Cycle Touring in France

Eight tours in Brittany, Picardy, Alsace, Auvergne/Languedoc, Provence, Dordogne/Lot, the Alps and the Pyrenees

By Stephen Fox

Guidebook for 8 cycle tours of between 1 and 2 weeks duration exploring France's diverse landscapes and superb scenery. Suitable for most levels of ability and experience, the routes are in some of the most picturesque parts of Brittany, Picardy, Alsace, Auvergne/Languedoc, Provence, Dordogne/Lot, the Alps and the Pyrenees.



Late spring to early autumn recommended. Summer hot, mostly dry. Winters can be cold, with snow.


Paris, Strasbourg, Geneva, Arles, Brest, Toulouse.


All levels. Routes (209km–354km) divided into daily stages. Range from low-level rides to high mountain climbs.
Must See

Must See

Rugged Brittany coast, Gorges du Tarn, Tour de France routes, Dordogne villages, Alsace Wine Road, lavender fields of Provence.
27 Jun 2006
15 Feb 2010
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.7cm
  • Overview

    Cycle Touring in France concentrates on eight selected one- or two-week bicycle tours which endeavour to offer cyclists of all levels a taste of France’s diverse landscapes and superb scenery.

    From rugged mountain ranges to vast, variegated patchworks of farmland, from beautiful, tranquil forests full of wildlife to high, remote, sweeping plains, from deep, snaking gorges to gentle valley slopes covered with vineyards, France is undoubtedly one of the most inviting countries in the world for cycle touring, a country understandably proud of hosting the greatest cycle race on Earth, the Tour de France. Peppered with hundreds of charming villages that time seems to have forgotten, here you will encounter friendly people, sample fine wines and enjoy exquisite, regional cuisines.

    Covering some of the most picturesque parts of Brittany, Picardy, Alsace, Auvergne/Languedoc, Provence, Dordogne/Lot, the Alps and Pyrenees, the tours in this guide are accompanied by detailed route descriptions and maps, lists of campsites, bed and breakfasts and hotels, airport and rail connections, and practical information including tips on when to go and what to take, transporting your bicycle and being prepared for carrying out bicycle repairs on the road.

  • Contents

    Which Route and When To Go
    A Short History
    Getting There
    Bicycles on Trains in France
    Passports, Visas, Health and Insurance
    Money, Banks and Payphones
    Public Holidays
    French Food and Wine
    The Tour de France
    About the Bike
    What to Take
    How to Use this Guide
    Cycle Tours
    Route 1 Finistère, ‘The End of the World’: Brittany
    Stage 1 Morlaix to Le Folgoët/Lesneven
    Stage 2 Le Folgoët/Lesneven to Lanildut
    Stage 3 Lanildut to Brest
    Stage 4 Brest to Le Faou
    Stage 5 Le Faou to Huelgoat
    Stage 6 Huelgoat to Morlaix
    Route 2 Champagne and The Kings' Forest: The Marne Valley and Picardy
    Stage 1 Aeroport Paris CDG to Charly-sur-Marne
    Stage 2 Charly-sur-Marne to Dormans
    Stage 3 Dormans to Villers-Cotterêts
    Stage 4 Villers-Cotterêts to Pierrefonds
    Stage 5 Pierrefonds to Compiègne and back
    Route 3 The Wine Road and Bas-Rhin: Alsace
    Stage 1 Colmar to Barr
    Stage 2 Barr to Saverne
    Stage 3 Saverne to Niederbronn-les-Bains
    Stage 4 Niederbronn-les-Bains to Haguenau
    Route 4 An Alpine Experience: Geneva to Grenoble
    Stage 1 Geneva to St Jean-de-Sixt
    Stage 2 St Jean-de-Sixt to Albertville
    Stage 3 Albertville to St Jean-de-Maurienne
    Stage 4 St Jean-de-Maurienne to Le Bourg d'Oisans
    Stage 5 Le Bourg d'Oisans to Alpe d'Huez and back
    Stage 6 Le Bourg d'Oisans to Grenoble
    Route 5 The Land of Lavender: Provence
    Stage 1 Arles to Cavaillon
    Stage 2 Cavaillon to Caromb
    Stage 3 Caromb to Buis-les-Baronnies
    Stage 4 Buis-les-Baronnies to Sault
    Stage 5 Sault to Mont Ventoux and back
    Stage 6 Sault to L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
    Route 6 Meadows and Mountains: Pyrénées
    Stage 1 Foix to St Girons
    Stage 2 St Girons to St Bertrand-de-Comminges
    Stage 3 St Bertrand-de-Comminges to Arreau
    Stage 4 Arreau to Bagnères-de-Bigorre
    Stage 5 Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Argelès-Gazost
    Stage 6 Argelès-Gazost to the Col d'Aubisque and back, then Lourdes
    Route 7 Rivers and Castles: Dordogne and Lot
    Stage 1 Brive-la-Gaillarde to St Céré
    Stage 2 St Céré to Figeac
    Stage 3 Figeac to Cahors
    Stage 4 Carhors to Monpazier
    Stage 5 Monpazier to La Roque-Gageac
    Stage 6 La Roque-Gageac to Souillac
    Route 8 Rugged and Remote: Auvergne and Languedoc
    Stage 1 Meymac to Riom-ès-Montagnes
    Stage 2 Riom-ès-Montagnes to St Flour
    Stage 3 St Flour to Marvejols
    Stage 4 Marvejols to Florac
    Stage 5 Florac to Alès

    Appendix A Glossary: Bicycle Parts and Other Useful Cycling Terms
    Appendix B Accommodation
    Appendix C Further Reading
    Appendix D Regional Specialities and Wines of France
    Appendix E Information Centres
    Appendix F Embassies and Consulates
    Appendix G Summary Table

  • Maps

    The blue IGN (Institut Geographic National) 1:100 000 Carte Topographique Top 100 maps are highly recommended for the tours in this guide. There are 74 in all, covering the whole of France. They are detailed maps complete with contour lines, aimed especially at cyclists and walkers. Most good bookshops can order them in, or you can buy them online at or

    This is a list of the relevant map numbers for the tours in this guidebook:

    • Brittany tour 13 (Brest/Quimper), 14 (St Brieuc/Morlaix)

    • Marne Valley and Picardy tour 09 (Paris/Laon)

    • Alsace tour 12 (Strasbourg/Forbach), 31 (St Dié/Mulhouse/Basle)

    • Alps tour 45 (Annecy/Lausanne), 53 (Grenoble/Mont Blanc), 54 (Grenoble/Gap)

    • Provence tour 60 (Cavaillon/Digne les Bains), 66 (Avignon/Montpellier), 67 (Marseille/Carpentras)

    • Pyrénées tour 70 (Pau/Bagnères de Luchon), 71 (St Gaudens/Andorre)

    • Dordogne and Lot tour 48 (Périgueux/Tulle), 57 (Cahors/Montauban)

    • Auvergne and Languedoc tour 49 (Clermont-Ferrand/Aurillac), 58 (Rodez/Mende), 59 (Privas/Alès)

    Michelin publish the very useful France 1:200 000 Motorist and Motoring Atlas, updated annually. It covers the whole of France, indicates most recommended campsites, and includes some city and town maps. The campsites in this atlas are described in detail in Michelin’s Camping Caravaning le guide, which is also updated annually.

  • Updates
    Receive updates by email
    Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction

    August 2013

    The length of Tour 7 day 4 is 80km not rather than 69.

    November 2007

    The Eurostar terminal in London is now at St. Pancras International, not Waterloo, and there is also a new station in Kent, Ebbsfleet. For train information and to book tickets go to

  • Reviews
    'Written by a cyclist, for cyclists. Each tour has a detailed route description plus maps, lists of campsites and tips on what to take and how to deal with roadside repairs.'

    (France Magazine / September 2006)

    'Having toured extensively through France, it came as a surprise to find how much superb information is contained within this handily-sized guide. There is an excellent set of 8 routes in different areas of France, each well set out in stages easy enough for most cyclists to follow, complete with an altitude graph when there is a climb of some difficulty.

    This book is not just ideal for planning a first visit, but also to inspire those who wish to explore further afield within the country.'

    (Cycling World / November 2006)

    'This little guide is a gem. The author has carefully selected eight varied, linear routes dotted around Fance and then gone into great detail about how to get to the start and back from the finish, where to stay and what to see.

    Routes are between four and six days' long and range from between 131 and 221 miles in length. Also contained within the book are numerous useful sections including using French railways, what to take on tour, parts of the bike in French.

    On the whole, there's everything here that you need in one neat volume to get you on tour - and what better place to go than France?'

    (Cycle magazine / June - July 2007)

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Stephen Fox

Stephen Fox has been cycle touring since 1989 and has toured extensively in France, Italy and Norway. He now lives in southern England with his wife and daughter, and works in the photographic industry as well as being a freelance writer and photographer. This is his second guide; the first was a walking and scrambling guide to Italy's Central Appennines.

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