Bicycle Tours France ...
Cycling, Cuisine and Culture ...
Self guided or commercial bicycle tours in France are a breeze.
The whole country seems to be geared up to accomodate and encourage cycling. Indeed many train stations and local tourist bureaus even offer bicycles for hire.
Across the French nation there are approximately 17,500 miles or 28,163 km of mapped cycling trails and low traffic secondary roads ... and considering that 80% of France is rural countryside this makes for some gorgeous cycling.
Better still the French motorists are extremely tolerant and courteous to cyclist sharing the roads.
There is a wealth of unique and suprisingly diverse regions across France ...
From the wild, blustery western seaboard to the balmy south-eastern Mediterranean coast ...
The rolling vinyards oif the northern central countryside to the rugged mountain alps.
Villages tend to be situated closely together so there is always somewhere to stop and rest or enjoy a beautiful French meal or coffee.
Some Of The Most Popular Regions For Bicycle Tours In France Are:
- Alsace - Eastern Borderlands
- Bordeaux - Wine Region
- Burgundy - 'The Heart Of France'
- Brittany - Also Known As 'Bretagne'
- Champagne-Ardenne - Home Of 'Champagne'
- Loire - 'The Garden Of France'
- The Pyrenees & The French Alps
See Below For More Detail Descriptions Of These Regions ...
Alsace - Eastern Borderlands
Alsace is positioned in between the mountainous French Vosges region, Switzerland and Germany ... and because of its unique geographical situation the culture that has developed in this territory is rich, complex and absolutely charming.
Alsace is also renowned throughout Europe as having the greatest number of wonderful ancient feudal castles within its borders.
Bicycle tours to the Alsace region will see you traversing the the vine-covered foothills of the Vosges mountains, exploring traditional old fortified villages, cycling over fertile farmlands and lush pastures, through thick green forests and best of all visiting the gorgeous Alsatian vineyards.
Bordeaux - Wine Region
Bordeaux is famous for its bountiful vineyards Estates located around Pomerol and the medieval St. Emilion regions - Estates such as Cheval Blanc, Chateau Figeac, Petrus, and Ausone ... as well as the stunning Medoc estates of - Chateau Margaux, Chateau Palmer, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Chateau Latour.
Bordeaux is rich with its own fascinating history - perhaps the most famous being the Bordeaux battle for independence - waged by the citizens to protect their fertile vineyards.
Bike tours of Bordeaux will usually wind their way through these beautiful French wineries, over the beautiful Dordogne River and into the amazing medieval towns.
Burgundy - 'The Heart Of France'
Burgundy is a region that is renowned for its beautiful quiet rural landscapes scatteered with centuries old farmhouses and rich, productive vineyards ie. Cote de Beaune, Cote de Nuits and Charlemagne which yeild some of the all time great Burgundy wines including, Gevery, Chambertin, Meursault, Montrachet and Romanee Conti.
Burgundy is home to some stunning Flemish-Gothic architecture, medieval towns, delicious cuisines and fine Burgandy wines.
Brittany - Also Known As 'Bretagne'
Brittany is located in one of France's most rugged and stunning coastal regions. It is located in the northwest of France on a prodigious peninsula and includes several beautiful islands. The Bay of Biscay is located to the Brittany's south and the English Channel is to its north .
Its history stretches back over a thousand years to the ancient Celts who inhabited it before it was annexed in 1532 by the French.
Brittany's architecture is medieval with delightful winding roads that lead into fascinating, historic towns like Saint Malo and Mont Saint Michel, with their fortified castles, sanctified abbeys, quaint villages and ancient fortresses. The region is rich with history, culture and unique local traditions.
Geographically Brittany boasts pretty woodlands, sandy shores with rocky outcrops, soaring headlands, wild, crashing seas and sheer bluffs.
Champagne-Ardenne - Home Of 'Champagne'
The Champagne-Ardenne region is an elegant region located in the north of France and is where where Dom Perignon famously 'invented' the traditional method for making 'Champagne'.
Bicycle tours in this district traditionally have taken in journeys through the Regional Nature Park of the Montagne de Reims, the famous Champagne vineyards and on delicious rambles along the banks of the river Marne.
Dordogne, is a beautiful, peaceful region located in the south west of France.
It is a richly historic area with ancient Cro-Magnon caves & villages and its widely celebrated Lascaux caves which house some of the finest exhibits of pre-historic art.
Other sites of interest are the beautiful Chateau Castelnaud, the Marqueyssac gardens and the popular medieval town of Sarlat le Caneda.
The area of Perigord has many fortified villages - known in French as 'bastides' - which were a direct consequence of the the 'Hundred Years Wars' when the region was seized by both England and France numerous times.
There are many fine medieval churches in the village of Rocamadourwhich were once a critical resting point for pilgrims who were making the long trek to Santiago de Compostella.
Gastronomically the Dordogne is famous for its fowl dishes - goose and duck especially - including its much coverted fois gras. The cheeses, wines and truffles from this region are also delightful..
Loire - 'The Garden Of France'
The Loire Valley is the third largest wine producing region in France and is one of the most popular with cyclists. There are a number of reasons for this ...
Firstly the bicycle riding in this area is mostly along gentle, flat - yet stunningly beautiful - countryside. There a few easy hills to climb but nothing too taxing and the rewards are great ...
The picturesque valley has green farmlands, sunflower crops smiling in the fields, pretty woods, winding rivers, lush winerys, timeworn caves and over a thousand magnificent chateaux.
Loire also offers great cultural delights as well ... including fabulous works of art such as those in in the gorgeous castles such as Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry, Chenonceaux and Chambord.
Other culture highlights include - the 'dueling' Scultured Gardens of Diane de Poitiersand Catherine de Medici, which are works of art into themselves. The Troglodyte Cellar Tunnels found at Monmousseaux which are miles long, Leonardo da Vinci former dwelling located at Clos Luce ... and the ancient towns of Amboise, Chinon and Blois, .
Normandy, located in western France has a staggering 360 miles or 580 km of ruggedly beautiful coastline.
It is also an area of great historical significance - in both ancient and modern times. Famous most recently for the Allied beach landings during WWII.
Because of its close proximity to the capital Paris - only two hours away - Normandy has experienced growing popularity with the development of trendy seaside resorts, cafes and restuarants which serve up many of Normandy's famous delicacies including cheeses, ciders and seafood.
Other historical sites include fortresses, the old cities Bayeux & Caen, and the enchanting island of Mont Saint Michel.
Of all the bicycle tours France - Normandy is family favorite - with it's mixture of beautiful wild coastlines, green rolling pastures, quaint, traditional half timbered houses, magestic ruins and rich history.
Provence - Also Known As 'Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur'
Provence is a rich, lush area situated to the south east of France. It shares a border with Italy and is incredibly beautiful and diverse in nature.
Provence benefits from the natural beauty of the soaring French Alps and fertile farmlands and a sparkling Mediterranean coastline.
It is home to rolling green vineyards, fields of fragrant purple lavender, olive and cypress groves, sheer limestone cliffs, dazzling coastlines and craggy mountain peaks.
Old meets new with chic seaside and mountain resorts sharing the landscape with gorgeous ancient stone building and rustic village markets.
Some of great historic treasures of Provence are the 19 B.C. Pont du Gard aqueduct, numerous medieval villages perched on the hilltops, fascinating Roman ruins and Les Baux the historic fortress carved into the limestone mountainside.
Provence offers a vertiable smorgasboard of visual, sensory and gastronomical delights for the cyclist. The countryside has a mix and easy riding and moderately challenging climbs.
The Pyrenees & The French Alps
The French Alps are a soaring alpine mountain range to the east of France.
The French Alps border several different countries including Italy and Switzerland and is home to Europe's tallest mountain peak - Mont Blanc .
The Pyrenees are a staggeringly beautiful mountain chain to the south of France that creates a natural border with neighbouring Spain.
The Pyrenees are probably best associated with pilgrams and more recent times the mammoth battle of the cycling race - The Tour de France.
The Tour de France is held in different stages on both the The French Alps and the Pyrenees mountain ranges.
If you are looking for challenging bicycle tours in France then these are them! Cycling up these steep mountain passes is demanding, even for the fittest of cyclist ... but the sense of achievement at reaching your goals is unsurpassed.
The geography of these mountainous regions are ones of pristine, snow capped mountains, sheer cliffs, icy rivers and hidden valleys. They are regions steeped in ancient legends, superstitions and mythology.
The traditional inhabitantsof these regions hold firmly to their strong ancestral culture, customs, and beliefs. They co-exist along side with the modern ski resort and spas which have fast become popular in the French mountainous regions.
Before You Undertake Your Bicycle Tours In France
You Need To Decide On:
- The type of countryside you want to travel through.
- The level of cycling difficulty you are up for.
- If you want to tackle a self-guided cycling adventure or stick to a commercial bicycle tour.
- The months you want to travel, see out 'Weather Watch - For Bicycle Tours France, below and our Packing Guide.
- The cities, villages, historical sites and cultural icons you really want to visit.
- The regional wines and cuisine you are hankering to sample.
One thing for sure is that whatever you choose you are in for a visual and gastronomical feast!
Weather Watch - For Bicycle Tours France
France's weather is unpredictable and is quite different in the cooler mountainous regions versus the more balmy southern Mediterranean regions.
From a weather perspective - Summer and Spring - are probably the best times of year to undertake any bicycle tours in France.
France's driest weather is in the month of March.
France's wettest weather is in August.
July has the highest average monthly temperature of 77 degrees fahrenheit or 25 degrees celsius.
January & February have the lowest average monthly temperatures of 34 degrees fahrenheit or 1 degrees celsius.
France has an annual average of 619 mm or 24.5 inches of rainfall ... or on average about fourteen days a month of inclement weather ie. rain, sleet or snow.
June, July & August are the warmest months in France.
The Western Coastal Regions
Including Normandy, Brittany, Calais & Brest - have with average highs of 70 degrees fahrenheit or 21 degrees celsius.
The Northern Central Regions
Including Paris, the Loire River Valley, Bordeaux and the Bay of Biscay - have with average highs of 76 degrees fahrenheit or 24 degrees celsius.
The South-Eastern Mediterranean Regions
Including Nice, Cannes, St Tropez & Marseille - have with average highs of 81 degrees fahrenheit or 26 degrees celsius.
The Eastern 'Continental' RegionsIncluding Djion & Strasbourg - have with average highs of 77 degrees fahrenheit or 25 degrees celsius.
The Mountainous Regionsregions - Including the Pyrenees, Alps & Juros - have with average highs of 79 degrees fahrenheit or 26 degrees celsius.
December, January & February are the coldest months in France.
The Western Coastal Regions
Including Normandy, Brittany, Calais & Brest - have with average lowsof 37 degrees fahrenheit or 3 degrees celsius.
The Northern Central Regions
Including Paris, the Loire River Valley, Bordeaux and the Bay of Biscay - have with average lows of 34 degrees fahrenheit or 1 degrees celsius.
The South-Eastern Mediterranean Regions
Including Nice, Cannes, St Tropez & Marseille - have with average lows of 36 degrees fahrenheit or 2 degrees celsius.
The Eastern 'Continental' Regions
Including Djion & Strasbourg - have with average lows of 28 degrees fahrenheit or -2 degrees celsius.
The Mountainous Regions
Including the Pyrenees, Alps & Juros - have with average lows of 27 degrees fahrenheit or -3 degrees celsius.
Spring Months Are:
March, April, May
Autumn Months Are:
September, October, November
Did You Know?
Most French camping grounds are shutdown by October in preparation for the winter months ... so not a great time to undertake self guided bicycle tours in France if you intend to camp!!