On your upcoming holiday to France, you may be hoping to or be tempted to do some cycling. The back roads are quieter than here in the UK, the weather is often a lot better and at the end of a day’s pedalling there is some fine French food and wine to enjoy.
But where to start? Leave the mountain regions to the sports cyclists and go for a meandering tour, sampling the best of France’s countryside. These are the best regions to cycling in France; all you need to do is hire a bike!
Cycling is a great way to see the region, and there are more than 310 miles of cycle paths. Normandy offers fantastic long-distance cycling routes, along the coast passing by Caen, Le Havre and Cherbourg, but there are also plenty of routes to try for just a day, which suits all levels of ability and experience. All the routes will take you through beautiful Normandy countryside and historical villages to stop off and have a bite to eat.
In Brittany, touring the coast by bike can be a little harder compared to Normandy due to the several inlets and estuaries with few crossings, but there are several routes that criss-cross through the gorgeous countryside, by river banks and follow along the coast at times. If you want a coastal cycling path, try the route between La Littorale, Roscoff and Saint-Nazaire, which takes you along quiet lanes, via picturesque ports and beaches.
The Loire Valley is often a beginners’ choice for cycling in France, as there is so much to see, friendly terrain and cycle ways. They region also has the Loire à Vélo cycle route, nearly 500 miles long, stretching from Nevers to the coast at Saint-Nazaire. A rather ambitious route for those on holiday, there are several easy rides on the route, near Tours, Angers and Chambord, which will also take you close by many of the stunning chateaux that the Loire Valley is famous for.
Between the Gulf of Morbihan and the Gironde is the best coastal cycling to be found in France. When staying at our villas in Bordeaux, take a car to the Gironde Estuary, hire a bike and enjoy a day’s cycling. The route will take you through marshes, vineyards, past fishing waters and with plenty of places to stop off at for a rest and refuelling.
If you stay clear of the main roads, you can’t go far wrong along the rivers which flow through the Dordogne region of France. However, the transition from valley to upland can be steep, more so farther east in the region. However, the road along the Tarn gorge, from Florac to Millau is a fine ride for all abilities but can get very busy during the summer months.
Cycling in Languedoc is a fun family experience, and there is a varied terrain from the wild mountainous landscape, fast flowing rivers and dense forests in the north, to olive groves and vineyards further south. There is history all around too, with many Roman ruins to see, especially in the southern part. Staying in our family friendly villas, Languedoc laid out before you, a day out cycling sounds like a perfect way to spend your time!