European Cycling Routes
Whether it is gradually soaking up the culture and scenery of a new place, savouring the best food and drink, or exploring a region’s spe...Read more
A Cycling for Softies gourmet cycling tour is about three things: wine, food and cycling. Gliding along stunning coastal paths by bike and rolling through a seemingly endless expanse of vineyards, a gentle cycling holiday in France or Italy is tonic for the soul, conjuring up as many smells and tastes as it does splendid views.
Our Softies cyclists love to roam across the country from one gastronomic location to another, stopping to try the local delicacies and fantastic wines on offer along the way. To whet your appetite, here's our pick of the top destinations for a gourmet cycling holiday.
Boasting the most Michelin-starred restaurants outside of Paris, the Alsace is the place to experience fine dining at its best, coupled with some stunning scenery. This north-eastern region has so much history sprinkled into its famous dishes. The cuisine here is defined by both German and French influences – making a rich and tasty mix. The most authentic eateries are winstube, meaning wine rooms, although this translation captures none of their charm and cosiness.
You'll find sauerkraut, or as it’s regionally known, choucroute, very much at large here, as well as several varieties of sausage. The tarte flambée is a delicious regional pizza-esque dish. Alsace is, in fact, known for its tarts – sweet and savoury – as well as its mouth-watering and hearty meat stews.
A drink with that? The region's rocky, sandy soil means that white wines are the crowning glory here, so you can look forward to pairing your beautifully-cooked pork with a delightfully acidic white. Time in the caves trying out the local Riesling is time happily spent.
We can already feel the full-bodied flavour of a deep Burgundy echoing in the depths of our taste buds. With this region's lush, rolling hills home to some of the most delicious grapes in France, sampling this rich red is a must.
Rich sauces featuring heavily in the delicious cuisine in this region. For dinner, choose from traditional dishes such as beef bourguignon, coq au vin and roasted veal. Poached eggs in red wine sauce is also one to try.
A good cheese and wine night is a must on a gourmet cycling holiday. An active trip is an ideal occasion to indulge – after all, you'll need all those extra calories to get you to the next village. In Burgundy, you'll find a whole host of goat and cow cheeses (not to mention yummy crusty baguettes) to help you ponder the perfect combination.
Take a leisurely trundle with us through this striking landscape, with its attractive hilltop villages, lavender fields and rolling olive groves. With local produce also including almonds, cherries, apricots and pears, this feels like an Eden of fresh goodness. With almost-guaranteed alfresco dining and the peppery freshness of the Mediterranean diet, Provence's cuisine is flamboyant and vibrant, bursting with both colour and flavour.
Try rich stews and traditional ratatouille or, for a light bite while pondering the wine menu, homemade tapenade. If you ride with us in truffle season, prepare for a taste-bud explosion. The flavoursome dish bouillabaisse is another most try; this spicy dish includes a minimum of four types of fresh fish, with every chef leaving their own stamp on it.
The sweet-toothed cyclist will receive a warm welcome in Provence. Fall into piles of fresh croissants, macarons, pain au chocolat, mille-feuilles and lemon tarts – then burn it all off on the roads tomorrow.
Bordeaux city is the world’s largest urban UNESCO World Heritage Site. The French city has the second largest amount of preserved monument historiques in France after Paris. Bordeaux, as a region, is also celebrated worldwide for its brilliant wines and distinguished cuisine. Whilst meandering around the historical city of Bordeaux and its surrounding vineyards of St Émilion, Cadillac and Sauternes, you will undoubtedly stumble upon some of the great food and wine they have to offer.
Look out for Entrecôte à la Bordelaise, a signature local meat dish, and wash it down with one of the deep and full-flavoured reds from the local vineyards. The Bordelaise are also known for having a sweet tooth. Canalés is a caramelised cake dessert often found in the city; and whilst you’re exploring the commune of St Émilion, look out for their famous and brightly coloured confections, macarons.
Emilia Romagna has proven to be one of the top ‘undiscovered’ parts of Italy; so much so that Lonely Planet named it the best place to visit in Europe in 2018. The northern region has culture-filled cities filled with fascinating history, a wealth of unspoiled architecture, brilliant wines and, of course, unbelievable cuisine. If you’re looking for a gourmet cycling holiday in Italy, this is the region to visit.
As you potter across the lovely rolling landscape, you will find some of the culinary treats the region is so famous for. The region is well known for its pasta, cheese and meat delicacies. Use your time in Modena and Reggio Emilia to try the world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or the celebrated balsamic vinegar that also originates from here. Whilst you're in Bologna, try a traditional Tagliatelle alla Bolognese or cured pork meats like prosciutto and salami; all washed down with a wonderful glass of Sangiovese.
Are you interested in one of our gourmet bike tours? To find out more about our gourmet cycling holidays, call our experts on 020 7471 7760.
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