share
Printer-friendly version

Current Size: 100%

Find out more

The railway station at Commequiers

Vélo Rail at Commequiers was launched in 1994. The original station (now a house sitting on the other side of the road, facing the Restaurant de la Gare) was built in 1882 after the railway line from Nantes to La Roche sur Yon via Machecoul opened in 1880 and a branch line to Saint Gilles Croix de Vie opened the year after. En 1895, a hotel by the name of Hôtel du Chemin de Fer was built opposite the station to provide accommodation for the through-flow of passengers.
Despite being closed in 1940, the La Roche-Commequiers line was reopened during the occupation. In 1982 the station was eventually closed to passengers. In 1988 the station also finally stopped receiving goods trains. Only the section of the line between Commequiers and Coëx remains. It was this section that the then council members planned to purchase from the SNCF, France’s state-owned railway company, in 1993, to create a rail bike ride which would attract tourists. In 1996, the existing Vélo Rail reception centre was built to resemble the hustle and bustle of a provincial railway station: outgoing passengers buy their tickets at the ticket office as incoming passengers leave their railroad journey behind.

Vélo Rail at Commequiers was launched in 1994. The original station (now a house sitting on the other side of the road, facing the Restaurant de la Gare) was built in 1882 after the railway line from Nantes to La Roche sur Yon via Machecoul opened in 1880 and a branch line to Saint Gilles Croix de Vie opened the year after. En 1895, a hotel by the name of Hôtel du Chemin de Fer was built opposite the station to provide accommodation for the through-flow of passengers.Despite being closed in 1940, the La Roche-Commequiers line was reopened during the occupation. In 1982 the station was eventually closed to passengers. In 1988 the station also finally stopped receiving goods trains. Only the section of the line between Commequiers and Coëx remains. It was this section that the then council members planned to purchase from the SNCF, France’s state-owned railway company, in 1993, to create a rail bike ride which would attract tourists. In 1996, the existing Vélo Rail reception centre was built to resemble the hustle and bustle of a provincial railway station: outgoing passengers buy their tickets at the ticket office as incoming passengers leave their railroad journey behind.

 

 

The rail bikes

Originally, a rail bike was designed to be a light self-propelled vehicle which could travel on a railway line. It was used for maintenance work, track surveillance, and transporting technicians and equipment that were vital in keeping the line fully operational. Three types of power source were possible: muscle strength (arms and legs), steam and diesel.  

Vélo Rail has 20 rail bikes, each of which can take 2 to 4 people at a time (5 if the party includes a child under the age of 12). Two people use their muscle strength to power the vehicle. Are you ready to hop aboard an alternative type of transport? 

 

The route

The 6 mile line railway track runs between Commequiers and Coëx. With trees on either side, you spend most of your journey in the shade. In July and August the round trip is about 10 miles long (5 there and 5 back) and lasts about 2 hours.  From April through to June, the month of September and the autumn break, the round trip is 12 miles long (6 there and 6 back) and lasts about 2½ hours. There is a railway turntable at the terminus, so all you have to do is turn the rail bike to face the way you came and complete the return leg. Information signs at the terminus explain what you have to do.

 

 

 

The Castle at Commequiers

Listed Historical Monument.

 

At the end of your rail bike ride, why not visit the castle at Commequiers? If you’re travelling by car, follow the sign for St Christophe du Ligneron (the castle sits on the other side of Commequiers, so you can’t see it during the rail bike trip). 

The castle was started in the latter part of the 15th century and finished in the 16th century by Louis de Beaumont, Lord of Anjou. It is now owned by the town, and like many castles in the Bas Poitou area, it was demolished under orders of Cardinal Richelieu in 1628. Throughout the Middle Ages, the lords of Commequiers exerted their administrative and jurisdictional influence over a vast territory.