After what can only be described, at best, as a patchy summer, the nights are once again rolling in. It’s traditionally the time to put away the pannier bags and forget all about cycling holidays and Euro bike tours for another year.
Unless, that is, you start to think a little further afield into Southern Europe. The dismal UK weather might make touring only for the diehards, but in France and Spain the milder conditions means euro bike tours are very much still in full swing.
There are several reasons why, over the last twenty years, so many Brits have swapped pound for euro, upped sticks and took bike tours abroad – here are just a few:
Starting with cycling holidays in France, it’s easy to see why it is such a popular area for touring. There are a number of stunning routes across the southern regions of our closest neighbour. The Bordeaux to Carcassonne canal route runs inland, almost parallel to the border with Spain, towards the Mediterranean.
It’s a flat route with little traffic making it perfect for that last relaxed tour of the year. Ending at the magical fortress town of Carcassonne, this is one tour you won’t forget in a hurry.
Not too far away, also in the southeast corner of France, is the Dordogne River. One of the most spectacular valleys in the whole of Europe, this is an area with some more challenging routes but ones that are rewarded with scintillating views.
For something a little gentler but with an equally stunning backdrop, Provence has been the dream destination for many ever since Peter Mayle’s book A Year in Provence popularised the area in the late 80s. Sky-high prices might put the place out of reach in terms of owning property these days but there’s nothing to stop you enjoying it on two wheels.
Head even further south into Spain and the temperature climbs a couple more degrees towards comfortable. The Andalucian region incorporates the southern most part of Spain and is home to activity holidays in some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes.
It’s also littered with some of the most interesting and charming towns and cities. Start in Granada and pass through Antequera and the truly unique Ronda before finishing in Gibraltar for a taste of the more familiar. This enchanting region has a lot to attract serious cyclists.
With plenty of hills, it’s perhaps not for the feint hearted, but with the Mediterranean sea and Africa herself on the horizon, you probably won’t even notice the burn in your legs. And remember, that even though we’re heading towards winter, in won’t feel much like it in this part of Spain.
Heading north again, the Camino de Santiago is an historic pilgrimage route that is very popular with both cyclists and walkers. The route varies in length, depending on where you decide to start but always finishes in the cathedral town of Santiago de Compostela. Don’t worry it you’re not religious either, many people take on the route just for the sense of achievement rather than for divine inspiration.
We couldn’t write a blog about cycling and adventure holidays in Southern Europe without mentioning Italy. Practically the road cycling Mecca, Italy has some of the best routes in the world. From the magnificent Tuscany to the Cinque Terre and Italian Riviera, you can see why this is top of many people’s list of dream cycling destinations.
Spend your days pounding the tarmac and then settle in for the evening in a family run trattoria and refuel your body with a huge plate of delicious pasta. It’s like this place was made for cycling.
Don’t let the short days and horizontal sheet rain quell your thirst for road cycling. Just hop on a plane (most carriers let you take your bike for a small excess) and follow the sunshine towards Southern Europe. With so much to see and explore, and still some excellent weather to enjoy, Europe is the place to be.