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My tips for cycling in France

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Jimmy Doug, 4 Jul 2011.

  1. OP
    OP
    Jimmy Doug

    Jimmy Doug If you know what's good for you ...

    I know France isn't the only country in Europe to have priorité à droite. Hell, I remember coming across it in the States. What I object to is the very principle you mention - that if you don't see a sign otherwise then you have to stop to traffic on the right. This is what I think is dangerous. How many times have I driven or cycled past a junction that I didn't see until the last minute? Whether you're driving or cycling, if you have to give way, it should be clearly marked (around here, the new priorité à droite are marked - it's the older ones that aren't). I'll quote myself from the very first post in this thread:

    I then went on to post a picture of a street near here to illustrate the point. It's one of many like this - indeed it's not the worst. But now, thanks to the magic of Google, you can see for yourself.

    https://www.google.fr/maps/@49.5198...4!1seqj27XSQWIaWg1kRy2__Vg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Actually, the road is much more visible on Google Street View than it is in real life - probably because the camera is high on the roof of the car and that you're not moving fast. The photo I posted on the first page is much closer to what you actually see. If you go further up the road in the opposite direction, you see a newer junction which is properly marked, and also there is now a cross sign like the one above - but it's very easy to miss and it doesn't give you any clue as to where the junction is. In a car, and even on a bike, this junction is all but invisible until you cross it. That's my gripe: not so much the rule in itself, but the fact that it's all too easy to sail past a give way junction without noticing it and finding yourself in hospital (or worse) for the lack of a simple white line across the road.
     
    briantrumpet and Mort like this.
  2. DMan001

    DMan001 Member

    Location:
    London
    Great post, thanks!
     
  3. briantrumpet

    briantrumpet Veteran

    Location:
    Devon & Die
    I does seem bonkers, I agree. And its bonkersness is amplified by its differing application in different part of France - as mentioned earlier, they are pretty rare in Rhône Alps, and I can't think of one junction within 50 miles of me that I'd note as being unclear or unnecessarily risky.
     
  4. Alex H

    Alex H Veteran

    Location:
    Alnwick
    I can only echo what's been said. Someone on here said that "there were very few examples in France anymore". On my next 2 rides I counted them - over 30 in a total of 70km.

    I've narrowly escaped twice, fortunately in a car, both in town centres (one being Calais) where there have been no signs.
     
    Jimmy Doug likes this.
  5. OP
    OP
    Jimmy Doug

    Jimmy Doug If you know what's good for you ...

    It's true that you're more likely to come a cropper in the car than on the bike, just because of the speed that you're travelling at. However, I have had a couple of close shaves over the past few years on a bike, so accidents can happen. Fortunately, most motorists coming out of these junctions are careful because they know how dangerous they are. Only the very most arrogant drivers will just pull out in front of you without looking.
     
  6. Shut Up Legs

    Shut Up Legs Down Under Member

    When I was in France last week, happily cycling through the Pyrenees and Alps, I certainly didn't have any problem with the motorists. Yes, some do drive fast and even a bit recklessly at times, but in general they're far, far more considerate to cyclists than motorists in Australia will ever be. I enjoyed every minute of my cycling in France. :smile:
     
  7. 3narf

    3narf For whom the bell dings

    Location:
    Stroud
    I did a bit of cycling in France; mainly out from CDG where I was staying, round places like Chantilly etc
     
  8. J1888

    J1888 Über Member

    Really useful thread folks, thank you.

    Looking to cycle from London to Bordeaux in the summer- thinking cycle to Portsmouth, ferry to St Malo or Caen, then down the western side of France to Bordeaux. Don't often do long rides, so will start training now and trying to knock out a few 100km rides per month. Planning to allow 7 days to get there, with no camping involved, just staying at gites etc. Would it be wisest to book in advance for accommodation?

    Also, I'm happy to take a backpack, but will likely need panniers etc, but gonna be hard to fit on my Boardman Team Carbon.

    Would I be better taking my Cannondale Hybrid and attaching panniers, as opposed to buying a touring bike?
     
  9. psmiffy

    psmiffy -

    Location:
    Midlands
    yes
     
  10. J1888

    J1888 Über Member

    Darn, no excuse for a new bike!! Would much rather take the road bike tbh, but guess it just ain't practical.
     
  11. Toemul

    Toemul Regular

    Used a Candice super c saddle bag with support was perfect. Don't forget arse cream also 1l water bottles and sturdier water bottle cages 2 of each were about £15 from Ribble and a couple of tubes of hydration tabs for taste and salts.
     
  12. Poacher

    Poacher Gravitationally challenged member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    Most gite owners would prefer at least a few days occupancy, rather than a single night. Chambres d'hôte are more geared up for overnight stays, but not so great if you want a very early start, unless you're willing to forgo the breakfast you've paid for. There are several chains of quite cheap but OK hotels offering room only terms. As for booking in advance, it depends what part of the summer you're thinking of travelling - in June you'd probably get in somewhere without booking, but in August you may find yourself having to sleep rough!
     
  13. briantrumpet

    briantrumpet Veteran

    Location:
    Devon & Die
    I had no problems at the beginning of August going from St Malo to Die: first hotel I tried each night had a room, and costs varied from 25 to 50 euros. I did choose larger towns to stop at though, in case the first choice was full.
     
  14. Toemul

    Toemul Regular

    Went last July but booked from booking.com around this time last year just chose the cheapest accommodation en route or near to route one of which was a pre erected tent and another a hostel in Toulouse neither of which gave a great sleep which after long days in saddle isn't great which leads me onto next thing, don't under estimate distances which to be fair I was warned of on here add 20 or 30% to Google map distances made the last hour of each day a real challenge. Best thing I've ever done will dit again.
     
  15. briantrumpet

    briantrumpet Veteran

    Location:
    Devon & Die
    Yes, agree re the last hour. Most of my days were over 100 miles, which wouldn't be too taxing for me, but with lower-than-expected average speeds, and high daytime temperatures, one or two days were long and hard.