Cycling in France

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Anonymous's picture

I am trying to plan a two week cycling trip in France in July. There is a lot of info and a lot of rides to choose from. Can anyone direct me towards a few routes that focus on the southern coast? I would like to keep the mileage to 60 - 80 miles a day. Thanks!

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
It's probably not 2 weeks of riding, but...

Take the TGV from Paris to Avignon. Then: Avignon-Nimes-Tarascon-St. Remy-Arles-Salon-Aix-Cassis-La Ciotat-Grand Canyon du Verdon-St. Raphael (the Esterel coast has color and rock cleavage I haven't seen elsewhere)-Grasse-Cannes-Nice. TGV back to Paris or fly to NYC from Nice.

If you have extra days, go into the hills above Nice: Vence and Sospel (above Menton). Nice to Menton features traffic, but digress into Cap d'Antibes, Juan-les-Pins, Villefranche, Cap Ferrat, Beaulieu. The riding isn't terrific, but the homes are.

Or, if home-gawking doesn't interest you, go one direction via the Upper Corniche, return by the middle one.


Addendum: You could start by flying directly to Marseille from NYC

Anonymous's picture
Ted (not verified)
South East

"I did some beautiful riding around Gordes this year, but that is a bit north from the coast. You can ride out of Gordes and through the Col d Murs.
And from there, Mt Ventoux is within range. Bring a low gear and tame ""THE BEAST""

Anonymous's picture
Paul O'Donnell (not verified)
Cycling in France

"Are you planning on touring with your gear, or do you want to base yourself somewhere and take day trips? If you have a bike case, you'll need to either finish where you start, or organise someone to move it for you.

As Richard noted, the TGV to Avignon is a good start, and has the bonus that you can get one from Charles de Gaulle airport, which is useful if you have a bike with you. You can take a bike box on a TGV as luggage, but an assembled bike requires getting a train with a special bike carriage - you'll see a little bicycle icon on the schedule at and you need to make a reservation for the bike.

I'm not familiar with the coast, but my wife and I spent a week just north of the coast in Provence last year and there is some excellent cycling around there. From Avignon, you can go south west through the Alpilles, or east towards the Vaucluse. We spent the week in the Vaucluse region, a few days in Crillon-le-Brave, which is right next to Mt Ventoux, and then a few days in Gordes, which is spectacular. There is also great biking towards Sault through Gorges de la Nesque.

The hotels in the area are cycling friendly and will be able to help with the logistics. Both of the ones we used had lock up bike rooms and they organised taxis to take us and our bikes to and from the train, and also organised a taxi to move our luggage and bike boxes from Crillon-le-Brave to Gordes while we travelled by bike. We found a good bike store in Bedoin (Bedoin Location) who helped out with some minor mechanical problems.

We didn't make it to the Alpilles, but if you go there a friend recommended contacting Dominique Parisot & Jim Sanders at Moulin des Vignes Vieilles -, who have a nice B&B and can help arrange support.

I recommend the Lonely Planet ""Cycling France"" book which has some suggested routes.

We have some pictures of our trip and some useful links here:"

Anonymous's picture
Hannah (not verified)
France in July

The Tour de France takes up a good chunk of July. Are you planning to watch?

The only cycling I've done in France was on a Tour-based trip with Graham Baxter Sporting Tours. It was awesome--beautiful scenery, good food, great company, and of course Le Tour. Highly recommended.


Anonymous's picture
Jay (not verified)
as a cyclist who has ridden in the South of France every year

"I endorse the previous comments, but could add these 3:

1. Massif De L'Esteral--between Cannes and St Tropez--natl forest, light traffic on a long mountain overlooking the Riviera

2.Bordeaux and the area around Toulouse (Midi-Pyrennes) are also in the South of France and offer excellent cycling

3. Corsica is a ""a bit south of the South of France"" and is my favorite. See my NYCC Bulletin article in ""archives""-Feb, 2005 on this web site.

BTW June would be even a litle better than July if you could go then. Slightly cooler,less traffic (the French schools are in session until early July) and the hotels may a be less expensive. Check out ""Cycling France"" by Simpson: several specific tours in the South and lots of logistical info. If you have any ?'s or would like turn sheets and other specific info once you decide on which area, contact me at [email protected]"

Anonymous's picture
Jonathan Shannon (not verified)
Cycling in France

You might also want to check out the Cevennes (N of Montpelier and easily reached via TGV and car), which has some beautiful mountianous routes and not so much traffic. Mont Aigoual is a nice destination. It's not touristy either, which can be either a bane or a boon depending on your needs. Start from Anduze or St Jean-du-Gard and make your way up and around to the observatory at Mt Aigoual, or via Valeragues (which hosts a Mt Aigoual TT in July for those brave enough). For a first trip I'd have to agree with the Avignon region recommendations; you can't go wrong there. And go for Mont Ventoux but be prepared for a chilly summit and descent!

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Or, if you want a coastline, why not a far more dramatic one?

If you're seeking to ride a thrilling, dramatic coastline, the Mediterranean coast of France is NOT it.

Jay has spoken of Corsica. I don't know it, but his opinion must be heeded. I do know the Cinque Terra coast of Italy (the Ligurian Sea) is far more exciting than is Med. coast of France. The Amalfi coast is THRILLING and the isles of Ischia and Capri are a short boat ride from it and offer terrific circumnavigations by bike.

I look at the map of Sicily and wonder if there aren't parts of its coast that might offer spectacular vistas—although surely Sicily is HOT in the summer. I think the Vogels have ridden some or most of this coast. Let's get their opinions.

I wonder if Brittany doesn't offer some spectacular coastline. Maps appear to indicate roads that hug the shoreline.

But I know no coastline that rivals one right here in the U.S. for spectacle: the Big Sur area of California, starting below Carmel Highlands (ca. 150 miles south of San Francisco) and continuing for perhaps 80 miles.

And what about inland shorelines? Start at the Milan airport (Malpensa). Ride north and you're on the shore of Lago Maggiore before you would be in Milan if you rode south. Go clockwise 3/4 the way around the lake. Leave it for Lake Lugano, follow it, and you come to Lake Como. Bike clockwise around the entirety of Como (and leave it for some fine mountain passes) and you'll be along shore with mountains in sight almost the entire time. Finish this ride by offering a prayer at the Madonna del Ghisallo, the chapel above Lake Como that has bicycles and jerseys of The Greats hanging on its walls. Malpensa is a day's ride away for your return.

More inland water? You cannot beat the fjords of Norway for spectacle and the roads above them for vistas. The roads connecting the fjords often lead you to boats that will take you across them. Traffic? None. Daylight? Until 10:30-11PM.

All the above water routes are far, far more dramatic than the water lapping ashore on the south coast of France. Oh, and do you expect to find nice, sandy beaches at Nice? Fuggedaboudit. The beaches are all ROCKS! (I don't recall but maybe that is the same at Cannes, too.)

Anonymous's picture
Richard Jesaitis (not verified)
Cycling in France

"I cycled for a couple of weeks in France a few years ago using the Lonely Planet ""Cycling France"" guide. The guide is absolutely fantastic: offering ride descriptions, route maps and elevation changes for rides all over France, borken down by region. I chose to ride in the Champagne region during harvest time. The guide provided many 40-60 mile loop tours originating from Epernay, moving up into the mountains and then back into the village. I was surprised on how wonderful and auto free the routes were.

I highly recommend you look at this guide before deciding on exactly where you will ride.

Best of luck,

Anonymous's picture
Jay (not verified)
Cannes has sand & the Massif Esteral has coastal views

per my earlier message on this thread

Anonymous's picture
Rachel (not verified)

I just wanted to thank everyone for the excellent and helpful information so far. There certainly is alot to choose from. A few summers ago we followed the Danube River for over 700 miles, and that was very straight forward easy to follow. France seems to be a little more complex.

Anonymous's picture
Paul O'Donnell (not verified)

You will find that with a good map, the roads are well signposted. Each intersection tells you clearly the number of each road and where it goes. It takes a bit of planning, but you can follow smaller back roads and not get lost.

Anonymous's picture
eve (not verified)

Backroads has great trips!

cycling trips