Two week bikepacking trip from Nantes to Biarritz. We cycled the Eurovelo Route 1 and slept on campsites.
EuropeFrance2 days / August 2020
Highs & Lows
The highlight for me was the mutlitude of different landscapes as well as the lush nature you encounter.
This kind of travel is highly dependent on the weather. Two days were quite rainy so we needed to be flexible with our plans!
We did this trip in two weeks, starting in Nantes and finishing in Bayonne close to the Spanish border. We crossed three departments and several cities such as La Rochelle, Bordeaux and Biarritz. The landscape is continuously changing. Leaving Nantes you encounter a rather Nordic landscape with grazing Holstein cows, wind turbines and oyster farms. Then you cross the region north of Bordeaux, la Vendée, which is a popular vacation destination for the French which means you will find quite elaborated camping grounds with restaurants, huge playgrounds and evening animation. South of Bordeaux you enter the beautiful department of Aquitaine, known for its endless beaches, continuously changeing sand dunes and a lush pinetree forest. The humans you encounter will either be surfing or cycling, as the region offers multiple possibilities for both. Last but not least you arrive in the French part of the Basque Country with its unique architecture, language and food.
It is easiest to arrive to Nantes by TGV from Paris which takes around 2 to 3 hours. For returning I advise the train station of Bayonne which is the best connected in the region.
The Dune du Pilat is very impressive because of its size. From the top you have a beautiful view over the Arcachon Bay, the sea and the seemlingly endless pine forest. On a sunny day it attracts many tourists which cumulate mostly on the very top. To have more space and experience the vastness of this place, just walk south as the dune reaches very far in this direction.
The dune is not clearly indicated from the surroundings. However, you can access it from many directions just following the streets that lead towards the dune.
For those loving architecture and luxury houses, I recommend to walk the roads in Le Pilat Plage, as well as Super Pyla and Haute Pyla. You will find some astonishing holiday residencies.
For those rather prefering nature, I recommend visiting the Étang de Cazaux et de Sanguinet. The climate on a warm day is almost tropic. On the lake you can do stand-up paddeling or rent out a kanu.
The camping offers a swimming pool as well as some food trucks. The beach is a 3 minute bicicle ride away but beautiful (see the pictures).
Comparing the sea-side towns of the whole Aquitaine region, this town together with Soorts-Hossegor is one of the bigger ones offering more attractions. While also being a well-known surfing spot, the towns offer a wide range of restaurants, (beach- and surfing) shops, nightlife and diverse sport activities. If you want to come for a holiday and just stay in one place instead of bicycling the Eurovelo Route 1, I recommend staying here and renting a car. Like that you can enjoy the best of this vivid town as well as explore the whole region with its many beaches and lakes to visit. The whole region is also a hotspot for van-lifers, offering many parking spots for the vehicles.
Q & A
What would you have changed?To be honest: Nothing. Two weeks are perfect for cycling this distance and the climate of the season was also good.
Anything go wrong during the trip?Luckily not.
Restaurant recommendations?We mostly cooked for ourselves using our camping cooker.
Tips you would give a friend?Having good equipment for bikepacking is key. Pack intentionally and light. If you pack something for just-in-case, unpack it again! Additionally, do not miss the breathtaking sunsets every evening!
Packing tips?As I said: Pack light. Maybe do some research on the internet on the equipment of other bickepackers. There is plenty information.
Transportation Tips?If you arrive by train make you reservation very early (I advise 3 months in advance). Bike spaces in trains, especially TGV, are very limited. Arrive to Nantes from Paris by TGV and leave from Bayonne in regional trains. It is the best connected train station in the region.
Booking details?We booked everything ourselves. Camping grounds do not need any pre-booking. You just arrive and always get space for a tent.