Biking France South to North (Perpignan - Luxembourg)

Looserlama

Regular
Location
Ontario, Canada
Hi everyone!

This summer I'm planning a long trip through Europe, and one of the legs of my trip with be going up through France (in June). I already have a general route plan, it goes something like this:

Perpignan up to St. Ambroix, then head towards Le Puy. Then up to Cluny, from there north to Beaune, then over to Gray and up to Épinal and Nancy, then Metz and finally north to Luxembourg or Trier.

I've found bike routes for that whole path, but I was wondering a few things:

1. Do you have any suggestions for specific areas/roads that you found very cool or scenic? (Ones that are on or near that route)
I hear Le Puy has cool scenery as it is volcanic, but is going up that way better in general than going up more to the east, towards Lyon? Note that I'm not very interested in spending much time in cities, as I've already been to many many french cities (having grown up in Switzerland).

2. Do you have any tips or warnings for biking through France?
I know that France is supposed to be pretty bike-friendly, but one thing I was kind of concerned about was the priorité à droite rule, which sounds a bit dangerous for bikers. Any opinions or advice?
I also know that french drivers are fairly wild, is that usually an issue? Or are there many bike roads without cars?


3. We were planning on camping most of the time, and occasionally getting a hostel. From the maps I have it seems like there a some campgrounds, but not everywhere. I was wondering if you've ever had issues finding camping spots?
On that note, is non-campground camping tolerate in the areas I'll be going?

Thanks for any and all help or advice you can give!
 

StuartG

slower but further
Location
SE London
As long as you keep away from the main roads the cyclist is treated as a God. One can never get used to motorists giving way when they don't have to, passing with many metres to spare or hanging back for however long it takes for the road to clear. Paris is another country but that will not trouble you. It is a delight once you get your eye into map reading to spot the RNs that are not labelled as such. This might be an issue immediately North of Perpignan until you leave the Mediterranean corridor.

I was thinking of doing Le Havre to Sete this or next year which would cross at Le Puy. I've driven and eaten in Le Puy. It's a delightful town but afair the only lumpy bit round there. So I will be leaching your comments. Cycling Languedoc-Roussillon from Bordeaux to Beziers last summer was the nearest I've been to heaven so far. You can't fail to enjoy it. Stop worrying and start buying Michelin maps. The 1:100,000 are best for cycling.
 

xilios

Veteran
Location
Maastricht, NL
I agree with Stuart, stay on the smallest roads possible for less traffic and better scenery.
I would recommend the Massif Central Region, its difficult but very beautiful. Do some research crazyguyonabike.com.
If you have a Tablet or Smartphone get the Maps With Me (MAPS.ME) it is free (pro version is a couple dollars) it is very accurate and shows all the camping's, including municipal camping's and canoe clubs which many other maps or dedicated camping software do not. We use it all the time and it has proven invaluable.
 

robing

Über Member
I'm doing a long trip to Spain this summer and will be coming back through France from hendaye to calais. I'm on 3 with my mobile, and France and Spain are now included as though you were at home. Which is great as means I can navigate with Google maps.
 

andym

Über Member
1. Do you have any suggestions for specific areas/roads that you found very cool or scenic?
Your best bet is to either buy michelin maps or go to viamichelin.com and then look for the roads that are highlighted in green. I've always found this reliable.

Do you have any tips or warnings for biking through France?
I know that France is supposed to be pretty bike-friendly, but one thing I was kind of concerned about was the priorité à droite rule, which sounds a bit dangerous for bikers. Any opinions or advice?
I also know that french drivers are fairly wild, is that usually an issue? Or are there many bike roads without cars?
I always assume that anything that will seriously injure me in a collision has priority - and I'm not going to assume that the fact that legally I have priority means that they have seen me.

Generally it's best to stay off the routes nationales. The D roads are usually best.

My experience is that whichever country you go to driver behaviour depends on the roads - on quiet roads people tend to behave better than on busy fast roads. The vast majority of drivers in any country will hang back and/or give you lots of room if the road is quiet, but if the road is busy and there's oncoming traffic then they may well need to squeeze past you. French drivers have jobs to get to etc just like anyone else.

Bear in mind that some roads are off-limits to bikes - again the Micehlin maps are your friend - be wary of anything marked as a divided carriageway. (IIRC they are marked in wither red and white or red and yellow on the Michelin maps).

Traffic-free cycleways (or very quiet roads) are called voies vertes. Try: http://www.voiesvertes.com. This is also an excellent resource: http://www.francevelotourisme.com

We were planning on camping most of the time, and occasionally getting a hostel. From the maps I have it seems like there a some campgrounds, but not everywhere. I was wondering if you've ever had issues finding camping spots?
On that note, is non-campground camping tolerate in the areas I'll be going?
The best tool for researching campsites is google maps. Or you could also try eurocampings.co.uk. France has shedloads of municipal campsites. It's a big country, so if you're really off the beaten track you should be able to find somewhere - you could try asking at the Mairie.
 
Last edited:
OP
Looserlama

Looserlama

Regular
Location
Ontario, Canada
Awesome! Thanks for all your responses!

I was definitely planning on sticking to the smaller roads (D roads sound ideal), just wanted to make sure there were lots in france, which it sounds like there are!

I actually already have the maps.me app, it seems extremely useful! I'll also just be using google to try and find campsites along the way.

I'm definitely going to go up through Le Puy then, it sounds very scenic!

Again, thanks for all your advice! I feel a lot more confident now!
 
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