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When is the best time of year to ride across France?

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Bigtallfatbloke, 4 Dec 2007.

  1. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    ..Ok so I've already ruled out January, but having no experience of weather over there I wondered if there were generally good times/bad times etc?

    I'm looking at 2-3 weeks ish and I would prefer it to me warm (not baking) and dry...Spring? Summer?

    Also whci way do the prevailing winds and hills etc tend to favour cyclists? Should I look to ride from Calais south or South to Calais?

    Also what are the cool places to see en route? I know thats a toughy to answer but what places floated your boat?

    I'm going to start getting my trip organized over the winter.

    Ta.:biggrin:
     
  2. Dayvo

    Dayvo Just passin' through

    Location:
    O' slO'
    July, when there's a lot of 'other' cyclists on the road! :biggrin:

    France is a BIG country, a lot bigger than most realise, and with plenty to see and places to visit.

    Here are two books that should help you.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/France-Lonely-Planet-Cycling-Guides/dp/1864500360


    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Long-Distance-Cyclists-Handbook/dp/0713668326/ref=pd_sim_b_title_5

    Bon chance
     
  3. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Location:
    Brighton
    May/June is good as the weather is usually pretty good and the French aren't on their hols so campsites and b&b's are easily available. The municipal campsites are generally superb if you're camping and cheap too. We paid between 4 and 10 euros per night for a 2 man tent. You can't really go wrong in France for countryside but 3 of my favourite areas are the Auvergne, the Vercors and the Cevennes.
     
  4. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    France is basically amazing. I'd back May June or September - we had a long weekend this Sept and it was blissful.

    Not sure of your route, but I'd recommend the following places:

    * Normandy - Honfleur, Suisse Normande, Les Andelys
    * The Charente valley - Cognac, Saintes, La Rochelle
    * Dordogne
    * Aix en Provence
    * Loire Valley
    * Champagne - esp Eperney
    * Strasbourg and Alsace (route du vin)

    I've not done the Alps yet but am planning the Vercors next year and that looks gorgeous. The Gordge du Verdon looks incredible as well and I'd also love to try Franche Comte and the Burgundy area.

    You kind of can't go wrong.
     
  5. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    +1 for Normandy. We stayed in the Perche, which is lovely, and has some nice climbs :blush: Lots of nice little towns to explore, and some larger ones if you get fed up of that. There's a few shots from my hols here.

    We stayed in the gite here but they have lots of camping available. Owners are English, and nice people - worth a stop anyway, but if you feel a bit homesick/fed up of struggling with the language, it might be a good stopover (they have mini golf too :sad: )

    I'd love to go on a proper cycling holiday there sometime, rather than sneaking off for an hour here and there :smile:
     
  6. Ben

    Ben New Member

    Though I would generally concur that French campsites are good one thing you might want to consider if you are camping is their seasonality. It is my experience that quite a few campsites, particularly the municipal ones, don't open till late June. Several times I've turned up in a town to find the campsite opens next weekend or even in one case - tomorrow(!) - so don't depend on them being open in May.
     
  7. snorri

    snorri Legendary Member

    When I tried it from north to south it was unbearably hot and boring. You really have to tell us what you find interesting, for myself I found very little of interest apart from the insight to our military past. Not a popular view on cycle forums, but you have to tell it as you find it.:smile:
     
  8. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    thanks...so if I were to aim for the last week in June and the first two weeks of July say? ish...
     
  9. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Location:
    Brighton
    You should be there at the time of the tour ( first week anyway) if that's of any interest. I have never found France boring myself but maybe I'm easily pleased. It has everything from mountains to hills to vineyards to beaches etc. Rather like England it also has a myriad of small roads to choose from so you can plan a route avoiding main roads very easily through sleepy villages and quiet countryside. It's whetting my appetite just thinking about it!:smile:
     
  10. xilios

    xilios Über Member

    Location:
    Maastricht, NL
    I would recomend you cycle through the Massif Central. You can follow the rivers in and out. My wife and I cycled through it spring 2006 and it was fantastic you won't regret it.
    cheers
     
  11. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    Location:
    S of Kendal
    As people have said, before mid june and after mid September, you will find a good number of campsite closed. The ones that are open tend to be the more expensive 4* commercial ones, which I would normally avoid like the plague. Even worse is that the facilities (such as bar / disco / kids play area / swimming pool / tennis courts, etc) that differentiate them from the cheapest sites, are often closed. Although I can do without all these things, they still charge you the same full price to stay there. I could stay in the UK and go to a Foerstry Commision campsite if I wanted to be ripped off and charged over ten quid a night!

    Although the weather is obviously generally better than in the UK, it can be pretty unsettled in May. This year was particularly bad - I still had a jacket on to ride along the sea front on the Cote d'Azur in May!
     
  12. bof

    bof Senior member. Oi! Less of the senior please

    Location:
    The world
    The French flood on holiday the weekend closest to Bastille Day (July 14th), so to time your holiday to finish about then is a good idea. If you want to do the mountains bear in mind that the weather may be quite poor up high until June - I have had snow in the Pyrenees in early June.

    Also a lot of places in northern France more or less close up between Mid July and late August. I remember really struggling to find a reasonable restaurant
    in Reims, which is a big place, once.

    IMO most of France is worth a visit and my tip to avoid getting too fed up with the dull bits is to plan a route that more or less follows rivers/canals across those stretches. The only extensive bit of France IMO that is totally dull is the Landes - it is endless flat woodland and almost devoid of interesting towns and villages
     
  13. Tynan

    Tynan Veteran

    Location:
    e4
    no expert but it can be really hot in summer, they like cyclists, and every single village will have at least one place doing a plat du jour every weekday between about 11 and 1ish, always different but three courses of good food, sometime with wine or cider, usually no more than 10e, hammer it is my advice
     
  14. will

    will Senior Member

    Like all things it depends where you are going.

    If looking for the classic Alps climbs, remember they are often/usually closed until MID JUNE.

    On the other hand Provence can be a furnace (and full of tourists) in the summer - I avoid in July/August.
     
  15. Ben

    Ben New Member

    I would be careful recommending 'every single village' it can be quite difficult nowadays to find an open restaurant in small towns and villages. In the last ten years a huge number of small village restuarants have closed down , if you cycle into a village at 11.30am to find one open I'd choose to eat there and not expect there to be something in the next village or the one after that. But you are right that when found they are generally good and cheap.