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Cycling in France

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May 3rd, 2015, 07:05 PM
  #1
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Cycling in France

My son and I are planning a 14 day "graduation from college" trip. Rather than signing up for a tour ($3,000-4,000 per person per week), we were thinking of bringing our bikes, renting a small RV and traveling from Paris to the mountains and creating our own riding day trips along the way and back. We were thinking of driving/camping our way to Alpe d'Huez and back to Paris. Any suggestions would be welcome of must see places, routes for day rides (60-80 km loops) and anything else that an experience traveler might suggest.
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May 3rd, 2015, 07:45 PM
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You will need to book your RV camping locations ahead of time, especially during high season, when they tend to fill up. Unlike some places, you have to use a camp ground when traveling in your RV.

http://www.vayacamping.net/francia
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May 3rd, 2015, 07:51 PM
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A cyclist friend of mine was telling me about cycling tours that are offered in France. You could research their routes and probably find something suitable.
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May 3rd, 2015, 10:56 PM
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Hi dclairation,

I second the idea of a cycling tour, which always attracts me. In my research, I found Randonee Tours, which I like a lot because it's independent, but they provide a lot of support. Here's the website:

http://www.randonneetours.com/bydestination/france.htm

Sorry haven't done them myself yet.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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May 4th, 2015, 12:56 AM
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If you want you can have a look at the thread below where I gave advice on another forum about do it yourself cycling in France. It's a lengthy thread but it's pretty thorough in regards to resources and weblinks that will help you plan a cycling trip anywhere in France:

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntr...inner#20796466
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May 4th, 2015, 02:33 AM
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http://www.freewheelingfrance.com/

Catering for exactly what you describe and the owner/organiser or whatever is very amendable to answering your questions or setting you on the path to finding out.

Might of course already be in FMT's thread, which I must confess to not having read.#blush
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May 4th, 2015, 04:18 AM
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Take a look at the journals at www.crazyguyonabike.com
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May 4th, 2015, 05:05 AM
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Crazyguyonabike and Freewheelingfrance already covered in my thread. Plus more.
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May 4th, 2015, 07:05 AM
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You do not have to use campgrounds IME with RVs but can do like many French do and discretely park them in areas of cities where you may see many just parked on streets- like right in Paris by the Chateau de Vincennes - a veritable RV parking lot last I heard.

Camps however offer amenities like swimming pools - I have camped in zillions of French camps and outside of July and August very very few are full and you can pop right in - try to do your trip as early as possible before July and August when camps for RVs fill up but for those who want to carry tents on their bikes as I have often done you will always always find places - but that is a bit of a hassle I agree.

The Burgundy Wine Road would be a nice place to bike - camp in Beaune's municipal camping - unlikely to be filled as ones in sheer resort areas may be and go north one day and south the other day along the winding Route des vins de Bourgogne (sp?) - a road meandering past innumerable cute wine villages and wineries.
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May 4th, 2015, 07:12 AM
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There certainly are good options for finding cycling routes in France and I love, love, love visiting France. However, if you are open to other experiences you might want to consider Switzerland. We cycled there last summer and could not believe how user friendly it is. The cycling and hiking routes are signposted and we did not even need a map once we set out for the day. We would use a map to pick our cycling route for the day - i.e. the Lakes Route #9 - and just follow the signs. The scenery is unrivaled, IMO.

We headquartered in the lovely village of Chateau-d'Oex from which you can easily get down to Montreux by train to ride around the lake (and over to France if you would like!) or ride to Gruyeres and see the castle and tour the chocolate factory.

You also have the option of riding out and taking a train back (or vice versa) if your legs are spent or you don't want to do a loop.

Not to dissuade you from France - there is certainly great culture, food, scenery etc all over France. The Swiss just make it very easy for cycling.
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May 4th, 2015, 07:33 AM
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Switzerland however would cost you about twice as much across the board in this very expensive country - France IMO has the very best cycling roads - its vast system of well-paved very untrafficked D or departemental roads - local roads winding thru small villages and again IME of cycling over the whole of the Hexagon, as France is often called, are better even than any bike path - get a Michelin 1:200,000 map at any gas station or news shop and that's all you need - showed gradients but if planning on Alpine biking you know what to expect - bring a bike with very low gearing or better IME rent a bike once there to avoid the real hassle of bringing bikes these days on planes.
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May 13th, 2015, 11:05 AM
  #12
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Thank you for the many responses. I have just joined and this was my first question. It took until now for me to realize there were a bunch of replies.
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Jun 21st, 2015, 02:39 AM
  #13
 
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Hi
I have just completed France north to south in 20 days carrying my stuff in paniers.

Have a look at my blog if you have a moment and let me know if you have any questions

Regards

Andrew

http://andrewchum.blogspot.co.uk/
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Jun 21st, 2015, 03:26 AM
  #14
 
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FMT's link pretty well covers the lot. Certainly it is very easy to do your own trip. For me there three things to work out

1) Hills or valleys, so basically what sort of cycling do you want to do. There are so many valley bottom routes across France that allow you to do long distances
2) Single centre or long journey
3) Back-up trains (nearly all go along the valley bottoms)

In most areas bike rentals are cheap E10 to 45/day dependant on duration and bike quality. Maps are excellent (all that Napolionic planning) and so many roads with no traffic on them.

The other thing I like to do is use trains or even aircraft to start or finish a journey. There is no reason why you should not, for example. base yourself in Alsace, one day take a train into Germany and ride home, another day ride over the Vosges mountains and yet another catch a train into Switzerland and ride home, then do a wine route tour on a few more days.
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Jun 21st, 2015, 08:52 AM
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Andrew, that's a delightful account. Because I like your writing so much, I'd say it's even a little brief and you should expand it some.

And go back someday soon and take another route through France.
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Aug 21st, 2015, 12:39 PM
  #16
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Thank you Andrew. What a wonderful adventure!

We has set our itinerary for the most part. Paris (4 days) pick up RV and drive (with cycling excursions on the way) to Auxerre, Lyon, Bedoin (climb Mt. Ventoux), Gap, Le Bourg Oisans (climb Alpe d'Huez), Grenoble, Chamonix, Montreaux, Switz, Besancon, Sezanne and then back to Paris to return home. One question at this point is whether to drive around Lake Geneva on the west side (Geneva) or the west side. As always, any thoughts are appreciated.

David
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Aug 21st, 2015, 12:56 PM
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whether to drive around Lake Geneva on the west side (Geneva) or the west side.>

If you choice is between the west side and west side then it's the west side but Lake Geneva is more oriented oriented north and south shores as the western side is very tiny - just Geneva - the south side might be nicer - far feweer cities and some nice small towns - the north side has Lausanne on it - a nice big city and Vevey - the east side has Montreux - Vevey and Montreux make lovely stops for overnights. Roads tend not to go along the short on the north side IME but may more on the south side.

anyway the west side is just a few miles in length - Geneva at the mouth of the Rhone River.
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Aug 21st, 2015, 06:21 PM
  #18
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To be clearer, I was meaning around the east end of the lake and then the north side of the lake versus going around the west end of the lake and probably not even driving that much along the south shore, given where we are starting. I have heard that Montreux and Vevey are quite nice. We will be driving the RV at this point in the trip, so will have no overnights on this point of the trip.
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Sep 18th, 2015, 07:37 PM
  #19
 
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My husband and I are planning an 8 week France trip and staying near Carcassonne, we are looking at a self guided cycling tour to the coast for about a week, but will be there in November 15, I can't seem to locate any companies who will do November tours. Does anyone have any recommendations thank you.
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Sep 18th, 2015, 08:29 PM
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Having just looked at cycling tours for fall myself, the problem you are going to encounter is that by Nov. the weather will probably be pretty crummy. That's why no cycling companies are offering tours. As I understand it, really bad weather from the Atlantic can cause some potentially nasty weather for cycling. If you can find anything at all, I think you will have to look way south towards the Cote d'Azur.
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