Town of departure : LACANAU
Town of arrival : LA TESTE-DE-BUCH - DUNE DU PYLA
Description : Get ready to discover Arcachon Bay (known locally as the Bassin d’Arcachon), a lagune that opens out onto the ocean, making a sort of inland sea. Oyster farming, fishing and sailing are the bay’s main activities. In the centre lies ‘the Isle of Birds’ and its huts built on stilts.
LACANAU OCEAN FRONT / LE PORGE OCEAN FRONT (14.6 KM – FAMILY FRIENDLY)
A pleasant stage of the Vélodyssée® along dedicated tracks between dunes and forests. You have to peel off the cycle track from time to time to enjoy the sea and some rare oceanic landscapes. Be careful on the beaches of the Atlantic, though! Next, turn left in the direction of ‘Le Porge-Le Gressier’, until the plage du Lion (“Lion beach”) car park where you’ll find an area for resting and stocking up on supplies. Enjoy the landscape of twisted pines and the dunes that slope off as far as the eye can see. Follow signs for Le Porge on a beautiful track. Continue straight ahead at la plage du Gressier (double bend left/right). On arriving at ‘Porge-Océan’, you’ll appreciate a well-earned rest. Continue to the right towards La Jenny on a lovely new track.
PORGE OCÉAN/LÈGE CAP-FERRET (22.4 KM – FAMILY FRIENDLY)
Pass through the naturist estate, La Jenny. You’ll then reach Le Grand Crohot (km 55), a popular beach in the Lège-Cap Ferret commune, where any services that you may require await you.
LÈGE CAP-FERRET / AUDENGE (15.4 KM – FAMILY FRIENDLY)
The forests of Gironde give way to the urban on this stage of the Vélodyssée around the Bassin d’Arcachon. Shortly after Lanton, we enter the territory of the Landes de Gascogne regional nature park, full of sweet scents and authentic sea salts. Carry on until a junction, where you go straight ahead towards Andernos-Arès. On the right, the network of tracks that runs through the Cap Ferret peninsula begins. You may opt to take these paths if you wish to follow the EuroVelo 1 route to get to the Bélisaire jetty, on the way to the tip of Cap Ferret, where a ferry can take you to Arcachon so that you can enjoy the tracks that lie to the south of Arcachon Bay. If you have chosen to continue straight on, you’ll arrive at another intersection. Follow the signs to Claouey and join up with the ‘Tour du Bassin d’Arcachon’ track. At any time of the year, you can safely go the whole way around Arcachon Bay on bike. Follow the signposts for ‘Piste cyclable départementale Lège-Biganos’. You are now on the old railway that is of local interest, transformed into a cycle track by the regional council (‘le Conseil Départemental’), taking you past the old train stations in Arès, Andernos (km 25.5), Taussat, Cassy, Lanton and Audenge. Just before Audenge, on your right you’ll find a signpost for Domaine de Certes, a vast natural space owned by le Conservatoire du Littoral (“Coastal Conservatory”) and managed by the regional council. Its former fish ponds have become a paradise for migratory birds. In season, naturalist guides are on hand to help you discover its charms. Your trip has taken you through the stations and villages that you’ve come across, but don’t forget that you can rejoin the centres and beaches in order to enjoy their various activities at any moment.
AUDENGE / ARCACHON (27,9 KM – INTERMEDIATE LEVEL)
You soon arrive in Biganos (km 40), where you turn right to pass along the Arcachon road. Once you arrive in Le Teich, after having skirted around the nature stop of La Leyre delta (stop here to learn about this remarkable place), you move away from the road and head into the village itself. Be careful here: you have to follow the signposts. The track moves onto the pavement before crossing the railway. After a kilometre, at the roundabout, take a right turn towards Gujan-Mestras, along the road. Once again, after one kilometre at the foot of the water tower, the track heads off on the right between the houses. Follow in the direction of ‘Piste cyclable Le Teich-La-Teste’. You’ll be following these signposts in an urban area, pay special attention at roundabouts and road crossings. You arrive at a path which heads deep into the tree-filled park. Cross this path and turn left towards La Teste-Biscarrosse. You then come out beside the Arcachon road embankment. Turn right and follow the road. Be careful now, follow the directions and correctly cross over the different roads that you come across over the next five kilometres. You arrive at a roundabout where a regional road heads off to the dune du Pilat (‘the Pilat sand dune’). You can decide, by turning right, to rejoin Arcachon, the famous coastal resort that was born in 1857 thanks to the efforts of the Pereire brothers- shareholders in the railway company la Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Midi- through a desire to make a summer holiday village. Make sure you visit the Ville d’Hiver (“winter town”), a historic quarter from the 19th century formed of a remarkable collection of bourgeois villas, steeped in a green setting. Go along the regional road that takes you to la dune du Pilat on the left until you reach the car park for this famous site. Standing at 105 metres, the tallest sand dune in Europe offers the most stunning panorama over Arcachon Bay that you could ever dream of, as well as the ocean, the Banc d’Arguin depending on the tide and the forests of the Landes de Gascogne that stretch as far as the eye can see. After stopping for this unmissable view, head directly South along the road. Then, you’ll soon plunge into the forest to regain the Petit-Nice beach from which you can enjoy some ocean adventures. Get off the track to cross the D 218 and take up the track on the other side. Continue towards the beaches of ‘la Lagune’ and ‘la Salie’ before returning along the road in the direction of Biscarosse.
Arcachon Bay is located in the heart of the Landes de Gascogne (Gascony). It is triangular in form, and its borders are set by 80 km of flat coastline or wooded sand dunes. It opens mostly onto the Gulf of Gascony, the tide brings considerable amounts of water in and out twice a day. The ‘Bassin’ is partially cut off from the ocean by a line of sand dunes that is notably comprised of Cap Ferret, the Dune du Pilat and le Banc d’Arguin. There is only one way out to the Atlantic Ocean: the channels that are approximately 3 km wide and allow the water to circulate between the bay and the ocean. At the centre of the bay lies l’ile aux Oiseaux, or ‘the Isle of Birds’, plus its famous huts on stilts in the water.
Let Andernos les Bains’ various historical sites work their charms on you: its jetty, St-Eloi church and some Gallo-Roman vestiges, its oyster port, the Maison Louis David and more. A fold-out map is available at the Andernos les Bains Tourist Office or on the website.
DOMAINE DE CERTES-GRAVEYRON
On the Vélodyssée, on a small bike-less break, explore the Domaine de Certes-Graveyron. This 530 hectare property, owned by le Conservatoire du Littoral, is on some former dammed salt marshes. Nowadays, it’s a protected site that lets you discover some remarkable flora and fauna. Château de Certes is a beautiful chartreuse constructed by the Marquis de Civrac, and is currently undergoing restoration work.
THE FOREST LANDS OF THE LANDES DE GASCOGNE NATURE PARK
The pine forests of the Landes de Gascogne are omnipresent in the three communes of Lanton, Audenge and Biganos: 3000 hectares of forest in Biganos, 1800 hectares in Audenge and more than 11,000 hectares in Lanton, the third most forest-covered commune in France ... The tourist office offers tree tapping demonstrations (harvesting resin) so that you can discover this ancient traditional forest activity.
LE TEICH ORNITHOLOGICAL PARK
Set out, either as a family or as a group of friends, regardless of age, on the discovery of one of the Bassin d’Arcachon’s most famous natural sites. As far as bird conservation goes, it is a site of international importance, with over 260 species visiting, of which 80 nest on-site. The reserve provides 6 km of walking trails, allowing you to observe the birds from one of twenty cabins constructed near to the most popular spots. The Robin Trail (‘le Sentier du Rouge-gorge’) has been especially designed for children in order to help them get to the know the ornithological reserve’s environment while having fun. Exploration activities are available nearby such as the canoe or the sea kayak, allowing you to discover the La Leyre delta in an original way.
LA DUNE DU PYLA
Let the Great Dune work its magic on you. On arriving, you’ll surely be impressed by its size (109m high, 2.7 km long and 60 million m3 of grains of sand), and don’t imagine that you’ll be alone! Take a run-up then head up the dune, either on the sand or on the stairway. Reaching the top is an emotional experience, as you witness an exceptional panorama over all the marvels that the Bassin d’Arcachon has to offer: the Arguin Bank, the forest, the Cap-Ferret lighthouse, etc. It’s been a listed site since 1978, and the spirit of the place will remain intact until the next time you come back again.