Tours For Cyclists
The old bridge spans the Garonne in Bordeaux majestically. Beyond the bridge the bicycle signposts bring us on the route Le Canal des 2 Mers à Vélo. This route eventually ends at the Mediterranean Sea. We don’t kick that far; we make a tour in the Gironde region.
The Tour de Gironde by bike!
When we look back, the slender tower of the Bordeaux basilica slowly disappears from view. A sea of vines lies ahead of us. The bike path with the name of Tour winner Roger Lapédie in 1937 undulates slowly up the hills. This was once a railway to transport the noble grapes to Bordeaux. The steam locomotives could not handle steep slopes and so we “wave” slowly upwards. This is Entre-Deux-Mers, where the grapes make for world-renowned wines. We can simply stroke the short fruits from the bicycle.
The former station building of Créon is now a bistro with special seating for cyclists. A wonderful resting place. From the vineyards we suddenly dive into the shadow of the woods. Sometimes the track is carved into a deep cleft between the rocks. That gives something mysterious. The dark hole in a tunnel looks even more exciting, but fortunately the lights come on just in time.
The abbey of Notre Dame la Sauve-Majeure is dominant in the landscape. This abbey was founded in 1079. Most of the extensive complex was destroyed during the French Revolution. From the tower we have a 360 degree view of the Entre-deux-Mers patchwork quilt with vineyards and forests.
Downstairs again we have deserved a glass with the noble liquid. Coincidentally (now, yes, coincidentally) the wine tasting of Maison des Vins de l’Entre-deux-mers is right in front of the abbey, so we think: ”Faisons ça!” (Let’s do that!)
Wine tasting at Maison des Vins de l’Entre-deux-Mers © Stefan Maas / BS
Sometimes the track is carved into a deep cleft between the rocks …
The last part of the section to the Garonne, our two-wheelers dance on the cobbles of La Réole, an art town full of half-timbered houses, which rises in full glory on the relief beside the river. Three robust towers remain from the castle Les Quat’Sos from the 13th century. The former town hall is even older; from the 12th century, making it one of the oldest town halls in all of France.
The Canal de Garonne runs next to the Garonne. Large plane trees had to provide shade for the horses, but also people who pulled barges from the towpath. This towpath is now the cycle path. And then there is Bazas. Now a town of nothing, but the cathedral can compete with famous churches in big cities. Long, long ago, Bazas was an important regional center as a bishop’s city.
The cycle path takes us through the Parc Naturel Régional des Landes de Gascogne to the cycle route Vélodyssée along the coast. Centuries ago there was an inland sea that gradually turned into a swamp. In the 19th century, pine trees were planted here en masse, making the soil firmer. Only a few lakes remain from the sea, such as at Hostens, where we take a refreshing dip from a snow-white sandy beach.