See the section for France of the Trento Bike Pages.

Touring France

Extracted from a posting of Fredric A. Diegel ( to rec.bicycles.rides on Sat, 14 Jan 1995 02:54:03 GMT

France is my personal choice for best cycle touring.

Although there are many areas that I have not toured yet, trips to Lorraine, Alsace, Vosges, Doubs, Alps, Pyrenees, and Provence have all been great. Remaining on my short list are Brittany, Normandy, and the Massif Central. I think I'll stay away from standard tourist destinations like the Loire, and the big cities of Northern France. If I had to choose my favorite trip so far, it would have to be a big loop I did from Nice down the Riviera, around Provence, and back and forth across the Maritime Alps into Italy. OTOH, the Pyrenees trip was also great.

My favorite mode of touring in France is to select an interesting area that I have never visited, put my bike in a box, take some travelers checks, take a plane, arrive and ride away with no plan or itinerary. If you don't travel during the August holiday season, accomodations in the countryside are never a problem, reservations unnecessary. Use the Michelin maps and Green Guides and explore. If you're tired or it's late, you stop, no itinerary necessary. Lots of scenery, history, and beautiful back roads. The joy of roadbiking to me is traveling light and fast.

Good reasons to tour in France:

  1. Food, wine, scenery, and history
  2. If you like cycling in the mountains, France is fantastic. Lots of long beautiful climbs (and descents :-), many on lightly traveled roads. The Michelin maps give a good indication. Also, there's always a cafe or hotel nearby to soak up some fantastic coffee and pastry or chocolate if necessary).
  3. A dense and twisted network of paved back roads ranging from single track paths (narrow "white roads") to lightly traveled two-lane highways ("yellow roads"). The Michelin maps are great, and they are available in any town. The maps include an indication of road surface and traffic density, topography (specific locations of steep grades are annotated), scenic routes, vegetation, and historical and cultural sites keyed to the Green Guides.
  4. Friendly and helpful people with a great love of cycling and bicycle touring. Hoteliers are quite welcoming of cyclists. To give you an idea of the cycling culture, one often sees older men, in full racing attire, cruising out of their farms early in the morning on impressive roadbikes to climb to the pass and back (I think the general attitude of rural folks in the states towards cycling, although changing, has a way to go). Motorists, though somewhat daring by US standards, are generally respectful and tolerant of cylists.
  5. Best of all, IMHO, you can leave your helmets back home (personal choice, no flames please). You won't be assaulted for enjoying your ride helmetless. If you do wear helmets, you'll definitely stand out, no one wears helmets there.
Fred Diegel