Cycle touring on the Roger Lapébie voie verte

We cycle toured along the Roger Lapébie voie vert, or cycle path, in order to get to Saint Emilion where we planned to spend a few days exploring. While Saint Emilion itself is located some distance off the voie verte, it provides an awesome path in and out of Bordeaux into the surrounding countryside. There are a number of long-distance cycling routes that all use the Roger Lapébie voie verte out of Bordeaux including the Eurovelo 3, Le canal 2 mer a velo and the Tour of the Gironde.

We left central Bordeaux in the late afternoon after catching the train from futher up the coast. From the train station we found the cycle path that leads across the river and out of town. The great thing about Bordeaux is its cycle paths and it was nice and easy to navigate our way out of the city. The start of the Roger Lapébie voie vert is about 10km from the centre of Bordeax and navigation to the start was straight forward.

Our destination that night was the town of Creon where we had booked a campsite a short distance from town. The cycling along the voie verte was fantastic and we enjoyed the smooth tarmac surface and stunning countryside. Being a disused rail line there are no major hills which makes progress easier, especially with our loaded bikes. The surrounding forest provided some welcome relief from the heat as we cycled through the shade. Before long we arrived at our campsite and enjoyed a well earned shower and some dinner before heading to bed.

Cyclist riding through a lit tunnel on the Roger Lapébie cycle path

The following morning we packed up the tent and headed back onto the voie verte to finish the ride to Saint Emilion. We only had about 30km to go so we were not in any real rush and took things easy. Not long into the day the path headed into a tunnel. It was great fun cycling through the old rail tunnel that was over 800m in length and nicely lit. We loved it so much we turned around to ride through another couple of times.

After leaving the tunnel behind, we continued on. Our time on the Roger Lapébie voie verte came to an end as we headed off on quiet country roads to our destination of Saint Emilion. The voie verte does continue on however for another 20km to the town of Sauveterre giving a total distance from central Bordeaux of 57km.

Roger Lapébie cycle path from Bordeaux to Sauveterre – practical information

If you are thinking of doing some cycling along the Roger Lapébie voie verte here are a few things we have learned along the way. Since undertaking our cycle touring trip we had the opportunity to ride the full length of the voie verte from Sauveterre into Bordeaux. It ranks as one of our favourite cycle paths in France we have ridden to date.

Given the surface is fullt sealed you can ride this all year round as it is not impacted by rain and poor weather. Its a great option if you are staying in Bordeaux and want to get out on a bike somewhere. Given the entire route is on traffic free cycle paths its suitable for the whole family. It is always great seeing the many people using this awesome bike path and we have no doubt you will love it.

view of a cycle tourist about to enter a long rail tunnel on the Roger Lapébie Cycle Path

Length: 57km / 36mi

Elevation gain: 540m / 1,798ft

Start point: Bordeaux (Le miroir d’eau)

End point: Sauveterre-de-Guyenne

Surface: Sealed

Surface condition: Great

Bike types: All

Riding ability: All

Access to the Roger Lapébie voie verte from Bordeaux

The official start of the Roger Lapèbie cycle path is actually located approximately 10km/6mi from central Bordeaux. However, there are great cycle paths that will take you from the centre of the city straight out onto the start of the path itself. This first section is signposted for the Eurovelo 3 Scandeberique route (you will follow the signs that direct you towards Norway, as opposed to Spain).

The Canal du Mers cycle route also uses this section to depart from Bordeaux. Navigating out of the city of Bordeaux itself is actually quite straightforward and once you cross the Garrone River you will take a right to join onto the start of the cycle path. This first section is best described as being ‘industrial’ but you are definitely on the right track and once you hit the official route start itself, the scenery changes dramatically.

Miroir d'Eau, Bordeaux
a view of the Miroir d’Eau, Bordeaux

Signage on the Roger Lapébie voie verte

There is official signage at the start of the cycle route and you will notice an information board that shows where you are, the rest of the route and also highlights various points of interest along the way. Personally, we found this cycle route to be one of the best we came across in terms of signage.

These information boards were to be found at each intersection which passed through a small village along the cycle route, so you could quickly orient yourself to your position on the trail. In addition to the information boards, you will also come across kilometre indicators periodically, which again give the distances to go both to the end of the trail (Bordeaux or Sauveterre depending on which direction you are heading), and the next village along the route.

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Trail surface on the Roger Lapèbie voie verte

The trail surface is fully asphalted which means it is suitable for all types of bikes. It is a very popular facility and you will see all sorts of riders making use of the cycling route from keen road cyclists to those on leisure bikes as well as children. In fact, because the trail regularly passes through villages it is a fantastic option for families who may be looking to just take in some smaller sections of the cycle path. As the Roger Lapèbie cycle route is fully separated from vehicle traffic it is also a very safe option.

The Creon Velo Station – a great option for hiring bikes of all types for all abilities

As this trail follows an old disused railway line, you will also notice the old railway stations alongside the route. Whilst they are no longer in use as train stations, they still bear the names of the village and some have been repurposed as cafes and rest areas for you to take advantage of on your cycle. There is a ‘Velo Station’ access point at the village of Creon from where you can also hire bikes to use on the trail. There are many different options here when it comes to hiring bikes. These include the regular options such as hybrid, children or eBikes and also extends to tandem bikes, hand bikes as well as cargo bikes that can accommodate a wheelchair.

Be aware this Velo station operates on a reduced basis outside of the popular summer holiday season, but you will generally find they are open on weekends, public holidays as well as during school holidays.

Scenery along the Roger Lapebie voie verte

Large sections of the Roger Lapébie cycle path will see you riding through a beautiful forest. In Summer this lush, green landscape will provide you with some very pleasant shade, keeping you cool from the hot sun. In Autumn / Fall the beautiful colours of the falling leaves make for a stunning scene. In fact, the picturesque scenery alongside the trail are one of the key highlights of this ride.

Winery in Bordeaux region
Winery in Bordeaux region

The further you travel along the trail towards Sauvaterre, the more open the scenery becomes. Once you pass the small village of Sadirac the vineyards become more prolific. In fact, there can be no mistake you are riding in one of France’s most well-known regions as you cycle alongside the vines themselves which border right up to the path. As well as grapevines you can also expect to see numerous orchards alongside the trail. Be sure to bring your camera and take some photos along the way.

The Abbaye de La Sauve Majeure – a UNESCO Site to take in whilst cycling the Roger Lapébie trail.

Lastly, if you want to take in some history along the trail be sure to follow the small detour to see the Abbaye de Le Sauve Majeure. The Abbaye is a short distance from the trail itself (approx 1km) and it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Dating back to the 11th and 13th Century it has had various uses throughout its history. It sits within walled grounds of over 200 hectares and is a popular stop as part of the Saint James de Compostella Pilgrim route. The architecture is Romanesque and it is a real sight to behold, well worth the detour.

The Roger Lapébie is just one of many different cycles and experiences you can look to enjoy whilst holidaying in the Bordeaux region. If you want to learn more about what the city of Bordeaux has to offer be sure to read our practical guide here.

Discover our comprehensive guide to planning a French Cycling holiday.

If you have never cycled in France before and are thinking of choosing it as your next cycling holiday destination, then you may be interested in reading our Comprehensive guide. We believe it has everything you need to know to help you plan everything you need to start planning your cycling holiday. The guide includes information such as:

  • a map of the some of the most popular cycling areas in France
  • where to base yourself whilst on your cycling holiday
  • cycling hotels and lodges – what you can expect from this type of accommodation
  • bike hire outlets
  • getting to and from France
  • the best time of year to plan your French cycling holiday