We have been nestled in Bordeaux for five days and we are missing the tranquility of the French countryside. It’s time to leave the hustle and bustle of Bordeaux behind. With the Roger Lapébie cycle path starting just beyond the edge of Bordeaux, we are excited to continue exploring more of the great cycling that France offers.
Named after the 1937 Tour de France winner, Roger Lapébie who was born in this region, this is a 50 kilometer path along an abandoned rail line. To access the cycle trail, cross the Garonne River using the St-Jean Bridge in the heart of Bordeaux. Turn right after crossing the bridge and continue following the river for about 8 kilometers. The road is busy for a bit but gradually becomes less traveled. Admire the fishing cottages along the Garonne, which hang over the river on stilts. Keep your eye out for highway D113E1, turning inland towards Latresne. Look for the start of the cycle trail in Latresne.
Dotted along the route are old train stations which have been lovingly converted into restaurants or shops. Some, unfortunately, have not been so well cared for or completely abandoned.
First stop is the tiny village, Sadirac. The route passes alongside its train station, bleached by the bright afternoon sunshine, as we passed.
Just beyond Sadirac is Créon, worth a stop to admire its beautiful town square and of course, the train station! Wednesday is market day in Créon so if you happen to be in the neighborhood, its worth a visit to enjoy a traditional French market.
Only four kilometers beyond Créon along the route, don’t miss L’abbaye de La Sauve-Majeure (the Grande-Sauve Abbey), a Benedictine monastery, adjacent to the town of La Sauve with its unfortunately neglected train station. The church was consecrated in 1231 and was an important stop along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. As was often the case, during the French Revolution, the site was pillaged and the abbey eventually fell into ruin. The French government took over the ruins in 1960 and it now operates as a national historical monument. (See Abbaye-la-Sauve-Majeure for tour information or Grande-Sauve Abbey for Wikipedia information.) The site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.
Beyond La Sauve, the route continues until Sauveterre-de-Guyenne but we leave the trail and head north-east along country roads toward St. Emilion, another UNESCO World Heritage site, in search of special St. Emilion wines!
For complete maps of the Roger Lapébie Cycle path, please refer to the France Velo Tourism website. The route information is broken into two sections; Bordeaux to Creon (23.5 km) and Creon to Sauveterre-de-Guyenne (31.8 km.) Both segments are rated as family level rides and with reasonable distances and moderate changes in elevation. It is possible to ride out of Bordeaux and back in one day, allowing for time to stop and enjoy some of the restaurants and sites along the route.