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    Senior Member rpc180's Avatar
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    Cycling near the Med?

    With my friends changing plans on me for my trip I've decided to bail on them and just make it a cycling adventure.

    I'd like to cycle along the Mediterranean coast. Possibly something like Barcelona Spain to Valencia or Italy along the west coast. Or Southern France in the area. Maybe the Greek Isles (are these cycleable?) Does anyone know of a good cycle company or independent routes to take? Perhaps on the shorter side between 5-8 days?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    We live along the Med. In fact our local routes near the Med are the northern extension of the Spanish Costa Brava. Very hilly. In Spain, the roads are verry narrow , adjacent to the sea north of Barcelona. Here the roads are pretty good. Not nearly as much traffic.except for August. North of Argeles, roads become more accomodating to beaucoup traffic.
    I have rode about Nice east to Italy.The famed Riveria. The traffic and congestion. Lots of stop and go. Particularily in August. Not many straight of ways. Think ITaly would be better if you get south of the Riverria. I really like ROussillon for beaches are very nice and not quite as built up..( Where , we live.) Particularily a little inland, should you want to see a bit of the Pyreenees.
    Don't know if I've seen an actual Bike routing map. Stay on the D roads for starters. Many national highways have wide shoulders. Think bike traffic is allowed on N highways. Buy a detailed Michelin Map. scale 1:72000000. Lists lots of side roads. Or contact Adventure Cycling. They will tell you where to get good maps.
    Last edited by cyclezealot; 05-17-06 at 06:44 AM.

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    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    My only experience is with Italy. If you go there, the Touring Club of Italy regional maps are detailed enough to tell which roads are the smaller ones that are likely to be quieter. We did not stick to a pre-planned route at all and it worked out. For France, there is a series of very small scale cyclist oriented maps for the entire country - I can't remember the company, but I bought (but never used) a couple at Powell's travel book store in Portland - give them a call for info.

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    Cycling the Italian Riviera between the French border and Genoa is awful. Nonstop traffic and congestion. Much of the French coast between Marseille & the Italian border is also terrible. I would strongly advise against both. There are regions of both countries that are so MUCH better. For example, Corsica has great cycling, though it's not easy. The north & west coasts of Corsica are fantastic, as is the interior.

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    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    I have ridden all over Southern France, including Corsica, and I would not recommend following the Med coastline (except between St. Raphael and Cannes). However, Southern France is superb for cycling! The lonely Planet Guide has a great cycling book for France that has topographic maps and good route descriptions similar to Adventure Cycling maps. Corsica is incredible, but getting to and from there will take a chunk of your already short visit. It's hard to be any of the rides in les Cevennes, Languedoc Rousillon, Luberon, or les Gorges du Verdon. Too bad you don't have extra time!
    Bon courage et Bonne Route!

  6. #6
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Our Roussillon coast on the Med. has often been called the ' undiscovered coast.' shhh, please don't tell anyone..Thats not to say, during August, we don't have our share of visitors. OUr coast has been great traffic wise and all. I don't think the Riveria ever is uncongested. Not the case here.
    I would like to go to Corsica too. Checked out the fare to Corsica this past week. It was like $500 round trip, includes no hotels. Think it like a 7 - 8 hour boat trip to get there.
    Been to inland Provence in August once on a bike trip.. I found little relief from the coastal traffic. However the riding is incredible.

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    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    $500?!! There are a least two different ferry companies running services from several cities along the coast. My wife and I went round trip from Marseille for about 55 euros each, but I think that it is much less expensive from Nice. I live in Montpellier, and there is far too much traffic along the coast here for my tastes. Perhaps it is much better further along the coast towards Spain, but there are too many quite backroads, beautiful countrysides, and great villages in the hinterland to explore instead (imo).

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    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    One more quick mention, in Provence, there is a bike route running from Forqualquier to Cavaillon that has very little traffic. You can find maps for it at the tourist office in Forqualquier, and there are road signs specifically for cyclists along the way.

  9. #9
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Cranky.. Montpellier is much bigger than Perpignan. The coastal towns of Canet south are pretty small populations. Hope it stays that way.. Think Canet Plage only has like 7000 people. Towns further south are even smaller.
    Small coastal town south of Collioure are really small.I'd say the vineyards employ more people here than even tourism. Just that the summer toursists do tax the roads, particularily August. Rode to Collioure today. Last couple weeks, hotels have really picked up. On the boardwalk at Canet couple days ago; had to actually stop couple of times. People clogging the pathway.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rpc180's Avatar
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    I was looking at this area when I had a few minutes to spare at work. Perpignan looks like a good place to base a stay. Rooms there seem affordable and at least the distance to Canet-Plage is manageble by bike. In the other direction it looks like there's lot to see also. Being a castle fan; the Cathar castles would be fun to cycle to and tour. How is the cycling along the roads here - I'm glad to hear its not busy, but will I be hugging shoulders on highways and crossing at interchanges or is it more like two lane country roads?

    My other option is Nice. I know, probably the complete opposite of Perpignan. The reasons I'm looking at it is because of its proximity to Monte Carlo and Cannes, both of which I'd like to visit at least once (last time I was through the area it was by train on the way to Barcelona and we didn't stop). Does anyone know if its possible to cycle to Cannes or Monte Carlo from Nice (are there paths or is this suicide)? Its certainly within distance ... The other reason I'm looking here is because of the Cote D'Azure airport, which if its the last leg of my trip, makes it easy to fly back to the US.

    Opinions? Objections?
    cdale r700, r3000, centurion accordo

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    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    @cyclezealot: glad to hear it because my wife and I are starting or next big tour (Raid pyreneen) from Cerbere in about three weeks!

    @rpc180: Yes, one of my favorite rides goes through Cathare country and is a great 7 day jaunt from Perpignan to Nimes. I actually just did this ride with my mom during spring break a few weeks ago (for the second time). The route I took has very little traffic, passes through the Parc Haute Languedoc, amazing villages perched on clifftops, and even a thermal springs! If you are interested, I can describe the route, although you well want a map as well.

  12. #12
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpc180
    I'd like to cycle along the Mediterranean coast. Possibly something like Barcelona Spain to Valencia or Italy along the west coast. Or Southern France in the area. Does anyone know of a good cycle company or independent routes to take?
    Eurovelo Bicycle Route 8 goes from Cadiz to Athens along the Med, except for cutting across the top of Italy. It is a designated, European long-distance bike path. Download the map free here:
    http://www.ecf.com/83_1

  13. #13
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Cranky. The Cathar chateau's are amazing. Montcegur is our favorite. It is a heck of a climb.
    I find the French impatient with other cars and even pedestarians , but cyclists - they seem to give us room.
    One thing about Roussillon. ONce you get a really good map, you find that you can almost always find a rural alternative. Most of the N roads have decent shoulders. The area does have some significant chateau. Look into Collioure's and Palas de Maroc in Perpignan... Not sure, I'd suggest staying in Perpignan if biking is your thing. Bike paths in this busy town could be better. Also, Most of the fun is out in the beach areas.
    Lots of towns just a little inland where you can quickly access the beach and the mountains in a short time. IN August, accessing the beach on a bike is the quickest way to get there...Of all the beaches, I've seen on the MEditerranen, the area south of Narbonne to Spain are some of the best. From BouLou a great ride can be going up a side road to Spain over the Pyrenees. Major museums nearby worth seeing are the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and Dali in the Figueras, I believe.?
    Riding along the coast from Collioure south into Spain. Road can be busy in summer. Reminds me of California's Big Sur.
    Just an aside. We live most of the year in ROussillon.. Several parts of France interested us..( My wife teaches English, here.)
    We choose here because of several reasons. they are. THe California like weather. Wife's opportunities, beauty of the countryside. Cycling. Better than California's even. ANd far more respect from motorists. We were interested in the Dorgogne & Provence. But, we choose here. Access to the countryside and excellant cycling conditions. Thats' us. Living here most of the year. Provence. THose Mistrial winds up in Provence are said to cause people to go wacky. The Tremonts can be rough even here.
    Last edited by cyclezealot; 05-18-06 at 05:15 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member rpc180's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    Eurovelo Bicycle Route 8 goes from Cadiz to Athens along the Med, except for cutting across the top of Italy. It is a designated, European long-distance bike path. Download the map free here:
    http://www.ecf.com/83_1

    That is an excellent overview! I'll be reading through it tonight!
    cdale r700, r3000, centurion accordo

  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Appreciate knowing about Eurovelo web site. Quickly reviewed the sections about our region. Seems the descriptions are pretty accurate for the chosen routing.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rpc180's Avatar
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    I made my decision - flying into Montpellier from Vienna. I couldn't find any flights into Perpignan from Vienna or from Perpignan to Washington, DC so Montpellier it is. The descriptions from the file above and this website http://www.creme-de-languedoc.com/La...ightseeing.php pushed me over! I'm also extending my stay, from June 15th until June 25th, a full 10 days to explore the region! I'm really excited (and now really broke!) Guess its hostel time!
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  17. #17
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    rpc. Wish had suggested to you earlier.Was not sure of your feelings about Roussillon? To get to Perpignan via cheap flights from London. Most find it difficult to connect via the major airlines and get a good fare .
    Out of London to get to Perpignan. There are some no frills airlines called Ryan and Flybe, I think? The rest are AIr France and they don't always give excursion fares to Perpignan.
    Should you truly be interested in Roussillon, give a PM and will suggest ideas, if you'd like.
    If you feel financially bothered by air fare to Europe . I think you choose the right region. Roussillon is considerably less expensive than the Riveria. Also, have a Spanish option nearby.
    About housing in this area, act early. We checked bookings in Collioure. They are full up, almost in all categories from June to August 30. There are less expensive options. The area has variety.You just might have to choose a 40 minute bike ride to the beach in order to have a 50% savings.
    Also, Trains will get you to the far out regions of Languedoc Roussillon. An interesting area is the Carmargue. (Particularily, now with DaVinci Code coming out?)
    I hope you will continue to be stoked. I would be. Hope you have the vacation of your life. Collioure is tres jolie. As one or two other members of BF have testified.
    Also, check out the Chateau at Carcisonne. An easy two hour drive.
    Good timing. August hot spells that often hit will not be a worry. Also, if you are a snorkeler, you are in for a treat.There is a national marine park at Banyuls sur Mer.
    Last edited by cyclezealot; 05-18-06 at 02:52 PM.

  18. #18
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    You simply must bike a bit of the Canal du Midi. Say about from Narbonne to Carcassone. You will be so glad you did.

  19. #19
    Senior Member rpc180's Avatar
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    Well, Montpellier was not the first choice of landing I think I want to base my exploration out of Narbonne. Bages, Carcassonne and Beziers and Meze look to be beautiful day trips. Also, the Cathar castles don't seem too far, but quite uphill. If I wanted to get to Narbonne from Montpellier, is there a bus? How much would the fare be? Of course, I'd have to travel back too at some point since my flight to DC would be out of Montpellier.

    I'm not completely cash strapped but we're all looking to save anywhere we can
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  20. #20
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    rpc. Not sure about some of the smaller cities mentioned.But the major cities sound convenient to trains.Local trains are bike friendly. No packing required. From what I saw. The ride out from the coast to the Cathar chateau's is pretty gradual. Aude is pretty much a rolling plain.. Won't Google maps give you that information. The climb up to the Cathar's is not gradual. Take you an hour or more to climb the those cliffs. Don't think there is anything like the Pyreenees up there. Some big sized hills, maybe.

  21. #21
    3 summits of Athens
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    i'm Greek. small Cyclades islands (like santorini or mykonos) are the biker's nightmare-narrow roads packed with ignorant tourists, hangover victims and local drivers who think they own the universe, potholes and bums plus no shadow in the lunar landscape...my suggestion: try Ionian island tours, Chalkidiki or around the Peloponnese coastline
    May the Force watch over our trace..

  22. #22
    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    Montpellier makes a perfect base to start your tour. Just take D17 north toward pic St. Loup and drop down into Saint Martin de Londres. From here, drop down into les Gorges de l'Herault and follow this road to the medievale village Saint Guilem-le-Desert. You can then ride to lac du Salagou. Tons on amazing cycling, and you don't need to take any trains to get anywhere else. Allez-Bonne Route!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpc180
    I was looking at this area when I had a few minutes to spare at work. Perpignan looks like a good place to base a stay. Rooms there seem affordable and at least the distance to Canet-Plage is manageble by bike. In the other direction it looks like there's lot to see also. Being a castle fan; the Cathar castles would be fun to cycle to and tour. How is the cycling along the roads here - I'm glad to hear its not busy, but will I be hugging shoulders on highways and crossing at interchanges or is it more like two lane country roads?

    My other option is Nice. I know, probably the complete opposite of Perpignan. The reasons I'm looking at it is because of its proximity to Monte Carlo and Cannes, both of which I'd like to visit at least once (last time I was through the area it was by train on the way to Barcelona and we didn't stop). Does anyone know if its possible to cycle to Cannes or Monte Carlo from Nice (are there paths or is this suicide)? Its certainly within distance ... The other reason I'm looking here is because of the Cote D'Azure airport, which if its the last leg of my trip, makes it easy to fly back to the US.

    Opinions? Objections?
    I stayed in Juan les Pins last september and did several trips to Nice from there. Took me quite a while to understand that the french drivers were not trying to kill me, they knew what they were doing and there were just too freaking many cars on the narrow roads. It is very difficult to get by Nice airport so a good solution can be to take a train from Cagnes sur Mer to Cannes. It is very easy to brin a bike on french local trains. The road between Cannes and St. Raphael is very beautiful and full of cyclists. Go upland from St. Raphael to the Gorge de Verdon, stunning scenery and if you have time do a couple of the famous cols. I did Col de la Bonette which was a great experience.

  24. #24
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl
    Cycling the Italian Riviera between the French border and Genoa is awful. Nonstop traffic and congestion. Much of the French coast between Marseille & the Italian border is also terrible. I would strongly advise against both. There are regions of both countries that are so MUCH better. For example, Corsica has great cycling, though it's not easy. The north & west coasts of Corsica are fantastic, as is the interior.
    What about South of Genoa? How bad is the traffic? I am considering biking to Pavia from Milpensa, take a train from Pavia to Genoa. Bike part way don the coast to say Porto Fino (or whereever it starts getting REALLY hilly again) then another train to La Spezia then on done the coast where things seem to flatten out a bit (in comparison of course ).

  25. #25
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    I rode from Athens to Petras with nothing more than a crude map given out by some tourist center in Athens. It was so basic I barely used it except to ensure that I could find a campground. But man... it was BEAUTIFUL. Getting out of Athens was a "crap your pants" extravaganza, but after that, everything was kosher. I rode back to Patras, then jumped a ferry and sailed back to Italy (Bari). Good stuff.

    Koffee

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