Full Vélo Francette - from Ouistreham to La Rochelle
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Full Vélo Francette - from Ouistreham to La Rochelle
Full Vélo Francette - from Ouistreham to La Rochelle
hybrid :
e-bike :
Duration :
14 days
Comfort :
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
From € 1.865
Full Vélo Francette - from Ouistreham to La Rochelle
More Inspiring Photos

Along the exciting 'Vélo Francette'


Bike Tour: Full Vélo Francette - from Ouistreham to La Rochelle - 14 days

Unique about this trip

  • Easy to moderate well-marked cycle route
  • Through 3 different regions & 7 different 'départments'
  • Mostly along winding rivers and canals
  • Crossing 3 regional nature parks
  • Along 25 historical towns and villages

More than 600 km/375 mi long, mainly along rivers

The ‘Vélo Francette’: a new, uninterrupted bike route in West France. The route is completely marked and follows the rivers and other waterways for the greater part. Cycling is going to be lovely along beautiful towns and picturesque villages through an unspoiled part of France, following the five divers stages. This is ‘slow travel’, in its literal sense!  

Stage 1: The Orne Valley from Ouistreham to Domfort (126 km)

The ‘Vélo Francette’ starts from the Norman D-Day beaches of WW ll via Caen and Flers to Domfrontais. In the hills, jokingly called ‘La Suisse Normande’ (Norman Switzerland), you follow the winding valleys of the rivers Orne, Noireau and la Varenne and you pass the iconic ‘Roche d’Oetre’. The tracks and deserted country roads often offer a 360 degree view of the typically Norman landscape

Stage 2: The Mayenne Valley  from Domfort to Angers via Laval (174 km) 

This longer route follows no less than four different, lovely meandering rivers: The Varenne, Mayenne, Oudon and Maine. These confluent rivers take you, via different branches, to the most natural and beautiful river, the royal Loire.

Carte FRSB920
Day 1: Arrival in Ouistreham / Caen
Day 2: Ouistreham / Caen - Clécy
Day 3: Clécy – Flers
Day 4: Flers – Mayenne
Day 5: Mayenne – Laval
Day 6: Laval – Chateau Gontier
Day 7: Chateau Gontier – Angers
Day 8: Angers - Saumur
Day 9: Saumur - Thouars
Day 10: Thouars - Parthenay
Day 11: Parthenay - Niort
Day 12: Niort - Marans
Day 13: Marans - La Rochelle
Day 14: Departure from La Rochelle

Day 1:    Arrival in Ouistreham / Caen

You individually travel to the point of departure: Ouistreham or Caen. The sea side resort Ouistreham, situated on the Channel and well known for its D-Day beach ‘Sword’ of WW ll, is the official start of the ‘Vélo Francette’. The choice of historic Caen, situated more than 10 km inland, is rather practical: easier to reach by train and a shorter route the next day.

Day 2:    Ouistreham / Caen - Clécy
41 km

First follow the old tow path along the canal de l’Orne that connects the coast with Caen. On the way admire the Pegasus bridge, a historic place in WW ll. A track takes you, along the marina, to the town of which the history goes back to the time of William The Conqueror. Caen is well known for its castle, abbeys and ‘Mémorial’, the important war museum. After that you follow a track to the south along the L’Orne that leads you into the green hills of ‘Suisse Normande’. You follow a deserted railway, an Eldorado for nature lovers. After Thury-Harcourt you reach Clécy on the banks of the river L’Orne. When staying in Caen, todays tour is 41 km.

Challenge : 55.8km or 41km, 868m ascent, 835m descent.


Day 3:    Clécy – Flers
45 km

On the way to Flers you follow a beautiful country route straight across the hilly ‘Suisse Normande’. The route first leads you along the winding river L’Orne that later on makes way for the Noireau. Until the Condé-sur-Noirreau the river valley is surrounded by steep hills. You have to climb considerably when you leave the valley. When however the Mont de Cerise comes into sight the route shows more mercy for the calves and you reach Flers  with its beautiful castle. 2 options for today.

Challenge : 45.5km, 677m ascent, 524m descent OR 43km, 495m ascent, 347m descent.


Day 4:    Flers – Mayenne
65 km

As soon as you leave Flers the route leads you via a relaxed descent to the valley of the river Varenne. You can still see that besides agriculture there used to be mining. A wonderful track, often quite close to the river, takes you along historic places like Moulin de Varenne, Moulin d’Amboise and Pont des Planches. This cyclists’ paradise is heaven. In Ambrière-les-Vallées you take a last look at the Varenne and you continue your way along the bank of the Mayenne to the town of the same name.

Challenge : 65km, 414m ascent, 510m descent.


Day 5:    Mayenne – Laval
35 km

After a visit to the historic town of Mayenne, with its castle, the history of which goes back to Carolingian times, you go through the Mayenne valley full of splendid scenery. It’s a relaxed and umbrageous route that follows the former tow path along the river . You pass old, characteristic lock houses, monumental mansions and villas. The tour ends in Laval, a ‘Ville d’ Art et d’ Histoire’ where you have plenty of time left for a stroll along all the beautiful historic heritage.

Challenge : 35.2km, 362m ascent, 403m descent.


Day 6:    Laval – Chateau Gontier
35 km

The start of this route offers amazing views of Laval with its two castles. The railway bridge with its nine arches, connecting the eastern Mayenne bank with the town centre and its port, has an separate track for cyclists and hikers. Before going further through the scenic beauty of the Mayenne Valley you should admire just south of town the well known Abbey of Port Salut, the name of which is linked to the creamy cheese of the same name.

Challenge : 34.8km, 410m ascent, 430m descent.


Day 7:    Chateau Gontier – Angers
56 km

After each bend the Mayenne Valley surprises you again and again; a beautiful castle, somewhat further on an antique water mill. The village ports along the bank invite you to take a short break. Before Le Lion- d’Angers you cycle through the picturesque L ‘Isle Briand with its castle and world famous stud farm. After the confluence of the Mayenne and Oudon you cross a very special swamp. You reach  the historic Anjou town Angers via Jean Moulin’s bridge. The country atmosphere is still perceptible/tangible.

Challenge : 56.4km, 502m ascent, 508m descent.


Day 8:    Angers - Saumur
58 km

ou leave Angers through a park along the Maine. Having arrived at Bouchemaine, with its pleasant restaurants, you follow the Loire eastward. After crossing the river a magnificent tour close to the royal river lies ahead of you. After Gennes you stay on the south bank of the Loire. Near Saint-Hillaire-Saint-Florent there is a moderate climb across the system of canals cut out of tuff stone where the ‘Champignons de Paris’ are cultivated. After this you enter Saumur, the pearl of Anjou.

Challenge : 58.5km, 613m ascent, 598m descent


Day 9:    Saumur - Thouars
46 km

From Saumur you follow a pleasant track along the river Thouet. Along quiet country roads you cycle among sloping vineyards to Montreuil-Bellay situated somewhat higher. This charming fortified little town rightly figures on the list of ‘most beautiful villages of France’. In a very relaxed way you go via Taizon to Thouars, a ‘Ville d’Art’ where travellers once had to pay toll to cross the bridge. Nowadays nothing stands in your way to enter the town free and for nothing and look for a good (outdoor) café.

Challenge : 46.4km, 409m ascent, 340m descent


Day 10:    Thouars - Parthenay
67 km

You leave town along the river bank and enjoy the splashing rapids, the closely wooded slopes and the picturesque, monumental buildings. You arrive via quiet tracks at the village of Airvault with its monastery, covered market and subterranean well. Somewhat further on you  are surprised by St-Loup-sur-Thouet with its moated castle. On Lac du Cébron you can relax comfortably before going on along the river. After a railway viaduct you reach, higher up, the medieval fortified town of Parthenay.

Challenge : 66.8km, 733m ascent, 669m descent


Day 11:    Parthenay - Niort
54 km

You travel south west through the somewhat hilly Pays Gatine. After many a bend you are rewarded by beautiful views of the original hedge country. Via quiet roads you go to the surprising Champdeniers-St-denis with its beautiful heritage and excellent facilities. You continue your way and near Ternanteuil you reach again the banks of the Sèvre Niortaise. There is one big bend before Niort comes into sight dominating the horizon with its donjon and two enormous towers.

Challenge : 54.1km, 671m ascent, 820m descent


Day 12:    Niort - Marans
64 km

You stay close to the side of the winding Sèvre Niortaise, following alternatively footpaths and country roads. On the way Rousille and La Garette offer excellent possibilities to have a break. You can consider to take a somewhat longer break in Marais Poitevin: the beautiful riverside village Coulon, where you find several restaurants. After crossing the vast, surrounding swamp you get, after Irleau, to the river again canalized near Damvix. It’s your guide to the Atlantic Ocean.

Challenge : 63.6km, 577m ascent, 589m descent


Day 13:    Marans - La Rochelle
27 km

First, on the way to the ocean, you follow the canals of Marans and Rompsey. The destination is La Rochelle, the capital of Charente-Maritime energetic/vibrant and full of character, well known for its mild climate. This relaxed track of course deserves an appropriate grand finale: a dive into the Atlantic Ocean. After all there is enough time left for a walk to the lively Vieux Port full of outdoor cafés, busy shopping streets and many town monuments.

Challenge : 26.6km, 127m ascent, 130m descent


Day 14:    Departure from La Rochelle

After breakfast, end of your cycling trip. Some time left? We advise you to extend your stay in order to take the time to visit the beautiful Île de Ré.


All accommodations are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services.

We choose comfortable 2*/3* hotels or B&Bs where all rooms have private en-suite bathroom and every morning breakfast are included.

For this trip you can choose between Comfort and Comfort +. The accommodations for a Comfort+ trip, will be in 3*/4 * hotels wherever possible (supplement applied).

Ibis styles Ouistreham
Hôtel Ibis Styles*** (Ouistreham)
B&B Le Moulin du Vey
B&B Moulin du Vey (Le Vey)
Beverl'inn Hotel Flers
Hotel Le Beverl'Inn** (Flers)
Grand Hotel de Mayenne
Grand Hôtel de Mayenne *** (Mayenne)
Hôtel Marin** (Laval)
Hotel du Cerf
Hotel du Cerf **(Château Gontier)
Hotel Le Progrès Angers
Hotel Le Progrès***(Angers)
Ibis Styles Saumur Gare Centre*** (Saumur)
Hotellerie Saint Jean** (Saint Jean de Thouars)
B&B Les 5 Escales (Parthenay)
B&B Les 5 Escales (Parthenay)
Moka Hotel*** (Niort)
B&B Le Clos de Beauregard (Marans)
Hôtel Saint Nicolas*** (La Rochelle)
Comfort +
Hôtel Ibis Styles*** (Ouistreham)
Hôtel Ibis Styles*** (Ouistreham)
Hôtel Au Site Normand*** (Clecy)
Hôtel Au Site Normand*** (Clecy)
 Hôtel le Galion*** (Flers)
Hôtel le Galion*** (Flers)
Grand Hôtel de Mayenne *** (Mayenne)
Grand Hôtel de Mayenne *** (Mayenne)
Hôtel Périer du Bignon**** (Laval) 
Hôtel Périer du Bignon**** (Laval) 
Hôtel Parc Château-Gonthier*** (Château-Gontier) 
Hôtel Parc Château-Gonthier*** (Château-Gontier) 
Hôtel de France**** (Angers)
Hôtel de France**** (Angers)
Hôtel Anne d'Anjou**** (Saumur)
Hôtel Anne d'Anjou**** (Saumur)
Chambre d'hôte Villa des Glycines (Thouars)
Chambre d'hôte Villa des Glycines (Thouars)
B&B Les 5 Escales (Parthenay)
B&B Les 5 Escales (Parthenay)
Hôtel BW de la Brèche**** (Niort)
Hôtel BW de la Brèche**** (Niort)
B&B Le Clos de Beauregard (Marans)
B&B Le Clos de Beauregard (Marans)
Hôtel BW Masq**** (La Rochelle)
Hôtel BW Masq**** (La Rochelle)
Bike rental

If you don’t bring your own, you can rent a bicycle (hybrid or ebike) from us. You will find your rental bikes waiting for you at your first hotel. The hotel reception staff will give you the keys for your bikes and direct you to the bicycle shed. All bikes are provided with chain locks.  The frame and saddle height are set to your height, although you might want to adjust your saddle to be in the most comfortable position. We also recommend doing a first small test drive of couple of hundred meters to be comfortable with gears, brakes etc. If you have an issue with your bike, you can contact the service provider (name of bike rental in your reservation) directly. Or you can always call us on our emergency phone number.  

Our hybrid touring bikes are at least 21-speed gear. You can find all the information regarding our rental bikes below.

Experience the advantages of an electric bike on your cycling holiday, particularly when there's a significant gap in ability and experience among cyclists. An e-bike provides a gentle boost up hills, allowing you to easily keep pace with your companions. With a small electric motor and battery, e-bikes make bike trips more achievable, and their batteries can be conveniently charged at hotels. While you still need to pedal, the e-bike significantly reduces the effort required. Familiarity with e-bikes is advised due to their quicker acceleration and heavier build compared to regular bikes, attributed to the electric motor.

Instruction video hybrid bike and e-bike

Please note: Depending on the trip, different models apply


Our hybrid bikes have at least 21-gears with hand brakes. 

The hybrid bikes are very good quality. Depending the trip, different model apply: Scott, Giant, Trek, Koga, ...


Whenever there is a big difference in level of ability, experience the many benefits of an electric bike on your cycling holiday. An e-bike will help you keep up with your fellow cyclists and give you a gentle boost up hills. An e-bike makes a bike trip more achievable. The e-bikes have a small electric motor and battery, which can be charged at the hotels. You still have to pedal: it just makes pedaling much easier. Some experience with e-bikes is recommended, as the bikes accelerate faster and are heavier than regular bikes because of the electric motor.

The E-bikes are very good quality. Depending on the trip, different models apply: Scott, Giant, Trek, Koga, ...


For some trips, we can give you the possibility to rent a Racing bike, more details on request.

For some trips, we can give you the possibility to rent a Tandem bike, suitable for two adults only. More details on request.

For children who are at least 125 cm, we can also arrange bikes (these are 24”or 26” for children that are bigger than 140 cm). The child bikes come with at least 7-gears and hand brakes. The maximum body height for a child’s bike is 155 cm. 

Please note: for some tours, different models apply.

A tag-along bike is a good option for children between approx. 100 cm and 125 cm, as they can pedal themselves and at their own pace but don’t have to worry about other traffic.

The tag-along bikes cannot be rented for all our tours

Please note: depending the trip, different models apply.

Child trailers can be rented for a maximum of two children who are up to 100 cm (max. 35 KG in total).

Please note: for some tours, different models apply.




All our rental bikes come with a bell.


All our adult bikes come with hand brakes. 


For children older than 30 months (max. 22 kg) it is possible to rent a rear child seat. This is also possible with e-bikes.


For some tours, it is possible to rent a GPS device, more details on request.


Helmets are not mandatory in France (if the cyclist is over 12 years old) but strongly recommended. The helmet is mandatory for children under 12 years. If you rent a bike with us, helmets are included. Please advise us, if you bring along your own.


All our rental bikes come with lights.


All our rental bikes come with a lock.


All our rental bikes come with at least a rear pannier and a front card holder to put the roadbook/maps.


The rental bikes come with regular pedals, so no click-in/SPD pedals. On request we are able to supply these pedals on certain trips. 
If you wish to bring your own click-in/SPD pedals, please let us know prior to booking too.


All our bikes come with a quick release system, which makes it very easy to adjust the height of the saddle and the handle bars. 


There is one small puncture kit included, which can be found in the pannier. If a rental bike has another problem, we always advise you to go to a bike repair shop.


Saddles can be adjusted in height.
Our saddles don’t come with a gel cover. If you usually cycle with this, we recommend you bring them with you.

Water bottles

French Bike Tours does not provide water bottles. We can also not guarantee that there are bottle holders on the bikes. You will always receive at least 1x pannier, so you can always store your water bottle in your pannier.

Article 1 Bike Rental Price

The bike rental price is determined by the rates mentioned on the French Bike Tours website at the time of the booking; or as subsequently agreed.

Article 2 Payment

a. The rental price and any other due sums regarding the rental agreement must be paid before the bike is handed over to you.

b. If, for whatever reason, you cannot make use of the bike(s) you have rented, French Bike Tours will not be held responsible for any resulting expenses or damage.

c. In the case of the article 2b, the client remains obliged to pay the full rental price and any other amounts mentioned in the invoice, in accordance with our General Terms and Conditions of Booking, unless the client can prove that his not being able to use the bike was the consequence of a defect that was already present at the beginning of the rental period.

Article 3 Rental Period

a. The rental period runs from the morning of the first cycling day (day 2) to the end of the holiday (last cycling day), as stated in the booking confirmation.

b. Extension of the rental period is possible only after approval by us and according to the (extension) rates as mentioned in article 1.

c. No refunds are possible after the rental period begins. If you return the bike(s) to us before the end of your holiday, the rental agreement will automatically be terminated and you will not get any of your money back.

d. At the end of the last cycling day of your holiday, the bike(s) must be returned to the hotel from where it was/they were issued, no later than the time stated in the booking confirmation.
If you book a one way tour tour you can leave the bike at the last hotel of the trip. 

e. If the bike(s) is /are not returned by the return time stated in the booking confirmation, we will continue to charge you rent until such time as the bike(s) is/are returned to us or is/are received by us. In the event of late return, the rates as mentioned in article 1 will continue to apply, plus a fine of €25 per day. We also reserve the right to demand payment for any costs and/or damages suffered by us due to late return of our rental bike(s).

f. Notwithstanding the preceding paragraph, in the event of late return of our rental bikes, we reserve the right to dissolve the rental agreement without judicial intervention and immediately claim back our bicycles where ever they may be and from whomever has them. French Bike Tours also holds this right in the event that the client does not comply with any of the other conditions stated in this rental agreement.

Article 4 Improper Use

a. The bicycle(s) may only be used for its/their intended purpose and only by the cyclists listed in the rental agreement.

b. The bike(s) must be returned to us in the same (clean!) state in which you received it/them.

c. You must take excellent care of the bicycle(s), as if it/they were your own. You must take every precaution against damage, loss or theft.

d. The bicycle may not be used on the beach; or on sandy paths in the dunes unless a paved path is unavailable.

Article 5 Damage, Loss and Theft

The renter will be held responsible for damages to or loss of the bicycle(s) or parts of it, as well as bicycle keys and chains and locks, for such an amount as is determined by us according to standard market prices. You must understand that you are not insured for damage to the bicycle(s) or for any damages to third parties.

Article 6 Costs During the Rental Period

Any charges and taxes regarding the rental bicycle(s), such as fines and ferry tickets, are to be paid by you. You will also be required to pay all costs ensuing from the use of the bicycle(s) such as parking fees, maintenance and repairs. 

Practical info

13 Nights included

2/3 Star Hotels or 3/4 Star Hotels (supplement applied)

Tourist tax included

Breakfast included, Halfboard optional on request

Maps and tourist information on all the places of interest

24/7 Bilingual Emergency hotline

Luggage transport to your next accommodations. Luggage accepted per person: 1 suitcase or travel bag (15 kg maximum)

For time tables and further information check the website of SNCF or rome2rio for all French National trains (SNCF).

We strongly advise you to download the sncf mobile app prior to departure.

If you want to travel on a train with your bike, you can find more information via this link.

Parking informations on request

We will supply the directions of this trip with a personalized code which gives you access to our travel App.

Arrival info

The closest airport is Rennes. This airport is served by both major and low-cost international carriers and can be easily reached by local transport, which is affordable and offers a frequent service. But it is better to arrive in Paris airports. From Paris you will have more train (and faster) for Caen train station.

From Paris you can take a train to Caen. Departure is from Paris “Gare Saint-Lazare” (journey is about 2h).

If you start from Ouistreham, you can take a train to Caen and then a bus to Ouistreham (journey is about 35 min). Check this website for timetable and tickets: https://www.twisto.fr/

On the end of your trip you can take a train from La Rochelle. 

For timetables and further information check the website of SNCF or rome2rio for all French National trains (SNCF).

From Paris to Ouistreham (approx. 2h45 – 245 km/152 mi). For driving routes see the website ViaMichelin: https://www.viamichelin.co.uk/



Josephine STANTON - NZ
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