The Vélo Francette, from Saumur to the Atlantic Coast
This great itinerary on the Vélo Francette offers an unsuspected architectural heritage and beautiful landscapes of the French countryside. After crossing the towpaths in the heart of the Marais Poitevin, you will be able to smell the sea spray. You leave from the city of Saumur on the Loire River before reaching the Thouet Valley. The Atlantic coast at La Rochelle awaits you at the end of the bike trip on the Vélodyssée route.
The route is entirely marked out and alternates between small roads and towpaths. Discover a fabulous cycling route adapted to all levels.
Points of interest of the route :
- The Thouet Valley
- Montreuil Bellay
- The Marais Poitevin
- La Rochelle, Saumur and Thouars
- The Atlantic coast
- Visits to wine cellars and wine tasting
- The gastronomy
- The island of Ré
Day 1 - Arrival in Saumur
Installation at the hotel from 3 pm and visit of the city of Saumur.
Day 2 - Loop of Saumur
Take charge of the bikes and leave for a first discovery tour.
Take the time to discover the city by visiting its 14th century castle and admiring its half-timbered houses. It's also the time to visit a cellar and to taste some saumurois wine. You will take the bicycle paths around the city on the banks of the Loire.
Night in Saumur in a hotel.
Day 3 - From Saumur to Thouars - 45 km
First stage by bike in the Thouet valley. Admire and visit the historical monuments that follow one another until Montreuil Bellay and its castle. You will cross medieval bridges during this route which leads you to the city of Thouars.
Night in Thouars hotel or charming guesthouse.
Day 4 - From Thouars to Parthenay - 49 km
Today's stage passes by the Cébron lake, St Loup sur Thouet and its castle. It is one of the most beautiful castles in France from the Henri IV - Louis XIII period that you can visit. Cross St Généroux and take the time to admire its 10th century church, one of the oldest in Poitou. You arrive in Parthenay, citadel of the Thouet, located on one of the paths of St Jacques de Compostelle.
Night in Parthenay in a hotel.
Day 5 - From Parthenay to Niort - 53 km
You arrive in Gâtine, a land of granite, small plots of land, full of trees, which smell of the soil, apples and chestnuts. The small valleys offer us a beautiful and mysterious landscape which probably hides some elves and fairies watching you pedaling.
Night in Niort in a hotel.
Day 6 - Le Marais Poitevin - 45 km
You continue your trip on the Vélo Francette. The landscape changes along the Sèvre Niortaise which guides you through this haven of greenery by its cycle tracks which then follow the canals. You cross the village-street of La Garette before reaching Coulon.
Night in Coulon in a hotel.
Day 7 - Circuit of the marsh - 25 km
Arçais, Ste Sabine, Le Mazeau, Le Vanneau, St Georges de Rex, discover the wild marsh, its poplars, its pollarded ash trees, its fauna and flora. And of course, don't hesitate to take the 2-hour guided boat ride at dusk!
Night in a hotel.
Day 8 - Coulon - Fontenay le Comte - 54 km
Departure from Coulon for a tour on the Vélo Francette. Take advantage of these tracks inaccessible to cars to appreciate the calm of the Marais and the beauty of the landscape.
You will reach Fontenay le Comte, city of art and history, by following the Sèvre niortaise.
Night in Fontenay le Comte.
Day 9 - Fontenay le Comte to La Rochelle - 55 km
From Fontenay le Comte, you will ride along the Vendée River to Marans and then the Marans Canal to reach La Rochelle and the Atlantic coast.
Two options are possible:
Cycling along the Canal de Marans on the Vélodyssée
The Atlantic coast by bike to enjoy the sea air (+20km)
Night in La Rochelle hotel.
Day 10 (option) - From La Rochelle to Ile de Ré by bike - 25 to 90 km
Take the famous bridge of the Ile de Ré to discover the little queen of bike rides, its immaculate villages, the salt marshes and the gentle way of life. Here, several variations of routes are proposed to make the most of the beauty of the island.
This loop circuit guides you to the villages of La Flotte en Ré (dating from the 18th century) and its fishermen's boats, then to Saint Martin with its fortifications and its fort. You will cross the oyster beds, the salt marshes and the nature reserve of Lilleau des Niges. Possible return by La Couarde and Bois plage.
Night in La Rochelle hotel.
Day 11 - End of your cycling trip on the Vélo Francette
Your cycling trip ends in La Rochelle after breakfast. Feel free to spend an extra night to enjoy the city and its surroundings.