TRAVEL GUIDE: SARLAT TO CAZOULES ON THE GREENWAY
One of the most exciting things we have found since exploring Spain and France on our e-bikes is the greenways. In Spain they’re called the Vias Verdes, in France they’re called the Véloroutes Voies Vertes, and they are the same concept: a series of disused railway lines that have been recovered and reconditioned to form pathways that take you through some of the most stunning and hidden parts of the country. They’re perfect for cyclists and walkers alike. The best part is that because their foundation is a railway line, they are pretty much flat the entire way, leaving you plenty of energy to enjoy your surroundings.
One of our favourite routes so far (and there are hundreds to do) is the one from Sarlat to Cazoules, in the stunning Dordogne region of France. It can be a little tricky to find the start of the route when getting out of the main town of Sarlat as the greenway map doesn’t show you all the little roads. Generally veer to the left hand roads that take you up into the hills, then look out for the greenway signs. The rest of the route is well signposted and easy to follow.
You’ll be taken past sunning fields and into the lush, watery forests lined with both rivers and moss-covered rocks stretching high over your head. You can stop to explore the tiny towns on the way, but pack a picnic lunch to enjoy by the ruins of an old castle on a small cliff overlooking crumbling boats hidden by the trees.
About halfway through your journey you will find the most obvious reminder of the routes railway days - a cold, dark, railway tunnel that looks spectacular cloaked in the overgrown foliage of the region.
The round trip taken at a leisurely pace will take you around 4 hours - it’s close to 50km altogether but a flat, easy ride that will allow you to lose yourself in the beauty of rural France.
If you're like us, you will live on the wild side and not pack a bike pump or tyre repair kit, and have the following experience on the return journey:
- One of you will pop a tyre at Cazoules.
- It will start raining.
- You'll both walk to the nearest town, and the one with the popped tyre will sit in an abandoned bus shelter (because of course no busses run on Sundays) and wait for the other one to ride back to Sarlat, pick up the van, and come back for you.
- The one with the popped tyre will have 5% phone battery and the other one will have 2%. Their phone will die about 5mins into their return journey, but thats ok, because they'll be riding really fast, hoping to get back to the van in just under 2hrs.
- After the one with the popped tyre has been waiting for about 20mins, they realise they have the van keys. They have no way of contacting the other.
- Fortunately, the person on their way back to the van realises that they haven't brought the van keys with them. They return to the bus shelter about 40mins after they left and collect the keys, then set off again.
- It's still raining.
- The person on the way back to town rides for about 45 minutes. They've reached the castle in the middle of nowhere. They pop a tyre.
- They start the long walk back to town (an estimated 3 hours) and manage to hitchhike with two different vehicles back to Sarlat.
- They return to the bus shelter to pick up the first unlucky cyclist, and then both of you will have to drive parallel to the greenway looking for where the second unlucky cyclist stashed their bike.
- You will both return to Sarlat giggling hysterically at your misfortune.
- The night ends with red wine and truffle pasta.
For more information head over to the Sarlat Tourism Website.