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Roger Lapébie cycle route, Bordeaux

Disused railway tunnel, on a cycle route in Bordeaux

Located on the outskirts of the city of Bordeaux, lies a cycle path called the Roger Lapébie voie vert.  A former railway line that’s not been used for years, it leads you away from the Garonne River on the outskirts of Bordeaux through what at many times feels like an enchanted, lush green forest.

The surface is smooth asphalt, and the terrain is flat with only the slightest of gradients on occasion with no big, energy sapping hills. This means it is perfect to explore for all fitness levels.

How to reach the Roger Lapébie cycle path from Bordeaux city

The official start of the Roger Lapébie cycle path is located approximately 10km/6mi from central Bordeaux. However there are several cycle paths which will take you from the centre of the city straight out onto the start of the path itself. The first section is sign posted for the Eurovelo 3 Scandeberique route (follow the signs which direct you towards Norway, as opposed to Spain).

Once you cross the Garonne River, head right to join the start of the cycle path. This first section is best described as being ‘industrial’, but you are on the right track and once you hit the official route itself, the scenery changes dramatically. The total distance from Bordeaux to Sauveterre is 57km and it is completely car-free along the entire length.

There is official signage at the start of the cycle route with lots of information and highlights of various points of interest along the way. There are information boards at each intersection as you pass through smaller villages along the route.  And there are periodic kilometre indicators, which give the distances to go to reach the end of the trail (Bordeaux or Sauveterre depending on which direction you are heading), as well as the next village located along the route.

Suitable for all types of bikes

With the trail surface being fully asphalted it is suitable for use by all types of bikes and popular with all levels of cyclists including children. As the trail regularly passes through villages it is a fantastic option for families who may be looking to just take in some smaller sections of the cycle path. The cycle route is fully separated from vehicle traffic which makes it a very safe and child friendly option.

If you need to hire a bike to use on the trail you will find numerous hire options in Bordeaux city. You’ll also find a ‘Velo Station’ access point right next to the cycle path located in the village of Creon, open mid-March to mid-November. Hire bike options include hybrid, children’s and e-bikes as well as tandem, hand bikes and cargo bikes which can accommodate a wheelchair.

Beautiful scenery and glorious sights

The further you travel along the trail towards Sauvaterre, the more open the scenery becomes. Once you pass the small village of Sadirac the vineyards become more prolific. The track takes you alongside the vineyards as well as numerous orchards.

Large sections of the Roger Lapébie cycle path takes you through beautiful forest. In summer this lush, green landscape provides you with pleasant shade. In autumn the beautiful colours of the falling leaves make for a stunning scene. The picturesque scenery alongside the trail is one of the key highlights of the ride. The magnificent old rail tunnel has been incorporated into the trail. It lasts for a few hundred metres and is a visual delight to cycle through.

One of the charms of the Roger Lapébie trail is the way old railway stations are dotted along the route. Some have been repurposed as cafés and rest areas.

Don’t miss the signposted detour to see the Abbaye de Le Sauve Majeure around 1km from the trail. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site. Dating back to the 11th and 13th Century it sits within walled grounds of over 200 hectares and is a popular stop as part of the Saint James de Compostella Pilgrim route.

Bella Molloy is a keen cyclist who runs www.seektravelride.com

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