Cycle touring (soon) in France ideas please

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Billy Bikes
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Joined: 17 Sep 2015, 4:48pm

Cycle touring (soon) in France ideas please

Postby Billy Bikes » 17 Sep 2015, 5:33pm

I've been on a few short cycle tours in the UK but am planning a visit to France (or possibly Spain) and would like a bit of guidance please on touring abroad. It seems embarrassingly last minute, but for various reasons that's how it is!
I'm hoping to go in the next 2-3 weeks for one week and would like to head to the south of France for some late summer sun. I've read about taking bikes on planes and will be willing to give it a go, as I've read on here of so many successful trips, but I'm not sure what to do with the bike bag once I get there. I have been offered a bag I could borrow, but think it is quite sturdy, so what could I do with it whilst I'm cycle-touring? Or should I buy a CTC bag and is it disposable? Plus there'll be two of us so do you recommend buying a bag or hiring a bag from a bike shop for the other bike?

I would like to fly out of Birmingham airport and now it's no longer summer timetable, destinations are a little restricted but I would be really glad of a few suggestions. I thought we could fly to Nice with Monarch (which I've read is good with bikes) but I'm not sure if the area will be too hilly? We are regular cyclists, able to do 60-70 miles but on a holiday probably would be happier to do 20-40 a day so that we have time to sight-see and for long lunches etc. We don't mind some hills, but don't want to do lots of mountain passes, especially not with full panniers. Another possible destination is Bordeaux, with Flybe. Or should I think about driving to another airport? Decisions! Although I've said France, there are lots of choices of destinations in Spain that may be good but I speak French so think that will make life easier

Another thing that's worrying me is the choosing the routes. I found one route online out of Nice airport and into the hills, but I wasn't sure what we would do afterwards. Does anyone have route suggestions please? How will I know the route isn't a very mountainous one? I use ViewRanger mapping so could probably plan on there, but which other sites are good?

We'll be planning on just turning up in a village or town and finding a room in a chambre d'hôte or small hotel, which has always worked for us in the UK or on driving tours abroad. Is it still feasible at this time of year?

I would be so grateful for some ideas. I've found this forum very useful since I've discovered it and am amazed at how knowledgeable and helpful people are so thank you in advance.

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Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Cycle touring (soon) in France ideas please

Postby whoof » 18 Sep 2015, 12:44pm

I can offer some suggestions:
You could put your bike in a cardboard box which you can get free from your local bike shop and then dispose of it in the Biffa bin at Nice airport. Nice is good for a day or so. You can stay at the Premier Class opposite the airport (triple glazed) and use the Bile Blau (rental bikes)to get about. For a 1 euro a day charge you can use as many 1/2 hour slots as you want for free. 1/2 hour is enough to ride along the Promenade de Anglaise into the centre and then dock the bike.

Route: you can ride West to Toulouse on an inland route, at 30 miles a day would take 12 days. We did the opposite direction last year going through Avignon and Tarascon both of which are lovely places to look around as is Toulouse. You can fly back to Birmingham with Flybe. If you spend the last night at the Formule 1 Hotel at Blagnac (cheap, clean, basic and you can put your bike in your room) it's only a few hundred metres from a Decathlon where you can get another cardboard box for your return and about 1 km from the Toulouse. There is a public bus the goes to the centre of Toulouse for about 4 euros.

Buy a map that shows the terrain the French ones are very good.

This time of year you should be able to roll up and find a room although you may want to book both the airport hotels in advance we once got caught out be a Rugby tournament and everything was full in Toulouse.

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Joined: 6 Apr 2013, 7:51pm

Re: Cycle touring (soon) in France ideas please

Postby jk49 » 18 Sep 2015, 2:20pm

Not my question/post, but thanks for the brilliant information regarding Blagnac. Just the job for next years tour to the Pyrenees.

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Joined: 22 Mar 2014, 7:34pm

Re: Cycle touring (soon) in France ideas please

Postby ChrisF » 18 Sep 2015, 8:58pm

Im currently in Nice having just finished a Roscoff-Nice trip. It's definately very hilly north of Nice, although some amazing roads for cycling. And once you're in the hills it can be very cold at night and early mornings at this time of year: it was only 5 deg at 9 this morning ( in the hills) but 32 in Nice when I arrived! So take some warm clothes.
Chris F, Cornwall

Billy Bikes
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Joined: 17 Sep 2015, 4:48pm

Re: Cycle touring (soon) in France ideas please

Postby Billy Bikes » 21 Sep 2015, 10:13am

Thank you whoof and quilkin. Both your replies have given me food for thought. I have a bit of a plan formulating! Will not be able to get to Toulouse in the time I have, but the idea of boxes from bike shops is good. Have also read about left luggage at Nice Airport, 14€ a day, which for a week and both bags amalgamated to one, would be ok too.
Monarch charge £25 per flight per bike so feel with the reassurance that we can book ahead and get the bikes on the plane, we're going to go for that.
I'm looking at going west of Nice, up into the hills, and have looked at maps and routes online. It looks an amazing area, but the warning about temperatures being a lot lower in the hills is really helpful. Now I'll have to see if I can fit extra, warm layers into our panniers..... But that's another Forum topic!