A freewheeling trip along the Coast
Coasting along the dykes and beaches in all comfort and safety is now possible thanks to special routes, bike lanes, and trails. This makes it easy for the whole family to join in on the fun. Most seaside resorts have installed urban bike lanes between the pavement and the road to provide cyclists with greater security.
A good example is found in La Baule which has equipped their sea wall – in other words, the seaside promenade – as far as Pornichet. Another example is Cap d’Agde, a resort that now has ‘bike links’ to various historic sites such as the Grau (the port) and the old town of Agde.
Above all, this urban policy has been extended to small country roads and wide paths designed for pedestrians. Thus, from La Baule you can follow the path of a former railway line as far as the marshes of Brière (a regional natural park) or the salt-works at Guerande (8 and 13 kilometres – 5 and 8 miles – on level ground respectively).
From Cap d’Agde you can also take an excursion along the banks of the famous Canal du Midi or up to a typical local ‘summit,’ Mont Saint-Loup. The same tactic is true of Sables d’Olonne in the Vendée region, which has developed a special, protected bike route between the forest and Ile d’Olonne.
The initiatives described above were inspired by a pioneering network on the coast of Aquitaine where the pleasure of a family outing by bike, right in the midst of nature, was reinvented.
The goal was to have an outing without anxiety or fatigue, so seaside resorts in Gironde and Landes performed the masterstroke of developing hundreds of miles of easy paths reserved for ‘family’ biking (as well as hiking and roller-skating). They accomplished this by exploiting the level landscape and an old network of railway lines that had been left behind by the former resin-harvesting industry in the extensive pine forests.
Here, elevation-free asphalt is set away from the roads ("reserved lanes") which have been converted into "greenways." These are located between the dunes and the forest, but more specifically, between the lagoon of Arcachon (and its oyster villages) and the lakes of Lacanau and Biscarosse, which are located very near the ocean beaches.