Spring is finally here, and what better way to enjoy the beautiful weather than by exploring the stunning landscapes of France on two wheels? France is home to some of the most picturesque routes in Europe, with a plethora of cycling trails that will take you through quaint villages, rolling hills, and charming vineyards. In this newsletter, I will be sharing some of my favorite bicycle trips in France that you might want to try this season.
How to Organize a Bike Trip in France
First, how ambitious do you want to get? Do you want to do a multi-day treck or just rent a bike for an afternoon? For the quick bike ride, you need is to allow some slack in your schedule. There are so many places in France where you can rent a bike on the spur of the moment! You’ll see bikes waiting for riders lined up outside of a shop or by the tourist office. If the weather is good, why not take advantage of that? Whoever is renting the bike can tell you about local bike paths, and can provide you with a lock and helmet as well.
Multi-Day Bike Trips
If you’d like to go for a longer bike treck, the Vélos & Territoires organization has made a great map available to all. You can download their PDF here. This document is precious because it shows you the names of all these bike paths and how they all link together (scroll to page 2).
Once you’ve selected an area and know the name of the route you intend to take, start drilling down by doing a few searches on that name.
Regions and departments have websites dedicated to these bike paths. They often include lists of places to stay along the way, restaurants, places to visit as you go. They are only in French most of the time, but if you open the page on Google Chrome, there is an option to see an automatic translation. I know many of you wish you could converse in French better, but you can read it fairly well. Don’t sell yourself short!
There are great books designed to help you organize a multi-day bike trip. I have the Atlas France des Voies Vertes & Véloroutes (it’s in French but it’s mostly maps so it doesn’t matter) and À Vélo: 50 Itinéraires pour pédaler le nez au vent (this one is also in French and has a few maps, but it’s mostly text and photos).
There are lots of Facebook groups dedicated to riding in France. Most of them are in French. Don’t let that worry you, it’ll be your chance to practice!
These days there are bike rental shops everywhere and as discussed in episode 424 of the podcast, OuiBike is the company that lets you pickup a bike in one city and drop it off in another. That makes it so much easier for visitors.
The 2 or 3 day route I want to do for Easter, weather permitting, is called the Passa Païs. It is an old railroad transformed into a bike path that goes between Mazamet and Bédarieux. I am no athlete but I have an electric bike! Need inspirations about what part of France you should visit? Read on!
The Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is famous for its magnificent châteaux and lush countryside, making it a perfect destination for a leisurely cycling trip. The route follows the Loire River, taking you past several vineyards, charming towns, and some of the most impressive châteaux in the country. The cycling trail is mostly flat and easy, making it ideal for beginners and families.
Burgundy is a wine-lover’s paradise, and what better way to explore the region than on a bicycle? The cycling trail takes you through the rolling hills of the Côte d’Or, passing by some of the most famous vineyards in the world. Along the way, you’ll also get to experience the region’s rich history, with visits to medieval villages, ancient castles, and Gothic churches.
Provence is a region of breathtaking natural beauty, with its lavender fields, olive groves, and rocky hillsides. The cycling trail takes you through the heart of the region, passing by charming villages, historic sites, and beautiful landscapes. You’ll also get to taste some of the region’s delicious cuisine, including its famous olive oil, wine, and cheese.
But watch out, Provence is hilly! Mere mortals who are not in Tour de France shape should consider an electric bike for this part of France.
Brittany is a coastal region in northwest France, famous for its rugged coastline, picturesque fishing villages, and medieval towns. The cycling trail takes you along the coast, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the region’s beautiful beaches. You’ll also get to experience the region’s rich Celtic heritage, with visits to ancient megaliths, medieval castles, and traditional Breton villages.
Alsace is a region in northeastern France, famous for its beautiful half-timbered houses, colorful flower displays, and excellent cuisine. The cycling trail takes you along the Route des Vins d’Alsace, passing by some of the most beautiful vineyards in the country. Along the way, you’ll also get to experience the region’s rich history and culture, with visits to picturesque villages, Gothic cathedrals, and ancient castles.
I hope this newsletter has inspired you to hop on a bicycle and explore the stunning landscapes of France. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cyclist, there’s a route for everyone in my beautiful country. So why not start looking today and experience the beauty of France on two wheels? And you don’t need to make it a treck through the country! You can also rent a bike for a few hours and give it a go.
If you need personalized help to organize your trip, remember that we can schedule an itinerary planning session and there are companies that specialize in bike trips as well.
Merci, à bientôt !
PS: Did you notice that I used the term “Petite Reine” in the preview of this newsletter? Do you know what that means? It’s an old term that means bicycle in French. It’s not used much any more, but “the little queen” is an adorable image so I love it.
PPS: If you know someone who might be interested in this content, you need to send them to the podcast trailer. Merci !