Discover three French regions by bike on La Vélo Francette

18th July, 2016
Only recently completed, La Vélo Francette is a network of major cycle routes crossing three French regions: Normandy, Pays de la Loire and Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes. Passing through peaceful countryside, past flowing waterways and through pretty towns and villages, it really is one of the best ways to enjoy western France. Broken down into five sections, the trail together creates more than 600km of unbroken and signposted cycling track which is suitable for all abilities.

La Vélo Francette first begins on the shores of Normandy, close to many of our villas in Normandy, where you’ll depart from the county’s famous D-Day Landing beaches, taking you inland via the cities of Caen and Flers. Here you’ll meet a number of hills, one after another, known as La Suisse Normande (Swiss Normandy), before following the meandering Orne, Noireau and La Varenne valleys, surrounded by greenery. This first section takes you through 126km of stunning Norman countryside.

The next stage of the trail takes you over 174km of countryside towards the river Loire. On the way you’ll pass four other cascading rivers: the Varenne, Mayenne, Oudon and Maine, where you’ll see people also angling, boating and enjoying the riverside life rolling by.

In the third stage of La Vélo Francette, the Loire Valley becomes the star of the show, taking you a choice of two exceptionally beautiful routes from Angers to Saumur. Head along either the river’s north or south bank, there is no wrong decision – you’ll be sure to enjoy glorious views and riverside scenery whichever you choose.

From Saumur, you’ll begin to head south, following the Le Thouet ŕ Vélo route, where you’ll follow the Thouet river all the way through to the town of Parthenay. Along the way you’ll discover that the area is rich on old castles, bridges, churches and mills, demonstrating its rich trade history where the people made a living through the river ports.

The final stretch takes you through a magnificent network of canals over 90 kilometres before the well-deserved finishing point at La Rochelle and the Atlantic Ocean. Not only will you cross the wetlands of the Marais Poitevin, also known as Green Venice, but also the network of broader, exposed canals that make up La Belle d’Aunis. Upon reaching La Rochelle, you’ll be rewarded with the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and a huge choice of places to relax in the lively city of La Rochelle.

Image: La Vélo Francette, J Damase