Camino de Santiago by bike: two pilgrimage routes passing through Tours!
Rambouillet, Chartres, Châteaudun, Vendôme, Tours: this is the Jacobean route (signposted V41), which has long been used by Belgian, Dutch and German cyclists, and which passes through the Vouvray vineyards in particular. The second route is the Scandiberique (EuroVélo 3), which leads from Paris to Briare, where it joins the Loire by bike (EuroVélo 6), heading for Orléans, Blois and Tours. From here, one of the four historic departure points for Santiago de Compostela, the V41 and the EuroVélo 3 become one as they head south towards Chatellerault, in the Vienne department.
Whether you are passing through Chartres or Orléans, one thing is certain: the slight difference in altitude is an appreciable and appreciated asset for seeing the country without having to put your thighs and calves through the wringer!
The way of Saint James by bike, via Tours
You probably know this Chinese proverb: “the important thing is not the goal, but the path”. It takes on its full meaning on the roads to Santiago de Compostela. Encounters, landscapes, but also introspection… a beautiful programme in perspective during your journey in Touraine, between Paris and Bordeaux.
It is no coincidence that one of the four main routes to Compostela passes through the city of Tours. A few centuries ago, many pilgrims took this route to honour Saint Martin, evangeliser of Gaul in the 4th century, and made famous by sharing his cloak with a man freezing cold. A beautiful basilica with neo-Byzantine architecture still houses his remains.
Beyond the historical and religious dimension, your stopover in the Touraine capital will allow you to discover a city where life is definitely good: a dynamic city centre, old districts with numerous restaurants, a guinguette on the banks of the Loire, a contemporary art centre…
Map of the EuroVélo 3 Scandiberique
V41 Camino de Santiago by bike map
To see the route of Santiago de Compostela by bike on a dynamic map, go to the France Vélo Tourisme website: between Rambouillet et Tours.
Brochures to download:
In Vendôme and Châtellerault, the train stations are an easy way to get to and from the cycling routes. So, it’s simple to plan out an excursion lasting 2 or 4 days, depending on the daily distance you want to travel:
– Between Vendôme and Tours: 94 km (stopover possible at Château-Renault)
– Between Tours and Châtellerault: 84 km (stopover possible at Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine)
Note that although they are identical from Tours to Châtellerault, the V41 Camino de Santiago route and the Scandiberique route (EuroVélo 3) separate again from the Vienne sub-prefecture.
And if you need to rent a bike, keep in mind that there is several rental shops in Tours.
Stopovers for visitors to Touraine
On the way, alongside our high-quality accommodation, there are many interesting sights to see, making a break well worthwhile along the Way of Saint James by bike (GR 655). Here’s a non-exhaustive list:
- The park of Château de Renault, with rare varieties of trees
- The gardens of the Château de Valmer in Chançay
- The Château de Jallanges in Vernou-sur-Brenne
- The Vouvray wine cellar
- In Rochecorbon, you can board the Rabouilleuse for a wonderful hour-long trip along the River Loire
- The city of Tours: Saint-Gatien Cathedral, the CCCOD – and the magnificent Place Plumereau
- The Montbazon fortress
- Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois Church, where Joan of Arc found her sword
- Les Passerelles in Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine (with a chance to taste the famous goat cheese)
- The Maillé memorial house, a village marked by the Second World War
- Or the village of Pussigny, which hosts each year an exhibition of “large-format” paintings hung on the walls in the streets.
Cycling or walking the route?
The way of Saint James now presents you with a cruel dilemma: should you walk or cycle the route? Everyone will find their answer according to their own desires, but also according to very concrete elements.
The advantages of walking: you remain in the original spirit of the pilgrimage, you let your mind wander more, it facilitates encounters, you are not hindered by the bicycle to visit.
The advantages of cycling: you go faster and further (practical when you have few days off), it is physically more accessible, especially with children, it makes it easier to transport your luggage, and you can reach your accommodation more easily.