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Old 02-03-06, 03:39 PM   #1
Visionquest
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france

I've been reading through the posts and just love the feeling of comraderie on this site...I do have a few questions still and have seen varying opinions reguarding packing...but none of them quite fit with my plans so I was wondering; what is the bare minimum i need to bike through France??? I'm starting in March and going till i feel like coming back (could be 10 days-10 years) I would like the option of unstrapping my stuff and walking some...would rear panniers,a seat pouch for tools and a handlebar bag be enough? Thank you.
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Old 02-03-06, 03:43 PM   #2
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It sort of depends on what you are planning to do for sleeping and eating. Will you be camping? Staying hostels or hotels? Will you be eating in restaurants? Cooking the food on your own?

The stuff I took with me to Australia for 3 months would have done me just fine for 3 years too. I was travelling with two mid-sized panniers on the front, one Carradice bag on the back, and a handlebar bag.
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Old 02-03-06, 05:10 PM   #3
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I did credit card touring in France with two mid-sized rear panniers, a small daypack bungee-corded to the rear rack, an under-the-seat wedge pack for my tools, a plastic map case velcroed to the handlebars, and a fanny pack.

There was more than enough space for my stuff plus the food that I bought daily. But I carried no camping equipment: no tent, no sleeping bag, no stove, no fuel.
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Old 02-04-06, 01:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Visionquest
What is the bare minimum i need to bike through France??? Would rear panniers,a seat pouch for tools and a handlebar bag be enough? Thank you.

That would be more than enough. Just stick small bike tent and sleeping back on top of back rack. You're all set.
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Old 02-04-06, 01:54 AM   #5
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I'd stay in the B and b's . inexpensive and can travel light. but, French camp sites are very nice. Cheap and great way to meet people.
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Old 02-04-06, 11:04 AM   #6
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First post for me on Tour forum....loaded touring is great fun so investing in front and rear luggage is essential for weight distribution. Weight should be kept to 30LB or less. In France you won't need cooking gear. Why else go to France than to eat and drink? You will have the greatest respect as a cyclist. My experience was the people love cyclist....I heard Bon Courage many times on my trip from Nice to Geneva. The camp grounds are the way to go. I slept solo for a month on lightweight sleeping bag in a hammock that folded into a small ball. Draped a mosquito net over a strung line on some nights. or draped a waterproof tarp over same line when raining. So eliminated bulky sleep pads, tent and hard ground. A loose schedule sounds ideal. Anything is possible on your trip. I met people that wanted me to come in for breakfast, stay the weekend and tour side by side. If you haven't rode in Mountains....the thrill is fantastic. the workout is worth every crank of the pedal...hope you have the time of your life...
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Old 02-04-06, 09:21 PM   #7
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Well...I have a wonderful tent/hammock that I will be using that folds up to about the size of a nalgene... so that's how i'm sleeping, i will also be getting myself a space blanket... as far as eating goes, I'm not looking for fancy...just something to keep me moving, so am planning on oatmeal and a homemade re-hydration mix (three pinches of salt with 1 table spoon of sugar in 1 liter of H2O, thanks bikeforums :-D so I suppose that's what i'll be eating (and whatever cheap and thoroughly cooked local cuisine) so that's my eats... what did you pack as far as clothing for your 3 month adventure and how did you maintain it? I've read lots of theories but none from the mouth of someone who has actually done it. Thank you for your help :-)
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Old 02-04-06, 09:22 PM   #8
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Well...I have a wonderful tent/hammock that I will be using that folds up to about the size of a nalgene... so that's how i'm sleeping, i will also be getting myself a space blanket... as far as eating goes, I'm not looking for fancy...just something to keep me moving, so am planning on oatmeal and a homemade re-hydration mix (three pinches of salt with 1 table spoon of sugar in 1 liter of H2O, thanks bikeforums :-D so I suppose that's what i'll be eating (and whatever cheap and thoroughly cooked local cuisine) so that's my eats... what did you pack as far as clothing for your 3 month adventure and how did you maintain it? I've read lots of theories but none from the mouth of someone who has actually done it. Thank you for your help
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Old 02-04-06, 10:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Visionquest
Well...I have a wonderful tent/hammock that I will be using that folds up to about the size of a nalgene... so that's how i'm sleeping, i will also be getting myself a space blanket...
Are you generally a warm person? France can get quite chilly!! In March last year, the temperature was around 0C.

http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/07157.html (and check the Almanac for past temps)
http://weather.yahoo.com/forecast/FRXX0076.html
http://weather.yahoo.com/climo/FRXX0076_f.html

I don't know if you've ever slept outside with a space blanket before, but I have (in France, in August, as a matter of fact) and they are not that warm. I was FREEZING!! You might want to consider a small sleeping bag too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Visionquest
as far as eating goes, I'm not looking for fancy...just something to keep me moving, so am planning on oatmeal and a homemade re-hydration mix (three pinches of salt with 1 table spoon of sugar in 1 liter of H2O, thanks bikeforums :-D so I suppose that's what i'll be eating (and whatever cheap and thoroughly cooked local cuisine) so that's my eats...
I started my 3 month tour eating like that ... and after about 2 weeks, I couldn't take it anymore. I needed PROTEIN! It depends on how much cycling you're doing, but if you are covering some good distances every day, you are expending a lot of energy and you need to properly replenish that. Just something to keep in mind.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Visionquest
what did you pack as far as clothing for your 3 month adventure and how did you maintain it? I've read lots of theories but none from the mouth of someone who has actually done it. Thank you for your help
I packed:

CLOTHING - Cycling

Shorts (2)
Tights
Leg Warmers
Knee Warmers

Long-sleeved Jerseys (2)
Short-sleeved Jersey (1)
Sleeveless Jersey
Arm Warmers
Vest

Jacket - waterproof, breathable

Balaclava
Headband
Helmet
Helmet Cover

Full-fingered Gloves - $1 Walmart mini-gloves
Cycling Gloves
Rain Gloves

Wool Socks (1 pair of heavy wool socks)
Small Socks (2 pair)
Cycling Shoes
Booties (nylon)

Reflective Vest
Reflective Ankle Bands


CLOTHING - Civvies

Sweatshirt - I didn't bring this on my Australia tour, but it was the one piece of clothing I wished I had there. I also froze over there!
Long-sleeved - Wool
Short-sleeved
Sleeveless/Tank
Cardigan

Pants - zipleg
Skirt
Shorts - I bought a pair in Australia when my cycling shorts started to wear out. I wore this pair over my cycling shorts ... I thought it just looked better when I stopped to buy groceries or when I encountered other people. I also wore them when I went swimming.

Sports Bras
Undies

Bathing suit
Sarong
Sunhat
Sandals
Rain Poncho


I maintained it by washing it whenever I could ... although sometimes that meant going several days in the same gear without washing it because there were times I was bush camping and had no facilities.
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Old 02-04-06, 10:23 PM   #10
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Order your bread in the evening at the campsite and it is delivered fresh from the oven early next morning. Goes great with the local cheese.
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Old 02-06-06, 11:08 AM   #11
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I agree with a lightweight sleeping bag. Eat plenty of bread cheese fruit meats...enjoy cheap eats just about anywhere. Remember if you're not eating well there are consequences. You don't want to get sick miles from home....Biking burns loads of calories...keep fit...
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Old 02-06-06, 12:56 PM   #12
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Looks like you've already got some good comments from your post. I did quite a bit of self-contained touring in France from the late 70's to 1990 and was able to get away with front panniers mounted on low riders, a handlebar bag, and a large sack (for tent, sleeping bag and other items that didn't fit well into the panniers) strapped parallel to a rear rack. These trips lasted anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months and always included camping and for about half of them I took a stove. I was always touring with a partner so that made it a little easier to break up the cooking items and the parts of the tent. Nevertheless, I think, with some good planning, that you could use the baggage set up that you mentioned in your post. One of the key things in cutting down what you need to bring is to stay, as much as possible, in areas that are climatically hospitable to cycling. March, as has been previously mentioned, is cold in most areas of France. My first tour in Europe began in May and I got stuck in Chamonix by bad weather and had to take a train to get out of there. I might suggest that you consider starting out in Corsica (that's where I fled to on my first trip and have returned there numerous times). Corsica is beautiful beyond belief with beaches along the coast and snow capped mountains in the interior. You might be a little early to find a lot of campgrounds open but you could do some research on that on the web. There was, when I was there, lots of places to "wild camp." I haven't been there for a long time but I imagine that the cycling is still good (and hilly- good place for a triple crankset). Do some searching on the web and see what you come up with but I think that this would be a good place to hang out while the rest of the country warms up a bit. Bon courage!
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Old 02-06-06, 01:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Visionquest
i will also be getting myself a space blanket...
Those space blankets are a bit noisy and very uncomfortable for sleeping. There is a bivey sack that in made from a similar but quieter material that has vents and velcros together. I find that and a sleeping bag will do down to about -10C in a hammock.
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Old 02-06-06, 04:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stokell
Those space blankets are a bit noisy and very uncomfortable for sleeping. There is a bivey sack that in made from a similar but quieter material that has vents and velcros together. I find that and a sleeping bag will do down to about -10C in a hammock.
I agree about those space blankets!! I carry one with me when I ride, but only for emergency use.

I believe the bivy you're talking about is something like this:
http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1139263626170

I've got one too, and I like it much better than the space blanket.
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Old 02-06-06, 05:21 PM   #15
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You are starting your touring in the BEST place for bike riding.And you will have the BEST time of your life, smile a lot, try to speak some French after a few days words on signs help a lot
I did my first long ride and first foreign ride same time ..in France, time and time again was greeted with overboard friendliness
The list above is more than enuf, my total gear for 4 months weighed about 30 lbs in 2 rear panniers and one bar bag, u find its too much to carry give some away, u need more, anything you need is available in any town

I arrived at CDG in Paris 2 pm after a long flt from MIami assembled bike and was heading out the door when a young police officer stopped me to admire my NEW bike, and advised me to take the RER into Paris instead of riding, traffic heavy and you are tired after a long flt,he said.Was great advice, got into city couldn't locate the street my hotel was on, street wasn't on my map. Asked a taxi driver, he said follow me, i show you, and he did refused any offer of money.
Had my first and only flat in 4 months next day very early in the AM as I was riding around Paris. Stopped to repair it and a motorist stopped and asked If I needed help.Offered to ferry me back to hotel, Waited till flat was fixed then shook my hand and said , Lance will win the Tour again, N'est pas?? was '04 and he did

Go out to the Normandy WW2 invasion beaches for some REAL French hospitality and friendliness, I was lost one afternoon trying to find the US Military Cemetary, a farmer stopped showed me the right way to go and offered me the BEST cider I ever had

After Chambord and Chenanceaux chateaux one day I stopped at a small country inn to have lunch. leaned the bike against a tree and went into the small terrace and waited to be seated, older gentleman came out looked at me and my bike and said.......ah another young American on a velo(bike), welcom to our inn.He seated me took my order for Salmon (which was outta sight) and returned with a glass of very nice wine, when I said I hadn't ordered any he said, If m"sieur will stand with me I would like to offer a toast, I did and he said.....I thank you as an American who comes from America as our friend as have thousands of young Americans have during 2 world wars when France asked for help, American s gave of their treasure, sons and daughters too, and we will never forget your generousity, We drank the wine and he gave me a French kiss on each cheek, the dozen or so other guests All clapped politely. AND I was in tears. '04 was the 60th anniversary of D Day and the French gov't paid for hundreds of US vets AND their families to visit during the 100 days of the events that year. The beaches at Normandy were filled with old soldiers and their families, was a heartbreaking sight to see so many who were so very young 60 years earlier now with canes and trying their best to stand straight and tall with thier kids and grandkids

Some evenings when I stopped riding and wandered around tiny villages it wasn't possible for me to pay for a drink, everyone had a story to tell me about American GIs and other American bike riders over the years

I was there only for 4 months, spent 6 weeks in France

As I was told again and again, the French are your friends but as good friends always are, we are different, but we will always be your friends

I envy your adventure. Take lots of pix and write your experiences, months and years afterwards you will return again and again to them, and perhaps you may not return here .Lucky you if that were to happen

And I did meet many Americans who have stayed on in France and Europe, Fat tire Bike Tours in Paris and several other Euro cities was started by an American who stayed to build a very successful biz and the tours around the various cities are great fun
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Old 02-07-06, 11:54 AM   #16
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wow, thank you for your wisdom and kind words of encouragement...I will take them with me and journey with an open heart, mind and spirit. Bon Courage to everybody on this site... you all Rock!!!
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