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cycling the south of france

Old 06-18-07, 02:08 PM
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mongoose
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cycling the south of france

We're planning on cycling through Provence in October.

Like the idea of riding through great countryside and little villages etc etc. Also along the coast road to ride through seaside towns finishing up in Nice.

Any suggestions of an ideal route? (say 50 to 80kms a day)

Would appreciate some ideas.

By the way we're cycling in October because we want to watch the rugby world cup in French bars etc along the way. (Hoping for a NZ/France final)
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Old 06-19-07, 10:57 AM
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You didn't say how much time you'll have.

Most of the coastline is extremely overbuilt, and therefore has far too much traffic to be enjoyable. The area near Nice is the worst for traffic. October traffic won't be as awful as summer traffic, however. If you're intent on Provence, do a search on "Luberon". Here's one link: https://https://www.provenceweb.fr/84/ukvelo.htm
There's a signposted bike route there, and by all reports is a lovely area. It's usually fairly easy to take bikes on regional trains in France, so you probably don't need to bike all the way to Nice if you need to end there (and Nice is an interesting town to visit).

To be honest, I prefer biking in SW France as opposed to Provence. Specifically, the Dordogne & Lot valleys (east of Bordeaux and north of Toulouse & Albi) are superb for biking. I think that October weather should be similar in the SW & Provence, though you could get cool & wet weather in either. I once biked in the Dordogne & Lot valley in late September and had perfect cycling weather.
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Old 06-19-07, 10:59 AM
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sorry about that link above. Let me try it again:
https://www.provenceweb.fr/84/ukvelo.htm
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Old 06-19-07, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
You didn't say how much time you'll have.

Most of the coastline is extremely overbuilt, and therefore has far too much traffic to be enjoyable. The area near Nice is the worst for traffic. October traffic won't be as awful as summer traffic, however. If you're intent on Provence, do a search on "Luberon". Here's one link: https://https://www.provenceweb.fr/84/ukvelo.htm
There's a signposted bike route there, and by all reports is a lovely area. It's usually fairly easy to take bikes on regional trains in France, so you probably don't need to bike all the way to Nice if you need to end there (and Nice is an interesting town to visit).

To be honest, I prefer biking in SW France as opposed to Provence. Specifically, the Dordogne & Lot valleys (east of Bordeaux and north of Toulouse & Albi) are superb for biking. I think that October weather should be similar in the SW & Provence, though you could get cool & wet weather in either. I once biked in the Dordogne & Lot valley in late September and had perfect cycling weather.
Thanx for your help on this.

What roughly was your route?

We have around 2 weeks and to be honest we would prefer the area north of Toulous because it's rugby territory. Plus it has bigger wines than the Provence area.

Will it be hard to find places to stay and eat in October?

why do you prefer it to Provence?
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Old 06-19-07, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mongoose
Thanx for your help on this.

What roughly was your route?

We have around 2 weeks and to be honest we would prefer the area north of Toulous because it's rugby territory. Plus it has bigger wines than the Provence area.

Will it be hard to find places to stay and eat in October?

why do you prefer it to Provence?
Roughly, we went east from Bordeaux up the Dordogne River passing through St. Emilion, Bergerac, la Roque-Gageac, eventually heading south to Rocamadour toward the Lot/Cele Rivers, down the Cele a bit, then up the Lot, then southward toward Albi. It's a gorgeous route. I prefer it to Provence because I find the landscape and villages even more stunning than Provence and the roads less crowded. There's a wonderful network of near-deserted secondary roads. Parts of Provence are beautiful, but other parts are surprisingly dull. There is a very interesting mix of things to see and do in the Dordogne valley. I read that it has Europe's highest concentration of castles, which is easy to believe when you see the area. Many are open to the public for visits. As you head eastward, there are some impressive limestone gorges and some wonderful caves to visit, some for their formations, others for their prehistoric paintings. There are many stunning well-preserved medieval villages. Several are listed among "les plus beaux villages de France". Since it sounds like you're interested in wine, the Bordeaux wine area is very close to the mouth of the Dordogne. We passed thru St. Emilion when the purple grapes were beginning to be picked (late September). Bergerac has a significant wine production, and Montbazillac, a short bike ride south of Bergerac has an interesting castle surrounding by vineyards that produce sweet wines similar to Sauternes. In the Lot valley, Cahors is an interesting town surrounding by the small wine area producing "black" Cahors wines. The region has some of the best cooking in all of France, which is saying something. Rocamadour is an abbey built along the side of a cliff. It's touristy during the day, but wonderfully atmospheric and quiet at night. The riding can be easy if you stick to the valleys, or harder if you climb into the hills.
South of the Lot river, the landscape changes significantly but is still delightful. Najac was an interesting village, as is Cordes and finally the small city of Albi. While I found Bordeaux to be a fairly dull place, Toulouse is a nice city to visit.
We had no problem finding places to stay or eat at in late September. Some places in smaller towns are only open in the summer months, but in general, I think you'd be fine.
If you PM me, I'd be happy to give you a more precise itinerary.
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Old 06-20-07, 12:50 AM
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try looking at https://www.trentobike.org/
for tours other people have made in France
here are two for instance

https://www.coulouris.net/george-jean/tandemfrance2005/
https://www.mikebikes.org/04trip/index.htm

for Provence and the South of France
or
https://europejibi.googlepages.com/home ( shameless plug)

there are so many fantastic places in France .
Wherever you end up enjoy

george
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Old 06-20-07, 06:36 AM
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You really think going to that area along the coast would be that bad? It's kind of funny because my mom told me not to go there because she said it had lots of traffic when she went there probably 15 to 20 years ago.

It's a pretty critical part of my route, though, and it's not that that's my tour, but rather just a way to go from France to Italy while avoiding the alps mostly and being able to see the Mediterranean along the way. I tried to emphasize routes that would allow me to see bodies of water because I really like seeing oceans and I assume I would enjoy seas as well (I've never seen a sea before).
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Old 06-20-07, 09:28 AM
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Your mum was right, is right. It has a lot , quite a lot, of traffic

From Marseilles to Menton just look at the places
Cassis in the Calanques is beautful...... its a Must see.
then we have

Toulon, St Tropez, Frejus, Cannes, Nice, Monaco

Tourist areas, built up, and lots of traffic, if you are Ok with that,,, then do it.

but there is a route through Grasse and Vence that is worth doing.

george
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Old 06-20-07, 02:47 PM
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Well is it dangerous traffic? I ride through heavily trafficked areas on a regular basis, so it's not like riding with cars will be devastating, but being hit by cars... another story. I really want to see that area though, so I suspect nothing you say will sway me enough to route myself through the alps
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Old 06-20-07, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by kyledr
I really want to see that area though, so I suspect nothing you say will sway me enough to route myself through the alps
So why did you ask?
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Old 06-20-07, 07:03 PM
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Well if it was so bad that it's almost unrideable, I wouldn't go. It's really curiosity more than anything though.
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Old 06-20-07, 07:53 PM
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I think most of the French Riviera makes for unpleasant riding due to traffic and over-development. The Italian Riviera (the French border to Genoa) is even worse; it's nonstop development and constant traffic the entire way. But if you ignore the advice of those of us who have done it and regreted it, make sure you try the pignoli cookies found in every bakery in Vintimiglia, the Italian town next to the French border.

You could take a ferry from Marseille or Toulon (or Nice) to Corsica, then a ferry from there to Italy. The northern & western coasts of Corsica are fantastic, as is the interior. (the east coast is flat, hot, has busy traffic, and is dull) Corsica is one of the best places to bike you'll ever find.
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Old 06-20-07, 09:35 PM
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Hmm, well I may have to add Corsica to the route, but I still don't understand what's so bad about this area. Is it that the roads are unsafe? Did you not like it because you prefer rustic scenery? I was looking at the area with detailed satellite images, and the scenery looks cool to me. Of course, on the road it's another story, but I want to see nice cities as I go. I guess my main goal is to see cool places, and of course good riding is a goal as well, but it doesn't always have to be ideal I suppose. Of course, I'm totally inexperienced, so I may not know what I want. Basically, can you give a bit better description of what it is that makes it unenjoyable? For instance, a road that I don't enjoy riding on is Hwy 35 in Wisconsin because the shoulder is a foot wide and cars pass close at over 60 mph, and the pavement is bumpy. However, it's quite rustic over there, so over or underdevelopment don't quite make sense to me as reasons to hate riding somewhere. I also prefer riding in downtown Minneapolis to that highway, so it's not like traffic necessarily ruins my day.
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Old 06-21-07, 12:38 AM
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The traffic in the south of France along the Med is made up predominantly of people on holiday, so they spend a lot of time looking at the scenery and the sea instead of the road, in other words they are not paying much attention to the road.

The built up areas are holiday towns so here you have people "cruising". Again not paying much attention to the road.

It's quite different traffic to what you may be used to. People on holiday are not the same as people driving to work or to the mall.

Rustic??? If you believe that, then you are in for a big shock. The majority of the coastline there is urban sprawl.
As I said in my previous post there are routes just a bit inland that are rustic.

enjoy

george
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Old 06-21-07, 12:44 AM
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love to ride about the Luberon. AN incredibly beautiful valley, east of Vaisson La Romaine. Mt Ventoux is not far away either. Inland Provence is not so crowded in September. too. Inland Provence is significantly less built up compared to the sea shore. One year in August we could not even find a camping spot, it was so full of tourists. Inland Provence can be steamy in AUgust. By mid Septmember it should be okay. Personally, I prefer Roussillon . We have real beaches here. Sandy, plus rocky coasts to the south, great for sea sports too. But, with significantly fewer tourists. Inland cycling in the Pyreenees is just incredible too. But, September PRovence shoud be much easier to deal with. But coastal Provence in August, it's like Ft. Lauderdale Easter week.

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Old 06-21-07, 01:26 AM
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Rustic??? If you believe that, then you are in for a big shock. The majority of the coastline there is urban sprawl.
As I said in my previous post there are routes just a bit inland that are rustic.
Read it again, or maybe I wrote it misleadingly, but I was suggesting that he might only like rustic stuff, but I don't mind if something is rustic or not. I certainly know the area is not rustic.
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Old 06-21-07, 09:11 AM
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any thoughts about cycling along the Canal du Midi, from the Med to toulouse or on to the Atlantic Coast??
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Old 06-23-07, 04:49 PM
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Canal du Midi is a cycle route it's entire length.
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Old 06-25-07, 07:44 AM
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wine route is awesome. just cycled it.
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Old 06-26-07, 08:45 AM
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Sounds great.

What was your route??
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Old 06-26-07, 10:30 AM
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take a look at

https://www.beyond.fr/sports/velo.html

lots about the Provence region

https://www.beyond.fr/sports/velo.html#where

for bike routes etc

george
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Old 06-27-07, 09:09 AM
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Riding in the south of france

Two summers ago, i rode from bordeaux to florence...we rode along the med and it wasn't that bad...yes there was traffic, but no one got in your way or even too close...it is fine to ride their as long as you know how to ride....i don't mind traffic at all and so it wasn't even an issue. You will have a blast!
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