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France which area would be good for bike riding?

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Dec 27th, 2010, 10:39 AM
  #1
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France which area would be good for bike riding?

Where would you visit in France to include some nice leisurely bike rides, 15 miles per day good enough for us. We don't mean mountain bikes just low traffic roads or nice paths. Our travel time will be a period of 9 days, yet to be determined, but it will be somewhere in June - Sept. We will start vacation in Paris and then venture out somewhere....staying in one region. We will rent bike when we get to location out of Paris. Will probably rent a car to travel around. Thanks so much
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Dec 27th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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I have bicycled the Loire and it is lovely--wineries to visit, chateaus, etc. AND flat.
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Dec 27th, 2010, 11:19 AM
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I have biked literally all over the Hexagon, as France is often called and IMO you cannot go wrong BUT

weather can be much worse in the north - from Loire up - even in summer it can be cooler and rainier than you may expect (or it could be gorgeous too)

and there seem to be few flat areas in France so chose terrain well or bike along rivers (but not along the Loire as though the Loire is a good biking venue the roads along the Loire itself are often traffic-plagued truck thoroughfares

Buy a Micheli map and stick to roads in yellow and 'D' or departmental roads which usually are great biking roads - little traveled and well paved (nearly no dirt roads in France)

For mix of nice weather and interesting places and a gentle terraine I'd consider Burgundy and the Burgundy wine areas, dotted by cute small towns and ornate wine houses.

But in summer in the south it can get too hot as well.
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Dec 27th, 2010, 12:09 PM
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Oh, you really need to check out www.frenchmystiquetours.com -- Mr. FrenchMystique bikes all over the greater Paris metropolitan area (and even beyond) and has made numerous photo threads of his excursions.

Here is the link to just one of them: http://tinyurl.com/298tppr
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Dec 27th, 2010, 12:59 PM
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Kerouac beat me too it!
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Dec 27th, 2010, 01:50 PM
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We went on a Backroads trip to the Loire valley a few years ago and chose it because of fewer hills. The weather in June was perfect and the food, accommodations, etc were great. However I can't speak to the traffic because we followed the Backroads maps that led us on wonderful little streets with few cars. We have also cycled in Provence and most recently in the Dordogne. Provence was beautiful but seemed to have a bit more traffic than the Dordogne (but it could have been where we were staying) - and things were a bit more "spread out". We absolutely cycling in the Dordogne region and found that we could use bicycles as our mode of transportation and get to many sights (castles, river, etc) from our headquarter location while on back roads with little traffic (we stayed near the small village of Daglan). The Dordogne is, however, a bit more difficult to access from Paris than Burgundy or the Loire valley (but worth it in our opinion!!)
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Dec 27th, 2010, 05:10 PM
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Thank you for your nice replies. I will write down your suggestions and do more research from there!
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Dec 27th, 2010, 05:58 PM
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I agree with PalenQ that most places in France are great for biking but DO be aware of weather. We were in Loire Valley & Paris in July & August last summer & it was mostly freezing with lots of rain! Often felt like November. That said, the south of France was divine weather & riding along the canals there is fun. Think south if you want good weather.

We LOVED biking around St Emilion in Bordeaux that you might want to look into as it's exactly what you are asking for. Idyllic & easy/safe enough for our young child & a chubby senior mom.

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2009/0...e-country.html

Enjoy!
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Dec 27th, 2010, 06:00 PM
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The Dordogne is pretty hilly, and many of the roads are tortuous. I always worry when I'm driving on the D roads there and see bikers. And the Loire scenery is a bit ho-hum compared to many places in France. I think if I were a biker (and I'm not) I would enjoy biking along the Atlantic coast near La Rochelle and going out to explore one of the islands. Maybe a bit inland to the Cognac area as well. Fairly flat, a lot prettier than the Loire, and varied scenery.
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Dec 28th, 2010, 02:02 AM
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Ile de re is lovely but too small for your plans, Alsace is very good with lots of official paths and some canal routes, La Loire ok but Le Loir (just to the North) is much quieter and one of my favorite, I've not done it but the whole zone down towards Biaritz is flat, then you could cycle around Bordeaux, lots of sub choices, ride down to the big sea inlet, or into the wine area. There are some 4 designated bike paths and the back roads are relatively quiet. Apart from the Biaritz one I've done these all and would recommend them for flatness and short distances between villages.
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Dec 28th, 2010, 04:28 AM
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We've done some cycling in Alsace, burgundy and Normandy/Brittany.

Alsace is great with lots of dedicated paths, light traffic, cute villages. Likewise for Burgundy.

We spent more time on larger roads in Normandy/Brittany and except for the wet weather, it was pretty nice cycling as well.

The Dordogne is beautiful--the cycling looks like it could get a little dicey there though. Saw very few cyclists.

Ditto for Corsica...kind of scarey in fact.

One thing I have done for ideas is go to bike tour company websites like backroads, vbt, randonnee, etc. just to see what itineraries they use.

I also have a lonely planet book "cycling France" that has good route maps, tips, etc.

BikeToursDirect.com has some pretty good deals on self-guided trips with bike rentals if that interests you.
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Dec 28th, 2010, 06:47 AM
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an option in places like the Loire Valley is to avail yourself of hotels that provide bikes and also services that just port your luggage from one hotel to the next so you bike without any luggage.
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Dec 28th, 2010, 05:31 PM
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I happened to be in a travel store going out of business. One of the few items remaining was a book with a title like Cycling Tours in France (this is as close as I can recall). It contained specific tours for different regions of France. It might be of interest for the OP.
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Dec 29th, 2010, 04:36 AM
  #14
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Thank you all! I will go on Amazon etc. to try to find such books and check out my local library. Also I noticed no one mentioned Brittany as a biking option. Any thoughts?
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Dec 29th, 2010, 04:51 AM
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www.lecalendal.com Arles my fav for this

www.sunfrance.com other options...

Happy Journey,
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Dec 29th, 2010, 04:54 AM
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TGV cheaper better less stressful than car rental for me...

Paris traffic very stressful bad for my nerves

those high parking charges even worse...
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Dec 29th, 2010, 03:15 PM
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I've got some thoughts on Brittany, since it's one of my favorite regions. First, it is a very large area and the topography varies. I understood it to mean from your post that you are making days trips on your bike and returning to a home base each night. This as opposed to biking to a new location each day, either with your luggage or having it transported for you. It sounds like you are looking for low stress, relaxing rides without a lot of hills. A very picturesque and relatively flat area in Brittany is around the Gulf of Morbihan, in the far south/west of Brittany. Rather than describe it with a lot of words let me give you a link to a trip report I wrote about my week vacation in the area this summer. There are hundreds of photos so you can see with your own eyes what the topography is like.

http://tinyurl.com/2555vaf

Let me just a give you a couple of tips about biking in France in general. You can do it with just a Michelin map if you are the kind of person who is comfortable with maps. With a little research you can also find out about various bike paths that keep you off the roads. I bike in the countryside often just using a Michelin map (staying on the small white roads with an occasional yellow road) because the traffic in the country is so light. If you know how to read the gradient arrows on the map this will indicate the percent gradient. For instance, one gradient arrow super-imposed on a road indicates a gradient of 5% to 9%. Two arrows means a gradient of 9%-13% and three arrows 13% or greater. Just because there are no gradient arrows doesn't mean there are no hills. Often if a road on a map twists and turns a lot this is an indication of hills.

You can tell if a region you are contemplating will be good for biking by studying your map and looking for the gradient arrows. Also, the Michelin maps have icons for all kinds of historic and touristic attractions such as churches, abbeys, ruins, châteaux, caves, scenic viewpoints and especially designated scenic roads (plus many others). Areas shaded in green are generally hilly and/or forested and white areas generally open. If you plan a route incorporating some of the icons shown on the map with perhaps some designated scenic roads and avoid gradient arrows I bet you'll find pretty good rides no matter what region you are in. In choosing a town to cycle through I find one of the best icons to look for is the historic church icon. This usually means a church dating from the 11th to 14th centuries which usually means there are other old buildings which usually means a charming village. There may not be a lot to see but that's not the point. It's the charm of small town country life where you are the only tourist and it is often quite beautiful. I know because I ride like this all the time. And keep an eye out for the châteaux icon too.

Back to Brittany for a few more tips. I was just looking at my map of some of my favorite parts of that region. The northern coast known as The Pink Granite Coast (Côte de Granit Rose) is often called the most beautiful coastline in Brittany and it is an area I love. I've never biked there but I've been by car so I know the area and the map is not showing an abundance of gradient arrows. I know there are hills but no killers. If you look at your map you should focus on the northern coast between the town of Trégastel in the west and the town of Paimpol in the east. You could have several days of biking enjoyment in this region, as you could in the Gulf of Morbihan. Hope this helps.
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Dec 29th, 2010, 03:21 PM
  #18
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Wow what great advice, thanks for taking the time to share your experience.
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Dec 29th, 2010, 03:28 PM
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Le Loir (not to be confused with La Loire) is a lovely region worth exploring.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/de...h-Le-Loir.html

It also dips into the western part of the Loire Valley around Angers, which we like a lot better than the central area (Amboise, etc) and summer weather there is usually cooperative. Traffic around Le Loir is a lot lighter than in the central Loire Valley as well. The terrain is flat-ish - some gentle hills, but nothing arduous.
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Dec 29th, 2010, 03:47 PM
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Yes, the Loir (not the Loire) is nice also. You would probably like the area just west of Vendôme that is along or near the river. All the way from Vendôme in the east to Château du Loir in the west you'll notice the Michelin map is loaded with all kinds of icons that I just mentioned, with almost no gradient arrows.
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