On the trail! From La Rochelle to Royan
Day 1: I set off from the port in La Rochelle. As the three towers recede into the distance behind me, I tackle the first few miles on my fully equipped mount, and gently settle in to my own pace. I’ll never forget the sense of freedom I felt.
I stop for a break at La Coubre lighthouse, which stands guard on the coast. A spiral staircase takes me to the top, up all of its 300 steps. Then it’s a well-deserved break to admire the ocean as it stretches out as far as the eye can see, smell the salty air, and breathe the fresh sea breeze... A timeless moment.
Info guides and equipment (binoculars and telescopes) are available for wildlife spotting.
On to Arcachon and the forest of Les Landes
The miles ride by, and one stage rolls into another. What a joy to be discovering new parts of the region every single day, constantly being surprised by the landscape that unravels before your very eyes! In the middle of the forest of Les Landes, it feels so good to be breathing the pine-scented air! Hourtin-Carcans Lake is the perfect spot for a lazy break, and a chance to enjoy some outdoor activities. Located in a protected natural environment just before Maubuisson, it’s one of the biggest freshwater lakes in France.
The Etang de Cousseau nature reserve near Lacanau is also the perfect place for spotting local plant and wildlife as you stroll along the education trail.*
My journey continues towards Cap Ferret and the pretty little oyster-farming villages of Canon and L’Herbe, which huddle along the edge of Arcachon Bay. I really fell in love with this authentic little place, with its brightly coloured fishermen’s cabins and narrow lanes.
Sunset from the Dune de Pilat is still the most magical moment from my odyssey. Atop Europe’s highest sand dune, time stands still.
I’ll soon be reaching Basque Country!
On I ride. The body grows tired but my motivation keeps growing. The coastline has so much more in store for me. Bayonne and its summer festivals, Biarritz and its iconic Rocher de la Vierge, Saint-Jean-de-Luz with its red and green houses, artists painting in the port, and its gâteau basque to be enjoyed in La Maison Adam** (the best place for it) to gather your strength… The time has come for the last few pushes of the pedals along to Hendaye.
Travelling the Atlantic coast by bike is a chance to reconnect with yourself. The easy-living in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the people I met and the places I saw will stay with me forever.
Legend has it that Adam gave a box of his famous macarons to Louis XIV for his wedding in Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
Places to go
• La Coubre lighthouse in La Tremblade for the amazing views
• Hourtin-Carcans Lake for lazing around in Maubuisson
• Etang de Cousseau in Lacanau for the nature reserve
• The villages of Canon and L’Herbe for their picturesque charm, in Lège Cap-Ferret
• Plan your trip to La Coubre lighthouse
• Plan your trip to Cap Ferret
• Discover Hourtin
Some cycle-friendly accommodation may offer special rates for cyclists, it’s always worth asking.