Day 1 Reach Bordeaux and check in to your hotel in the centre of the city. In the early evening meet with your host and the bikes for adjustments to make a comfortable fit (we adjust the bikes, not…). A walk-through of the route notes and maps should ensure you are confident for a prompt departure in the morning. You may enjoy also a walk-through of Roman Bordeaux that includes the ‘restaurant quarter’ – St Pierre, where you can warm up your French on the many menus on offer.
Day 2 Eat a hearty (continental) breakfast before leaving your bags behind at reception and cycling off down the riverside. Join the Roger Lapébie cyclepath a few miles up-stream, and follow this ex-rail track into the valley of the Pimpine. Take lunch at one of the trackside bistros or continue to the bastide of Créon. Continue to La-Sauve-Majeure where you can tour the ruined Compostela pilgrimage waypoint or settle for a visit to the tithe barn at its entrance, which is now the showcase – Maison du Vin – for local wine producers. Continue on the cyclepath and either turn off to reach Chateau Dardenac where Francoise is your host at the chambre d’hote, or continue to reach the charms of St Emilion.
Day 3 From either Dardenac or St Emilion the next morning, rejoin the cyclepath to continue deeper into the Entre-Deux-Mers heartlands and by way of St Brice, and then a country roads ride down into Verdelais. Here you have a choice of visiting a pilgrimage church (17th-century miracle) the grave of Toulouse Lautrec (very plain, not at all artistic), or simply enjoying an ice-cream while watching the village’s old men play boules under the trees. After all that excitement, you will be ready for an early night at the Hostellerie Géraud de Graves – no longer a Monastery but still not boasting a late night cabaret. Alternate is L’Abricotier in St Macaire, a few miles distant.
Day 4 From Verdelais or St Macaire, cross the Garonne river to Langon and sidestepping this town take the D11 towards Sauternes, famous for its sweet white wines. Reach there in time for coffee and perhaps stay on for lunch. Alternatively, ride downslope to Bommes and find the little riverside park and the picnic tables. In either case, you might like to visit the tourism office in the village main street to see what chateau tours are available. In the afternoon track the Ciron upsteam to Villandraut where the former chateau of the first Avignon Pope – Clement V – is open to view. From here it is just 5kms by forest cyclepath to Uzeste and the Chambre d’hotes Sous La Tonnelle.
Day 5 No need to pack this morning, just enjoy a slow breakfast and decide which of three alternative rides to enjoy. Two include visits to a proper old chateau and the other is just a meander through the forest to lunch. So really it’s a thinly disguised rest-day and we had serious reservations about including this until we realised that Tour de France riders also stopped mid-race and took a rest day. If its good enough for them…
Day 6 Continue through the forest to Bazas, and there join a cycle route following country lanes to the Garonne canal. There turn right to ride along a canopy of Plane trees to reach Castets-en-Dorthe and its austere chateau, and continue on the other side of the river to either Caudrot or Camiran.
Day 7 From either Caudrot or Camiran leave the Garonne valley behind to head north and then east following the Dropt valley. It is important to understand that local spellings change along the course of this river and sometimes it becomes the ‘Drot’. There is a story behind that which dates back to the end of the 100 Years’ War. It’s enough to know that you stick with this valley to reach first Monsegur and then Duras. Climbing up to the chateau at Duras is not compulsory: it can be admired from a distance.
Day 8 Continue tracking the river eastwards to pass through Allemands-Sur Dropt (coffee?) and onto Eymet (too pretty for its own good!) where you can hit the supermarket for provisions and reward yourself with a picnic lunch on top of the hill. From here it’s a gentle ride to Bridoire (think picture book castle), and then onto Chateau Monprimblanc. Take the time to enjoy this imposing chateau and its fabulous views over the valley. Then woosh down slope to the suburbs of Bergerac and keep going to where you cross the river and enter the old part of the town on the right bank. Your hotel – Hotel de Bordeaux – is less than 2 kms away. There is a pool out back if you want to give the upper body a chance to exercise as well.
In the morning, either head to the local airport or to the train station for a swift return to Bordeaux. If you have the time you will have earned a night out in Bordeaux as ‘reward’ for your efforts but then the journey was surely its own reward?
- 8 nights 2 star/3 star hotels and 3 épis Chambre d’Hotes on B&B basis
- Hire of fully equipped hybrid bicycle
- Supply of detailed maps and route notes
- Luggage transfers
- Greeting on arrival day by your host who will check you are comfortable with the bikes, routes any other details PLUS
- He will be on call during the week should any problems arise and will meet up with you during the week to answer any queries in person
- Wherever practicable a wine collection service is provided (how you get it back to your home from there is up to you)
Some variations in the category of hotels are possible, and this tour can be booked with evening meals included on some nights.
26 – 34 miles per day
Short-cuts that reduce the longer distances
A short walking tour of Bordeaux on arrival in the city
The route traverses the higher ground between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers three times and crosses some rolling countryside en route to Bazas, but generally follows river valleys and their flood plains.
Cyclists with a level of fitness but does not require great stamina. It would be rated a ‘2 Bike level’ tour by most cycle tour operators.
Meals (unless otherwise specified), drinks, admissions, and other incidentals.
Insurance: It is a condition of all our tours that guests are responsible for purchasing adequate insurance for a cycling holiday on public highways.
£844 per person for two adults sharing a double room on a B&B basis