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France Travel Guide - Travel Blog - Home

Cycling in France is the perfect activity holiday

cycling in france
Photo: CC BY-NC 2.0 will_cyclist

France is the perfect destination for any keen cyclist, with so many gorgeous locations to choose from. Spring and summer are the perfect seasons for cycling in France, although the practice can be enjoyable all year round and a bonus is that bikes are allowed to travel free of charge on trains, so deciding on your cycling location is made just that much easier.  You just need to reserve the extra space for your bicycle when purchasing your ticket.

While there are not always dedicated cycling lanes available, the French tend to love the sport themselves. For this reason drivers are always just that much more aware of cyclists on the road, especially over the weekends.

Rules and regulations

There are a few rules and regulations to bear in mind when taking cycling breaks in France. Many cyclists prefer to take their own bicycles on holiday with them, but there are several regulations to bear in mind. Your bike must be equipped with fully-functioning brakes and a bell, and if cycling after dark must be fitted with front and rear lights, as well as reflectors.
However when it comes to France, it is not essential to take your own bicycle, as there are rental outlets all over the country where bikes can be hired for a reasonable fee.

Another thing to bear in mind is that while crash helmets are not compulsory in France, it is still a good idea to wear a helmet, especially when cycling after dark is busy regions, as well as a high-visibility reflective waistcoat for safety.

When there are cycle lanes available, bear in mind that cyclists must stick to those and not head into the car lanes. It is also imperative that cyclists obey the normal traffic signs and signals, including one way, no entry and stop signs. 

Also cyclists should always ensure they keep a safe distance between themselves and other vehicles and while in the daytime it is OK to cycle two-abreast, at night cyclists must ride in single file.

Cycling holiday in France
Photo: cycling2 CC BY-NC 2.0 Simon

Don’t drink and cycle. While you may be tempted to partake of some of the delicious French wine on your travels, always bear in mind that you are subject to the same limits as other road users when traveling in France and you could be hit with a heavy fine and have your bicycle impounded if found to be under the influence of alcohol while cycling.

Where to go?

There are many great destinations for cycling breaks in France, and the following are just a few suggestions, suitable for all levels of cyclist. from the tougher mountain rides to the easier cycling routes through the wine areas and along the coast.
Cycling in the French Alps For those ready for riding in the mountains, the French Alps are perfect and this area is popular with cyclists from all over the world. 

While grueling in parts, the rather slower cycling speed offers the cyclist the opportunity to enjoy the best, spectacular mountain vistas on all sides. It also allows cyclists to experience some of the more trying stages of the Tour de France, but at a more leisurely pace than that of the entrants. 

It is important to note, however, that the period from June to September tends to be very busy, with many other cyclists having the same idea as you, which can tend to spoil the adventure.

Another excellent choice is the route from La Baule at the mouth of the Loire, cycling all the way to lovely Biarritz. Taking this route offers a mostly tarred cycle lane through the lovely Aquitaine region and is, in fact, the most complete long-distance cycle route (or “velo route” as they are known locally) in France, perfect for those with that extra kick of stamina.

Another option is to head from the Atlantic coast through to the Mediterranean coast, leaving from Lacanau or Arcachon, peddling all the way through the partly tarred canal towpath near Sète, on the Mediterranean coast. 

Photo: CC BY-NC 2.0 will_cyclist

Enjoy the adventure of the open road in France, but take care. Stick to the rules and regulations, but also relax, enjoy the fresh air and lovely scenery as you tour the roads of France.


France Travel Guide - Travel Blog - Home