The first section of EuroVelo 1, La Vélodyssée – the Atlantic Coast Route in France, is now officially open and fully signposted - and comes complete with a new website for planning your trip.
Starting at the Brittany port of Roscoff, EuroVelo 1 journeys for 1,200km along the French Atlantic coast through 4 Régions and 10 Départements, all the way down to Hendaye in the Basque country.
It takes in the Loire estuary, the Vendée Marshes and the sandy beaches of the Aquitaine Coast.
As well as the signposting, a brand new dedicated website for La Vélodyssée has been developed – www.lavelodyssee.com.
The site features ideas for long or short touring holidays, there are interactive maps and opportunities to share your experiences with others in the form of photos and comments.
The new Accueil Vélo scheme, whch brings togehter numerous smaller cyclist friendly schemes that had operated at a regional or local level in France - including accomodation and facilities - is also including its suggestions.
The network's existence owes a lot to the European Parliament, where a key vote insured that cycling and the EuroVelo pan-European cycle route network have been included for the first time within the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) funding guidelines.
The EuroVelo network was drawn up by the ECF and aims to provide a network of high-quality cycling routes criss-crossing the entire continent, suitable for both local, everyday journeys and by long-distance cyclists. The aim is to complete the network by 2020.
The EU’s TEN-T policy, meanwhile, is aimed at focusing investment on strategically important trans-European transport infrastructure.
The incorporation of cycling and EuroVelo within TEN-T follows a year of sustained campaigning by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), with efforts intensifying as the vote approached as national organisations such as CTC in the UK urged cyclists to lobby MEPs over the issue.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.