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Thread: Italy or France

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    Italy or France

    I was starting to look into the possibilities of riding in France next summer for a month...Provance, Paris, Riviera, and ...cautiously optimistic Alp du Huez....

    I was recently informed by a fairly knowledgable friend that there have been several incidents of Anti Semitism...does anyone know if this is true?

    My other option is Italy to ride Tuscany, Florence, or an organized cross country ride.

    Does anyone have any information, or Suggestions?

    SR

  2. #2
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    Ride Italy and do it on your own. You really don't need an organized tour for Italy. You just need good maps of the region.

    I know nothing about France. People say the french outside of Paris can be nice to Americans, but I've heard the opposite from others. Why bother at all, when there's another country where no matter where you're from or what your religion, you won't have problems traveling the region? Italy would be my first choice always.

    Koffee

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    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Ride Italy and do it on your own. You really don't need an organized tour for Italy. You just need good maps of the region.

    I know nothing about France. People say the french outside of Paris can be nice to Americans, but I've heard the opposite from others. Why bother at all, when there's another country where no matter where you're from or what your religion, you won't have problems traveling the region? Italy would be my first choice always.

    Koffee
    I have traveled in both countries alot. The French love cyclists...that they will see when you travel in the nation, and i think your experiences will be uniformly positive. In France, every garage is a bike shop.

    Italy is nice also but can be extremely hot in the summer if you go to the south. One problem with Italy is the consistent poor quality of their roadways, which gets very annoying. It is also more slovenly in its Alpine regions than the other countries (Germany, Switz, Austria, France). Still..if you have never seen the Dolomites glow brandywine pink in the late evening sun, you are missing something!

    Good maps are essential, as there are many overlapping routes and it helps to loop through the mountain regions so thatyou see all the various peaks and ranges to their fullest extent.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

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    Totally unfair to judge France or any place solely on what one "hears"

    I spent sev weeks there past summer and the experiences were "knock the sox off"
    favorable

    Paris to the contrary is fun to ride in sure there is traffic but cars are all over Europe, just be careful there as elsewhere

    Even the sev times in the country I got lost were nice experiences. and in Paris my first afternoon when I couldn't find my hotel a cab driver led me there, wished me well on my trip

    Go, smile a lot, enjoy the food, the sights, and if it rains use your rain gear and remember its only water and dries fast

    I'm returning next year for 4 months. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Czech Rep.

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    France is fabulous for cycling. Cyclists and bikes are everywhere and welcome everywhere. You would do well to try out regions other than Provence and the Riviera, however, especially during the summer, because of the huge influx of tourists.

    Look at the areas around Bordeaux, Dordogne, Charentes-Maritimes, Angouleme, and Brittany. If you want mountains, the Alpes have them, but so do the Jura, Pyranees, and Brittany (center west).

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    Joe Bell was telling me about how Andy Hampsten and Bill Holland drug him along on a tour of the Tuscany region of Italy. Said it was an unforgetable experiance, and was great cycling. With Andy being the "guide" they were treated like royalty everywhere they went. He was saying the Tuscany area is one of the most beautiful places to go cycling. After hearing his account, that would be my choice. Although I do want to time myself up Alp du Huez or Vonteux.

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    Thank you so much for the reassuring words....I dont tend to judge folks on hearsay, but was concerned about traveling with my lady. From the sounds of things we might just have to split the trip and do BOTH a bit of France, and Italy...

    once again thankyou

    Stever

  8. #8
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    Definitely spend some time cycling Italy. I am telling you, it's great stuff. Italy and Switzerland has some of the best scenic views... I've almost fallen off my bike while riding and trying to take everything in. The sights are spectacular, and despite what people say about the roads, I think the roads are fabulous. I come from Chicago where potholes, cracks, and crevices are common. It makes anything in Italy look better than the worst Chicago city street, which can be teeth chattering.

    I'm back in Italy again myself this summer. I will probably head up into Switzerland and into Vienna maybe.

    Koffee

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    As a cycle tourist you are very very unlikey to across antisemistism, this is really something that affects people living in big city communities and is usually directed expressed as grafitti or vandalism. Dont worry about it.
    A bicycle will make you into an honorary Frenchman, and I can recomend the Alpine area around Grenoble. Avoid the road on the main August holiday travel days. May/June is a good time to visit.

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    Just as in every other country in the world, there are going to be those who find a particular religion troubling. France has its share of anti-Semites just as the US does. That said, the industrial regions of NE France, Marseilles, les Banlieus de Paris and of other big cities are probably the places to avoid and not strictly because of anti-semitism. You won't have a problem as a tourist unless you wear your religion on your sleeve.

    I've found that cyclists get a lot of respect in France, much more than in the US anyway. Rural France is much more welcoming than is urban France but the same can be said for the US. I too would advise not doing the Riviera on a bike. It is packed with No. Europeans in the their cars in the summer and Provence might not be the best place either. The Rhine and Rhone valleys are great!

    I've not been to Italy so can't advise on the differences. I am planning a trip through Croatia, maybe, this summer. Anyone been there?

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    To Koffee B

    When traveling, do you stay in BnBs? That solves the prob of bike safety at nite

    During the day if visiting a museum etc, etc, what do you do to protect your bike and

    bags if they are with you? Just lock a bike to rack or tree or lampost?

    The folks I've been incontact with and who do camping tell me they leave panniers in

    tents during the day at campgrounds, any comment?

    Naturally I wouldn't leave anything of value in the tent

    BTW like your choice of icon, hats of to THAT lady

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    it's all good. You just need to be careful. Here's my thought, fly into Paris or Vienna. Bike into Italy. Since you have a whole month,
    enjoy the city for a couple days, play the tourista while you recover from jet lag. If you start in Paris, you can enjoy Southern France, and then on into Italy. You could opt for a more diverse, and strenous, trip by going through Switzerland, Austria, and then Italy. That one would be nice. You could go to Salzburg (Augustinerkeller!) and then follow the Danube into Vienna. Set a day or two aside for Vienna. I loved Vienna. Then you would be well positioned to ride to Venice, and then across Italy. There are some tough choices as to which parts of Italy to visit, even with a month to play. There are many more possible itineraries, like flying into the BeneLux, or even Denmark. Might make more sense to reverse
    the progression, and start in Italy, and ride north if you are starting in the middle of the summer.

  13. #13
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    I carry strong locks with me, and at nights, I lock my bike to something sturdy if I'm staying at a campground. If I'm staying at a hotel or hostel, I ask for a secure place to leave my bike, then I lock the bike up, even if they tell me it's secure. If I'm just running into a store for a few minutes on a break from riding, I have all my panniers, I just bungee cord the panniers really well to the rack and lock up the bike. But if I'm stopped at a restaurant and I eat outside, or if I'm in a very crowded place, I just make sure my panniers are secured shut with those small luggage locks, and I walk. God bless the thief that can handle all that gear and ride away faster than I can run back if they try to steal my bike! So far, I've only had a makeup case stolen with some chanel lipstick, but since I'm not into makeup, it was no big loss.... more amusing than anything that some nasty person stole my makeup bag and wants to use my lipstick. I think I even had fever blisters. Yuck!

    I've stayed in everything from 5 star hotels to campgrounds in a tent in the middle of a thunderstorm. I've even slept on a train platform. If you are riding in the summer, just realize it's prime travel season, and you may have problems with accomodations. That's what I carry the tent for.

    If you fly into Milan, you can ride north from Milan into Como, then from Como, ride into Lugano, Switzerland. Switzerland has great trails everywhere and cycling is so common and accepted there. From Lugano, you can ride through Switzerland into the Alps and come out into France. I'm not sure if you could do it all in a month, but maybe.... you'd be in for some tough riding, lots of hills and mountains.... but if you try hard, I think you could do it.

    Koffee

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    One region I would suggest you avoid in BOTH countries is the Riviera. Along most of the French Riviera, there is simply too much traffic, esp. in summer, for enjoyable cycling, IMHO. The Italian Riviera was even worse. The coast from Genoa to the French border is completely built up. Inland Provence was much more pleasant on a bike than the Cote d'Azur.

    I admit that I am partial to cycling in France, but this may be influenced by the fact that I speak French well, but don't really speak Italian--though I'm able to converse poorly. Having said that, Italians don't expect tourists to be able to speak Italian. But trying to be objective concerning your original question, I've found that most of France (the Riviera being an exception) has a wonderful network of secondary roads with very little traffic. I found that this was not as true in Italy, in part because it's a much more mountainous country and there are simply fewer roads in mountainous areas.

    I've biked a fair amount in Provence & the Alps and enjoyed it. I have to say, however, that my very favorite region for bike touring, not just in France, but in the entire world, is the area in SW France near the Lot, Cele, & Dordogne River valleys. Gorgeous scenery, wonderfully quiet roads, lovely medievals villages and towns, and a wealth of interesting sights including many castles and caves that are open to the public. Also, some of the best cooking in France, and that is saying something. But, you'll certainly eat well in Italy, too.

    And if you end up in SW France, it's a short hop on a train or a few days on a bike to reach the Pyrenees and the delights of the Col du Tourmalet, which I rode up once. Since Alpe d'Huez interests you, the Tourmalet might, too. As for l'Alpe d'Huez, the road starts from the western side of the Col du Lautaret road. The ride from Briancon up the Lautaret isn't too difficult, and the descent toward Grenoble and the turnoff for l'Alpe d'Huez is superb; lovely scenery, gentle, long descent with little braking required, until you reach the built-up outskirts of Grenoble.

    If you go riding in Provence, you might want to visit the historic synagogues in Carpentras, Cavaillon, & Avignon.

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    sr

    Hi

    I've ridden in france the last 8 years, plus just spent 3 weeks in italy. In all my travels the last 10 years there, I have never heard of any problems. both countries are fine and you should have no problems. maybe in a large city, but in riral france and italy you wil have no problems, people ae great

    pat

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    to blauger:
    A trip through Croatia? Well, I've benn there several times, but unfortunatelly whitout my bike. What would you like to know? Where would you like to go? To the coast? That part I know.
    agi

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    Quote Originally Posted by povyagi
    to blauger:
    A trip through Croatia? Well, I've benn there several times, but unfortunatelly whitout my bike. What would you like to know? Where would you like to go? To the coast? That part I know.
    agi
    I plan on starting in Germany, Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow, The Tatras, Kosice, Budapest, and then on to Croatia. I'm not sure if I want to ride through NE Croatia, but want to spend a few days in Zagreb then on to the coast and down to Dubrovnik, maybe with the ferry and then back up to Slovenia. I'd like to spend part of August and September in Croatia, I know August is the busiest time and maybe not the best for cycling but figure that September will be the best time.

    How are the roads? Do they have a shoulder/verge? Guardrails along the mountainous roads? I've read a little bit in Trento Bike Pages but still don't have a good idea about cycling conditions.

    Any help is appreciated!

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    You want to come to Hungary? I live in Budapest. The roads are terrible in the whole country, so don't be afraid of Croatia. The roads are narrow in the hills, and there aren't everywhere guardrails. (I mean in Croatia)
    I1m also going to ride in Slovenia in August.
    Ági

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    I have biked in Italy, Spain, France...France is my favorite...No snobby French Have i ever experienced...In fact, the number of times I was the recipient of act of kindness' is all I have to report...My California jersey got me invited into French homes on a couple of ocassions...The French farmers are the salt of the earth...
    One example..We were lost in the Loire region...Ran into a elementary school teacher who spoke little English... She took us to her home...Woke up her son who spoke excellant English..The kicker...He worked PM shift and she woke him up at like 10 AM...Gave us excellant directions.
    Another example..We got a parking ticket in Bandol..Told of our problem to a teller at a bank...She closed down here window with her boss' permission..
    Walked us over the the tabac where you can purchase tax vouchers for tickets and helped us throught the process of paying our fine..Real stories...Honest ..
    My favorite region of France....Provence..We stayed near Apt . Awesome country.>Climb the easiest approach to Mt. Ventoux from the east during the season when the Lavender is in bloom..Awesome..When you get to the top, eat some Lavender Ice cream...
    ALso Burgundy is great cycling...
    As to Italy..The parts I experienced...Traffic and roads were awful..I am told Tuscany is the best cycling...Did not make it that far south..Rode about Lake Como...Francophiles here...Good luck..Just hope the pastry shops won't slow you down, like it did my group.

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    Its so very, very nice to hear the good news for a change, and great positive experiences.
    Being a cyclist and being the recipient of so many acts of kindness really is the reward for the rain, or the face on wind, or the LONG uphills
    I have to pass just a couple of my experiences last summer
    Did France first, went to the Normandy invasion beaches, stunning in its scenery, frightening seeing those horrible stretches of beaches
    I then rode towards Blois to see my 3 fav chateau
    On the way stopped one afternoon to eat in a little cafe in a name forgotten village;
    Leaned my loaded bike against the stone wall and walked into the courtyard,the owner seated me and returned with a plate of bagette and flavored olive oil, to take my order, told me my choice of salmon was excellent as it was swimming at 4 AM that morning in the Atlantic. Asked me if I was an American. I said yes, and he said welcome to his family's inn.
    He returned shortly with 2 glasses of wine, Champagne actually, and asked if I would stand and join him in a toast, so I did. And he said. "this is a thank you to all the Americans who have given their sons and daughters, over the decades to help France when it was needed, and to the vast amount of national treasure, your country has sent to us after the wars. We do not forget. When you return to America and hear someone speak ill of France and the French, tell them that we are French, we are grateful, but we are different.
    We drank the wine and then he gave me the traditional kiss on both cheeks. There were a number of others eating at the time, and there was a bit of hand clapping when he was finished. And, I'm not ashamed to say, tears in my eyes. I thanked him and had a fine salmon lunch

    I spent a very very brief time in NW Italy, Val D'Osta, fantastic mountains, nice nice people.
    I hiked 2 days and then thought I'd like to do a bit of low level climbing, so I asked around for info to a local guide; found a shop owner whose son did guiding. Agreed to a price, located some equipment for me to use, and we went for 4 beautiful days. Absolute heaven. And he correctly recognized that I could go higher than I had originally thought I would go. So we went. At nite in the huts we talked and talked for hours, and became good friends.
    When we came down and I wanted to settle my bill, he said, NO,NO, NO, I never charge my friends and you are my friend. Totally blew me away.I'll go back this year, find him and do more climbing

    I always judge a place by my experiences, always enjoy wherever I travel, and always look at the positive side, Rarely if ever disappointed

  21. #21
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I recall another incident...Some wine bar in Provence...The guitarist played Old McDonald in the Americans honor.

  22. #22
    SAB
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    I have spent 10 days cycling in the Normandy region of France, in the north. It's beautiful, very rural country. You can ride from small town to small town and always find delicious food, fresh bread, friendly people, and a bike shop. The people there, having been through D-day (or have parents that have!), really like Americans. The roads are decent and what traffic there is on the major roads can be friendly to cyclists. I was with several people and even though none of us spoke French, occasionally a french cyclist would join us for a few miles, just to ride with our group. We stayed in a old farmhouse and would ride out in a different direction every day. No matter where you go, I suggest a map-capable GPS unit instead of carring paper maps. You can see where you're going on the fly and I find I relax more not having to worry about where I am, where I'm going, or how to get back. Search the forums for "gps" - most people I know use either Garmin or Magellan brand and both work amazingly well.

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    I did a half circuit of Slovenia this Sept. The Italian border area is full of Italian roadies who come over for the fine mountain passes and cheaper food. I can recomend the whole country for exploration. If you are passing through on your way to somewhere else take some time to enjoy the area.

  24. #24
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    Why not ride the International Eurovelo route 8, which connects France and Italy? It connects the south of Spain to the Balkans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SAB
    No matter where you go, I suggest a map-capable GPS unit instead of carring paper maps. You can see where you're going on the fly and I find I relax more not having to worry about where I am, where I'm going, or how to get back. Search the forums for "gps" - most people I know use either Garmin or Magellan brand and both work amazingly well.
    Amen..

    The GPS is a god-send and todays units that come with maps make it a no-brainer. Even if the unit has a poor map, it's still workable because it will give you an outline of the area and a much better direction of where you're going.

    I was reading threads about how people were lost while looking for their hotel. Hotels are easy to locate with a GPS because they have a street address that can be set with a simple "way point" in the unit. The problem with maps is they tend to be unreliable. Even the GPS map can be outdated but different routes can be selected or created on the fly if you're headed in the right direction. This technology is cheap and getting better all the time.

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