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  1. #1
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    Crossing France from South to North

    Hey guys,

    I wanted to know if any of you has crossed france on a bicycle? I am asking this because I am going to be studying in Nice for the whole month of September, and was thinking in going from Nice to Paris riding solo before getting back to the states. My plan is to take my bike to ride the whole month of September in a few places like: Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Barcelona and Madrid on the weekends and then cross the country during the month of october. The language is not a problem as I am fluent in French as well as Spanish.

    Basically my questions to you would be:

    What routes do you recommend?
    Any good hostels around?
    Is it safe to go solo? I know there's always a risk going by yourself but...
    Tubulars or clinchers?
    Weather conditions? does it get too cold during October?
    My plan is to ride with a small bakpack just with basic things and the two bottles of water that my bike can hold. Any suggestions?

    I was thinking in ridding somewhere between 50 and 100 miles and then rest for one day or pull 50 miles two days in a row and then rest for a day, not really sure yet, and I can climb a 10 mile mountain with 6% and 8% gradient in about 45 minutes or so, not sure if mountains would present too much of a difficulty. Also, I would be riding most probably on my 89' Bianchi reparto corse or my 1970's Allegro, still trying to see whats more suitable for the ride as I have never been there and therefore I don't know what the conditions of the roads are, etc.

    Any advice would be great, as I am really looking forward to this trip.

    Thank you in advance !!!

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    More 'youth' hosteling in Europe than Stateside.. D roads on your Michelin map
    indicate the smaller roads..

    I've only been in the north, Brittany and Normandy, Strasbourg, and the Belgian border .

  3. #3
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    Weather-wise, it would make a lot more sense to ride in France in September and Spain in October, but I suspect that might not be possible for you. I would recommend that you use panniers rather than carry stuff on your back. Also you'll find a lot more folks listed on the warmshowers.org list in France than there are youth hostels. Look into gites d'etape, which are a bit like hostels.

    Lots of great riding throughout France. The only area I found dull was the region directly north of Paris. As for going north from Nice, if you want a good challenge, ride up the Col de la Bonette. I wasn't that keen on the Rhone valley compared to areas both west and east of the valley. Auvergne (west of the Rhone) in the center of France is very nice and the roads there generally have little traffic. My favorite area of France is in the southwest, especially the Dordogne and Lot valleys. Further north, both the Loire valley and Burgundy have nice cycling. Burgundy has a pretty good network of bike trails though not all of them are paved, if that's an issue for you.

    Where did you get an Allegro?

    Nobody tours on tubulars.

  4. #4
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    I've crisscrossed France a few times. The riding in France is as good as it gets. There is an excellent set of tertiary roads that are well marked. The population density is low (for Europe) and the drives are used to seeing cyclists on the road. That said, I would not use tubulars (for touring, seriously?) and stick to clinchers. Hostels are fairly easy to find; camping isn't bad but it doesn't look like you'll be carrying gear for that. I recommend Brittany and Normany; there is some riding there but the scenery is spectacular. I also really like the NE of France along the German (and Swiss) borders, the Franche Comte and Alsace. You'll have a great time whatever you decide to do. Weather can be iffy (esp. at altitude or along the coasts) so bring some rain gear and warmer clothes.

  5. #5
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    Axolotl:
    Cool thanks for the info. unfortunately I have everything booked for September already, so I'm kind of stuck with October, unless I ride from North to South during August, arriving in Nice on September, I'll see what I can do. I'll check into warmshowers and gites d'etape, thanks.

    I really want to go to the alps, but I guess it depends on the weather, I don't want to get stuck in there with bad weather. However, if the weather is nice I will do it for sure. Col de la Bonette would be more challenging than the Alpe d'Huez and Luz Ardiden? If I'm going to the alps I would like to take advantage of it.

    I got the Allegro from a friend of mine two weeks ago, it came with an odd mix of Campagnolo nuovo record and Sakae Royal, still it is a great ride. The frame is all chromed with campagnolo dropouts, I'm guessing from the 70's? don't really know, I'll make sure to post some pictures during the weekend. Got it for $60 bucks

    Cool, no tubulars then.

    Bikemig:
    Hey thanks for the advice on the rain gear and wamer clothes, I'll make sure to have some with me. I guess I'll map out some routes on google maps and I'll post them during the weekend to see what you guys think.

    Merci beaucoup.

  6. #6
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    I can't compare the Col de la Bonette with Alpe d'Huez or Luz Ardiden because I haven't done the latter two. The Bonette is quite a climb if you start in Nice (i.e. at sea level) which is what I did, but I did it in 2 days. 2/3 of the climbing was on the 2nd day.

    I biked up Mont Ventoux 2 years ago from Sault (the easiest approach) on my Bike Friday. It was easier than the Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees. These plus a bunch of others in the Alps & Pyrenees were done with panniers.

    BTW, it's easy to take a bike on most regional trains in France. There are generally hooks to hang up your bike yourself.

    I had a 70s Allegro. It was stolen in California. I replaced it with another Allegro which was later stolen by an airline! Nice bikes.

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