Discover the best cycling routes in France

By • Jul 27th, 2012 • Category: Travel and Leisure

It may have been the Tour de France that inspired you to do more cycling or perhaps the chance to meander along a more sedate trail. Cycling has never been more popular thanks to the efforts of Bradley Wiggins. France is one of the best countries in the world to explore by bike and has a rich cycling heritage. There are many areas to choose from and for all levels from yellow jersey types to complete beginners, here are some of the best.

For those who want a relaxed and undemanding holiday with some gentle cycling routes, Burgundy makes a great choice. From vineyards to historic towns there is a lot to see, do, eat and drink. Cycling is ideal for burning up calories after tasting the Burgundian cuisine and wines, and for those who like lots of leisurely towns to explore, the area is ideal. From Vezelay to Dijon this is an ideal cycling destination for the cyclist who likes to take their time.

Imagine cycling holidays where riding past lavender fields and vineyards are all part of a day out in the countryside. Provence in the south of France is home to some of the best cycling trails in the world. For beginners the small villages, fields of sunflowers and rural landscapes are ideal and for the regular cycler there are opportunities to ride more challenging routes. Provence is home to Mont Ventoux, which to Tour de France aficionados is one of the most challenging ascents in the race. Just imagine returning from your holidays having been there and done it.

One of the loveliest things about cycling in France is the potential rides that can turn into adventure holidays as tiny villages and scenic routes are discovered on a journey. In the beautiful Quercy Region there are many routes to take, such as the freewheeling descent on the Cele Valley or a ride along the banks of the River Lot. There are tiny villages and beautiful medieval towns to discover such as Cajarc which are perfect places for a lunch stop. Visiting a lesser known but equally beautiful part of France can mean less people on the roads and a lot more to discover.

The Bordeaux coastline and Gironde Estuary are fabulous places for cycling. Imagine being able to stop off for a break and swim in the Atlantic. This is another region full of interesting routes and wine empires that are world famous. There are Roman remains, pine forests and historic towns that make cycling a real pleasure. This is also the region where the famous Camino de Santiago begins and so there is always an opportunity to head off for a completely new long distance route and journey of discovery. From wine tasting to exhilarating rides, the Gironde has lots of activities that are ideal for cyclists.

All Tour de France winners finish in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe. Fortunately for them the roads are closed to cars as they make their entry into the city amidst cheers from spectators. For the everyday cyclist, Paris is a challenge with its traffic filled streets and horn honking motorists and you might not get the same reaction as Monsieur Wiggo. Sticking to the routes outside the capital may just be the better idea if you cherish a relaxing break and want to come home in one piece.

Rachael Rowe is a travel writer who has travelled extensively in France.

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