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The Gironde Estuary

The Canal des 2 Mers à Vélo cycle route begins its enchanting journey from beside the resort of Royan, on the north side of Europe’s largest estuary, where the waters of the mighty Gironde reach the Atlantic. Take in grandiose views of the estuary by following the cycle route along the Gironde’s banks.

Europe’s largest estuary

The gironde estuary in Talmont-saint-Hilaire

The Canal des 2 Mers à Vélo portion in the département (French county) of Charente-Maritime offers you a wonderful chance to witness how the mighty Gironde Estuary and Atlantic Ocean meet.

 

The route certainly provides exceptional views onto the mouth of Europe’s largest estuary. Stop at the Pôle Nature du Parc de l'Estuaire, in the village of St-Georges-de-Didonne, to learn more about the estuary’s many facets at this special nature centre.
   

After travelling just a few kilometres, you’ll see how rural and maritime worlds merge so closely around here, creating many delightful surprises...

The estuary in figures

  • 70km in length, from the Pointe du Bec d’Ambès above Bordeaux to the Pointe du Verdon opposite Royan
  • 12km in width at is widest point
  • Total area: 625km²
  • 309 steps to climb its iconic lighthouse, the Phare de Cordouan, located out in the midst of the mouth of the estuary, 7km from the mainland.
 

Leaving Royan, enjoy the architecture of this seaside resort. Next you come to Suzac Forest, with its quite unusual mix of types of trees, thriving where sea and river meet. 

You then climb a slope to reach the top of a series of limestone cliffs. From on high, you can look across the estuary and down on creeks dug into the rock, backed by little sandy beaches.

Up on the clifftops, you can also appreciate the mosaic of subtly varied landscapes stretching alongside the estuary, home to fascinating fauna and flora. One unmissable feature along the cliffs is the square fishing nets left suspended in the air when not in use.


If you wish to get closer to the natural riches around here, simply follow the route as the cliffs give way to gentler slopes covered in vines and cereal crops. Below these, the marshes are dotted with little ports either tucked down winding channels or lying directly on the estuary.

This marvellously biodiverse section goes on to Vitrezay, where you can learn more about it at the Pôle-Nature, from April to November.

Here, you can further your knowledge about the exceptional landscapes in these parts via a wide choice of activities tailored to introduce the general public to the secrets of the Gironde Estuary and its banks.

The cycle route along the estuary