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La Rochelle coast and countryside

Cycling the Velo Francette route from Saumur to La Rochelle

From the Loire Valley to the Atlantic Coast, discover an authentic itinerary off the beaten track, riding along the Vélo Francette route.

Reference VF0801
  • Itinerant trip
  • 8 days
  • Moderate
  • April to October
  • Minimum age 14 years old
GPSGPS-app available
1175€ / pers.
  • Itinerary
  • Discover one of the most varied portions of the Vélo Francette itinerary, between Saumur and La Rochelle, your cycling trip offers you, through a mosaic of landscapes, the possibility to appreciate an authentic and calm bike itinerary.
    Starting from Saumur, and the famous castles of the Loire Valley, you will ride along small country roads following the Thouet river, stopping in Parthenay, capital of the game and with its medieval atmosphere, then in Niort, with its ancient dungeon and its cathedral.

    Immerse yourself to the heart of nature and the softness of the Poitevin marshes with a stop in Coulon, after a detour in Fontenay-le-Comte and the majestic Maillezais abbey, you finish your trip in La Rochelle, gateway to the Atlantic.

    Ride through bucolic landscapes, between small shared roads and greenways, small cities of character, this trip is an ode to the sweetness of life, to the beauty of landscapes and to the unique charm of each stage.
    A cycling interlude out of time!

    Day 1


    Arrival in Saumur

    Discover the charming old town of Saumur and its magnificent castle crowning the city. Saumur is not only the capitale of the equestrian art but also a gastronomy center surrounded by a rich wine area.

    Day 2


    Saumur - Thouars

    You leave Saumur and its castle resting on its "emerald rock" and start by following the Thouet river through abundant and calm nature. A break is essential in Montreuil-Bellay and its castle with majestic architecture. The building, which overlooks the Thouet, offers you a splendid setting for your lunch.

    Continue your route in the afternoon and enjoy the cool shade of the Ballastière lake and the generous flora that surrounds it. After a beautiful climb, you end your day in Thouars and its castle of the Dukes of La Trémoille.

    Day 3


    Thouars - Parthenay

    You leave Thouars with a magnificent view of the castle of the Dukes of La Trémoïlle overlooking the Thouet and walk along the river throughout the day.
    You ride to Saint Généroux where you can admire its old bridge and its pre-Romanesque church. Pedal a few more kilometers to reach Airvault. You will appreciate this small city of character and its abbey church, take the time for a lunch break.

    Your route then leads you to Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet with its 17th century castle and its French gardens.

    Continue your journey, follow the signs "Vélo Francette" to the Lac du Cébron, a haven of peace with bucolic landscapes.

    Your arrival in Parthenay from the bottom of the city allows you to pass the old gate and the fortifications. You will then be able to walk through cobbled streets and half-timbered houses. Soak up the medieval atmosphere of the city which is transformed every summer into the capital of the game.

    Day 4


    Parthenay - Niort

    This stage of the Velo Francette itinerary goes west to reach the Vendée. On the horizon this morning takes shape the country of Gâtine, between authentic villages, country roads and generous nature, the relief becomes more marked.
    Visit Mazières-en-Gâtine with its Romanesque church and halfway along the route allow yourself a stop at Champdeniers, a village overlooking the valley with its old tannery site and its castle.

    You will reach the river banks of the Sèvre Niortaise at Ternanteuil, then ride to the town of Niort. Gateway to the Poitevin marshes, you will appreciate the pleasant and welcoming atmosphere of the city.
    Take the time to stroll through the narrow streets of Niort and admire its ancient dungeon and its churches, in particular the church of Saint-André with its bell tower which embellishes the capital of Deux Sèvres.

    Day 5


    Niort - Coulon

    You ride along on the bike path along the river to leave Niort and reach the small country roads in the marshes. Through the quiet and lovely small villages, you reach Arçais also called the “Green Venice of the Marais Poitevin”. After a lunch on the harbor, you can board small boats and navigate through the narrow canals to discover the rich flora and fauna (coypus, the “angélique” a local plant, etc.).

    In the afternoon, your bike tour take you to the picturesque charm of the wild marshes through Saint-Georges-de-Rex before reaching Coulon, a small village with white stone houses. You can visit the interesting museum of the marshes to complete your knowledge of the region.

    Day 6


    Coulon - Fontenay-le-Comte

    You leave Coulon through the marshes of the Marais Poitevin by riding on the dams. You cross a large part of the wet marshes. Your bike ride leads you to Maillezais where you visit an abbey of the 11th century, one of the starting point of the history of the Marais Poitevin. The bike route takes you then to the city of Fontenay-le-Comte, where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll, visit the many churches and the Renaissance castle of Terre-Neuve.

    Day 7


    Fontenay-le-Comte - La Rochelle

    You follow the Vendée river to Marans and enjoy the charm of the marsh Marais Poitevin. In the afternoon, you ride through La Rochelle countryside following a canal before reaching the old port of La Rochelle.
    The city prosperous past can be easily noticed thanks to its nice architecture from which the old fortified harbor is remarkable.

    La Rochelle offers a wide range of cultural and touristic activities. Do not miss La Rochelle aquarium. The city is very well equipped with cycling paths, which makes it perfect for discovering it on a bicycle.

    Day 8


    Departure from La Rochelle

    After breakfast, you leave for your next destination or extend your stay as you wish.
  • Accommodation
  • Category B

    You will be accommodated in 3-Star hotels or Bed and Breakfasts. We have selected the accommodations for their charm, and their quality. Breakfast is included.
    * Example of the type of accommodation
  • Bikes, luggage and documents
  • Bikes

    On your arrival day, we provide you with:

    • a touring bike adjusted to your size or a tandem
    • equipped : front rack pack with an integrated file compartment, saddlebag, helmet (on demand), reflective vest, repairing toolkit with patches etc.

    We also provide you with the appropriate equipment for your children : baby seat, bike trailer or trailer bike depending on their age and size.

    Electric bikes are also available for adults (+1m55).

    You can of course also bring your own bikes, in this case a reduction will be applied (see the Tarif tab)


    Our services include luggage transport in order to let you enjoy your trip comfortably and without stress :
    • We transport your luggage from one accommodation to the next using a private vehicle.
    • Your luggage is directly delivered in your accommodation before you arrive.
    • We provide a saddlebag for the things you shall need during the day.

    Our word of advice : as we know from experience, we strongly recommend you to avoid wearing a backpack during your cycling trip.
    If you expect to arrive at the next accommodation before 5 p.m., we recommend that you take an extra set of clothes with you in your bicycle bag.

    Travel documents

    A cycling holiday is the best way to explore a region and discover its culture, landscapes and local traditions.

    Your tour is self-guided to give you the freedom to ride at your own pace. You will be provided all the information you need to enjoy the itinerary and its points of interests.

    We can provide you with travel documents in paper format (for a supplement of €15 for printing and postage), which include:
    • a roadbook with maps that we drew at the easiest scale to follow on a bike
    • a roadbook with step-by-step description giving the direction to follow at each intersection and highlighting the points of interest

    Example of a map and of a step-by-step description

    Our GPS App

    For this trip, you can also use our smartphone app featuring GPS guidance (without extra fee).

    You will find in the app all the information given in the map and step-by-step roadbooks. You will be located on the itinerary with the GPS device of your phone. The route and directions to follow will be both viewable on the screen of your phone and announced aloud. As you ride along the itinerary, you will be given information about visits, restaurants, services and useful alerts on the way.

    -> You need to have a smartphone and download Le Velo Voyageur app on your Apple or Android store before the trip. All details concerning the downloading and the use of the application will be given after we have confirmed the booking and the balance is paid. Once the trip is downloaded, the GPS guidance can be used off-line.
  • Practical information
  • To get to departure point:

    • By plane: flight to Paris or Nantes and then train to Saumur.
    • By train: Train from Paris Montparnasse station. The estimated duration of the trip is 2h30. To plan your trip, www.raileurope.com.


    If you drive to Saumur, you can park your car in a secured car park located in the city center, close to your accommodation and the train station. The daily rate is and decreases depending on the duration. The location and contact details of the car park will be given in your travel documents.

    To get back to starting point:

    Regional trains take you back to your starting point if you wish. They are accessible with booking in advance and bicycles are free (subject to availability).

    We can also organise a transfer in a private vehicule on demand.

    Meeting time:

    The first day is an arrival day without cycling. You arrive whenever you want depending on from where you come. Please note that rooms are usually available in the middle of the afternoon depending on your accommodation. We thank you to advise us if you plan to arrive late.

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    the trip description