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When planning a cycling holiday in France, look no further than our guide. One of our favourite places to go for a cycle tour, it’s a wonderful country for any type of getaway. Whether you’re an avid Francophile or you’ve never even said the word bonjour, cycling here is wonderful. However, there are a few small things to keep in mind. From the region you'll visit to the time of year, read on for all the tips on planning a cycling holiday in France.
The first thing to think about when planning your cycling holiday in France is to decide which region best suits you. Across the country and its wine regions, there are a plethora of different cultures and climates which influence a different style of holiday.
For families planning a cycling holiday in France, look no further than the Loire Valley. This fairy tale region has almost exclusively flat cycle routes, with just the right amount of difficulty for the little ones. Exploring the châteaux that dot the region and settling down for picnics are popular activities to delight all the family. The markets in towns like Chinon and Saumur are also vibrant hotspots of food, meaning there’s something to suit everyone’s taste here, even the pickiest eaters.
If when planning a cycling holiday in France, you’re looking for some indulgence, then Champagne should be your first choice. Home to the most famous of French wines, reserved for only the most special of occasions, cycle along a land of verdant vineyards that swathe the hills between elegant towns. The Champagne Houses that are dotted throughout the region offer some luxurious tours and tastings of the sparkling liquid gold they make.
If it’s natural beauty you’re after when planning a cycling holiday in France, then you should know Provence boasts some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country. From lavender fields to valleys of Sunflowers, and the pink flamingos and white horses of the Camargue, there’s so much to explore when cycling. Not only this, but the impressive hilltop towns with their ancient castles only add to the beauty.
Lastly, if you’re searching for culture and a vibrant urban scene, then Bordeaux is a cyclist’s paradise. An exciting city surrounded by famous winemaking sites you’ll recognise from the label on the bottle, there’s so much to see and experience here. Having undergone a regeneration project in the 90s, the once-grey region has been transformed into a colourful and exciting destination. Bordeaux is definitely a destination to keep in mind when planning a cycling holiday in France.
The time of year you’re travelling is another important factor to think about. The climate, cuisine, and overall experience of a region can vary wildly depending on the season. When planning a cycling holiday in France, it’s important to keep this in mind.
The Loire Valley is our favourite destination for spring holidays. Called the ‘garden of France’, expect orchards in bloom and vibrant flowers around every bend on the cycle route. Some of the châteaux, such as Château de Villandry, have some of the most impressive gardens, meticulously curated and planned. And the best time to see these, when planning a cycling holiday in France, is in spring.
In the Summer, Champagne and Bordeaux are practically glowing green from the vineyards. Some of the most temperate French regions, they shine in the summer, with gentle climates perfect for cycling. In Bordeaux, the gorgeous beaches with their huge sand dunes are wonderful to explore when sunny. We highly recommend stopping off at a seaside restaurant to enjoy the famous oysters and white wine of Arcachon Bay. In Champagne, they have a regional treat called biscuit de Reims, which is a delightful pink wafer you dip in Champagne. There is nothing better than enjoying some on a warm evening overlooking the vines.
When planning a cycling holiday in France for late summer and autumn, Provence is our favourite region. If you’re lucky, the lavender bloom may still be out in force in the Luberon Valley. In autumn, the region is wonderfully cool, with long days of sunshine that won’t overheat you when you’re cycling. This is also the harvest time for the grapes, so a tour and tasting of a vineyard is highly recommended.
Something important to think about when planning a cycling holiday in France is how active a cyclist you are. The country has wonderfully flat cycle routes, however, some regions are more of a challenge than others. E-bikes are also something to think about. They are a perfect addition to any cycling holiday, making short work of what would be a challenging route and can help your holiday be that much more enjoyable.
For almost entirely flat cycling, the Loire and Bordeaux are our top picks. In the Loire is a famous cycle route called the Loire a Velo, which runs from the mouth of the Loire River all the way into central France. Along the way, you’ll stop off at some of the most beautiful towns and castles, full of markets and boutiques. Bordeaux is one of the most cycle-friendly cities and regions in France, making it wonderful for beginners. If you’re a leisurely cyclist, then these regions should be top of your list when planning a cycling holiday in France.
Although Provence is still wonderful for a leisurely cycling trip, there are a few hills in the region that may prove a challenge for beginners. These hills however are what makes the region so beautiful, offering both wonderful views as well as housing the hilltop towns that crown them. Thankfully, a trust e-bike can make short work of these, offering you that extra boost to make any challenge feel like a breeze.
When planning a cycling holiday in France, the trick is to focus on what you want to experience. There’s a perfect region and holiday out there for you. For more advice on planning a cycling holiday in France, call our cycle experts today. Or alternatively, view our full list of French cycling tours here.
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