Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Post Reply
User avatar
DaveP
Posts: 3333
Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 4:20pm
Location: W Mids

Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Post by DaveP »

You may well feel that this isn't a particularly interesting ride. You could be right - but it was mainly off road, mainly countryside / sea side and very peaceful. It was exactly what we were in the mood for. The terrain was, in places, quite a bit more rugged than we were expecting. It was also a lot warmer than expected. Once away from the Landes forest there wasn't much shade. Taking plenty of water is advised!
My main reason for writing this is that when we were planning I found it quite hard to research. I did come across several references to, and some pictures of, extremely narrow tracks. The one that sticks in mind is still to be found on Google Earth - in at least two locations. It shows about 18" of concrete with a drop off on both sides. This was of concern to me because I was planning to be riding a tandem with a trailer. As it happened the tandem didn't go but I still wanted to use a trailer. I ended up acquiring a Bob Yak to make life easy. I needn't have bothered - it never got narrow enough to make a two wheel trailer unusable although in places, usually near popular beaches, there were regular convoys of French families towing kiddie carriers or repurposed kiddie carriers full of barbeques and deck chairs. If I'd been using my CF I would have felt obliged to ease a wheel off piste. It seems more reasonable then to expect the same of someone with infants or an unstable stack of beach kit on board.
Staying on track takes a little care as much of the route is on forest trails which just aren't going to appear on the usual Michelin road maps and aren’t too visible on Google Earth although road crossings can often be viewed on Streetview. There were lots of little signs but they weren’t always very well sited and we missed more than a few turns. At these moments we were very glad to have gps to hand.
It’s worth pointing out that we followed the route depicted by the gpx files that can be downloaded from the Velodyssee site. The Openfietsmap that I used showed what I presume to be earlier versions. There was at least one occasion when the gpx route took us one way but the physical signage went off in a different direction (near the S E corner of Lac d’Hourtin ). The downloads are for travel from N to S. If you wish to travel the other way - as we did – they need to be corrected. I think it’s safer to ensure that your track goes the appropriate way at roundabouts and then there are one way systems to consider. There’s one as you leave Bayonne and at the other end Chataillon Plage has a one way promenade.
I also found that the downloaded tracks weren’t a good fit to the map features. I spent several hours dragging them into a decent correspondence. When I eventually converted the files and viewed them on Google Earth they matched the photos quite well, giving me a confidence in my work which was justified on the ground.
Nearly all the forest tracks are tarmac surfaced, but some stretches are starting to show their age. The tree roots lift and crack and weathering does the rest. The worst bit was a stretch of about 6km running south from Lacanau. When you pass the beach bar things start to improve. When it’s sunny the dappled shade from the trees makes surface damage very hard to see. There is what could be a tempting downhill (from N to S) I really wouldn’t recommend flying down it. You have been warned!
There were a couple of rather steep sections between Lac de Sanguinet and Biscarosse Plage that had me walking – luggage weight and heat played their part, otherwise probably the toughest bit was where the track emerges from the woods and runs alongside the main road past the Dune de Pyla as you approach Arcachon. Really hilly, reallyreally hot and towards the end of our stage. It was just a grind. Mind you, it’s something to see the sand piled up higher than the tree tops!
There is a section to the North of Lacanau labelled Expert. I think the reason for this is that it is hilly and there are places where there is a steep drop off at the edge of the track. It doesn’t feel exposed because of the trees but there are no guard rails. I wouldn’t take youngsters on their own bikes through that section unless they had the skill and common sense to stay behind me
We took a shortcut through Rochfort. We left the repurposed railway track at St Agnant and went North because we wanted to use the transporter bridge. Recommended! What a delight, and the chap taking the money was a proper enthusiast. I started to tell him that there was one near where I grew up but it had been demolished.” Ahh, Warrington” he said. He was right too! Wonderful. There was a boulangerie as we approached it and a cafe on the town side. A kilometre or so through the streets and you can get back on EV1 near the station.
I think that’s probably enough for now. I hope it will be helpful to anyone considering using this route or parts of it. If you want more detail just ask!
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully... That hasn't changed!
User avatar
Heltor Chasca
Posts: 3016
Joined: 30 Aug 2014, 8:18pm
Location: Near Bath & The Mendips in Somerset

Re: Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Post by Heltor Chasca »

Thanks for sharing Dave. I worked in the Gastes area for 4 months. Fond memories. I had a Mongoose MTB at the time that was too big for me but I got to go fair distances on it. Till it got nicked in Essex!
thornie1543
Posts: 161
Joined: 12 Feb 2015, 6:30pm
Location: Port talbot.

Re: Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Post by thornie1543 »

When I was cycling up to Dune de Pyla I had to stop for a banana :D ,great going up the dune and seeing the treetops ,gave me the thought of being on top of a mayan pyramid in the jungle,saw a pic from the top of one once and it looked the same with the trees stretching out :D .
Polite
Posts: 65
Joined: 27 Jul 2013, 9:51pm

Re: Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Post by Polite »

DaveP wrote:You may well feel that this isn't a particularly interesting ride. You could be right - but it was mainly off road, mainly countryside / sea side and very peaceful. It was exactly what we were in the mood for. The terrain was, in places, quite a bit more rugged than we were expecting. It was also a lot warmer than expected. Once away from the Landes forest there wasn't much shade. Taking plenty of water is advised!
My main reason for writing this is that when we were planning I found it quite hard to research. I did come across several references to, and some pictures of, extremely narrow tracks. The one that sticks in mind is still to be found on Google Earth - in at least two locations. It shows about 18" of concrete with a drop off on both sides. This was of concern to me because I was planning to be riding a tandem with a trailer. As it happened the tandem didn't go but I still wanted to use a trailer. I ended up acquiring a Bob Yak to make life easy. I needn't have bothered - it never got narrow enough to make a two wheel trailer unusable although in places, usually near popular beaches, there were regular convoys of French families towing kiddie carriers or repurposed kiddie carriers full of barbeques and deck chairs. If I'd been using my CF I would have felt obliged to ease a wheel off piste. It seems more reasonable then to expect the same of someone with infants or an unstable stack of beach kit on board.
Staying on track takes a little care as much of the route is on forest trails which just aren't going to appear on the usual Michelin road maps and aren’t too visible on Google Earth although road crossings can often be viewed on Streetview. There were lots of little signs but they weren’t always very well sited and we missed more than a few turns. At these moments we were very glad to have gps to hand.
It’s worth pointing out that we followed the route depicted by the gpx files that can be downloaded from the Velodyssee site. The Openfietsmap that I used showed what I presume to be earlier versions. There was at least one occasion when the gpx route took us one way but the physical signage went off in a different direction (near the S E corner of Lac d’Hourtin ). The downloads are for travel from N to S. If you wish to travel the other way - as we did – they need to be corrected. I think it’s safer to ensure that your track goes the appropriate way at roundabouts and then there are one way systems to consider. There’s one as you leave Bayonne and at the other end Chataillon Plage has a one way promenade.
I also found that the downloaded tracks weren’t a good fit to the map features. I spent several hours dragging them into a decent correspondence. When I eventually converted the files and viewed them on Google Earth they matched the photos quite well, giving me a confidence in my work which was justified on the ground.
Nearly all the forest tracks are tarmac surfaced, but some stretches are starting to show their age. The tree roots lift and crack and weathering does the rest. The worst bit was a stretch of about 6km running south from Lacanau. When you pass the beach bar things start to improve. When it’s sunny the dappled shade from the trees makes surface damage very hard to see. There is what could be a tempting downhill (from N to S) I really wouldn’t recommend flying down it. You have been warned!
There were a couple of rather steep sections between Lac de Sanguinet and Biscarosse Plage that had me walking – luggage weight and heat played their part, otherwise probably the toughest bit was where the track emerges from the woods and runs alongside the main road past the Dune de Pyla as you approach Arcachon. Really hilly, reallyreally hot and towards the end of our stage. It was just a grind. Mind you, it’s something to see the sand piled up higher than the tree tops!
There is a section to the North of Lacanau labelled Expert. I think the reason for this is that it is hilly and there are places where there is a steep drop off at the edge of the track. It doesn’t feel exposed because of the trees but there are no guard rails. I wouldn’t take youngsters on their own bikes through that section unless they had the skill and common sense to stay behind me
We took a shortcut through Rochfort. We left the repurposed railway track at St Agnant and went North because we wanted to use the transporter bridge. Recommended! What a delight, and the chap taking the money was a proper enthusiast. I started to tell him that there was one near where I grew up but it had been demolished.” Ahh, Warrington” he said. He was right too! Wonderful. There was a boulangerie as we approached it and a cafe on the town side. A kilometre or so through the streets and you can get back on EV1 near the station.
I think that’s probably enough for now. I hope it will be helpful to anyone considering using this route or parts of it. If you want more detail just ask!


I've just got back, today, from cycling La Vélo Francette (if that's what you're referring to?).

I took it from Nantes to Caen but, I have to say, the signage was terrible. Luckily I had maps but otherwise relying on it would have been disastrous.

The route is potentially fantastic though I'm not a big fan of 'tracky' type routes. Anymore!
thornie1543
Posts: 161
Joined: 12 Feb 2015, 6:30pm
Location: Port talbot.

Re: Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Post by thornie1543 »

Polite,i,m going to cycle from cean to angers on the La Vélo Francette ,what map did you use.I am intending to just print out bits from the website and use a Michelin 1-200,000 atlas(photocopied pages of anyway)
In what way were the signs terrible?
Polite
Posts: 65
Joined: 27 Jul 2013, 9:51pm

Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Post by Polite »

Hi there

I took IGN 1:100,000 because of the detail but I'm sure the Michelins will be fine, too.

Perhaps the wrong choice of word but by terrible I mean they're incomplete and temporary, and in some legs (Laval to Domfront) pinned to a tree, stroke of luck I stopped to answer nature's call! I guess frustrating, too, when you follow a particular size/colour sign for a while and you cycle past the next one when it's not where you expect it.

It's a fab route but compared to something like "Loire a Vélo", for example, it's still quite amateur but I believe is work in progress.

Don't let me put you off, I did Angers to Ouistreham in 4 days so was click watching so to speak.

Let me know how you get on, or if you want any further info.
User avatar
DaveP
Posts: 3333
Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 4:20pm
Location: W Mids

Re: Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Post by DaveP »

Polite wrote:[I've just got back, today, from cycling La Vélo Francette (if that's what you're referring to?).


No its not the same route :)
you did http://www.lavelofrancette.com/
I did http://www.velodyssey.com/ or at least a section S. of La Rochelle
If you put the two together it looks as though the result might be an interesting loop from the N. coast via La Rochelle and back north.
Its great to have these options, but I have to say I'm hoping to roam the highways on my next trip rather than stick to a track :)
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully... That hasn't changed!
Davidwd
Posts: 76
Joined: 1 Aug 2015, 7:42am

Re: Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Post by Davidwd »

Thank you for sharing this great report, hopefully i will be able to offer some updates on the route when i do it in June.
psmiffy
Posts: 610
Joined: 1 May 2009, 1:32pm

Re: Bayonne to LaRochelle via EV1 - a report

Post by psmiffy »

DaveP wrote: We left the repurposed railway track at St Agnant and went North because we wanted to use the transporter bridge. Recommended!


The transporter bridge is closed at the moment for long term maintenance
Post Reply