La Scandibérique: from Vianne to Mézin
The bikeway known as the Pilgrims' Trail, or EV3 for purists, is quite an initiatory one. And, that's why heading off on it alone or with your companion will give you unforgettable memories that will be engraved forever. Although it stretches from Norway to Santiago de Compostela, the everyday person will definitely enjoy the route between Vianne and Mézin, in Lot-et-Garonne. Thirty-seven kilometres that merit a well-deserved stop-off as some parts are really uphill! And more challenging than others (after Cauderoue). The route is totally waymarked and the rest of the trail is made up of little country lanes that weave their way through the fortified village of Vianne (ramparts with four gateways and a suspension bridge), along the banks of the Baïse and its washhouse, the Romanesque bridge of Barbaste (12th century), the Osse Valley with its fields extending as far as the eye can see. If you give up on your trek – or if, on the other hand, you're pushed by a desire to go further –, then, as a cyclist, you have two possibilities: when you come to the end of your route, head off along the Albret tourist railway line (Nérac-Mézin), or continue 4 kilometres on after Mézin, along the greenway, so you can take in the must-not-miss medieval castle of Poudenas.
Browse through the brand new "La Scandibérique – EuroVélo 3" cycling route website and plan your bike trips along this 1,700 km bikeway.
La Scandibérique: the trail that takes you further!
Along the Scandibérique trail between Vianne and Mézin
Le Fréchou / Castle life
What excuse could be better for sleeping in a luxury room in a 13th-century castle than wishing to charge up your batteries as you reach the halfway point on your route? The Chazeron Suite, overlooking a magnificent Italian-style garden that's also open to the public, diffuses all the solace you need after your effort. http://chateaudufrechou.com/en/
Nérac / Cycling & Cocoa
The traditional craft chocolaterie La Cigale is, without a doubt, one of the region's best gourmet references. And, their must-taste speciality, created based on a family recipe: the Gascon macaroon filled with grand cru chocolate ganache. The production workshop opens out into the shop so customers can delight in the show. www.chocolaterie-la-cigale.fr
©CDT47 - River port of Nérac
La Vélodyssée: from Bayonne to Hendaye
This part of the Eurovélo 1, stretching along the Atlantic coastline from north to south, is the longest laid-out bikeway in France. Impossible to count the number of pedal strokes cyclists, fans of land-sea and moor-cliff contrasts, make between Roscoff and Hendaye. What's more, the calf muscles of those who venture off on the final stage of La Vélodyssée, linking Bayonne to Hendaye, won't be left immune. And, for good reason: 50 kilometres separates these two towns, and between them, there's a host of postcard-style sandy coastlines, forests and fishing ports. As such, this part of the route is perfect for the sporty among you who also love history and wonderful scenescapes. As a warm-up, a visit to the medieval town of Bayonne is a must before you head for Anglet along the banks of the River Adour. Crossing Chiberta Forest is sure to be refreshing, unless you prefer to stop off on the Chambre-d’Amour beaches. Follow historic Biarritz, so dear to Empress Eugénie, which you'll leave by the Route de la Corniche (coast road), then pass Bidart and Guéthary, Basque to the very tips of their espadrilles. When you hit Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Ciboure, you'll already see the Pyrénées reigning in the distance. Stop off for the must-do photo session at Socoa Cove before heading to Urrugne, then Hendaye.
On your way
Anglet / coffee break at P’Tea Coﬀee
You'll definitely go past this bar with its terrace just a stone's throw away from the Sables d'Or. Its menu - with its mix of organic snacks, finger food, tea and coffee - will be your best friend if ever you feel a bit drained, boosting your energy to get you off again on the right foot. 18, avenue des Dauphins
Hendaye / Stop-off at Abbadia Castle
Abbadia Castle - Observatory, towering over the cliffs in Hendaye, built by Viollet-le-Duc, is listed as a Historic Monument. Once the home of scholar Antoine d’Abbadie, it embodies a one-of-a-kind idea of travel: stained-glass chapel, biblical manuscripts and exotic entrance hall. www.chateau-abbadia.fr/en
Hendaye Abbadia Castle ©F.Perrot
La Flow Vélo: from Saintes to Cognac
Idyllic, zen yet ever-so chic: this bikeway has everything it takes to delight groups of friends or families looking for amazing slow tourism getaways. Although La Flow Vélo weaves its way from the Atlantic to Charentes and ends in Périgord, there's a stage that combines all the charms of cycling: the route that links Saintes to Cognac. This excursion that lasts around three hours along the Charente River is perfect for charging anyone's batteries, from young children to the hardiest among you. Cycle off from Saintes, along the quays, direction Les Gonds, on a laid-out, safe trail. In Courcoury, it's great to know how to fish, in the Seugne or the Charente (collapsible fishing rod is a must!): a relaxing activity that will delight children, as will the trip on the cable ferry to Chaniers. At the Port du Lys, in Salignac-sur-Charente, it's picnic time: tables, benches and barbecues are highly-acclaimed by regular visitors. A relaxing break that only the chirping of birds nesting in the neighbouring marshes may disturb, before heading off again to Merpins with its abbey and castle, then on to the historic district in Cognac.
On La Flow Vélo route between Saintes and Cognac
Chaniers / A trip to the old mill
Moulin de la Baine (a 17th-century flour mill), now a restaurant with a panoramic terrace overlooking the Charente, also boasts a refreshment stand and a leisure space. What cyclist would say no to grilled trout and a paddle, even a quick one, in the Charente's fresh water? www.moulin-baine.com
Merpins / Sunset at the abbey
The ruins of La Frenade Cistercian abbey have been partially restored. The best time to visit them is when dusk sets in, when the low-angled light enters the Gothic-styled chapter house. Incredibly inspiring. www.tourism-cognac.com/uk/
©Laval Sébastien Charentes Tourisme - ferry on the river Charente