Bicycle Touring France is a pure joy. This country has a great bike culture as can be seen during the annual Tour de France pro race and which you will experience during your own tour as well.
There are few long distance bicycle paths or signed routes in France although you will find plenty of local and regional bike paths. People are courteous and used to cyclists on the roads.
Top 6 Bicycle Touring France Routes
None of these regions offers a specific route so create your own touching on the major attractions.
- Brittany & Normandy – area of gentle terrain located northwest of Paris, an area formed by history, the sea and farming. A visit to historic Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most visited places in France and a must for you as well.
- Loire Valley – the longest river in France is renowned for the more than 300 magnificent chateaux. This route is popular with first timers to bicycle touring in Europe as the terrain along the river is quite gentle and being close to Paris is easy to reach by train.
- Alsace – one of the many wine regions in France, with medieval villages with half timbered houses such as in Colmar. This region located along the Rhine River boasts over 1,300 km of marked cycle routes.
- Burgundy – moderate cycling through wine country towns such as Chaneaunefuf. Along the way your bicycle touring takes you to picturesque walled medieval villages, chateaux and abbeys.
- Dordogne – cycling with some steep climbs along this southern river while exploring pre-historic caves, castles from the 100 years war and medieval villages. A must is to visit the religious center of Rocamadour which clings to the side of a mountain. Combine this with cycling along the nearby River Lot for a great round trip or continue to Bordeaux.
- Provence – also hilly at times as you cycle past ancient villages, olive orchards, scented lavender fields and gorges of the Luberon. You may wish to include the Canal du Midi in your itinerary which start near Bordeaux on the Atlantic and continues to the Mediterranean via Toulouse.
I recommend you get started with the popular Cycle Touring in France: Eight selected cycle tours
Six things you must see when Bicycle Touring France
- Normandy – medieval Mont-Saint-Michel reached via a causeway
- Loire – Chateau de Chenonceau built on a rocky plateau between the Loire and Masse rivers.
- Alsace – medieval town of Colmar
- Burgundy – Route des Grands Crus with wine tasting
- Dordogne – Rocamadour and the pre-historic caves at Montignac.
- Provence – hilltop villages and the Roman Pont du Gard
When is the best time for Bicycle Touring France?
The months of May or June in the spring and September or October in the fall are the best times. Attractions are not as busy and accommodation is easier to find although we did find some hotels closing in early September. We made advance reservations and were rewarded with well located hotels at reasonable prices.
Guided or self guided tours, you name it, all travel companies offering European bicycle touring trips include France. Provence, Dordogne, Lot, Burgundy, Alsace, Loire and Normandy cycling tours are offered.
If you are planning your own tour the Logis chain of independent small hotels offers a number of locations with special services for cyclists. And to assist with planning your Bicycle Touring France route take a look at this Cycling in France Guide.