After buying a bike from leboncoin I was keen to go on a cycle ride. I decided to take a daytrip along the piste Roger Lapébie; a cycle track running for almost 60 km from Bordeaux to Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. I planned to go halfway, then turn around. The half way point was a place named Créon.
Here is what the official Aquitane tourisme website said about Créon: ‘Unique in France: the first bicycle resort… In the same way as at a ski resort, it is possible to hire all the equipment and to choose between a leisure bicycle and a mountain bike. 35,000 people use the resort each year.’
and I also read on experience france by bike . com that it was ‘home to the very first bike station in France’ providing ‘a full range of services to meet the needs of cyclotourists‘ so I was super excited to see what this longstanding resort would consist of.
To keep me on the right path I had a standard 2011 edition Ça roule map and a brochure called ‘la Gironde à Vélo’ which gives step by step directions in French. Here is the front cover showing some cheap models awkwardly posing as a happy family.
…and here is the back cover with another cool photograph. At first I thought the lady had three arms and four legs. Why can’t we see the guys face? And who would even attempt a ‘backie’ along a dirt track in the middle of nowhere? If this was for reals, she would certainly not be smiling.
Anyways, it was nice to have some directions. They were all in French but for you dear reader I will convert them into English, using hindsight rather than Google translate for help.
1. Pick up the cycle track that runs from the place de la Bourse in the centre of Bordeaux. Go along the quais (follow the river) toward the pont de Pierre (bridge). Go over the bridge then take a right. The bike track will join the road and become disrupted until you reach pont Saint-Jean where you will rediscover a large and protected cycle route that follows the Garonne river. Continue straight.
Authors note: as you cycle along you will see lots of shacks constructed on pillars hanging over the river. These are fishing cabins. Most of them are for hire, with some being really well equipped; with kitchens, fridges and beds. There is not much else in the area except industrial estates and retail parks and in one of these, just across the way, there is a huge Auchan supermarket. So hiring one out could make for a simple but great isolated fishing weekend.
2. After passing under the motorway bridge (km 5,7) take the road called ‘le bord de l’eau’ (the river’s edge). A succession of superb properties face the river along what has suddenly turned into a quiet country road.
Authors note: these superb properties are big gated mansion like this one below. I prefer the fishing shacks. More inclusive / obtainable.
3. The cycle path arrives at a large roundabout and you have a designated crossing. Next you turn right in the direction of Latresne. The cycle track is named after Roger Lapébie, a guy who won the Tour de France in 1937.
4. After cycling down the track a bit you’ll arrive at Latresne (km 10,5). There is a cafe and a tourist information point in the old rail station.
5. Next the piste enters the forest and passes some of the first vineyards outside of Bordeaux. There are several smaller trails leading off into the woods for off-road bikers. If you stay on the main track you will arrive at the ancient railway station of Lignan-de-Bordeaux (km 17,5).
Authors note: just before Lignan is a nice area for picnicking by a big pond. Here I saw some of the biggest mole hills I have ever seen.
6. Not much further is the next stop: Sadirac (km 20). The railway station here has been transformed into an environmental exposition.
Authors note: when I arrived at Sadirac I was greeted by the sounds of bagpipes and excited voices. There was a little village fete / wine festival taking place. I had a brief look but was determined to reach Créon.
7. After a slight incline you’ll arrive at Créon (km 25,5) follow the signs for the tourist information and you will also discover the first ever bike station in France where you can get all the necessary services for a cycle and even hire a bike for a day of several days.
From now on it is the author writing.
When I arrived in Créon I didn’t find the famous vélo station immediately. I was hungry and looking for somewhere good to eat. Unfortunately it was a sleepy town on a Sunday so choices were limited. I decided to check out the legendary cycle resort then head back to the wine fair to eat.
La station vélo de Créon was a slight disappointment. I had pictured some utopian cycle resort: a destination sought out by enthusiastic leisure cyclists the world over, the starting point of a hundred perfect bike paths, Tour de France themed restaurants, trendy bicycle boutiques, The Pedal Hotel with bike racks in the rooms, laughter and ice cream, marble fountains where lifelong road warriors would take showers in the clear water. Spandex as far as the eye could see.
What I found instead was a big chalet full of hire bikes with one employee milling about in the dark, pining for something to do. Across the way on a shaded picnic bench a group of teenagers were using a mobile phone as a ghetto blaster. They talked and swore to the beat of bassless techno and wore their caps back to front. Is that cool again by the way?
By this point I was bloody starving. The sun had already begun its descent so I cycled hard and fast back to the Sadirc wine festival fearing it would be shutting up. I was right to have been worryied because when I arrived all but one food stall had packed up. My only option was a plate of tricandilles.
I don’t often try new foods but when I’m hungry I will eat anything. I wasn’t sure what tricandilles were at the time, but the clue was in the subtle but definite fecal flavour.
With the spices and the potatoes and the peppers I managed to eat about three-quarters of the plate. So before cycling back the exact same way I’d came, all that was left to do was drink wine at €1 a glass, watch families play strange parlour games and listen to the impromptu performances of drunken pipers.
Finally for your pleasure, I caught one of the musicians doing his thing on video. If you can’t stand a whole minute of it then just check out the last 20 seconds. Disturbing.