About Me

I got hooked on cycling in Europe when my kids were younger and I planned summer bike trips as a family adventure.  Little did I know how much the experience would change my life and the lives of my children.  Almost 20 years later, I love cycling anywhere in Europe even more! I especially love cycling in France because it has the perfect combination of safe bike routes, great food, great weather and history.  And 20 years later, my now-grown kids always ask if they will be invited on my summer bike adventure!  We have all learned that life is different on a bike and travel is richer when experienced on two wheels.

Along the Canal du Midi

Along the Canal du Midi

I love the adventure of biking through the French countryside, the interesting people and families that we meet, the interesting places we discover, the pace of slow travel that exposes you to things you would never see in a car. Biking in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure.  One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning.

A scene that you would never see in a car, traveling along the Canal d’ Ille et Rance in Brittany

Next to France’s biggest haystack near the Loire

The only thing that I love more than biking in France is planning my bike trips.  But despite the fact that France has some of the best recreational bike paths in Europe, there is very little information available on these safe, car-free or limited traffic bike routes.  As most of my readers attest, accessing up to date information on bicycling in France can be challenging.

Imagine your first view of this by bike!

I created Experience France by Bike to help people access the information they need to plan a great bicycle trip to France.  Experience France by Bike is the Insider’s Guide to Bicycling in France:  a resource for information on the best routes along famous canals, rivers and wine regions.  Why rely on 10 or 15 year old bicycle guides that are outdated, lacking the latest information on the new safe, family friendly routes?  Why pay $300-500/day to a tour company when most of the routes in France are easily biked alone?

Bories in the hills of Provence

Bories in the hills of Provence

Experience France by Bike provides readers  with the best resources for each region, and shows how to plan a cycling adventure for a fraction of the cost charged by tour outfitters.  In addition to detailed reports in blogs, Experience France by Bike also publishes e-guides on the most popular bike routes in France. The Best Cycling Itineraries in France Guidebook series includes my favorite trips.  The e-guides are available in PDF version on the website.

If you want to see France through the back door, you should explore it on a bike.  Whether you’re  thinking about adding a weekend bike trip to your vacation in Paris, Bordeaux or Strasbourg, or you want to plan a week long trip along the Loire or the Atlantic Coast, Experience France by Bike is your best resource for information on the best and safest routes.  Join me as I write about my latest adventures, as well as the latest improvements to routes throughout France.

Don’t hesitate to write me about your experience biking in France, or anywhere in Europe!

  1. Maggie, You did a phenominal job. You almost make me want to do a bike tour! I can’t wait to hear your other comments.

  2. This will be an invaluable resource for us as we plan our first cycling trip in France for Spring 2012. One month and hoping to cover Loire and Aquitaine – maybe some of Midi-Pyrenee as well is we have time. Thanks for this great site!

    1. Dear Lois,

      How exciting to be planning your first bicycling trip to France! I hope that you will find some information and resources that will be helpful to you! I actually am writing a guidebook on biking the Loire, but it will not be published until early 2012, so not sure if that will help you much. When next spring are you planning your trip? Remember that it can be quite rainy and cold in March and April. This is why I went to Puglia in Italy for my birthday this March–much farther south and warmer. Mid to late May gets warmer, not so much chance of rain. Happy planning!

  3. Mary Ann Gioeli July 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    What do you suggest for my husband and I and our BEST friends 30 wedding anniversary. Our best friends are more experienced riders but we want to bike as well! Thanks so much!

    1. Dear Mary Ann,

      Thanks for your note and what a nice thought about bicycling with your friends for your 30th wedding anniversary. One idea that I would consider is choosing an area where you can do day trips along with some longer distance rides so that you will have the freedom to ride some days, and not to ride other days. A perfect area for this would be the area around Bordeaux which has a beautiful bike path that goes out to the Atlantic Ocean, with bike paths all the way up the Medoc, or another option would be the gorgeous town of La Rochelle which has several islands near the city where bicycling is slow and relaxed. I will be spending a couple weeks out in this area next summer, and I know that I would be happy to spend time with friend out there. Hope that you are able to find a location that works for you and your friends. If you’d like, I will send several links along to you so that you can look at these areas more closely! Thanks for reading Experience France by Bike!

      Maggie LaCoste

  4. hi there,
    I’m from Hong Kong and is interested in cycling around the Loire next month. Your site is very informative and had helped me alot in planing my stay. I do have a few questions that I hope you can help me to clarify

    1) I planed to cycle from Bolis –> Cambord –> Cheverny –> Bolis. How many days do you think it will take (i’m cycling with my gf in late twenties, both fit and healthy)

    2) Do you think it is necessary to book accomodation in advance??

    many thanks for your help and love to help from you soon

    1. Hi Gordon!

      So happy you are finding my website helpful! I am working on a guidebook on the Loire, so hopefully that will make information even more available. The first thing you want to do if you have not already is go to http://www.chateauxavelo.com. That is the website for the bike trails from Blois to Cheverny and Chambord. Even though there are 400km of bike paths, you won’t be riding all of them, and nothing is that far apart. With that said, we spent one night near Cheverny, allowing time for going to the castle and wine tasting at the many vineyards in the area. Then we took a fabulous ride from there to Bracieux to Chambord through the forest, and spent the night at the one hotel in Chambord, overlooking the castle. The hotel is very simple, the views priceless. When you get to Blois you MUST get the map called “Les Chateaux a Velo”, it is free from the tourism office. You will need this map to know which itinerary to follow as they are all marked by numbers. It is very easy, very safe, very little, if any traffic on the bike routes.

      Regarding reservations, not sure what to tell you. September is a busy time with festivals and the grape harvest, so depending on exactly when you come, it could be busy. The places to stay outside if Blois are all quite small–25 rooms or less, so there aren’t so many rooms. I would at least e-mail one or two hotels and ask them if they have rooms available. Hope this info helps. I will be writing more on the area in the next week, so check back.

      Maggie Lacoste

  5. wow.. thank you so much for the quick reply :> hope everything goes well with your publication

  6. Wow. C’est un blog fantastique. Néstor et moi (Miguel) on mis au point une petite entreprise de voyages à vélo en Espagne. Si vous voulez voir ce que nous faisons: wwwsunbikes.net. Nous aimerions entendre parler de vous

  7. Mrs. Lacoste, I would like to purchase a copy of your guide when it is published, please.

  8. Hi, there’s a lot of valuable information on your site that I’m going to be able to use. My husband and I live in France and are keen cyclists both here and in other countries. We’re interested in doing to the Paris-London route that is supposed to be opening for the Olympic Games. I’ve added your blog to my blogroll. Have only done one post on cycling so far (French Canals). Last summer we did parts of the Atlantic to the Black Sea route (EuroVelo 6) after consulting Michel Bonduelle’s route.

  9. Do you have any information on finding an itinerary for a one day bike trip from Bordeaux? Merci!

    1. Here is a story that I wrote last year on recreational rides in/around Bordeaux. You didn’t say if you wanted to go into the wine areas, but if it was me and I only had one day, I would do the Roger Lapabie trail. As described in the article, you can take the train from Bordeaux to Creon, rent a bike and then bike for the day, have lunch or a picnic lunch and then take the train back to Bordeaux!

      Here is the link to the story:

      http://slowtraveladventures.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/great-recreational-bike-rides-near-bordeaux/

      Hope this helps.

  10. Hello, I am biking solo from London to Spain. Doing my planning and looking for maps of “bike routes” Traveling mid-April to mid-May. Trying to locate cycle paths,etc. with maps is rather difficult. Any suggestions on specific routes and where to obtain maps that show bike paths,etc. Thanks. Phil

    1. Experience France by Bike March 19, 2012 at 12:22 am

      Hi Phil!

      Perfect time of the year to be traveling to France! Can you give me an idea of where you were thinking about touring? Three areas that come to me would be the Loire Valley, the Atlantic Coast, which is where I am going in May or the area from Bordeaux to Toulouse, continuing on to the Canal du Midi. The weather can be iffy in Brittany and Normandy, and also in Alsace. If you can give me an idea of what you have in mind, I will lead you to some resources. Too bad I don’t have my e-guides for these areas released yet! Let me know what you are thinking about.

  11. caterina flatau April 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Hello! Glad to find your site. We are taking our girls for a day trip to the Loire. We are staying the night in Cheille and would like to stay in the area of Amboise. We will likely rent bikes in Tours. Do you have a published guide for this area. I am having trouble understanding which roads bikes are allowed on etc. Thanks so much!

    1. Experience France by Bike April 26, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      Hi Caterina!

      Did you get my last response and were you able to find the information you were looking for? Please let me know if you need any additional information!

      Maggie

  12. Oh I love this blog. I love France, the french language and bike riding so this is my dream. My children are still little (2 and 4) so we’re going to wait a few more years until we get over to Europe. We are in Australia but plan to live in the UK and travel in Europe in a couple of years so I’ll be reading lots on this site for planning and inspiration.

    1. Experience France by Bike June 27, 2012 at 1:36 am

      Thanks for the great note and I am so happy to hear that you enjoy my blog! I too share your love for France. Our children grew up cycling in France and Germany, so you have a lot to look forward to. Every year we meet parents such as yourself with young kids bicycling. Last summer we met a German couple who were bicycling EuroVelo 6 from Nantes to Istanbul with two children under 5! They had them in a kid carrier and acted as if it was the most normal thing in the world! We were amazed! Hope you keep reading my blog, and in a few months, I will publish my first e-guide on family biking in France, so watch for more information on that!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike

  13. Catherine Dempsey June 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Hi there. Just found your site this morning and then achieved very little else for the rest of the day!! A great site. We live in France between Bordeaux and Toulouse and, although in our late 60s , go off on our bikes when we can. Have been trying to check out your report on the Canal de Midi but can’t seem to find it. Probably me! Did it last September from Toulouse to Sete and would love to compare notes (did Toulouse to Castets on day trips from home), haven’t had so much fun for years! This year planning to do a part of the new Velodyssee route probably from La Rochelle to Hendaye in September with some friends from Canada so waiting eagerly for the website and route to open next week. You have a new avid reader! Best wishes
    Catherine Dempsey

    1. Experience France by Bike June 28, 2012 at 2:17 am

      Bonjour Catherine!

      Thanks so much for the very lovely note! I too am happy that you found my blog and I hope that you enjoy reading it. In three years I have amassed quite a bit of information on cycling in France. You will not find a report on the Canal du Midi as I have only ridden short sections of this route. I hope to get back in the fall to ride from Bordeaux to Toulouse and then from Toulouse to Sete. I have done part of the route near Toulouse which I absolutely love, but I have been told that the route from Carcassonne to Sete is not consistent, with the quality of surfaces varying tremendously. The Loire and other routes in Brittany and Burgundy have set a high standard for recreational bike routes, and to date, the Canal du Midi has not reached this high standard of well-signposted and uniformly rideable bike paths.

      Regarding your upcoming plans for LaVelodyssee, I will be curious to hear about your upcoming trip. I am still working on my “Likes, Dislikes and What I Would Do Different” post on the trip, but hopefully you will find it of interest, since we followed that same route, starting just a bit further north. Hopefully by September there will be significant progress on the signposting of the route. In May, it was very disappointing. Once again, the Loire and Burgundy regions have set a very high standard for other areas to live up to, and this is very fortunate for recreational cyclists like us! Thanks again, and I hope you will keep reading my blog. I look forward to hearing back from you on your trip to the Atlantic Coast! I wish I could do the ride again this summer, knowing what I do now!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike

  14. Rafal Jablonski July 4, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Hi Maggie,

    I am really glad, that I found your site. It’s fantastic and full of very, very useful and practical info. And obviously it’s great pleasure to read about your own advantures 🙂

    In August (this year) we are planning to go from Poznan (PL) to Paris, cycling along Eurovelo 2 to Munster (DE) and then Eurovelo 3, called Pilgrim’s route. I’ve already collected all info regarding EV2 to Munster but still I’m lacking any description of the route fro Muster to Paris… It’s not so comfortable as I am not sure how to plan rest time and period of trip first of all.

    Could you be so kind and advise, where can I find any route description / info? Or maybe whou should I contact with to gain such info? I’ve tried all bookstores I know and ‘googled’ for many days, but still without visible effects.

    I would appreciate if you could help me with that matter.

    Thank you very much in advance!

    Kind regards,
    Rafal

    1. Experience France by Bike July 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      Dear Rafal,

      Thanks so much for your note and I am sorry for the delay in responding, but I have been trying to find some information to pass on to you, but to no avail. Unfortunately I am not that familiar with EV2 or EV3, so can’t really provide much advice for your trip planning. There is a European map company that I use occasionally, http://www.cartovelo.fr/, you can try to find some information here. I tried a search for EuroVelo 3 and/or the Pilgrim’s Route, but did not have any luck.

      Regarding the EuroVelo network in general, I have found that there is quite a bit of variance between the quality of the routes and the signage on the routes, so that is something that you should be prepared for. I would make sure that you have some very good Michelin maps of the region you are cycling, in case you encounter areas where the signage is poor.

      I will continue to be on the lookout for anything that may help you and if I find anything, I will send it on to you. I know you must be excited about your trip. Please send me a note upon your return with your thoughts of the route and any tips you might have for my readers.

      Thanks again for reading my blog!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike

  15. So glad I found your site! I am in the early stages of planning a mid-2013 trip to France and hope to incorporate a fair bit of riding. The official websites are helpful but it is great to read the experiences and reflections of somebody who has been-there-done-that. Thanks!

    1. Your welcome. Let me know where you are going and if there is anything additional I can recommend, I will. I have 2 e-guides that will be out later this year, both for weekend trips from Paris: first one to the Burgundy Vineyards, the second one bicycling to Chambord from Blois. More planned for next year!

      Thanks again for reading Experience France by Bike

      Maggie Lacoste

  16. Hello, I am so glad I found your website. I am planning a short bicycling trip that I hope leads to longer future trips. I was planning on basing myself in Blois and taking day trips to Chateau’s but in reading your post, I may just wind my way through the valley and stop where ever my heart leads me. My big question is, what is the name of your guidebook for the Loire Valley and when will it be available?

    1. I’m happy that you found my website also! The Loire is my favorite place to get lost bicycling, so I think that is a wonderful idea. There is a lot to explore around Blois, but there is so much else to explore along the Loire that I would hate to spend all of my time there. Regarding the e-guides that I am working on, they are itinerary specific electronic guides, and there will be a number of them for specific itineraries along the Loire. The first one, which hopefully will be released before the end of the year will be a long weekend bicycling trip from Blois to Chambord. More information will be available on this soon.

      Thanks again for reading my blog and I hope you will read my many posts about bicycling along the Loire!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France By Bike
      http://www.experiencefrancebybike.com

  17. Hello- Great site, great info on bike rentals.

    I did a lot of Euro bike touring as a young man in the ’80s and have now started to bring the family on tandems. We are trying to plan a trip for Loire Valley, Burgundy or other region in central/south but can find no tandem bikes (son too young to power himself on his own bike all day) suitable for week-long tour on roads with bags front and rear. Any ideas for us?

    Brittany Borders sounds great but the only parts of France I have toured before are in their northern region. I’d like to see some new territory, maybe with better June weather too. Thanks!

    1. So glad to hear that you enjoy Experience France by Bike! And I am so happy to hear that you are contemplating a bicycling adventure to France with your kids! I have two great suggestions for you, one for the Loire and the other for the Charente Maritime on the Atlantic Coast of France. Either of these would be my suggestions for a family trip, and each have their own pluses and minuses. First, the Loire. Where do you start? To me, this is the perfect choice to expose your kids to French history and culture. The bicycle ride to Chambord alone would make the most perfect vacation: biking through the Chambord forest, imagining the knights and kings who traveled through the same forests….priceless! The Loire basically has it all, safe bike paths, wonderful attractions, great food, wine, and affordable places to stay. The biggest challenge is nailing down the exact itinerary that appeals to your family.

      There is a very good rental company called Detours de Loire who I have rented from several times who can supply you with tandem bikes. The contact there is Candice and she is terrific to work with. Her e-mail is contact-detours@orange.fr. The cost for a tandem is 140 Euro/7days and over 7 days the cost is 15 Euro each additional day. Another thing you may want to consider, and the choice used by most Europeans is something called a “Piccolo Bike”. Here is a link to see what they are: http://www.burley.com/home/bur/page_776/piccolo.html. They are very cool and may be an option for you, depending on the age of your son. If you chose this option, you could rent a basic hybrid bike for yourself at 60 Euro/week and the cost of a Piccolo bike is an additional 7 Euro/day. If you want the upgraded hybrid, the cost is 93 Euro/week+the cost of the Piccolo. Detours has a very interesting drop off program where you can pick up your bike at one location on the Loire, and drop it off at another, which enables you to avoid having to double back to return your bike….thus giving you more time to bike! Note that tandems are only available at the following Detours de Loire locations: Blois, Amboise, Tours, Saumur and Nantes.

      If, on the other hand, you are interested in more of a beachy vacation, think the gorgeous Atlantic Coast of France, sand dunes, oyster farms, and miles and miles of family-friendly cycle paths, the Charente Maritime may be an option you want to consider. If this is an area that interests you, Bike Hire Direct is the company you want to contact. This is a family business run by Neville and Natasha Wright and they are one of the best bike rental companies you would ever want to deal with. They excel in customer service and making every customer’s bicycle vacation the best ever. They will deliver your bikes to wherever you are staying at the beginning of your trip and Natasha will do whatever she can to make sure that you have the right itinerary and maps for your trip. Whether you decide to bicycle along the ocean or go into the Marais, this is a fantastic area for a relaxing family bicycling vacation. You can find information on their tandems at: http://www.bikehiredirect.com/bikesandaccessories.html. This page also has the information on the Piccolo bike, but it is called the “tag-a-long” bike. Natasha can be contacted at: info@bikehiredirect.com.

      Hope this information helps! Send me a note and let me know what you decide to do. Planning this trip for your family will be a lot of fun, and I hope you search my blog for information on either option that you choose!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike
      http://www.experiencefrancebybike.com

  18. Hello & thanks for the great website. It’s nice to know that there are others out there who are smitten by the bike travel bug. Although I have ridden bike all over the U.S. & toured Europe many times, I have yet to do any bike touring in Europe.
    I am about to change all of that now that I am retired & my daughter is not far away from graduation. However, I am mostly interested in touring on bicycle paths. But whenever I try to search for bike paths in France & the rest of Europe, it points me to hiking trails, motorcycle routes, and road bike routes. I know you have some amazing bicycle paths/cycleways in Europe, but they seem to be a closely guarded secret. I have even contacted numerous active travel tour companies, & none of them seem to specialize in long-distance trail tours.
    Any advice/assistance you could provide would be appreciated. I am the founder of the website Trailsnet.com, & I like to report about good long-distance bike paths, so I hope to start adding European paths soon.
    Thanks for the European cycling information.

  19. Thanks for your nice comments on Experience France by Bike! I too share your interest in bicycling on safe car-free or low traffic roads. That actually was the reason I started Experience France by Bike, to share information on these safe itineraries. Over the last three years, I have written about some of the most popular bicycling itineraries including the Loire River, the Burgundy Canal, the Canal du Centre, the Atlantic Coast Route/La Velodyssee, and the Ile et Rance Canal, just to name a few. A “search” on any of these route names will bring up a listing of my blog posts on these itineraries. I have also written a best resources post for most of the routes, so that should be of some help to you also.

    Other than that, I am currently writing a series of e-guides on these popular bicycle paths which will be available for purchase on my website beginning this spring.

    Actually the biggest problem that you will have when reviewing this information is choosing the route that you want to take for your first trip! Please let me know if you have any other questions.

    Thanks for reading Experience France by Bike!

    Maggie LaCoste

  20. Hello i am planning a trip cycling in France with my partner. We both love cycling and i wanted to surprise him with an itinerary and thought about the Loire stage of EuroVelo 6. We have about 12 days in June (4 days travelling to and from UK and 8 days cycling). Do you have any advice about driving to the start of the route and getting back? I thought we might self drive- leave our car- have our cycle holiday- get the train back to the start then drive home. Would you or your readers offer any advice?
    Many thanks and i have enjoyed browsing your site
    Viv

    1. Hi Viv!

      How exciting to be planning a trip to the Loire in June! I would be happy to send you some thoughts, but my suggestions will depend on what part of the route you are thinking about cycling. I am a big fan of the French train system so my travel always includes taking the train from Paris to my starting place, and then returning to Paris from wherever we end. That’s really one of the biggest benefits of cycling the Loire. It’s easy to get to and there are services to pick up and drop off your bike in different locations. From Paris, there are terrific connections to major towns along the Loire: Nantes, Angers, Saumur, Tours, Blois, Orleans. I don’t know how set you are on driving from the UK, so maybe send me some additional information on that. While you are deciding whether to drive or not, consider where you are going to be able to safely park your car for a week while you are cycling. I know this can be an issue. Once you have made this decision, and you have some thoughts on what part of the Loire you want to explore, let me know and I will be happy to send some additional suggestions.

      Have a great time planning this trip. The Loire is one of my most favorite itineraries!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike
      http://www.experiencefrancebybike.com

  21. Hi Maggie. Your blog is very helpful. It was your item on the Burgundy Canal that persuaded me to go there this year instead of the Loire. My original plan was to start at Migennes and work our way to Dijon over six days. I contacted Escapade Gourmande to ask their suggestions for an itinerary and they say “The towpath between Migennes and Tonnerre is poor, we do not recommend it (but still do-able).

    Do you have a view on this? we were planning to do that section in one day. It seems a shame to cut 45km off our trip. An alternative idea I have seen on another website is to start in Auxerre and ride through Chablis to Tonnerre. Would that be a more enjoyable day (possibly some wine-tasting?)

    1. Dear Bill,

      Thanks so much for the nice notes. Let me take a bit of time to look into updated route information and I will get back with you in a couple of days. Have you biked along the Loire before? Just curious!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike
      http://www.experiencefrancebybike.com

  22. Bill, after some thinking, here are my ideas on your upcoming trip:

    1. Bicycle from Nevers to Chalon-sur-Saone, along the canal of the Loire and the Canal du Center, connecting to either the first voie verte from Chalon-sur-Saone to Macon, OR go as far as Santenay, and then take the wine route from Santenay to Beaune. The Nevers to Chalon-sur-Saone itinerary is just over 200 km. Chalon-sur-Saone to Macon is 65 km and the Santenay to Beaune add on is about 50 km. Santenay to Beaune is one of my favorite rides in Burgundy–right through the heart of the vineyards. People do it in a car in a half a day, most people do it by bike in a day, I do it in no less than 2 days. I love taking deviations into the hills and visiting all the charming little towns…and tasting wine of course!

    2. Do the Burgundy Canal as you originally planned. I have not biked the portion from Migennes to Tonnerre for several years, so I don’t have any idea what the condition of the route is. I do know that Laurent at Escapade Gourmande is very knowledgeable, and if he says there are issues with that part of the canal, I would believe him. We found the Burgundy Canal to be very rough on bikes to begin with, so the last thing that you want is to face really bad conditions and then have tire problems. So…..if you were to do the Burgundy Canal, I would start in Tonnerre, take a deviation into the Chablis vineyards (I am assuming you know this is quite hilly?), and then proceed down the Canal, to Ancy-le-Franc, Montbard, etc. Depending on the amount of time that you have, there are plenty of deviations you can take: one of my favorites is to Alesia and if you don’t mind a killer hill, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, or if you would prefer, do the deviation to Semur-en-Auxois, which I did not do, but wish that I had. Further towards Dijon, there are more deviations into towns along the Ouche Valley. If you have time when you are finished with this route, you can always add on a trip through the vineyards. I am not fond of bicycling the Dijon to Beaune route, as it is mostly on busy roads, but as mentioned previously, I love the Beaune to Santenay route.

    Regarding your reservations about the Loire, being too busy and on busy roads, nothing could be further from the truth, unless you are talking about the area around Amboise, which does get very busy during the summer months. If you have not been to the Loire, I really would not discount it. Even during the busy summer months, you can choose an itinerary that will be terrific. I just finished two posts about my 2 favorite itineraries along the Loire. Not to complicate things for you, but I would definitely look at Nantes or Angers to Gennes, Saumur, Montsoreau, Fontvraud Abbey, Chinon, Langeais, Villandry ending in Tours. This is a fantastic itinerary full of history, great architecture, wonderful vineyards, great B&B’s, troglodyte caves, abbeys and only as many castles as you want to visit. Contrary to your thought, the route is mostly bike only or very low traffic agricultural roads. The only time that you really encounter much traffic is when you get off the bike path for lunch or for your hotel. This is also true for the bicycle routes in Burgundy.

    We have bicycled the Danube six times and obviously I love it. But the Loire is so much better! So hope I have given you some food for thought, and not complicated your planning too much. Let me know if you have other questions!

    Maggie LaCoste
    Experience France by Bike
    http://www.experiencefrancebybike.com

  23. Thanks for a website full of useful information. Your planning sounds the same as mine. Pouring over maps and websites checking on where to stay – “charming B and B – it WILL be worth those extra miles.” The planning is the exciting part. We did the Canal du Midi in April last year from Toulouse to Agde. What a fabulous way to see France. I am currently trying to decide on the Canal De Garonne or seeing if Aiguillion to Cahors along the Veloroute Vallee du Lot (http://www.tourisme-lotetgaronne.com/UserFiles/Image/imagesSpeciales/tourinsoft/MEDIA_27233dd2-ad84-4d92-829c-0e442e57f193.pdf) is do-able. Bearing in mind we are not keen on steep hills – hence the Canal/river trips and prefer to keep away from roads as much as possible. (We also are keen narrowboaters so the mixture of canal and bikes is bliss!) I was wondering if you had any thoughts on either of these? Having read your Loire itineraries I am in a quandary! I am tempted……….We have a week in April available due to commitments in May/June and I was thinking we are more likely to have better weather the further south we go. Any thoughts on the Burgundy canal too? I have been given a Danube Bike Trail book – brilliant. That will have to wait until one long summer.

    Thank you.
    Amanda

    1. Hi Amanda!

      Thanks for the note! Choosing a place to go bicycling in France in April is indeed a bit challenging. If you are hill-averse, and unless you are thinking about renting an e-bike, the Valee du Lot may not be the best choice. I am not that familiar with this area, but I think that due to its proximity to the Pyrenees, the weather may not be ideal even though it is southern France. In addition, this itinerary is a veloroute, so is primarily on low travel highways and roads rather than a mix of cycle paths and low travel roads. I much prefer the latter. Burgundy might be OK in April, but I wouldn’t want to chance it.

      An area that you may wish to consider that is easy to get to and should have terrific weather in April is Provence. I have been so busy exploring other parts of France that I have not been to Provence in more than 5 years, and I was amazed to see what has happened since I was there last! My earlier experiences bicycling in Provence were not happy ones, as our itineraries always included way too many hills that lasted far too long. With so many other bicycling routes to choose from that are flat, I left Provence to those wanting to test their mettle on roads made famous by the Tour. Lucky for me…and my readers that I saw the light recently while doing some research for a recent post. The end of January I published a blog post on trip planning resources that included information on bicycle routes in the Vaucluse. Possibly my best discovery or rediscovery of the year. This region is a paradise of all the things I love: sunflowers, lavender, olives, Cavaillon melons, fantastic food and an incredible network of fantastic bicycling itineraries for all levels of cyclists. I was so impressed with the bicycling network that I have reorganized my early summer trip to spend some time exploring the network. So take a look at this post, http://experiencefrancebybike.com/more-france-bike-trip-planning-resources/. Take a look at the website for the Department of Tourism of Vaucluse, the Cycling in Vaucluse link, as well as the Velo Loirsir en Luberon link.

      I think this region could offer you a perfect choice for bicycling in France in the springtime.

      Let me know what you think.

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike

      1. Fantastic. The Canal de Nivernais is one I had not considered. I am going off to explore the Vaucluse websites you suggested. We are now considering delaying until early July. I do like the sound of lavender and sunflowers. In the mean time some friends with a narrowboat have invited us on board with our bikes so it looks like April will be on English towpaths. More planning time! I will report back.
        Thanks

        1. Perfect! I will be writing about my next trip in a day or two so will have more information about Provence!There aren’t any downsides to a bicycling trip in Provence! Thanks for reading Experience France by Bike, and let me know what you decide!

          Maggie LaCoste

  24. Hi Maggie, we thank you for your very complete article about Sun-e-Bike in Provence, when you plan a visit in Provence, we will welcome you very happily in both our offices in St-Rémy-de Provence or in Bonnieux! The Sun-e-Bike team

    1. I cannot wait! I know that many of my readers will be interested in what touring by e-bike is like, and I cannot think of a better way to do it than in Provence. I am putting the finishing touches on my Provence itinerary and as soon as it is set, I will contact you with specific dates that I would like to try out your e-bikes!

      Maggie Lacoste
      Experience France by Bike
      http://www.experiencefrancebybike.com