Where to cycle in France
Ease of access over the English Channel makes coastal cycling in the northwest regions of Normandy and Brittany extremely attractive, with rural roads leading east to riverside routes around the Centre-Val de Loire. The southwest boasts the largest of France’s 12 regions, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, which features the Dordogne, as well as the start of a challenging coast-to-coast route through the Midi-Pyrénées. Rolling fields of lavender paint perfection in Provence, or you could head north to the highs of the French Alps and the lowland lakes of Geneva and Annecy. The region of Alsace, in the northeast, is considered one of France’s friendliest for cycling, whilst Burgundy needs no introduction for those looking to cycle through vineyards, villages and verdant canal paths within central France.
Our France cycling Vacations
6. French Alps
7. Loire Valley
6. French Alps
7. Loire Valley
As France’s friendliest region for cyclists, Alsace’s extensive network of traffic-free bike lanes, towpaths and wine routes is said to top 4,000km which all adds up to an exceptional cycling itinerary stretching from Strasbourg on the German border all the way to Switzerland in the south. Follow a route around Le Rhône, Le Grand Ballon and one of the ride's most ravishing villages, Riquewihr.
Although synonymous with the Beaujolais Nouveau Runs of the 90s, this beautiful central eastern area, overlapping both Burgundy and Rhône-Alpes, is becoming increasingly popular with cyclists thanks to a variety of terrain to test and enchant in equal measures. Beaujolais is an ideal region to practise for the Alps or pause for picnics amongst the vineyards of Julienas, Saint-Amour or Fleurie.
Don your Breton stripes, stow a galette and cycle from Saint-Malo to Mont Saint-Michel. Head north into Normandy before riding east and inland, along peaceful country lanes and gentle hillsides, en-route to Dinan set on the beautiful banks of the River Rance. The calming coastal and country contrasts, around Saint-Jouan-des-Guérets, especially, are simply sublime for cyclists.
Bulging with possibilities like a ripe Pinot Noir, Burgundy is impossible to ignore for cyclists hoping to sample the good life from Auxerre to Chablis, Nitry to Vezelay, with waves of vineyards and wooded banks along the Serein offering endless opportunities to taste the essence of central France. Burgundy is bursting with canals and riverside routes to timeless towns, such as Noyers-sur-Serein.
Laid back, low cost and featuring more than 1,500 châteaux, the Dordogne area of Nouvelle-Aquitaine deserves all the plaudits. Here, characterful cycle routes past limestone cliffs, indigenous forests and tree lined river banks ensure a peaceful pedal far from the madding crowd. Start in Souillac and pedal past Périgord and Quercy as you prepare for 55km rides en-route to Rocamadour.
6. French Alps
Hey, the Alps can be extremely challenging; however, don’t be put off if you’re a casual cyclist as there are great riverside routes linking the lakes of Geneva, Bourget, and Annecy. Of course, settle into a chalet in Samoens village and you’re immersed in ‘col country’, with as many ups and downs as you wish, as well as a hot tub and local pool in which to soothe aching limbs.
7. Loire Valley
One of the finest regions of central France also features cycle routes for those who aren’t in a rush; cyclists who place gastronomy as high on the agenda as low gears. The Loire also offers wildlife watching in Autreche, lunching on a château terrace or soaking up some sun on the banks of the Cher. You can’t say Loire without relaxing, so here’s to the finer things in life to be enjoyed on and off the saddle.
Begin in Bayeux and head south past the beaches and cemeteries before continuing to Carentan, Regnéville and Granville where bird-filled marshlands, Camembert cows and sleepy seaside villages align routes within one of France’s foremost westerly regions. Normandy knows no bounds with roads from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel capturing a laid back coastline, marked by monuments to WWII.
This fairly remote region has often appealed more to surfers than cyclists; however, thanks to Eurostar, TGV and road links from ferry terminals, it's easily accessible to all. On arrival you’ll discover mile upon mile of surfaced country lanes, ideal for circular cycling from a rustic guesthouse with heated pool. Prepare to pack padded shorts and stretchy waistbands for lengthy ascents and lots of eating.
Who wouldn’t love to cycle through a Cézanne, Renoir or Picasso? Tucked between mountains and Med, seas of sunflowers, wheat and lavender give way to pale blue skies under which endless country lanes provide perfect passage for pedalling. Just the right balance of gentle, rolling hills and flat agricultural patches offers every excuse to indulge in regional cheese, truffles and sparkling Clairette de Dié.
Tackle some of the Tour de France’s classic cols as you embark on a cycling challenge from the high rollers of the Atlantic to the warm waves of the Mediterranean. A gentle ascent up Col d'Osquich collides with the challenges of Col d'Aubisque, Col du Tourmalet and Col de Peyresourde before Bagnères-de-Luchon, Biert and beaches beyond offer ample respite after a week of pushing over the Pyrénées.
Although famed for sausages, rugby and the world’s tallest bridge (Millau Viaduct) the Midi-Pyrénées also registers roads that wouldn’t look out of place on the Tour with vineyards on Vére Valley and the captivating climbs of Causses de Quercy just a couple of reasons for cyclists to get serious about the South. Reset your Strava by cycling around Tarn-et-Garonne and Aveyron.
Our top France cycling Vacation
Idyllic cycling in France with great food, wine and bonhomie
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More about France cycling
Discover the dates of the cycling season as you check out our best time to go cycling in France section with an easy to navigate temperature and rainfall chart and month by month guide as well as useful tips from our suppliers.
Our cycling in France travel guide aims to open up the quiet country lanes, the coastline and the waterways of the westerly and central regions as well as the peaks and cols of the Pyrénées and the Alps.
Although riding a bike is somewhat easy, and unforgettable, there are numerous types of cycling vacations in France to help you decide upon an experience to suit you down to the ground.
This coast to coast challenge isn’t for everyone and you'd best do your homework before signing up to an eight-day vacation leading from Atlantic swells to the rippling Med via the peaks, cols and scintillating scenery of the Pyrénées.
Beautiful Burgundy is one of France’s favourite regions for cyclists with hundreds of rural roads and greenway routes adding to the tranquility of pootling along a tow path on the banks of the Burgundy Canal.
Discover the irresistibly charming landscapes and communities that have inspired everyone from Vincent Van Gogh to Peter Mayle when you go cycling in Provence.
The beast, the giant, call it what you will; the ascent of Mont Ventoux has been firmly cemented in cycling lore.
With a succession of monumental renaissance palaces and medieval masterpieces lining the Loire Valley, what better way to explore than on a chateau to chateau cycling vacation.
Less of an athletic endeavour, more a gentle way to explore the châteaux, vineyards and cuisine of France’s Valley of the Kings, Loire Valley cycling vacations are the epitome of active relaxation.
We’ve hand-picked some key tips from our friends in France to ensure that when you undertake a cycling vacation here you can do it with the utmost care and confidence - it's as easy as riding a bike.