How would you cycle end to end in France?

Cathryn

Legendary Member
This is kind of 'just for fun' but it's a potential trip.

Last year, I had visions of effortlessly scaling Ventoux pulling Arthur in his trailer. 6 months on (6 months today, hurrah) I'm more circumspect and can't see that happening this year after all. Boo!!! However I informed the husband yesterday that I intend to do a long (3 week or so) tour in September, unless we move to America, which is a possibility.

So...after long preamble...if you were going to cycle from top to bottom of France, which route would you take?

Things to think about:

* My starting point would depend on a ferry to either Calais (and environs) or Le Havre or Caen.
* My end point would be the Med.
* I'd take the bike express home, although don't necessarily need to finish in a town where they pick up.
* I've been to Montpellier/Sete area and wasn't overwhelmed so would like to finish somewhere prettier.
* I'd be pulling a big baby in a trailer so whilst I'm up for hills, Alps may be beyond me.
* I'd like to visit parts of France I don't know well. I know the West Coast quite well so would prefer to see somewhere else.

Any ideas? It's a lovely thing to think about on a sunny day. Slightly frustrated - was planning on cycling to meet friends but Arthur has decided to go to sleep and I don't think I'll have the time. Boo.
 

rich p

ridiculous old lush
Location
Brighton
I have a copy of the CTC Manche to Med route on a pdf file if you're interested. Obviously pretty well researched and tested by them. My friend did it last year. If you pm me your email I'll copy it to you.
 

Davidc

Guru
Location
Somerset UK
It was a long time ago (OK about 35 years), and split over 2 years' summer holidays. I + 3 friends cycled down the eastern side of France. We started in Calais, went to the point on the coast where Belgium starts, and ended up (2 years and 4 weeks later) on the France/ Italy border near San Remo. Trains back each time, and train to the start second year.

You'd need to divert further west to than we did to avoid the alps altogether, but if you want to see some visually stunning bits of Fance then Alsace and the inland parts of Provence are hard to beat.

Those trips still rank among my top 5 best holidays. I'm sure you'll have a great time if you do it.
 
Location
Midlands
I think I have cycled channel to the med or vice versa 8 times and really have no preference which way I would go next.

You have rather spoiled it by wanting to get to somewhere on the Med coast within practical travelling distance of the Bikebus that is “pretty”. The Med coast between the Rhone and the Spanish border is not pretty – the only reason for going there is to sit on a beach for a day and swim in the sea.

Into the Alps with a kiddy trailer will be no fun at all – doable – a friend of mine did the south side of Isere with two kids in the trailer – but not really a good option

Within the constraints of no East and no West by request then its down through the Auvergne or the Loire/Rhone probably starting from Caen

Rhone /Loire with a Kiddy trailer is eminently doable – and very pleasant for a bit of a Womble – lots of nice towns along both the Loire and Rhone to explore with the only decent hill being the jump between the two rivers. A nice slow pace judging it so that there is only a last night on the Cote de Amethyste

The Auvergne is possibly much more interesting – plenty of rivers with interesting towns to run along for a while but some pretty good climbs getting in and out of the river valleys. Also the possibility of finishing at Narbonne rather than to the east.

It sounds like what you need to do is to run up two or three routes complete with simple maps (keep you busy and out of the sunshine while looking after Team Ramsden) and put them up as a poll.
 

fraefreuchie

Über Member
Location
Howe of Fife
I was planning to cycle the Calais to Narbonne route through the Auvergne leaving on July 3rd (the day that I retire) Unfortunately I have hurt my knee and can't train at the moment. But it is not all downside. It gives me time to consider alternative routes. rich p can I beg a copy of your pdf? I have a single adult train ticket with bike space booked from Ladybank in Fife to Dover on July 3rd and a ferry crossing which could find its way to a suitable new home. Cathryn you are a brave girl.
 

dragon72

Guru
Location
Mexico City
I did Med to Manche last summer. I got a bit carried away col-bagging in a detour to the Alps, but enjoyed the rest of France I had along the route I did too.
Pretty detailed route maps here: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/marseilletothechannel
 

rich p

ridiculous old lush
Location
Brighton
fraefreuchie said:
I was planning to cycle the Calais to Narbonne route through the Auvergne leaving on July 3rd (the day that I retire) Unfortunately I have hurt my knee and can't train at the moment. But it is not all downside. It gives me time to consider alternative routes. rich p can I beg a copy of your pdf? I have a single adult train ticket with bike space booked from Ladybank in Fife to Dover on July 3rd and a ferry crossing which could find its way to a suitable new home. Cathryn you are a brave girl.
With pleasure but it's from Caen to Montpelier which may not be suitable.
PM me your email if you would like it though.
 

rh100

Well-Known Member
I can't really speak as a cycle tourist, but if you want somewherenice on the med coast, we had a great overnight stop at a town called Collioure, right down by the Spanish border. It was a very pleasant place, pastel coloured buildings and open fronted restaurants. As I say, not sure how it would be on a bike but it was a lovely drive down past Carcassone and Narbonne etc (motorways obviously, several years before I got on a bike). Heres a streetview link of the harbour, hope it works: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en...noid=I-GAQg0PbSYD02TiTAYIgg&cbp=12,62.66,,0,5
 

vernon

Harder than Ronnie Pickering
Location
Meanwood, Leeds
Here's the route that I took - nicked from a CTC route until Orange.:

CALAIS
Wissant
Marquise
Desyres
Beussent
Montreuil
Abbeville
Yzeux
Amiens
Roye
Noyon
Blerancourt
Soissons
Chateau-Thierry

Montmirail
Sezanne
Mesgrigny
Troyes
Verrieres
Ville Noyenne
Merry-s-Arce
Chatillon-s-Saône
Dijon
Beaune
Chaion-s-saône
Cuisery
Pont-de-Vaux
Pont-de-Veyle
Trevoux
Lyon
Pierre Benite
Grigny
Givors
Vienne (West Bank)
Tournon
Valence
Le Teil
Viviers
Pierrelatte
Orange

Then onto Avignon, Arles south to the med and turn right to ride through a chunk of the Carmargue.
 

robgul

Guru
We rode Calais to Montpellier : via Reims/Champagne - Burgundy - Lyon - Avignon - Camargue to the sea and Montpellier - about 900 easy-ish miles - and back on the Bike Bus - excellent!

If you go to www.cycle-endtoend.org.uk and look in The Journals under Others/France there's some stuff there about it ... AND we've written a book about it that has just been published (with a foreword by Edward Enfield) - it's not on general sale yet but PM me if you want a copy ... there's an extract on the website and/or you can buy it on CD for a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support

Rob
 
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