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Old 10-29-09, 07:29 PM   #1
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Tourinng Southern France - Suggestions Wanted

I'd like to head to France before the Tour next year and ride some of the climbs they will be riding in the race (specifically Col du Tourmalet). I'd also like to visit Col de la Madone (my bikes namesake) and Mont Ventoux.

I'm looking for any suggestions, no matter how basic. I'll be spending around a week there, staying in B&B's along the way. My brother and I will be riding together while the ladies shop and track down dinner. Also wondering how early I need to go to avoid the crowds -- June?

The very early beginnings of an agenda...

Day - Activity
1,2 - Fly to Nice, get bike built, rest
3 - Ride up and around Col de la Madone
4 - Ride 1/2 way to Ventoux (Sisteron)
5 - Ride to and climb Ventoux
6 - Drive to Bagnères-de-Luchon (Rest)
7 - Ride parts of Bagnères-de-Luchon > Pau (Stage 16)
8 - Ride parts of Pau > Tourmalet (Stage 17)
9 - Head home...
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Old 10-29-09, 11:35 PM   #2
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It's really hard to tell what you want advice on based on that. I think you'll need to be a little more specific than that to get much advice. Also, this might not be the best spot for this. As near as I can tell, you aren't touring; you are traveling with your bike. Might be better off over at the road section. As far as time of year, the second half of June will have little traffic, but the cols will be open. I believe it was June 16th that the west side of Tourmalet opened this year.
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Old 10-30-09, 12:36 AM   #3
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We live here most of the year. As to your agenda, been there done that.. The non cyclists rented a car and carried our stuff. Car served as the sagmobile.. It went well. Our tour was the Loire and Normandy also in June.. You'll be in Provence. That is quite popular and cycling is incredible.
The peak season is August and it's impossible. Be too hot there in August anyway..
. I think You'll nave no problems with b and b's.. On our tours, b and b's are friendly, reasonable and usually far more bike friendly.. I would say , even in June on weekends I'd have reservations in advance . Provence is always popular.
Want to plan some great rides.. I'd suggest you get "Lonely Planets' , Cycling France. " some great rides and they give you some background as to where you'll be riding. Check out the Luberon Valley in the region known as "Vauclause," for an excellent location..Both in terms of your riding and your wife's proximity to interesting and scenic attractions... Good luck.
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Old 10-30-09, 01:32 AM   #4
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June and September are my favourite months for riding in France... The heat in July/August has never bothered me (ymmv) but the number of tourists maxes out then, campground prices go up, everything just feels too crowded (especially on the coast...)
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Old 10-30-09, 09:48 AM   #5
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September is a wonderfull month to be in France. As a bonus, the football league is in session and you may be able to see some matches.
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Old 10-30-09, 10:16 AM   #6
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For what it's worth, I biked up the Col du Tourmalet in late May in 2004, starting in the village of Ste-Marie-de-Campan (I had cross the Col d'Aspin the previous day) and ending in Pau. Going westward, it was downhill from the col all the way to Lourdes. Sunny and warm day, the snow was gone, and coincidentally, it was the day the "géant du Tourmalet" (a statue of a giant cyclist) was being brought up to the pass for the season. Hundreds of cyclists from nearby France & Spain were climbing up both sides of the pass that morning, an annual ritual for when the giant returns.

I've never had any problems finding a room while touring in France in June or September. I haven't made any reservations other than for Paris.

I'll try and answer any specific questions you've got. From your initial post, it's not clear what you would like to know.

Last edited by axolotl; 10-30-09 at 10:57 AM.
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