France - which bit?

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France - which bit?

Postby johnmac » 28 Sep 2015, 9:21pm

Thinking of retiring to France. Bearing in mind that my hill-phobia will only get worse with age, which area is best for cycling? An area with quiet lanes, allowing quite long day rides without any use of main roads would be essential.

Shropshire is what I'm used to and if I can't find comparable/better rural idyl, I ain't going!

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby robgul » 28 Sep 2015, 9:24pm

Any of it - you can't fault France for cycling!

- the next selection consideration to me would be weather ... and South of the Loire is generally agreed to be OK (obviously depending on when you were going)

You need to specify more criteria to get useful answers.


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Re: France - which bit?

Postby pwa » 28 Sep 2015, 9:30pm

Provence does it for me, but perhaps a bit too hilly for you. I have enjoyed western (i.e. less hilly) Limousine and the Dordogne area. Truly flat areas don't hold any interest for me.

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby tatanab » 28 Sep 2015, 9:32pm

A cousin of mine, non cyclist, retired to France about 5 years ago. They rejected all the ex-pat ghettoes out of hand and looked elsewhere. They settled not far from Poitiers. Near enough to coastal areas, near to flat lands, an area of rolling hills, cheap when compared to most of the ex-pat ghettoes. It is an area I've passed through many times when on tour and I quite like it for those reasons. In my working life I lived on the edge of the Vosges, near Mulhouse. No good to you since it throws in mountains as well.

To Robgul I would say that there are certainly parts of France that might be ok to cycle through, but are not places I'd want to live.. Like any country, and I've lived in a couple, it is very different living there than visiting for a few weeks.

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby jamesgilbert » 29 Sep 2015, 12:15pm

For rural idyll, you're going to struggle to beat Shropshire IMO, but that's not to say there aren't places worth looking at. Maybe Burgundy, which has the advantage of wine and beautiful countryside, although there are some hills. I know a retired couple in Châtillon-sur-Seine (northern Burgundy) who are happy there.

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby Eeyore » 29 Sep 2015, 8:47pm

Quite a project! I wish you luck with it. I echo the advice to look S of the Loire for the climate, but not so far south that you have to stay indoors in the summer. Would it be worth making a shortlist then doing a longish tour in order to see what suits? A few years ago I rode from St Malo to Perpignan (on the Med), exercising our shared aversion for hills. The route took me S from St Malo then SE from outside Bordeaux, along the big canal to Narbonne, then S to Perpignan. (European Bike Bus brought me back, bless them.) It passed through utterly delightful countryside, idyllic villages, interesting towns....but I was on holiday. Choosing a place to live is (as someone advised earlier) is a very different matter.
A further thought: France is potentially less stable socially than England (J Corbyn meets the Mad Mullah), and leaving the Englsh property market is something a lot of people have regretted. If you own your house, maybe let it out for a year and live in your target town to try it out?
All the very best with your adventure! I wish I had the cojones.

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby bigjim » 29 Sep 2015, 9:18pm

Just back from Cycling, Basel Mulhouse, Lyon, Nimes, Beziers. Following the EV6. Almost all flat if you stay in the Valley.
Nothing left to prove.

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby johnmac » 1 Oct 2015, 7:37am

Thanks very much for those comments - any more gratefully received. We're looking at going to SW France, south of Bordeaux, west of Toulouse, not on the coast. Three years from now.

Can anyone recommend a good online map for planning cycle routes?

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby bikepacker » 1 Oct 2015, 8:23am

robgul wrote:Any of it - you can't fault France for cycling!


We are currently in the Pyrenees on our Europe tour. I cannot agree with you as there are lots of areas in France not good for cycling. As we have been forced by motorists into taking evasive action a few times I will expand on this when back on my home computer.
There is your way. There is my way. But there is no "the way".

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby al_yrpal » 1 Oct 2015, 9:37am

The area around Fleurance in Gascony. France's slow food area. Its also where they hold astronomy fests because of the blackness due to lack of street lights. Pretty flat countryside, very quiet roads. I know it because good English friends lived there for years. They moved back to mid Wales because of lack of language skills and were tired of French beaurocracy. Great local wines and brandy, fantastic street markets, everything stops for lunch when the hooter sounds. I think Terry Wogan spends a lot of time there I was told to get out of his seat at a local hostelry. :lol:

Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. CTC gone but not forgotten!

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby Goosey » 1 Oct 2015, 1:49pm

johnmac wrote:We're looking at going to SW France, south of Bordeaux, west of Toulouse, not on the coast.

We live in the true SW, not far from the Pyrénées, about an hour to Biarritz on the coast.

PM me if you'd like to ask anything :)

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Re: France - which bit?

Postby Audax67 » 1 Oct 2015, 4:35pm

I've been living on the edge of a preservation area in northern Alsace (Bas-Rhin) for the last 25 years. I have the choice of cycling down into the plain or through the Vosges du Nord, which are lowish hills (max ~400 m), or a mix. I'm around 30k from a tarmacked canal towpath that runs from Strasbourg to Saverne and on into Lorraine, or you can join the Koblenz-Basel route along the Rhine and do well over 200k with practically no climbing.

Further south there are somewhat larger mountains, with cols at over 1000 metres. Further south than that and there's the Sundgau, which is all lumps.

In our area a lot of the bad weather hits the Lorraine Plateau before reaching us, so a lot of the sting is taken out. We do have lots of days with a fresh East wind, though, which can be a pain, but it often keeps away bad weather that afflicts the unfortunates to the west. In winter our NE wind is, er, remarkable.

Alsace grows a lot of wine, some of it excellent. You can nip over into Germany, too, for a change of food & drink.

I have a bunch of pics on here, have a poke about:
Have we got time for another cuppa?