Vendée Vélo Tour, on your marks, get set, pedal!
Discover the “Vendée Vélo Tour” ! This new 20-stage cycle route allows you to cycle around the Vendée. Discover the magnificent hidden landscapes of the Vendee, from the north to the south and from the east to the west! It will be an unforgettable journey. A memorable experience for young and old, filled with interesting encounters and things to share.
Stage 1 : Les Sables d’Olonne – La Tranche sur Mer, an easy coastal start
This stage of the Vendée Vélo tour on a bike offers you an array of landscapes with the ocean in the background. At the start of the route, you will ride along the Bay of Les Sables d’Olonne, which is ranked among the most beautiful in the world. You can enjoy the very distinctive lighting of the Guittière marshes, a protected natural area before crossing the Forêt Domaniale (state forest) of Longeville sur mer. The trail ends in La Tranche sur Mer, nicknamed “The Little California”. An easy coastal stage, with some beautiful scenery.
The highlights on this stage between Les Sables d’Olonne & La Tranche sur mer :
- The Baie de Cayola
- The Payré Estuary
- The Belle Henriette national nature reserve
Stage 2 : La Tranche sur mer – Saint Michel en L’Herm, unique panorama views
La Tranche sur Mer is the starting point for a delightful escape along the coast. Here you will ride through pine and holm oak forests, along the Presqu’île ‘s fine sandy beaches until you come to the picturesque port of L’Aiguillon. There you can visit an oyster farm. You will then, follow the Lay River with its beautiful view of the estuary, where your journey continues inland toward Saint Michel en L’Herm. A short stop on the Ile de Dive, offers a unique panorama over the Aiguillon Bay.
The highlights on this stage between La Tranche sur Mer & Saint Michel en l’Herm :
- The Belle Henriette national nature reserve
- The Port de Aiguillon
- L’Ile de la Dive
Stage 3: Saint Michel en l’Herm – L’Ile d’Elle, with uninterrupted landscapes
This next stage of the Vendée Vélo tour itinerary guides you through the heart of the “polder” area. Here, the marshes stretch out over a bare uninterrupted landscape criss-crossed with cereal crops.
From the Pont du Brault (bridge), you reach the “Grand-greniers” gate, where you can watch it closing naturally as the tide rises. Then, you follow several canals, including the 5 Abbés canal, created in 1217. Continuing along the route, you will reach the wet marshlands, formed by flooded meadows and lined with ash trees. You will pass through the unassuming villages of Vouillé-les-Marais, La Taillée and Gué de Velluire. From here you will follow the Vendée River towards the Ile d’Elle.
The highlights on this stage between Saint Michel en l’Herm & L’Ile d’Elle :
- Ile de la Dive
- The Vendée River
Stage 4: L’Ile d’Elle – Maillezais, with majestic ruins to explore
On the way to the Green Venice! Ride along the meandering Sèvre Niortaise river, across the rolling hillside vineyards around Vix and continue through the Regional Nature Park of the Marais Poitevin. If you are lucky, you may even spot the European otter on the Ile Charrouin nature reserve. And for those who have a sweet tooth, try the famous préfou (type of garlic bread) in Maillé! The Vendée Vélo tour continues with the discovery of a surprising hydraulic structure, the Aqueduct, before reaching Maillezais. You will see the ruins of its abbey in the distance. Take time to admire these majestic ruins and to explore the heart of the Green Venice by boat from one of the small jetties of this charming village.
The highlights on this stage between L’Ile d’Elle & Maillezais :
- The Marais poitevin
- Boat trips on the Green Venice
- L'Abbaye de Maillezais (Cyclists Welcome -Accueil Vélo)
Stage 5: Maillezais – Fontenay le Comte , with charming villages and pretty ports
Before leaving the Marais Poitevin, ride along a canal to the pretty Port de Courdault, and then on to the Petite Cité de Caractère of Nieul sur l’Autise. A little break is called for to discover the Abbaye de Nieul and the Maison de la Meunerie, home to one of the last water mills in the region. A little further on, you can branch off to the beach at Chassenon and enjoy a well-deserved swim! And why not a short stop at La Lutine in Saint Michel Le Cloucq to try the local delicacies. An encouraging way to help you for those last few kilometres.
The highlights on this stage between Maillezais & Fontenay le Comte :
- The Petite Cité de Caractère of Nieul sur l'Autise and its charming abbey) as well as the Maison de la Meunerie (both have the Accueil Vélo label - Cyclists Welcome)
- During the summer Chassenon leisure area (Accueil Vélo label - Cyclists Welcome)
Stage 6: Fontenay le Comte – Vouvant , with the Most beautiful villages in France
Take advantage of your little break to visit the Medieval and Renaissance streets of Fontenay le Comte. A real architectural treat, classified as a “Ville d’Art et d’Histoire” (a Town of Art and History). From here you then need to head for Mervent and cross the largest state-owned forest in the Vendée, an undeniable playground in the heart of nature. Next stop is Vouvant, a charming medieval town listed as one of the “Most beautiful villages in France”.
The highlights of this stage between Fontenay le Comte & Vouvant :
- The historic town centre of Fontenay Le Comte
- Château de Terre Neuve
- Forêt de Mervent
- The village of Vouvant
Stage 7: Vouvant – La Châtaigneraie, with a mining and starry experience
Leaving Vouvant, you need to head to Faymoreau. Here, you will be transported into the “bowels” of the earth, in a unique place, listed as a “Petite Cité de Caractère”. This small mining town with its “corons” (miner’s cottages) and the Centre Minier , provides an interesting experience. Then, continue your journey winding your way through the countryside before stopping at La Chapelle aux Lys…. a small village dedicated to the stars. Why not take a seat in the Planetarium for a voyage through the starry skies. Then, it’s back on your bike to finish your journey, by following an old railway track towards La Châtaigneraie.
The highlights on this stage between Vouvant & La Châtaigneraie :
- La Chapelle aux Lys, a little village of stars with its planetarium, its sundial garden, its astrophotography exhibition, its observatory, and its path to the stars
- Faymoreau, a charming “Petite Cité de Caractère” : the corons (miner’s cottages), the Centre minier experience, the Musée de France, the miners Chapel
Stage 8: La Châtaigneraie – Pouzauges, offering hillier landscapes in the Bocage
From La Châtaigneraie, you will take to higher ground to explore the hillier landscapes of this corner of the Vendée. You will pass through various sites such as the old quarries of Cheffois where you can admire its rocky cliffs overlooking the lake. Or gaze at the thousands of plants grown in the local nursery. The Manoir des Sciences de Réaumur is a curious and interesting place to discover. The next part of the circuit, alternates between historical monuments, green hills, and valleys as you follow the direction of Pouzauges. Another charming Petite Cité de Caractère located on the top of the hill.
The highlights on this stage between La Châtaignerie & Pouzauges :
- The Cheffois quarry
- Manoir des Sciences de Réaumur
- Pouzauges, Petite Cité de Caractère
- Château de Pouzauges
Stage 9 : Pouzauges – Le Puy du Fou, plunging back into the heart of French history
On this part of the Vendée Vélo tour circuit, you will discover the “Haut Bocage Vendéen” which features an array of narrow roads, hilly paths peppered with streams and ponds. On reaching the highest point in the Vendée, climb the 199 steps of the famous bell tower with its archangel perched majestically on the top! As you leave Saint Michel Mont Mercure, you will find yourself on the peaceful, hilly paths that run alongside the Jarries wood. Plunge back into the heart of French history and visit the famous Puy du Fou, a choice stopover for a trip back in time.
The highlights on this stage between Pouzauges & the Puy du Fou :
- Pouzauges, Petite Cité de Caractère and its château
- Château de Saint Mesmin (Accueil Vélo label – Cyclists Welcome)
- The Puy du Fou
Stage 10 : the Puy du Fou – Mortagne sur Sèvre, charming villages and impressive scenery
Pedal along the banks of the Sèvre Nantaise river for 22 kilometres to discover the Vendean countryside. After a visit to the Puy du Fou, discover the charm of Mallièvre another “Petite Cité de Caractère”. Ride along the roads to Saint Laurent sur Sèvre and admire its 7 bell towers. You will also pass near to the impressive Barbin viaduct and return to the Petite Cité de Caractère of Mortagne sur Sèvre.
The highlights on this stage between the Puy du Fou & Mortagne sur Sèvre :
- Le Puy du Fou
- Mallièvre, Petite Cité de Caractère
- Vendée Vitrail
- The valley of Poupet
Stage 11: Mortagne sur Sèvre – Cugand, with numerous mills on the banks of the Sèvre
At this stage of the Vendée Vélo tour circuit, you can admire the many mills located on the banks of the Sèvre. As you cross the hilly landscape of the Vendean bocage, you will discover Tiffauges and the Château de Gilles de Rais, the largest Medieval town in the West.
The highlights on this stage between Mortagne sur Sèvre & Cugand :
- Panoramic viewpoint from the jardins de la Cure
- Le Château de Tiffauges (Accueil Vélo label – Cyclists Welcome)
- The banks of the Sèvre River and the industrial past
Stage 12: Cugand – Montaigu, with over 1000 years of history to discover
Leaving from Cugand, a small picturesque village on the banks of the Sèvre Nantaise river, you will reach Montaigu. You can follow quiet paths in the heart of the countryside or along the banks of the La Maine river. On the way, you will see the Moulin de Sénard and the Chaussée du Moulin de L’Ecornerie (a type of narrow private stone causeway). When you arrive in Montaigu, you can discover a wealth of historical legacy, thanks to the “Montaigu, 1000 years of history” heritage trail.
The highlights on this stage between Cugand & Montaigu :
- The Moulin à Foulon at Gaumier
- Montaigu, 1000 ans d'Histoire (Montaigu, 1000 years of history)
Stage 13 : Montaigu – La Rabatelière, numerous hamlets, quaint villages and old mills..
After visiting the Medieval town of Montaigu, the Vendée Vélo tour, will take you to the banks of La Grande Maine River, where you can take a break at the Maison de la Riviere water mill which is surrounded by nature. Between Saint Georges de Montaigu and La Rabatelière, numerous hamlets, little bridges, foot bridges and old mills follow one after the other along your route. At La Rabatelière, you will find the Sanctuaire de la Salette, a truly curious site which has influenced parish life at the end of the 19th century.
The highlights on this stage between Montaigu & La Rabatelière :
- La Maison de la Rivière (Accueil Vélo label – Cyclists Welcome)
- Le Sanctuaire de la Salette
Stage 14 : La Rabatelière – Saint Etienne du Bois, a perfect trail for nature and history lovers
Starting out from La Rabatelière, this is a perfect trail for both nature and history lovers. Along the way, you will see a variety of different landscapes – forest, wooded hillsides, waterways, and vineyards. After a relaxing break in the Forêt de Grasla, continue along the Vendée Vélo trail to discover the local historical heritage and learn more about the history of the Vendée. Your journey will take you to the charming village of Saint Etienne du Bois, an ideal stopover for tasting one of the local wines (IGP Val de La Loire).
The highlights of this stage between La Rabatelière & Saint Etienne du Bois :
- Le Refuge de Grasla
- The logis de la Chabotterie (Accueil Vélo Label – Cyclists Welcome)
- The Mémorial and Historial de la Vendée (Accueil Vélo Label– Cyclist welcome)
- L'Espace Naturel Sensible de la Boulogne (Boulogne Natural heritage area)
Stage 15 : Saint Etienne du Bois – La Garnache, perfectly situated between the Bocage and the coast
At the beginning of this part of the Vendée Vélo itinerary, the little town of Saint Etienne du Bois offers some beautiful dwellings and large houses. From here you then cross the Grand’Landes, whose moorland area was replaced by a wooded landscape planted in the 17th century. Then, pretty hedgerows and trees accompany you on your way to Froidfond, where you can gradually make out the amusing bell tower. La Garnache is an ideal stopover point, perfectly situated between the “Bocage” and the coast. This little community combines nature and culture. With its rich historical heritage, you can admire the remnants of an ancient time.
The highlights on this stage between Saint Etienne du Bois & La Garnache :
- Château de la Garnache (private site)
Stage 16 : La Garnache – Bouin, Vendée Vélo tour linking land and sea
From La Garnache you will leave the “Bocage” and enter the Marais Breton Vendéen: a landscape with distant horizons. The Vendée Vélo trail links this remarkable, protected natural area to the coast. As you travel through this zone, you may well see birds that are specific to this exceptional environment, where land and water are intimately linked. Some of the ancient islands have disappeared due to the gradual draining of the marshes and farming of the land reclaimed from the sea.
The highlights on this stage between La Garnache & Bouin :
- Abbaye de l'Ile Chauvet
- Marais Breton Vendéen landscape
Stage 17: Bouin – La Barre de Monts, everything from oysters to a submersible road
The Vendée Vélo route takes you from port to port and is filled with the smell of fresh sea air! The gourmets among you can enjoy delicious oyster and other local products along the way. You can watch the spectacle of the oyster farmers at high tide in the Port du Bec. And of course, don’t forget, to make a detour to the Passage du Gois, a mythical, submersible road.
A visit to Le Daviaud marks the end of your journey through the Marais Breton Vendéen by bike. You will then arrive at Fromentine, a small seaside town with a pleasant atmosphere.
The highlights on this stage between Bouin & La Barre de Monts :
- Les salines du breuil at Beauvoir sur Mer
- Port des Champs
- Passage du Gois
- Port du Bec
- Le Daviaud (Accueil Vélo Label – Cyclists Welcome)
Stage 18 : La Barre de Monts – Noirmoutier, with beautiful views from the bridge
Take the bridge and enjoy the beautiful view of the Ile de Noirmoutier. You can take a trail on the eastern side of the island that runs along the sea to the famous Passage du Gois. Shortly after, you will discover the preserved natural area of the Polder de Sébastopol, listed as a regional nature reserve. Then the Port du Bonhomme, where you can watch the tractors going to the oyster beds at low tide and taste some oysters in one of the many oyster huts. Before you arrive at Noirmoutier en l’Ile, you will pass alongside 2 small towns: La Guérinière and L'Épine. You will also see numerous salt marshes, producing the local “white gold”.
The highlights on this stage between La Barre de Monts & Noirmoutier :
- Le Passage du Gois
- The salt marshes on l'Ile de Noirmoutier
Stage 19 : Fromentine – Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, for a red carpet theatrical entrance
Woody and salty sea air smells mingle together on this refreshing stage. As you follow the Vélodyssée, you will pedal through the heart of the national forest of the Pays de Monts region. On your way, you will pass through the seaside resorts of Notre Dame de Monts and Saint Jean de Monts, with their sublime fine sandy beaches. The itinerary then takes you to Saint Hilaire de Riez, for a memorable cycling trip: between the forest, beaches, and rocky coast. The “Feu de Grosse Terre” light house rolls out the red carpet for a theatrical entrance to Saint Gilles Croix de Vie.
The highlights on this stage between Fromentine & Saint Gilles Croix de Vie :
- Forêt domaniale du Pays de Monts (state forest)
- The Corniche Vendéenne
- The fishing port at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie
Stage 20 : Saint Gilles Croix de vie – Les Sables d’Olonne, admire the Atlantic Ocean to the full
From one port to another, during this stage of the Vendée Vélo tour, you will cross a multitude of remarkable areas. Saint Gilles Croix de Vie takes you to the heart of dunes of Jaunay and La Sauzaie. In Brétignolles sur Mer, you can admire the ocean to the full, before travelling through the old fishing villages. As you arrive at Les Sables d’Olonne, explore the state forest of Olonne sur Mer and the peaceful salt marshes. Following the rugged coastline, the Vendée Vélo tour ends with a visit to the historic district of Les Sables d’Olonne, La Chaume.
The highlights on this stage between Saint Gilles Croix de Vie & Les Sables d’Olonne :
- Grande plage at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie
- The dune area of Jaunay and La Sauzaie
- La Gachère quarter
- Les Sables d'Olonne fish auction
- Marché des halles centrales (Central market)
- Notre Dame de Bon Port church