One of France’s longest bike routes, the ‘Velodyssey’ is also among its easiest. It follows the Atlantic coast along the Bay of Biscay, often just one sand-dune away from the sea.
It’s mostly traffic-free, and the on-road sections tend to be very quiet. Surfaces are varied and can include hard-packed gravel. In particular, the route through Brittany is mostly unpaved: this cuts across the peninsula rather than following the coast, following rail trails and the towpath of the old Canal de Nantes à Brest.
Because it’s such a prime holiday destination, accommodation, bike services, cafés and restaurants are plentiful. At 1300km (800 miles) it’s a significant endeavour, but you’ll make good progress on this flat terrain.
Don’t think that this is just a beach cruise. There’s much of natural interest along the way, such as the wetlands of the Marais Poitevin and the Landes forest – the largest planted forest in Europe. It is, however, mostly rural: Nantes and La Rochelle are the only places of any size until you reach the Spanish border.
The route starts at Roscoff, which is handy for cyclists arriving on the ferry from Plymouth, Cork or Rosslare. There are train services at many places along the coast, though TGVs from Hendaye (the end of the route) require booking: sadly, the sleeper train no longer runs. Or you could keep cycling along the coast to catch the ferry from Bilbao or Santander…