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abominable slowman
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My in-laws have somehow become rabid pro cycling fans. They've been to the Tour de Georgia, and other domestic pro races. They've never been to France and so they've decided they want to go see le Tour in 2010. My wife and I have decided we want to go too (we do actually enjoy traveling with her parents). They're older and not fit and they don't plan to do any actual bike riding. We plan to do lots of bike riding.

So I'm just beginning to plan this. I'd like to make it a long-ish trip (2-3 weeks) and it will probably involve several "phases" (maybe some hiking/trekking, some riding, some time in Paris). I don't even know which regions we'd like to visit (except that we'll definitely hit paris). We'd certainly like to take in some of France's rich history, we'd like to see the Alps and/or Pyrenees, we'd like to eat good food (i guess that will be easy). We may be interested in a supported tour.

So very general questions:

What should I begin thinking about? Where can I find good info for research? Are there tour companies I should look into? Ones I should stay away from? How's the camping? Is it worth trying to camp? This will be the biggest trip we've ever planned, so I'm not sure how to start.

Thanks.
 

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duh...
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taking your own bikes? if so, what are you doing w/ the cases? car or van or rv?
 

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llama31 said:
What should I begin thinking about? Where can I find good info for research? Are there tour companies I should look into? Ones I should stay away from? How's the camping? Is it worth trying to camp? This will be the biggest trip we've ever planned, so I'm not sure how to start.

Thanks.
First, France is brilliant for cycling (and food, and wine, and culture, did I mention the wine?). Some ideas:

1) Lonely Planet has a rather dated book on Cycling France. It gives some good general ideas and routes. It is geared mostly to the self-supported cyclo-tourist.
2) The French Tourism office (try googling it) has a section on cycling. Not bad, but not terrific either (unlike the German one: now that is an amazing resource)
3) Get some maps - both IGN and Michelin have amazing maps. The French road system is one of the best around, many secondary roads, perfect for cycling.
4) Camping is excellent: but be aware that in August in particular every campsite in every corner of France will be full
5) Personally, I would stay away from tour companies, but I speak reasonably good French and have travelled all over the place. I am perfectly happy dealing with the inevitable mishaps. Besides, I am inherently anti-social and do not deal well with fixed itineraries.
6) Having said that, the web sites of many tour companies can give you really good ideas on where to go, and there are quite a few that set up "self-guided" tours. They have the routes and hotels (and often transfer the luggage), but you have much more flexibility than with an organized tour (cheaper too)
7) It looks like not all of you will be cycling. A suggestion: rent a van big enough for bikes. The cyclists can ride, the others drive - meeting up every few days. I have done this in France and in Spain with great success.
8) search about these and other bike forums. Lots of reports of trips in France. My personal favourite area is Provence: great combination of food, roads, history. The Luberon Bike route is truly magical: a 200km loop signposted all the way on quiet back roads through fabulous scenery.
 

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abominable slowman
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, we plan to take our bikes and no I don't know what we'll do with the cases yet. I'm just beginning to plan this so that's a detail I'll deal with later.

Oarsman, thanks for all that info. We'll be there in July, ending in Paris on or near July 30th for my wife's 40th b-day. So maybe we'll avoid some crowds, depending on how much time we spend around the Tour route.

Renting a van would perfect, but my wife is hesitant to let her dad drive around France for two weeks (he can get a bit, er, uh, let's call it edgy when he's behind the wheel). But we'll see...i think it would work well, especially since we'd like to do some cycling and some hiking and then see Paris. Provence!! I'll have to find out more about that area (I don't know a damn thing!).

I'll start with the books you recommend. Thanks again!
 

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llama31 said:
Renting a van would perfect, but my wife is hesitant to let her dad drive around France for two weeks (he can get a bit, er, uh, let's call it edgy when he's behind the wheel). But we'll see...i think it would work well, especially since we'd like to do some cycling and some hiking and then see Paris. Provence!! I'll have to find out more about that area (I don't know a damn thing!).

I'll start with the books you recommend. Thanks again!
I second all that Oarsman has said. teoteoteo has a number of posts about traveling in France and seeing the Tour. He also wrote a guide about seeing the Tour de France on you own. I don't know if it still is in print, but I expect teo will post in this tread at some point and can let you know whether his guide still is in print.

One thing to keep in mind insofar as the inlaws and auto rentals are concerned: Most european auto rental agencies will not allow people who are 70 or older to drive their cars (it has something to do with their insurance). So, if your inlaws are 70 or older you will need to take that into consideration.
 

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that's good advice

For me, half the fun is planning the route. I get a good guide book and note things and places I'd like to see. Then I get a good map and try to connect the dots using scenic roads with little traffic, if possible. I also look for bicycle touring books with routes. Web searches help too. Just about every place on earth that's worth touring is written up somewhere. Check out http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/. If your inlaws are willing to provide van support, that's great!
 
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