I'll be vacationing with family for a week or 2 in Provence this summer at a Chateau called La Loubiere. My siblings and assorted family members will be staying at the rental for a week, but I thought I might bring my touring/camping gear and hit the road for an additional week by myself. I was thinking to bring a so-so bike and try to sell it or just leave it behind given the expense of flying with a bike.
Plus- I don't speak a word of French but will probably take some beginner course before I leave.
Any advice for a solo traveler who doesn't speak the language? And any travel routes would also be appreciated.
If you haven't cycled in France before, you're in for a treat. France has an abundance of good quality camp sites in all the regions I've cycled in. From your start point you've got plenty of options of where to head. Go north west to Dordogne, south east to Cevennes or north to Cantal/Auvergne and you will have brilliant cycling through beautiful countryside. Maps and a good guide ( e.g. Lonely Planet ) are obviously advisable. You might find this site with its map useful http://www.francethisway.com/most-be...l-villages.php .
As regards language, the French have a mixed reputation in dealing with those who insist on assuming everyone should speak English. Naturally they prefer you to try to speak some French or at least to apologise in French to start with that you speak very little.
Most younger people will have learned some English in school, though whether they will speak it comfortably is a different matter. I speak French but my impression from reading tour reports on Crazy Guy on a Bike by non-Francophones is that campground staff can usually communicate the basics, even if they don't really speak English. If you have time to learn phrasebook French, I'd strongly recommend that. The BBC has some online resources for French learning. If you're clearly trying to use French, most people will be pleased, even if you ultimately switch to English.