La Vélodyssée - from Hourtin-plage to Arcachon Bay
Town of departure : HOURTIN
Town of arrival : LEGE-CAP FERRET - CLAOUEY
Description : You are going on a Vélodyssée®, the EuroVelo 1 route that travels, in France, from Roscoff to Hendaye, constituting one of the longest European routes that takes you mostly on specially-designed bike paths. We begin on the southern coast of the Médoc and end at the Bassin d’Arcachon. It is a journey that invites you to discover, among other delights, the lakes of the Médoc, the Cousseau pool and the ocean at Lacanau: large nature reserves and ocean beaches await.
Set off for the stage of the forest road which links Hourtin Beach (‘Hourtin-Plage’) to Carcans Beach (‘Carcans-Plage’). This wide, paved route is shared with road traffic, but is safer in the summer period when cars are not allowed. You are on the EuroVelo 1 route. At the crossroads of the paths for Hourtin Beach (‘Hourtin-Plage’) and the Contaut lagoon (stop 10 on the North Médoc coastal stage), go towards ‘Carcans-Plage’. Continue on this wide track which contains several crossroads that either take you off to the ocean on the right or to the Carcans-Hourtin lake to the left. Here, you will find a dense network of tracks and variable forest routes, often uneven narrow paths paved over with concrete, designed more for mountain bikes. Those which head to La Gracieuse or Bombannes take you away to discover the charms of the largest natural lake in France: 18 km long and 5 km wide.
Just before the end of the forest route, you arrive at a junction (km 16.6). Turn left in the direction of Maubuisson. If you turn right, you rejoin Carcans Beach where you can find any services you might need in order to properly begin another stage. However, the path that takes in the beach and heads to the South is narrow in places (50 cm).
Once you’ve set off in the direction of Maubuisson, you will come across some houses before joining up with the RD 207 road and heading off towards ‘Lacanau-Océan’. Take this beautiful dedicated cycle path over the hills and through the woods, surrounded by inland dunes and deep ravines. The landscape is superb and surprising. It is the consequence of an age-old conflict that goes back more than 5000 years: the old dunes and their oak woods that open to the West are in conflict with the more recent dunes that open to the East, fixed by the plantation of pine trees. It is this struggle which has led to the creation of the natural lakes and which explains the hilly nature of the area. You pass close to ‘l’étang de Cousseau’, a protected nature reserve where you can find naturalist guides and a nature trail. The flora and fauna are unique and well-preserved.
You come out on to the Bordeaux-Lacanau cycle track, the oldest one in Gironde (completed in 1980 by the regional council along the old railway tracks). You take this track when you turn right towards ‘Lacanau-Océan’ (km 26).
You go past a first roundabout, go through two small tunnels and arrive at a second roundabout where you turn left towards Longarisse. Ride past Lacanau Casino. A little further on take a right turn towards the ocean.
Next, turn left in the direction of Le Porge-Le Gressier, until you reach the plage du Lion (Lion beach) car park, where you’ll find a place to stop and rest. Appreciate the landscape, full of twisted pines, and the dunes that stretch out as far as the eye can see. Follow the signposts for Le Porge using the beautiful paved route (km 37). Go straight ahead to la plage du Gressier (double bend left/right).
When you arrive at ‘Porge-Océan’, you’ll appreciate the opportunity to take a well-deserved rest. Continue to the right in the direction of La Jenny on a beautiful new track.
Cycle through the La Jenny naturist estate (km 47.6)
You’ll eventually reach Le Grand Crohot (km 55), a very popular beach in the Lège-Cap Ferret commune, home to whatever services you may require.
Continue to a junction, where you continue straight towards Andernos-Arès. The network of tracks that cover the Cap Ferret peninsula begins here. If you wish to continue on the EuroVelo 1 route, you might opt to take this network to find the Bélisaire jetty on the way to the tip (‘la pointe’) of Cap Ferret, where a ferry can take you to Arcachon and to the tracks that run along the South of the Bassin d’Arcachon.
If you have chosen to go straight, you’ll meet another intersection.
Head towards Claouey before you arrive at the point where the path meets up with the ‘Tour du Bassin d’Arcachon’ track (km 63). Refer to the ‘Vélodyssée- from the North of the Bassin d’Arcachon to the gateway to les Landes’ in order to continue your journey...
POINTS OF INTEREST
Welcome to the largest natural freshwater lake in France, spread over 6000 hectares. Carcans-Hourtin lake has a 2 kilometre-long beach with facilities in Maubuisson, its East bank is protected and there are smaller, hidden beaches in the bays to the West. Bordered by both dunes and forest, the lake has a remarkable environmental quality as home to many protected and valued species. Whether on foot, by bike or by boat, you should come and discover this peaceful haven.
L'ETANG DE COUSSEAU NATURE RESERVE
Hidden by the coastal dunes and national forests of Lacanau, this site maintains a beautifully diverse natural setting with original landscapes. The 9 km (round trip) nature trail takes you on a timeless walk. You cross the wooded dunes with pockets of untouched forest, walk along the humid “barins”, colonised by typical aquatic vegetation, get lost in contemplation of the marshes, the final summer refuge for sea cows, and you’ll discover the tranquility of a wild little pond, the perfect place to have a nap or a picnic… The Nature Reserve is perfect for visiting throughout the year and in whichever way you see fit: non-guided walking or taking an exploration tour on foot or by bike (beware: bikes are forbidden in the reserve/ please consult the site rules).
Lacanau lake, with a surface area of 20 km², is fed by small draining streams in the Médoc. The northern part of the lake is dominated by the Moutchic area, home to a long and beautiful beach. The west bank offers varied scenery, with the vast wild spaces of Longarisse that extend as far as la Pointe du Bernos (“the tip of Bernos”). A wide, marked-out trail lets you discover one of the wildest parts of the lake in peace and quiet. From Longarisse, this trail weaves between the waters of the lake, where reeds and water lilies pop up here and there, and where there are high wooded dunes from which you can discover the lake. Some islands make for a perfect habitat for flora and fauna.
LACANAU-OCEAN SEASIDE RESORT
Lacanau-Océan contains 15 km of fine sandy beaches, a vast forest of maritime pins that are perfect for bike rides, villas from “la Belle Epoque” and a place where an unmissable event is held every August: Lacanau Pro. It’s the only event in the world surfing championships that takes place in France.