Bicycling tour-France or Italy

Old Nov 8th, 1999, 07:12 AM
  #1  
kristi
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Bicycling tour-France or Italy

My parents are interested in taking a guided bicycle tour in France or Italy. I had recommended the Loire Valley as the terrain is not too steep and I thought my mom would enjoy the gardens and the chateaux. The other area my dad was looking at was Tuscany but I haven't been there so I don't know if it would be good for them or not. <BR> <BR>Has anyone taken any of the organized tours? My dad has a brochure for Backroads but the prices seem to be a bit high. The other two companies I found on the internet were Discover France and Van Gogh tours. Has anyone used either of these? <BR> <BR>This will be my parents first trip overseas so I think a guided tour would be the best option for them. <BR> <BR>Thanks for any advice!
 
Old Nov 8th, 1999, 03:52 PM
  #2  
Dayle
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A friend at work just did a trip in the Po River Valley (easy, flat). They then went on and did another one in Austria. She LOVED it and is going again next year. I'll find out what company they used. She was with her ski club, The Over The Hill Gang. You have to be over 50 to be a member, but they're a lively bunch. <BR>
 
Old Nov 10th, 1999, 12:21 AM
  #3  
Sheila
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Alternative Travel Group (mail to: [email protected]) do Frewheeling tours-they provide bikes, routes, written guides nad transport your baggage. <BR> <BR>In Provence, the Dordogne,the Cotswolds, Latium& Orvorto, Umbria and Assisi, Tuscany and Siena and Southern Tuscany. Might be worth speaking to them?
 
Old Nov 10th, 1999, 05:42 AM
  #4  
steve
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I have bicycled twice in the Loire - once with a tour (unfortunately out of business) and once on my own. It is fantastic and a great place for beginners at touring. It was the first tour for my wife and she handled it fine. On the orgainized tour I took, there were several novices that did ok. <BR> <BR>I haven't ridden at all in Italy, but several of the interesting places are known as Tuscan HILL towns. And those hills aren't small. Unless your parents are real climbers, I would skip Tuscany. <BR> <BR>Read the brochures carefully. Milage of 30 miles or so a day is more than enough
 
Old Nov 10th, 1999, 06:30 AM
  #5  
kristi
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Brian, thanks for the advice. I think I'll advise them to stick to the Loire Valley. Although my dad can ride circles around most people half his age, I don't think my mom would enjoy a lot of hills. <BR> <BR>Sheila, thanks for the info. I'll let my parents know about the alternative travel folks, but I suspect they would be more comfortable in a group. <BR> <BR>If anyone has had any first hand experience with Backroads, Discover France or any other organized tour, I'd love to hear about it.
 
Old Nov 10th, 1999, 07:05 AM
  #6  
JO ANN
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Hi, kristi: <BR>It may be even a bit more than Backroads, but I used Butterfield and Robinson out of Toronto for (first) Normandy (incredible: food is beyond belief, beautiful countryside, rarely hilly, enjoyed the spots loved by the impressionists, Honfleur, and the landing spots, Canadian cemetery more moving by far even than the American) and followed it up the next year with the Dordogne (castles around every curve, lovely lovely scenery, saw the cave drawings!). Haven't been on one lately only because we're waiting for our daughter to be old enough to go along -- plan to repeat the experience beginnning in 2 summers. <BR>Note re: your mom's ability: I read the brochure for B&R "cycling trips for non-cyclists" and went for it -- hadn't been on a bike in 25 years (kept meaning to get back on one, and business travel + hectic life kept me from finding the time -- I knew it was dumb, but didn't realize how it would upset the bike mechanic and the 2 guides -- oops!), had never shifted gears or used hand brakes, was about 40 years old....the first day was rough: after 16 miles I used the van back to the lovely hotel, BUT by the final (7th) day, 35 miles pre-lunch, delightful roast chicken etc and red wine lunch in a local home, toured cemeteries, did another 18, 53 total that day and could have gone another 10 easy. The muscles and capability, in my experience, grow each day! And you can eat and drink whatever and still lose weight!!! <BR>Another incredible plus for a bike tour: the reaction of the locals. When they heard us speak English, they assumed we were Brits -- wouldn't accept we were Americans, since they just were certain that Americans never choose such a slow pace to see their beloved country!! <BR>In my humble opinion, the Backroads tour is probably awfully nice, if it's like B&R: 2 guides, one biking/changing any flats (we didn't have any), one in the van, offering fruit, more water, chocolate, and even a ride on a bad day. Carte blanche on the menus, a group of 18 at dinner, but totally our own pace during the day. Great maps and local insights. I personally couldn't handle panniers and my own luggage (personal preference for sure), and love a really experienced group -- bottom line, sometimes you just get what you pay for. <BR>(I do however, know how much easier it is to spring for just one person's fare, as I was single at that time.) <BR>Hope my wanderings help.
 
Old Nov 10th, 1999, 05:28 PM
  #7  
sharron
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Kristi, <BR> <BR>I went on the Backroads trip to the Loire Vally last year, the trip to Tuscany this year. Obviously, I like Backroads a lot to have done this---the trip guides are charming and they take care of the logistics without a hitch. But there was a WORLD of difference between the two trips in terms of difficulty. The Loire Valley trip is their easiest European biking trip (flat, flat, flat), and Tuscany is their hardest (everything was a steep uphill or a screaming downhill). Admittedly, I'm not an accomplished biker, but I think the people who enjoyed the Tuscany trip most were very regular bikers up for a pretty serious challenge.
 
Old Nov 11th, 1999, 06:32 AM
  #8  
kristi
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Thanks Sharron for the info on Backroads and confirming that the Loire Valley is an easier trip. My husband and I are usually independent travellers so the cost seemed a bit much to me. But then I checked out Butterfield & Robinson (thanks for sharing your experience JoAnn)and Backroads suddenly doesn't seem so bad. <BR> <BR>How were the accommodations on the trip? How was the food? Did you have a selection from a menu? My mom is on a fairly strict diet so she wants to be sure she can order vegetarian/fish for dinner.
 

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