Tours and Bordeaux!

The route out of Bordeaux heads south through Gradignan and Leognan and eventually on to Mont-de-Marsan and Dax. If you plan to cycle a long distance, register as a pilgrim for €15 at the Bordeaux Compostelle pilgrimage office at 28 Rue des Argentiers and you are eligible for free accommodation along the route as an official pilgrim.

The Roger Lapébie cycle path

The 54-km route from Bordeaux to Sauveterre-de-Guyenne is another path along a former railway with a stopover at Créon. It is also on the Scandibérique.

It starts just after the end of the north side of the quais on the way to Latresne and ambles through villages and vineyards inland…

Tim Pike wrote a fantastic article on the history of the path, which you can read here. Chris Cooley also wrote a fun blog about his cycle up there in 2013. Chris obviously found cycling around Bordeaux appealing as he now runs the Musette cycle café!

Photo courtesy of Tim Pike at Invisible Bordeaux

Our day out

Lacking actual bicycles, I started by checking out decent local routes that have bike hire places nearby. One of my first search results took me to the Station Vélo in Créon and the Roger Lapébie cycle path.

Founded in 2000, the Créon bike station was labelled as France’s first cycle tourism ‘resort’. It’s actually a fairly underwhelming experience and consists of a few bikes inside the old railway station building…

We hired our well-kept bikes and were soon on our magical mystery tour up the railway! We set off to La Sauve and the old rail track wove through a forest before coming to a viewpoint of the stunning medieval abbey. There we turned off and headed into the village to have a look and grab some much needed refreshments.

Back to the rail track, just after La Sauve station (which includes a future train museum and restoration project), the route takes you through the highlight of the path – a 200m long rail tunnel! We turned back at this point, but the track carries on another 30km or so to Sauveterre.

When we got back to Créon, the cycle path was closed and the locals were setting up loads of food stalls and a stage for a night of concerts, eating and boozing - the local guinguette! They apparently do this every Saturday night throughout the summer.

The Créon bike station is run by cycle technician, Fabrice who recently moved to the Sud Ouest after years working like a dog for Disney in Paris. He was looking for a more laid back career and way of life – he certainly found it!

Getting there and away – the Transgironde 404 takes you directly to Créon from Place Stalingrad. Otherwise it’s a car ride.

Cost here – it’s basically €10 for a half day and €8 for a kids trailer.

Boring stuff – the cycle path can get busy on weekends and people tend to bomb along at 90 miles an hour. There have also been reports of some of the intelligent local kids throwing drawing pins all over the track to try to puncture people’s tyres.

Fun stuff – Créon town is a gorgeous medieval bastion town that used to be English. The drive up there is pretty as well taking you past scores of undiscovered vineyards.

Beer – One of the Bordeaux region's longest-standing brewers is based here at the Brasserie St Leon. They have regular concerts along with the village guinguette booze ups at the station every Saturday night during the summer. Oh, and there's a massive local beer festival in Créon every June..   :)

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