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Enjoy our welcome dinner on a typical bateau on the beautiful Erde River near Nantes.
Ride to the tip of Noirmoutier-en-l’ile, a tiny island in the Atlantic.
Explore the coastal beaches and placid wetlands of Western France.
Tour La Rochelle, the beautiful port city of limestone and light.
Discover new tastes in French wine and cuisine in lower Brittany, south of the Loire River.
Spend an extra day in La Rochelle to enjoy a day trip to the island of Ile de Re.
“The Atlantique was marvelous! It was the group and the tour of a lifetime! We even had a lunch at a windmill. I still have great dreams about the voyage!”— Bradley Smith, Ann Arbor, MI
“I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a vacation then biking through beautiful scenery, with a great group of people.”— Bob Zinnes, Merrimack, NH
A refreshing gay biking tour along the western coast of France
Our newest bike tour starts in the Loire River port city of Nantes, then winds through picturesque woodlands to the coast of southern Brittany. Rivers, islands and the Atlantic Ocean form the backdrop for our invigorating ride. We’ll also explore quaint villages and seaside towns as we ride through history on our way to La Rochelle, where we finish our journey. Along the way, we can stop to admire chateaux, monuments, cathedrals and stunning vistas.
Day 1: Nantes
Fly or take the train to Nantes, once the capital city of Brittany. The city is located on the banks of the Loire River at the confluence of the Erde and the Sèvre Nantaise, just 35 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It is the 8th largest city in France and was once called Europe’s most livable city by Time Magazine.
Time permitting, we will explore a bit of this picturesque city known for its lovely architecture, see its classic cathedrals and perhaps make a stop at the Jules Verne Museum. Our Welcome Dinner will either be at one of Nantes’ finest restaurants or aboard one of the quaint boats that sail the Erde River.
Days 2-3: Noirmoutier-en-l’île & Ile d’Yeu
Today we travel a short distance to Bouaye, where we will pick up our bikes and begin our ride to the coast. Our destination is Noirmoutier-en-l’île, a stunning island off the Atlantic Coast. Along the way, our route will take us through several small towns en route to Beauvoir-sur-Mer.
From here our guide will tell us which way to go next. If the tide is low we will be able to ride on a causeway across the flats directly to the island. However, if the tide has submerged the causeway, we’ll take a longer route and cross a bridge to the island. The 2011 Tour de France started in dramatic fashion with a ride across the causeway from Noirmoutier-en-l’île to Beauvoir-sur-Mer.
Our accommodations for the next two nights are at a quaint inn in the main village of Noirmoutier-en-l’île on the northeastern shore of the island.
We’ll spend the following day on the island where you have several options. You can explore Noirmoutier-en-l’île on your bike, and perhaps visit the twelfth-century castle that now houses museums and the Eglise St-Philbert.
Or you can take a ferry from the small harbor of Fromentine at the neck of the island (about 20 km from our hotel) to Port Joinville on even more remote Ile-d’Yeu. You can then ride around this remote and fresh island known for its crayfish and tuna fishing, medieval churches, granite cliffs, and neolithic carvings. The ferry ticket (about 35 euros) is on your own, but we’ll take care of the bike rental cost on the island for those joining this excursion.
Day 4: The Coastal Trail to Les Sables d’Olonne
The area we will ride through over the next couple of days goes back in history to the beginning of human habitation. Much of the coastal area was once covered in water, but as the water receded the harbor became a crossroads for travelers, and later for skirmishes between the ethnic British and the French. The area was ruled by the Normans for centuries and became a favorite spot for King Richard the Lionhearted. We may even get a chance to visit his castle.
In the morning we cross back to the mainland from Noirmoutier-en-l’île and ride along the coastal trails. Much of the way features wide sandy beaches. We’ll stop for lunch in the seaside resort town of Sion-sur-l’Ocean at a cute café on the beach. Right after lunch, we get a change of scenery as we ride near the edge of the low rugged cliffs of the Corniche Vendéenne, one of the few areas of cliffs in this part of the coast. During storms, this region is known for its large breakers, including the “Devil’s Hole” where water shoots up like a geyser.
When we cross a bridge over a river estuary just south of the cliffs at St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie the beaches resume on our right. This long stretch of coast is called Côte de Lumière (Coast of Light), due to its exquisite colors. Enjoy a peaceful ride along lovely stretches of coast and dunes filled with sublime delights.
We will spend the next two nights in Les Sables d’Olonne, famous for its long sandy beaches and the many sports activities that take place in the area. Nearby Port Olona is the starting point for the Vendée Globe, a round-the-world yacht race which takes place every four years.
Day 5: Natural Wines & Natural Bodies
For our full day in Les Sables d’Olonne, you can leave your bike parked for the day and enjoy the beach and the ambiance of this quintessential French coastal town, or you can join our guides for a morning loop ride.
Our destination will be Domaine Saint Nicolas, the most prominent vineyard in this region. The owner Thierry Michon has developed a worldwide reputation as a practitioner of “biodynamic viticulture” (organic production of wine without any pesticides) and with the maritime climate, he produces a different mix of grapes than in more prominent wine-growing regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy.
For lunch, everyone will gather for a picnic on the beach. Afterward, you can head to the nearby naturist beach to enjoy the attributes of the French swimmers, return to town to relax in our hotel’s new spa, or swim at the city beach across from our hotel.
Day 6: La Rochelle
Our final riding day offers a choice between a long and invigorating ride (100 kilometers) to the lovely city of La Rochelle, or a half-day ride and a shuttle into the city. Much of today’s ride is along the ever-expanding network of bike paths that parallel the coast. La Rochelle has a wonderful historic center with a variety of interesting stores, boutiques, and restaurants, perfect for last-minute shopping for a remembrance of the trip. It also has an outstanding market area and one of the finest selections of fresh seafood you’re likely to find anywhere. With its arcade streets lined with medieval houses decorated with tiles and slates, it is an ideal place to stroll and see the sights. Tonight we will enjoy our Farewell Dinner in one of La Rochelle’s fine restaurants.
Day 7: Departure Day or Ile d’Re Extension
Our Atlantique tour is complete. We hope you will remember the wind at your back and the sand in your shoes. Breakfast will be available at our hotel. The TGV train takes about three hours to get to Paris, so we suggest planning at least one night in Paris before your flight home.
And if you have an extra day to spare, you might want to join our one-night extension in La Rochelle and join our guide for a visit to Ile d’Ré, an island across a 3-km bridge from La Rochelle.
Atlantique Tour Price:
Price includes: Comfortable hotels each night; Services of two bike guides; All breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 4 dinners with wine included at dinners; Transportation to get luggage (and tired cyclists!) to destination; Use of bike; A wine-tasting; Map and routes. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: 4 lunches; 2 dinners; Ferry ticket to l’ile d’Yeu for anyone joining our optional excursion there from Ile Noirmoutier; Souvenirs, snacks, admissions; Gratuities for guides.
Optional Tour Choices:
TBA Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
Ile d’Re Extension Price:
TBA Single Occupancy
TBA Double Occupancy (per person)
Price includes: One-night accommodation at our hotel in La Rochelle, an additional day of bike rental for a guided ride to the nearby island of Ile d’Re, dinner and breakfast.
We strongly recommend the purchase of Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of unforeseen circumstances such as flight delay, illness, or injury. Click Here to learn more about our Insurance partner.
With its strategic location in the sea lanes between northern and southern France, Ile d’Re has changed hands numerous times since Roman times, most often between the British and the French. Today the main village, inside the ancient fortress at St-Martin-de-Ré, is a World Heritage Site. You’ll explore the island by bike, also the most popular means of transportation among locals.
Extension participants will spend a second night at our La Rochelle hotel, and depart the following morning.
- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
This moderate ride offers cycling days (averaging 30-50 miles with some a little longer) over mostly flat terrain along coastal, island and inland routes.
- Where does the tour start and end?
- This tour starts In Nantes and ends in La Rochelle, France.
- Additional Questions
- For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174