Discover France by bike
The interest of the French for cycling is not waning, on the contrary… Several reasons can explain this. First of all, the ecological side of bicycle use is becoming more and more attractive. Indeed, especially in metropolises where air pollution is high, inhabitants are becoming aware that they can make a gesture and an effort for the planet at their own level. As a result, the increase in the use of bicycles to get to work or simply to make short trips is real. The availability of self-service bicycles has also contributed to this increase.
Secondly, the French have taken on board the idea that practising a sporting activity is essential for improving one’s health on a daily basis. So, what better way to get around than to combine health and practicality by pedalling! Moreover, the strong arrival of electric bikes on the market allows people who are not very sporty to make a minimum effort without reaching their limits.
As a result, the French people’s attraction to cycling is also evident during holidays and weekends. Moreover, the bicycle is still mostly used for leisure activities. Cycling tourism continues to develop and has a bright future ahead of it!
The French craze for bicycle tourism
The increase in the use of bicycles in France is pushing the public authorities to create new infrastructures or improve existing facilities:
- Cycle tracks in towns and cities
- Development of mountain bike tracks and cycle routes
Bicycle manufacturers are also benefiting from this trend by offering increasingly innovative products, for example in terms of ergonomics and comfort.
It is therefore not surprising that cycle tourism remains a very popular activity for the French, who see it as an ecological and practical means of transport for discovering places and sites:
- Not necessarily accessible by car
- Quicker to reach than on foot
Bicycle tourism can be practiced over a day, a weekend, or within a longer stay for an excursion. But it can also be a real way of life during the holidays, with camping as a form of accommodation for those who wish to stay close to nature.
Moreover, the practice of this activity is supervised by a Federation (the French Cycling Federation), which offers ideas for outings, hiking calendars, as well as a list of clubs in France where you can get information.
Getting on your bike
Cycling does not necessarily mean that the bicycle will be your only means of transport. Indeed, in most cases, you will have to travel to your holiday destination by train or car. And once there, you will have plenty of time to use your bicycle to discover the region. So how can you easily transport your bike?
If you wish to remain independent of your car, it is possible to consider transporting your bike by train. The SNCF is trying to improve the conditions under which bicycles are taken on board.
However, you should still be careful to take precautions, as space for bicycles may be limited on some trains. On TER trains, transport is free but spaces cannot be reserved. In the TGV INOUI, you must reserve your bicycle space when you order your ticket for a fee of ten euros.
If you are travelling to your holiday destination by car, make sure you have everything you need to transport your bike(s).
A first solution to consider, if the interior space of your vehicle is large enough, is to put the bike in your trunk by lowering the rear seats. Another way is to install roof racks, useful for travelling with several bikes. You will just have to make sure that the total height does not exceed the height limit that you may encounter on your journey (tunnels for example).
Finally, the most relevant for travelling with your bike over a long distance or repeatedly is the trunk or trailer bike carrier.
Beautiful escape for bike tours
Numerous websites or blogs of cyclists will give you good ideas to discover France by bike. All the regions can be visited in this way and offer paths and tracks designed for cyclists.
If you are staying in New-Aquitaine, you may want to consider cycling around the Gironde. This 480-kilometre route follows safe routes if you want to do it with the whole family. Leaving and arriving in Bordeaux, you will follow a loop that will take you through the Médoc and its vineyards, the Bay of Arcachon and the moors of Gascony.
If you wish to start by making short trips in the region, you can, still departing from Bordeaux, go around the Lake of Bordeaux. It will be a pleasant walk on bicycle paths and is suitable for families.
The Burgundy-Franche-Comté region is also ideal for cycling. Nearly 1,700 kilometres of cycle routes are on offer, allowing you to discover all the treasures of the area. If you appreciate oenology, you will be able to make your own wine route by bike through the Burgundy vineyards. On a route of about 90 kilometres you will visit the remarkable villages of Nuits-Saint-Georges or Beaune while learning how to taste the local wine, in moderation of course…
Finally, Brittany offers several major cycling routes, particularly through its greenways, ideal for family outings. One of the most popular routes for cycling travellers is to link North Brittany to its southern part, from the English Channel to the Atlantic. You will cross unavoidable sites such as Saint-Malo by following the Ille-et-Rance canal on a long developed cycling section. On the same route, a greenway will take you past the forest of Brocéliande, famous for its mysteries and legends…