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Cycling in the Vendee

  • 03-05-2019 12:03pm
    Registered Users Posts: 506 ✭✭✭

    I am going on holiday to a campsite in the Vendee, just south of Nantes, in June. It seems to be a great area for cycling with lots of trails and cycling routes. I don't know whether to bring my (good) road bike or (not so good!) MTB.

    If anyone on here has been there and can advise, I would appreciate it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 475 ✭✭selwyn froggitt

    I went on these types of holidays with the family for 10 years to Brittany/Loire/Charentes etc
    These areas are riddled with quiet roads with only local traffic.
    I always brought the road bike and got on fine.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Going back to the Vendee this year. Went last year, but couldn't find anywhere to hire anything approaching even a decent hybrid, but bringing a road bike this year (not the best bike, as it will probably do shopping runs too).

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 23,204 Mod ✭✭✭✭godtabh

    I've been over the last 3 summers and again this summer. Brought my road bike each time.
    I'd bring the road bike if you can secure it.

    No issues cycling but mostly pan flat.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,947 ✭✭✭✭Wishbone Ash

    I'd imagine a road bike is also easier to pack, assemble/disassemble and lighter than a MTB for flights.

  • Registered Users Posts: 506 ✭✭✭531

    I'd imagine a road bike is also easier to pack, assemble/disassemble and lighter than a MTB for flights.

    We will be going by ferry with the car - no bike rack but I can fit one bike in the car. Road bike is certainly easier but I could get MTB in.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,006 ✭✭✭Moflojo

    Cycled through the Vendée on a trip down the west coast of France a few years ago. My memories are of flat roads, plenty of roadkill (rabbits etc.), and a really strong headwind.

  • Registered Users Posts: 250 ✭✭timbel

    Brought my road bike the last 3 years on the ferry.
    As mentioned, plan flat for the most part - only "hill" to be found was the bridge to Noirmoutier!
    There can be plenty of wind though.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,161 ✭✭✭JMcL

    The Vendee is a great place to cycle, especially with kids. Nantes is one of the few places I've ever been where motorists actually are aware and give way to cyclists/pedestrians - it would be top of places I'd want to live if it wasn't for the fact there are too many mosquitoes for my liking (that said 1 is 1 mosquito too many). The islands (D'Oleron, Ile de Re, Noirmoutier) have an excellent network of cycle tracks, and Eurovelo 6 runs past Nantes to meet with EV1 south of St Nazaire so a nice 120 km or so loop could easily be put together going west to the coast on EV6, south on EV1 to say Pornic, and then figure out a straightish route back to wherever you're based. I'd go road bike personally.
    Going back to the Vendee this year. Went last year, but couldn't find anywhere to hire anything approaching even a decent hybrid, but bringing a road bike this year (not the best bike, as it will probably do shopping runs too).

    I think most of the bike hire places will be along the coast. Nantes itself has a bike share scheme, so that probably has had an effect on the viability of bike hire. Last time I hired a bike in the region it was a bit agricultural, but fine for pootling about

  • Registered Users Posts: 10 chaka84

    I cycled around Normandy, Brittany and the Vendee with my wife a few years ago. We brought my road bike and her hybrid in the back of our car. Most of our cycling was on road so I was glad I brought the road bike as it looked like my better half was working harder than me on each spin. After a week we arrived at our gite and nicest cycling route from the gite to Les Sables d'Olonne (nearest big town) was by a compacted gravel path. The hybrid was obviously better suited to this but the road bike managed just fine. I think a MTB would have been overkill.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    JMcL wrote: »
    I think most of the bike hire places will be along the coast.
    We were on the coast!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Just to update this - I brought the commuter road bike and did some of the "vendee velo" routes. They were great, and I would think would be generally fine on a road bike. However, I did parts of some of the "local" routes that are also on the vendee velo. These were also really good as proper into the country, but I was happy to have my wider commuter tyres on - to the degree that the Gravel thread reminded me to post. I was out early normally, but rarely met anyone (bike, car, farmer or pedestrian).

    I was probably a bit further south than you - I was down around Talmont Saint Hilaire.

    I did a few road spins too on my own routes - they were grand, but the ones that will stay with me were the velo routes.

    Here's two of the velo route routes I took, just in case someone is searching in the future

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Resurrecting this, as back to the Vendee this year and paid the final instalment this morning which got me thinking "which bike" again... We're staying beside Lac du Jaunay this time, a but further north. So road bike, gravel bike, or winter road bike with the GP4 seasons? Following the strava heat maps, seemed to be a lot of "dirt" roads, which I'm not sure I really trust to be honest when I look at google maps (although can't get street view on some of them either)

  • Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 38,745 Mod ✭✭✭✭Seth Brundle

    You're probably better off looking at various roads on Streetview and making a call. I'd say that you could have fun on any of those bikes.

    I've had a hybrid and a road bike in France and whilst I used both on different surface types, I still had lovely spins.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    There's no streetview which makes me think they're more dirt/ farm tracks - certainly from what I can see at junctions on streetview they're not paved anyway. I'm actually thinking the compromise might be slick/ semi slick gravel tyres on the gravel bike. Speed isn't going to be that important (but I'm back cursing my 2016 Defy Disc lack of clearance!).

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,161 ✭✭✭JMcL

    We spent a while just south of Nantes in 2019. I took the Croix de Fer with slick gravel tyres (if that makes sense) and found the tracks round and about great craic. They were all hard packed, so no mud or sand to contend with, as well as being relatively flat. Assuming you're not planning on nailing a few segments while you're there I think having the option to leave the tarmac would be well worth it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Thanks, I think gravel bike is going to take it, with slicks/ semi slicks if I can be bothered even changing from the Gravel Kings on it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 53 ✭✭Bigron78

    Hi All, just jumping in here to check if anyone can recommend a decent bike rental shop. Staying in Longville Sur Mer in June and hope to get out on road bike for some early morning spins. Seems to be plenty bike rentals but aimed towards leisure/hybrid bikes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,161 ✭✭✭JMcL

    It's not a recommendation, but I had a quick look to see what there was. I got this place in La Tranche sur Mer, which is next to Longueville. They don't mention road bikes in their web page itself, but do mention them in their tariff page so might be worth contacting them

    In case you want to explore further and your french isn't up to it, googling "location velo de route vendee" will get you some hits

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,585 ✭✭✭10-10-20

    When you get tired of cycling the bike and need a change, take a trip inland from North of La Rochelle (southern end of the Vendée) and visit the Marais Poitevin around Coulon and Le Mazeau. All pretty flat but full of canals due to the low-lying reclaimed nature of the area. You can hire a row boat for a few hours and rest-up on a field.,-0.6084996,13.71z

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    The only place that I looked the first year we were that looked like a hope, didn't seem to even open outside of season. However, there does seem to be a few bike shops in Les Sables-d'Olonne that may have been a better bet. It was some the vendee velo routes around there that I thought were great.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Anyone done any local sportives while on holiday in France? There appears to be a local Gravel event on when we're there (negotiations not even opened yet though!)

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,457 ✭✭✭lennymc

    Do you have the details Macy - I will be over there later on this year and wouldnt mind doing a local gravel event if everything lined up!

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Came up on the "Gravel Bike Vendeé" facebook group.

    Edit - negotiations haven't started well, so may have to work my way down from the 110km distance!

    Post edited by Macy0161 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 142 ✭✭SuperSean

    Very interesting, I'm actually over in Vendee too at the time of that gravel event!

    Only 40km away, very tempted to do it.

    I was going to bring my mtb with me though as it has a kids seat, the idea of doing 120km on a mtb sounds dreadful 😂

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,161 ✭✭✭JMcL

    Couple of sites with useful info

    This one has a calendar of sportifs throughout France (a hell of a lot cheaper than here!)

    At the risk of spousal banishment if such is a consideration, there's also a searchable list of audaxes here A French mate of mine has been doing a bunch of them this year and posting copious photos on Strava (jealous? moi?)

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    So a road sportive my second week there in Challans too! I think I'll stick with the Gravel bike (as can fit a rack) and chance the €8 on 75km one above (with a view to sucking up dropping back to the 55km!)

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,457 ✭✭✭lennymc

    unfortunately that one is on before I will be there. I will take a look at the other links and see does soemthing line up. Thanks for the links!

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    In for the 75km Gravel anyway. I think I've the pass, on the argument I'll be back on site for 12! Looks a good spot for gravel based upon that facebook group - not the climbing of wicklow gravel anyway!

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Back since last week - great gravel roads and trails all over the place (we were at Le Pin Parasol, beside Lac du Jaunay, as mentioned earlier in the thread). A lot of "agriculture" roads which you'd get away with "commuter" road tyres to be honest, but also some trails that I was glad of the extra volume and grip. Probably slicker gravel tyres the ideal, but I just pumped the tyres harder. I wasn't rushing, and lots of photo stops (will try to add to the thread later).

    I used Strava Routes a fair bit and in general it did fine. Struggled a bit in some urban areas (along with I think my settings on the 530 which seemed slow to re-route rather than insist on U turns). 2 blocked gravel/ farm tracks (farmer blocked, with Private signs), and one where it tried to send me down by the waterworks which was locked. It did send me down some single track, and just as note Lac du Jaunay* isn't doable on a bike imo. A lot of steps on some sections. Vendee Velo routes very good as well.

    I did the 75km Rando La Genote. Good route and people, for €8, totally let down by own standard of French. Was glad of the gravel kings on that route anyway - definitely wasn't just the agricultural "road tyre" doable trails.

    *seems to be a fair amount of MTB trails around it, and met a few local MTBers on the trails. Actually the sportive passed a XC race (and shared the route on the day with a trail half marathon).

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