Are you a Northern or a Southern Softie?

Posted 29 Sep 2017

Europe's rolling landscapes, lofty hills and quaint towns make it the ideal choice for your dream cycling tour. Whether you favour the rich landscapes and sunny vineyard-lined coastal paths of the south, or the peaceful châteaux gardens and ancient riverside towns of the north, travelling on two wheels is the best way to discover hidden treasures and experience unforgettable panoramic views.

Catalonia harbour

Catalonia

The breathtaking terrain of Costa Brava's most attractive routes is bursting with home-grown produce, medieval villages and secluded sandy coves. Alongside the ancient oak pastures of Spain you'll taste one of the region's most exquisite foods, jamón ibérico, a nutty flavoured ham cured using time-honoured traditions and smokey mountain air.

You'll cycle from town to town, passing local artisans as you cruise down tree-lined terraces, pausing for mouthwatering paella and full-bodied Catalan wine in small, shaded bars. Tranquil apple orchards stand grandiose as you coast through must-see towns, like Figueres, home of the geodesic-domed Dali museum.

Tuscany countryside

Tuscany and Chianti

Starting high on the sun-soaked hills of Cortona, you'll find yourself surrounded by a confection of green hills and boundless blue skies. Downshift to a more peaceful pace and you'll discover scenic lanes and imposing abbeys, before turning straight into the heart of Chianti wine territory.

The rustic yet elegant essence of Italy is present far and wide, but especially here, where you'll be enveloped by the delicate powdery aroma of violets and tart cherries. Mid-morning breaks will be spent propping up the bar with the locals for a macchiato, bittersweet and heavily-roasted – the perfect refreshment while you soak up the views of the green cypress-lined Chianti hills.

Loire tour

The Loire

Known as 'the garden of France', the Loire is home to over a hundred castles, delectable wines and the longest river in France – its namesake. You'll whizz by underground tunnels, moats and heart-stirring gardens to discover the Château de Villandry, a terraced Renaissance garden walled by tuffeau stone facades and a colourful kaleidoscope of nine decorated gardens.

Pedal along the Loire à Vélo cycle path, some 800km in length that stretches from the small village of Cuffy to the sand dunes and pine forests of St Brevin-les-Pins.

Mayenne sunny day

Mayenne

Mayenne is a hidden gem, divided by two distinct districts of equal old-world charm: the first the Notre Dame area, named after the impressive Basilica; the second the Saint-Martin area, named after the church. You'll cycle through deserted back roads in solitude with old windmills and locks for company, until happening upon lively riverside villages with vibrant flowers and friendly local faces.

You'll break in the rolling countryside for a taster of the region's famous slow-cooked rillette, before walking through the narrow medieval streets of Château Gontier and Laval to discover quirky antique shops and long-established pâtisseries.

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