By Sally Fox
What could be more exciting than loading up the bike rack and catching the ferry to France for two weeks of pedalling pleasure? These beautiful destinations are perfect for your next two-wheeled adventure.
If you’re after coastal charm, Normandy is a winner. At only 3 hours from the UK, you’ll find yourselves gliding through scenic farmland and past rugged coastal vistas. Fuelled by some fantastic local produce, (the area is famed for cheese and cider) explore the region’s abundant history and culture. From the Bayeux Tapestry to the work of the Impressionists, there is something for everybody. A magical day trip to Mont St. Michel is not to be missed, this quirky island upon which a Benedictine abbey is perched is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Climb the cobbled streets and 900 steps which twist around the island, stopping for a crêpe along the way and admire the view from the top.
Montpellier boasts Mediterranean vibes and guaranteed sun, hop on your bikes to take in this unique destination. Explore the picture-perfect Old Town, where cars are not allowed to venture, to feel as though you’ve really stepped back in time. Montpellier is famed for its music scene, so whether it’s classical, opera or jazz that tickles your fancy, you’re sure to find some world-class performers just rolled into town. Make sure to stop for an aperitif in the Place Jean Jaurès, where Mediterranean cafe cultures is at its buzzing best. The beach is just under an hour’s cycle away from the town, so pack a lunch and take the day to relax on the sand. Or enjoy some of the fresh fish on offer at the harbour, lovingly cooked the way only the French know how.
The Dordogne is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of France, rent a villa here and use it as a base to explore this stunning valley by bike. The countryside is dotted with picturesque chateaux, adorable villages and winding country roads. Make sure to stop by to see the famous cave art concealed within the rock shelters and caves, bound to intrigue any buddy historians in the family. Spend a morning pottering around the provincial market of Périgueux, picking up some pain et fromage for lunch.
If travelling by air, head to Bordeaux to check into a plush city apartment and rent bicycles for some serious exploring without the hassle of transporting your bikes from home. Spend an afternoon pottering around the pretty Old Town, stopping for a long, rich lunch, bien sûr. Next day, cycle out to the Saint-Emilion Village, a world heritage site known for its medieval charm and of course, its wine. Bordeaux has some beautiful parks, perfect for a picnic and for the little ones to practice their cycling skills away from traffic.
It’s easy to see why many cyclists gravitate toward France. The country has something to offer for everyone – medieval towns, rolling countrysides, and scenic bike trails along coastlines. It’s not all sleepy towns and leisure rides, though. If you want to get some training out of your holiday, Normandy, Montpellier, Dordogne, and Bordeaux have a variety of bike paths where you can test your riding endurance and skills. Just bring your usual training accessories (like your power meter, fitness tracker, and bike computer) to track your ride.
Rural France has so much to offer the cycling holiday-maker, so slip on those cycling shorts and prepare for an unforgettable fortnight.