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 youll depart from the countys famous
D-Day Landing beaches, taking you inland via the cities of Caen and Flers. Here
youll 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 youll pass four other
cascading rivers: the Varenne, Mayenne, Oudon and Maine, where youll 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 rivers north or south bank, there
is no wrong decision youll be sure to enjoy glorious views and riverside
scenery whichever you choose.
From Saumur, youll begin to head south, following the Le
Thouet à Vélo route, where youll follow the Thouet river all the way through
to the town of Parthenay. Along the way youll 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 dAunis. Upon reaching La Rochelle, youll
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
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