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There is a vast network of cycle paths in the Pays de Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, much to the delight of everyone. But did you know that the famous Vélodyssée, the French section of the Atlantic Coast Route – EuroVelo 1, crosses through our destination?
The longest cycling itinerary in France (1,290 km) begins in Brittany and runs along the Atlantic coast, all the way to the Basque coast. Hop on your bikes with the ocean as your backdrop! Most of the route is on car-free cycle paths. This route is fully marked-out and crosses through the whole of the Pays de Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, with signposts in both directions.
From Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez to Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
15 km (approximately 1 hour 20)
Once you pass by Saint-Jean-de-Monts, the Vélodyssée continues towards Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez. This is a very pleasant section of the route, between the forest and the beach, with picnic areas dotted along the way, before arriving in Sion where you’ll be faced with a superb panoramic view of the ocean. In Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, take in the surprising atmosphere of the 3-km-long Corniche Vendéenne (Vendée headland) and the beautiful 5 Pineaux rocks, the Trou du Diable and its legends, then admire the Feu Grosse Terre and the Villa Notre Dame.
The maritime heritage of the seaside town of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie has some surprises in store for you. In the Boisvinet area of town, come and admire the villas from the ‘Belle Epoque’ dotted along the headland, and the little châteaus facing the sea. Then go for a stroll around the marina and stop for lunch to taste the famous grilled sardines. After that, head towards the fish market and venture inside the Escale Pêche to learn all about fishing.
While you’re staying in the Pays de Saint Gilles, make sure you take the time to visit Ile d’Yeu. From April to September, there are boat crossings every day from Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Bikes are not accepted on-board the boat but you can hire them when you arrive for around €12. The loop tour of the island by bike is around 28 km long, past cliffs, beaches and coves.
FROM Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie to Brem-sur-Mer, via Brétignolles-sur-Mer
18 km (approximately 1.5 hours)
In the direction of Brétignolles-sur-Mer, ride alongside Jaunay dunes and then continue on the Vélodyssée for 13 km until you reach the wild coast. You might be lucky enough to arrive at high tide so you can watch the surfers at the popular surf spot of La Sauzaie, that can easily be recognised by its big yellow buoy.
The route then continues along the pretty headland in Brétignolles-sur-Mer. Keep your eyes peeled, just before you arrive in the La Parée area of town, you’ll see the famous Sainte Véroniquerock on your right. If you cycle here on a Thursday or Sunday morning, make the one kilometre detour into the town centre to see the market and indoor market hall.
The itinerary then leads to Brem-sur-Mer, a charming village with an unmissable Romanesque church, the church of Saint Nicolas. Finally, ride alongside Brem-sur-Mer vineyard, well-known for its AOC Fiefs Vendéens wines and don’t hesitate to stop off here for a tour and tasting!
The route still doesn’t stop there! The Vélodyssée then leaves the ocean behind it and crosses the forest and marshland of Ile d’Olonne towards Les Sables d’Olonne. It takes around 2 hours to complete this step, which is around twenty kilometres long.
Plan your route
Whether you’re just passing through the Pays de Saint Gilles as you cycle along the Vélodyssée, or you’ve come here to cycle one of the steps, here are some top tips:
Calculate your route
Calculate your route using the official website for the Vélodyssée: https://www.lavelodyssee.com/
Service providers bearing the ‘Accueil Vélo’ label
Find out about the service providers in the Pays de Saint Gilles Croix de Vie and the four Tourist Offices with the ‘Accueil Vélo’label. These establishments are all less than 5 km from the route and are equipped with facilities and services to satisfy the needs of cyclists.
Where to sleep?
Where is there to stay during your bike ride? Accommodation bearing the ‘Accueil Vélo’ label.
Hire a bike
Are you in the Pays de Saint Gilles and you would like to hire a bike to ride along this route? Here is a list of bike hire companies.
A luggage transport and bike delivery service is provided by: BicyBAGS between Nantes and Biarritz.
Which maps should I use?
Check out our cycling loop trails, also available in paper format. More specifically, there are Vélodyssée guides available to purchase from book shops and other shops.