List of Major Bike routes

We present some projects for national bike routes :

Important
We remind you that cycling is not allowed on the towpaths along the canals in France (an old decree from 1932 !!) except for certain stretches which are subject to an agreement between Voies Navigables de France (VNF) who manages the canals and the local authorities.
However, VNF, adopts a certain tolerance in some regions (not all !!).
In any case, you use these towpaths at your own risk. AF3V is not liable for any damage or accidents due to your passage on a towpaths not authorized for cycling.
We are sorry for this and work on improving the situation.
Thank you for your comprehension.

For some itineraries, an all terrain bike is recommended or even a mountain bike for certain portions (canal du Midi, along the river Cher, for example).
The Guidebook published by AF3V (in French) describes several existing itineraries: Bike route of the Rhine, Bike route of the North Sea, canal from Nantes to Brest, the Atlantic coast in Gironde and the Landes.
Several guidebooks for cyclists have been published for cycling on some of these itineraries.


Bike route of the Atlantic coast

This itinerary is the most advanced in France as it is completed to almost 80%.
It corresponds to the French part of EuroVelo 1, a European project to link the countries along the Atlantic coast: Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England (Cornwall), France, Spain and Portugal.
In France, the route starts at Roscoff, the harbor in Brittany where ferries from England and Ireland arrive. Following the former railway line Morlaix-Carhaix, the route arrives at the canal from Nantes to Brest and traverses Brittany inland. At Redon, it turns towards the ocean through the Vilaine valley and then runs along the entire Atlantic coast from Pénestin (Bretagne, 56) to Hendaye at the Spanish border (64).
A major part of this itinerary is on greenways separate from car traffic but with variable surfaces.

Greenway of the two seas (561km)

La canal de la Garonne au Mas d'AgenaisItinerary between Bordeaux, Toulouse and Sète (560 km including the canals of Montech and the Robine), following the side canal of the river Garonne and then the canal du Midi.
This route will eventually be 90% on greenways. It is part of the national scheme of bicycle itineraries and also of the regional plans in the regions Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées. It is supported by the Association Vélo de Toulouse and by the southwest section of the AF3V.
The itinerary advances wells in the western part between Bordeaux and Toulouse, the section in the Département Haute-Garonne (81km) being completed.
In the eastern part, however, between Carcassonne et Béziers, the local authorities struggle to perceive the full potential of the project in terms of development for tourism. The canal du Midi, which has been classified world cultural heritage by UNESCO, is a fabulous monument with beautiful trees along major portions. Let’s hope that the local authorities will become aware of the full advantages to complete the itinerary as soon as possible.
Two guide books edited by the Association Vélo de Toulouse provide the necessary information to ride along the entire itinerary:
- Guide n°1 : A vélo le long du canal du Midi, des rigoles et du canal de la Robine
- Guide n°2 : Bordeaux-Toulouse à vélo le long du canal de Garonne

Cycle route Nantes-Budapest

The official name in the EuroVelo scheme is EuroVelo 6. Several other names are commonly used : Bike route Nantes-Budapest, Rivers Route, euro-veloroute of the rivers, Cycle route Atlantic-Black Sea.
An internet site describes the project of 4 000 km connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea following the following rivers and canals : Loire, the canal du Centre, the Doubs, the canal Rhine-Rhône, the Rhine in Switzerland, a short connection to the Danube (Donau) which ends in the Black Sea after 2850 km.
See also below La Loire by bike, a section of the Nantes-Budapest project.

La Loire by bike (600km)

Project for a 600 km itinerary along the Loire river from the spring to the mouth.
Until now, this project is mainly driven by cooperation between the regions Centre and Pays de la Loire, primarily oriented towards the development of the EuroVelo 6 route described above. This cooperation covers the route from Sancerre to Saint Nazaire. A major part is carried out as a greenway.
In the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region, the itinerary is part of the Tour de Bourgogne by bike, between Decize and Digoin.
The section south of Digoin is waiting for political support. This section is located between three regions (Bourgogne, Auvergne and Rhône Alpes) and as always in these situations, the territories near the administrative boundaries are somewhat neglected. In 2009, the Departement of the Loire has launched a study of the layout on its territory, from Roanne to Saint Etienne. The connection from Roanne to Digoin could follow the canal with the same name.
South of Saint Etienne, the first mountains appear and the possibilities for a safe itinerary on a separate site are rare. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to continue up to Puy en Velay and on to the spring of the Loire at Mont Gerbier de Jonc (altitude 1 500 m).
For more information on the section Sancerre - Saint Nazaire (finished sections, maps and guides,…).

Canal from Nantes to Brest (340km)

The canal from Nantes to Brest has a towpath of 340 km that is already suitable for cycling, and it traverses Brittany inland. It is therefore the longest cycling itinerary in France and also most beautiful.
Starting in Morbihan, it will be progressively arranged and officially authorized for cycling. It crosses two other cycling itineraries: the rivers Vilaine and the canalized Blavet.
An excellent guide book is available.

Cycle route of the Lot Valley (500km)

Project of a marked itinerary of 500 km, from the confluence with the Garonne at Aiguillon to the spring of the river Lot in Lozère. Supported by the cooperation between the 5 Departments of the Lot Valley : Lot-et-Garonne, Lot, Aveyron, Cantal et Lozère. It is also supported by the south west section of the AF3V.
The route is already open in the Department of Lot-et-Garonne over 81km, and in the Department of Lot over 66km.

Green Avenue London-Paris


Cycle route from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea (840km)

This project is supported by the Etablissement Public de Bassin du Rhône (EPTB) which regroups numerous authorities of the Rhone valley (Regions, Departments, Compagnie Nationale du Rhône - CNR and more).
An Internet site provides general information and maps of the projected itinerary.
See also the guidebook (in French): « Le Rhône à vélo » to go down the Rhone valley from its spring to its mouth over 840 km. The book describes an easy itinerary for cycling in the valley as good as possible (90% on quiet roads), while waiting for the Veloroute « Du Léman à la mer » secured and staked out over the entire length. The guide is well done (color maps) and distributed by the Suisse organization : Dérives du Rhône (http://www.lerhoneavelo.com/spip/).

Cycle route Moscow-Paris-St Jacques de Compostelle

Project of a marked itinerary of 1500 km, traversing France from Jeumont at the Belgian border along the river Sambre, to Hendaye, passing through Paris, the Loire valley and the Marais Poitevin.
Some sections exist already accomplished by local authorities of towns, departments or regions.
The project is supported by the national association CycloTransEurope, member of AF3V.

Tour de Bourgogne (Burgundy)

A large loop of 800 km along several canals, the green or blue ways of the department Saône et Loire, in the green or at the river Saône. The Tour de Bourgogne (http://www.la-bourgogne-a-velo.com/) offers superb itineraries.
Located in a central region of France, the itineraries of Burgundy are also passages between other regions : from Centre to Franche-Comté following EuroVelo 6, from northern Europe to the Mediterranean following the rivers Moselle and Saône, from Ile de France (Paris) to the Alps via the Canal de Bourgogne and the Saône valley, …