Cycling is without question one of the best ways to experience a new destination. Exposed to the natural elements, free from the barrier of a car window, you get to see, smell and hear a place in a completely unique and hugely enhanced way. Additionally, pedalling sets the ideal pace – you’ll travel slowly enough to enjoy your surroundings, but fast enough that there’s always something new to see. It’s also relatively cheap, environmentally friendly and extremely fun. What’s more, you’ll find yourself getting fit whilst doing it, meaning that you’ll be able to sample all of those sumptuous local delicacies along the way.
Of the many destinations that cycling trips are ideal for, France is amongst the most popular. Cycling holidays in France are the perfect getaway for riders of all ages and abilities. Not only will it provide you with stunning rides filled with breathtaking scenery, but also plenty of delicious food and wine from some of the world’s experts. Self-guided cycling holidays in France allow you to explore the length and breadth of this wonderful country, taking in the landscape and rich culture on offer.
This is your first foray into two-wheeled trips, fear not. Booking your first cycling holiday in France doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know: from how to prepare to where to go and what to expect.
Why Choose Cycling Tours in France?
Food & Wine
From fine dining to street food, France is a dream destination for food lovers. Whether you choose to indulge in seafood on the Brittany coastline or Coq au Vin in Burgundy, wherever you choose to cycle in France, you’re bound to be met with delicious meals at every turn.
And of course, nothing quite says France like wine. No matter what part of the country you find yourself in, or what your budget is, wine is always readily available, and you’re sure to find an incredible variety of local wines on offer. A vineyard is always a stone’s throw away, and most restaurants and local supermarkets sell bottles for less than the cost of a soft drink!
Absorb France’s wonderful culture as you explore local markets, try local delicacies and encounter new adventures at every turn. Visit museums, art galleries, churches and castles as you soak up the rich history of this vibrant country.
Scenery & Safety
With fantastic infrastructure to support immaculate views, France is a cyclist’s paradise. With recent commitments to expand the cycle network throughout France, car-free cycle paths have started popping up across the country. With up to 3,000km of flat, safe, well-signposted routes along quiet country roads that showcase breathtaking scenery, France’s cycle routes are ideal for the whole family.
Booking Your Cycling Tour in France
1. Is a Cycling Holiday Right For You?
What are you looking to get out of a cycling holiday to France? Are you interested in the fitness aspect? Or perhaps you’d like a chance to meet like-minded people who share your passion for cycling. Two-wheeled breaks are a great idea if you’re travelling solo and would like to be by yourself, away from the distractions of everyday life. But they’re also good for families who want to switch off their devices and spend quality time together. For intrepid explorers, travelling by bike allows you to reach more remote locations that public transport can’t reach, adding a touch of adventure to your holiday.
2. Determine the Type of Cycling Holiday You Want to Book
There are a vast range of cycling holidays in France to choose from, so part of the challenge will be narrowing down your options. Some trips simply include cycling as just one component in a series of activities, such as boating or hiking, whilst others will have you riding almost every day to cover greater distances. From leisurely rides along the Brittany coastline to a 10-day epic tour of Mont Blanc, there’s bound to be a cycling tour for you. Decide how much time you want to spend on your bike and go from there.
Next, you need to choose whether it’s the roads or mountains you’re after. Road cycling is the most popular choice for cycling holidays in France, and also the most versatile. You can race up the steep, tarmacked faces of the French Pyrenees or bump along the old countryside lanes of the Medieval Dordogne. However, if you have the stamina, a mountain biking holiday might be the perfect challenge for you – there’s nothing quite like the rush of adrenaline you experience as you speed down the mountainsides.
Lastly, know your limits. Although it’s good to push yourself, your legs will thank you for staying within your physical boundaries. After all, it is a holiday!
3. Choose Your Destination Carefully
France is an incredibly versatile country with a range of terrains, which can have a huge impact on your holiday experience. Advanced cyclists might want to look at Provence or the River Moselle for its challenging rides, but for a cycling holiday that will take you through a beautiful and rural area, the French Atlantic Coast is a safe bet. The key elements to factor in are the terrain you’ll be riding on, the gradients you are willing to face and the weather during the allotted time of your trip.
4. Decide Whether to Bring Your Own Bike or Not
The great news for anyone looking for a hassle-free cycling holiday in France is that bike hire is available with most Hooked on Cycling & Walking tours, including e-bikes. This means that even if you aren’t a cycling expert, you needn’t worry as your bike will be chosen for you depending on the nature of your holiday. Some will be hybrid bikes, race bikes or even tandems.
However, bringing your own bike is also acceptable, provided that it’s in good working order. On some tours where transfers with bikes are needed, there might be a local fee for you to pay to transfer your own bike.
5. Prepare Before You Leave
You don’t have to be extremely fit to go on a cycling holiday in France. For example, if your plan is to simply glide through France’s vineyards, stopping off at wineries along the way, you should naturally be physically active but shouldn’t worry about becoming super strong. With that being said, it’s a good idea to start exercising more regularly before you leave to improve your cardiovascular fitness levels. Acclimatise your legs to pedalling with frequent bike rides or even enrolling in a spin class. Maintain your energy levels by eating balanced meals, and make sure you have your cycling kit prepared (see below). And remember: all you really need to embark on a self-guided cycling holiday in France is the ability to ride a bike and a passion for seeing the world from a new perspective.
6. Pack Wisely
As you can hire a bike as part of your tour, thankfully you only need to worry about the kit you need to stay safe and comfortable on your cycling trip. Helmets are compulsory, so either bring your own or buy one at a local shop when you arrive to save space in your bag.
Below is a handy list of everything you should consider packing for your first cycling holiday in France:
- A small, lightweight backpack or a bumbag. Use it to carry money and your phone (your luggage will be transported for you).
- Padded cycling shorts
- Water bottle
- A gel seat cover for extra comfort
- Closed-toe shoes
- Cycling gloves (offers extra grip for sweaty hands)
- Energy gels
- T-shirts (avoid cotton, opt for a moisture-wicking fabric instead)
- Layers, including a rain jacket
- A camera
Hooked On Cycling & Walking: Family Cycling Holidays in France & Much More
Whether you’re looking for a historic Normandy cycling holiday or a tour of Burgundy’s wine trails, Hooked On Cycling & Walking can help you arrange your dream two-wheeled trip. We are proud to offer an exciting and diverse selection of cycling holidays in France and beyond, as well as walking holidays designed to suit a range of abilities – from beginners looking to get outdoors and explore to experienced cyclists or hikers craving a new challenge. The UK and Europe are home to some of the most breathtaking locations in the world, along with a multitude of fascinating cultures and rich histories that challenge our ways of thinking and help us to learn more about the world around us.
Choose between a guided or self-guided holiday, the latter of which means that we simply organise all of the important information you need – such as detailed routes and accommodation – but otherwise you have free reign to make the trip your own without unnecessary interference. Our holidays are also grouped into difficulty grades, making it easier for you to determine which grade would be most appropriate and enjoyable for your physical fitness level. Regardless of what you are looking to get out of your cycling holiday in France, we will do our best to help make it the trip of a lifetime.
For more information about our cycling holidays in France and beyond, or to find out how to book, please get in touch with us today.