Saturday, 8 May 2010

The best way to discover France by Cycle

France is a very popular travel destination with cyclists because it offers everything necessary for a great trip - great scenery, thousands of miles of coastline, the challenges of cycling the famous routes from the Tour de France...and because there are so many cycling enthusiasts in France, almost every town will have somewhere to get a bike repaired or to buy spare parts if necessary.

There are two main options for those planning a cycling holiday in France:

1) Many cyclists like to book a 'cycling holiday', where the routes are pre-arranged by cyclists with local knowledge, support is available in the case of a problem, luggage is often transferred by car to the following night's accommodation, etc. These type of holidays will also ensure that you are travelling with like minded people.

Often these trips have a focus on sightseeing as much as cycling, and the daily distances travelled and difficulties are typically not great - perhaps 40-60 kilometres per day of cycling, with plenty of time for relaxing and restaurant breaks. It is possible to find more challenging cycling holidays, where the focus is on cycling harder routes and for longer distances, but these are less common.

2) The alternative is a 'diy' type trip. Either based in one location, carefully selected for its proximity to good cycle routes, or by pre-booking a series of hotels or chambre d'hotes, it is very possible to create your own route.

This will have the advantage of giving you greater freedom over the routes and distances travelled, and flexibility in how long you spend cycling each day. It will typically be much cheaper than paying for an organised trip, although you will of course need to bring (or hire) a bike - many pre-organised cycling holidays include bike hire in the price.

As well as hotels, many holiday rental properties will also offer facilities for cyclists and allow the extra savings that are made possible by staying in self-catering accommodation. The key is to find somewhere quite centrally placed so you aren't cycling 10 kilometres along the same gravel track at the start of each ride or excursion!

Having decided what type of cycling holiday to take in France you just need to choose a destination. Many regions of France are good for cyclists and offer quiet roads in beautiful countryside.

As a few general suggestions; for coastline, consider Brittany; for rolling countryside try Gascony, Normandy or Lot et Garonne; for rolling countryside and scenic interest perhaps the Dordogne, Luberon or Burgundy regions are suitable (all have flatter sections and some quite hilly parts); while more hilly regions perhaps the Auvergne, limousin or massif central regions are ideal.

True mountain cycling enthusiasts will head for the great mountain passes of the Alps or the Pyrenees - be aware that these are neither trivial or easy if you have limited cycling experience and should not be taken lightly.

See our cycling holidays directory for cycling holidays in France from some of the leading organisers of these trips; or get some other ideas at best places for French Cycling holidays.

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