Published by Lyn on 2 February 2014
Clark wrote from the States to ask about routes for a family cycling holiday in Bordeaux. Here's our email exchange.
Thanks for providing your contact info. I've got a question I've not seen otherwise covered.
My family of 5 plans to visit LaRochelle and Paris in late July 2014. The 3 kids are all fluent in French. They are 6, 7 and 10. All are skilled cyclists and competent to safely ride on city streets at home in New Orleans. I've ridden 15 miles in a morning with the little ones without a complaint. Keep in mind we have NO hills.
I have in mind riding along one of the canals in Bordeaux for 4 nights. Alsace is my motherland, but the hills would make a cycling trip too much of a chore with the kids.
There are so many questions:
1) Is it possible to rent bikes for the kids?
2) Can I rent a third wheel so I can carry all the gear and let them ride easy?
3) Is there a route that might not slay us flatlanders?
4) Is this notion completely absurd and should I come up with a different plan?
I'd be thrilled to hear the feedback from your readers, and all comments about the plan are most welcome.
Again, thank you for providing your email and in advance for your feedback.
Quick question: will you have a car? ie how are you getting to/from La Rochelle from Bordeaux?
And which order are you doing it in? Bordeaux then La Rochelle and Paris or La Rochelle to Bordeaux and back to Paris?
Clark writes back:
We have a friend with a car in La Rochelle. But we will not be driving as a rule. We are expecting to use public transportation predominantly.
I'm really not sure yet about the direction of our travel. Our hosts in La Rochelle are flexible in their timing. But of course they leave on holiday in August. Oh! And we've got a room in Paris from August 1st through August 7th, that being the end of our trip.
Lyn writes back:
However, depending how close in height/bike sizes your younger two are, you could consider hiring 2 kids' bikes and a tagalong. Your 10-year-old could ride solo, while your younger two could take it in turns on the other bike and the tagalong to save their legs on the hillier stretches.
You could take the bike path from Bordeaux to Lacanau, though this would eat into your 4 days, unless you wanted to make it a return ride (you'd need to research accommodation options mid-ride). It's essentially a straight (mosty) forest ride, with not a lot of variation in scenery.
There is a bus from Bordeaux-Lacanau (ligne 702, form memory only, but I can't yet find a summer timetable online). You'd need to email via http://transgironde.gironde.fr for details. This would get you to Lanacau, and from there you could pick up hire bikes and head north towards La Rochelle.
See the official La Velodyssey website for a break down of the individual stages and facilities en route.