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Bike trips in France(11 posts)

Bike trips in FranceBostonDave
Sep 30, 2003 12:13 PM
Does anyone have any advice on booking a bike trip in France? I'm not looking for a tour de france experience, but also want to avoid something that is "too easy" I have found a few websites like http://www.bluemarble.org and http://www.valac.nl that seemed more interesting than REI (see http://www.rei.com/adventures/trips/europe/provbk.html ) or the most expensive of all: http://www.eurobike.com

I have never done a bike trip or trip to Europe before...and my language knowledge consists of 3 years of high school French from almost 20 years ago. I cycle on average about 100 miles/week and did my first century a couple weeks ago. I would like to do a week of tourist stuff (visit the Louvre, Tour Eiffel, etc. in Paris), then spend a week cycling Provence with at least a few challenging days of cycling in addition to taking time to absorb the local color....

Accomodation-wise, I want a private bedroom for my wife and me, but I'm flexible beyond that. I don't want to have to carry a tent or anything like that and a shower every day would be nice.

Anybody have any recommendations? Thanks!
Paris accomodation...Lon Norder
Sep 30, 2003 1:52 PM
I stayed recently at the Ibis Hotel in Versailles. Sort of Motel 6-ish rooms (actually, they're owned by the same company), no air conditioning, but clean and fairly cheap at 59 Euros a night for two. It's down the street from the Palace and across the street from the subway, which will get you to downtown Paris in half an hour.

I can't help any with bike tour companies, but if it were me I'd just get a good map and guide book and plan my own tour.
you'd better off on your own IMHOcyclopathic
Sep 30, 2003 2:16 PM
at least in Paris. I stayed in St Quentin (12mi ride from Paris), rode from airport to hotel through Paris on first day and spent several days riding into Paris on bike and/or taking RER (commuter train).

Paris is very bike friendly, and you see alot more from the bike, just get bike lock, turist guide and Michelin map. Draw back you can't get into museums, so for museums you'd have to leave bike in hotel.

And don't worry. THere're enough people speak english in Paris.
PS. also check Let's Gocyclopathic
Oct 1, 2003 12:04 PM
http://www.letsgo.com/FRA/00-Discover-2
they publish practical touring guides for students. No pictures, but you'd get lists of hotels, hostas, etc with addresses and phone#, authentic restorants, etc. At reasonable prices.
PS. also check Lonely Planet Cycling Francems
Oct 1, 2003 1:09 PM
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1864500360/002-6524985-1676831?v=glance
re: Bike trips in Francemapei boy
Sep 30, 2003 2:33 PM
Phillipec is this message board's undisputed master of all things France (along with Teoteoteo), but this regular tourist to France does have a few suggestions.

First, there's a Michelin Guide to French hotels that charge less than 80 Euros per night. You can probably get the book on Amazon. I used it on my last trip to France (last May), and it never steered me wrong. Wonderful, charming, comfortable, clean, cheap hotels.

For first time visitors to Paris, it's probably best to find a hotel in the Sixth Arrondissment, on the Left Bank. There are zillions of excellent Three Star hotels in the area. A fine (and not very expensive) meal is never more than a couple steps away. Cruise Expedia for a selection, but don't book a room until you've read up about the hotel in a guidebook first.

Provence is an earthly paradise. But even more so is the lesser known Dordogne, in Southwest France. Buy a guidebook with a lot of pictures, like the Eyewitness Guide. Cruise the net. Look at pictures of various parts of France. Don't set your itinerary in stone before you've done a little research.
just gomohair_chair
Sep 30, 2003 2:52 PM
If you have any travel sense, I would not join a tour. Do your own thing. The trick is to figure out where you want to ride, then find a town that is centrally or ideally located and find a hotel there. Then you can run day trips and return to the same base every night.

In Provence there are a couple of cities and a lot of towns. I've never ridden there, so I can't give you any advice except to point out that Mt. Ventoux is there, and if you get anywhere near it, you have to climb it. Again, start with the rides you want to do, and work backwards to figure out where you want to stay. I'd avoid big cities like Avignon and target smaller towns, because they are easier to ride through. Keep in mind that while small towns can be very charming, they can also be too small. In other words, boring! A town like Vaison-la-Romaine is a good choice.

In Paris, you can find cheap hotels if you look hard enough, but generally they'll be outside the "perephique," which is the ring road that circles the city. I would spend a little extra to get into the heart of the city. Paris is divided into numbered divisions called "arrondisements," and I like the 7th. It's where I used to live, and it's also where the Eiffel Tower is. There are a lot of hotels there, and it's walking distance to everything touristy except Sacre Coeur.
I concur . .ms
Oct 1, 2003 6:39 AM
France is a very travel-friendly country. The tourist industry is very important in France and you can find a wide range of accommodations fairly easily. Insofar as Paris accommodations are concerned, the most important thing is to be near a metro or RER stop if you are not in one of the central arrondisements. Before you book a hotel in Paris, get a good map of the city so that you can see where you will be.

When you go outside of Paris, I would recommend getting a base, such as a rental house, and staying there for a week or so. If you are outside of a town, you probably will need a car. Beware that car rentals, gasoline and road tolls are very expensive in France. However, other than the expense, driving is very easy in France.

A good source for information on rural accommodations in France is www.gites-de-france.fr
Go to this website....coonass
Sep 30, 2003 4:17 PM
It's the European version of our fourm here, except the participants are from the U.K., France, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, China, Wales, Bosnia, etc......just post the same thread/question there and I'm sure that they can give you some very helpful advice...afterall, the Europeans travel Europe on vacations (aka Holiday) like we travel State to State....
http://www.cyclingplus.co.uk/forum/default.asp?CAT_ID=1
All good advice.teoteoteo
Sep 30, 2003 5:32 PM
I think you have some great idea's about your trip. Paris is great and there are sooooo many resources on Paris that I know you'll be covered there. I have said it many times on this board that if I had to pick ONE region to ride Provence would win.

Like others mentioned I'd try and find a smaller town that is maybe near someplace like Avignon. My personal favorite is Gordes. It is a hilltop treasure with incredible sunsets. There is an phenomenal 3 Star that is more pricey than some, but has more class and charm than many 4 stars I've stayed in. It is called hotel Le Gordos and the jardin rooms are perfect.

http://www.hotel-le-gordos.com/anglais/index_anglais.htm

As for Provence just enjoy the countryside. There are vinyards, fields of lavander, and fruit groves. Keep your eye out for flyers that announce market days in nearby villages. It's nice to see local artisans selling and you get a true feel of France.

It has a wonderful relaxed pace and the people are great. Roads are scenic and you get your fill of climbs, not lung searing but challenging.

Hopefully Phillipe will see this because he has an incredible amount of ride info and background on the area.

If you do hit Gordes be sure to enjoy the honey glaze roasted chicken at the Cafe on the circle in the center of town. It's about 100 meters up the hill from the Hotel de Bastide. For a change-up look for a tiny Thai place--it's called Le Jardin du Levant. It has maybe 16 seats and incredible menu. It is across from the Hotel Bastide maybe 50 meters up the hill. Look for a small chalkboard and narrow alley. Curry Coco Poulet or Crevettes Citron are my top picks.
re: Bike trips in FranceBostonDave
Oct 1, 2003 7:13 PM
Thanks for all the good advice! It sounds like the thing to do is "just do it!" My sister-in-law and her husband did a 14-month around the world trip (no bikes involved) and it worked out great for them, except for a few frustrations here and there... These package deals I read about seem to cost a lot...when pretty much all you get is a cue sheet and reservations at the next town. They do "baggage transport," but with a bit of planning, maybe you don't even need that.