Family bike tours in France have soared in popularity with us Brits in the past few years. So we decided to find out why French cycling holidays are the best.
Encouraged by the success of the UK cycling teams in the Olympics, more Brits are riding at home than ever before. The cycle to work scheme and development of our National Cycle Network has helped make this growth possible.
But the success of British riders in the Tour de France has got us excited to ride across the channel. After all, no matter how much money and positive press we throw at riding in the UK, family bike tours in France will always be better.
It’s a sad fact, but Britain is not a great place for cycling holidays, and certainly not for family biking tours, when safe, stress-free cycling is essential. Quaint country roads sabotaged by fast cars. Cycle lanes that ‘end’ without warning. Abuse from other road users. Cycling on home soil has improved but it is still a challenge.
We have some superb cycle-paths that are perfect for commuting and fun for weekend rides. But unless you’re into off-roading, you’ll soon peddle into busy roads and bolshie motorists. And even quiet roads have aggressive drivers that you don’t want to subject your kids to.
Nip across the Channel and the first thing you notice is the lack of cars. It’s possible to take family bike tours in France and go whole hours without seeing a motor vehicle.
Population density is almost half that of the UK. Plus fast cars and big lorries stick to the peage (toll) routes. So the cars on France’s picturesque back roads pootle along at a safer pace. As a parent, this means that you can peddle along with kids in tow, without yelling ‘watch the car’ and ‘look where you’re going’ every few minutes.
Part of the reason why French cycling holidays are the best is that riding on the roads is ingrained in French culture. It’s part of the national psyche. The recent Tour de France celebrated its 120th year on the road. Watched by an estimated 3.5 billion people a year, many of whom place sports bets, it’s the most watched sport event in France.
Along with this culture comes a respect for road-cyclists that we lack in England. French motorists overtake cyclists with caution, giving them a wide berth and even offer a friendly pip of the horn on occasion. In the UK you are more likely to get honked because you are in the way.
Food is another factor. Good grub makes for chirpy children and positive parents – the right ingredients for the perfect family break. Just like all French holidays, family bike tours in France are made all the more appealing by the availability of fresh bread, rich pates, creamy cheeses, crisp fruit and delicious desserts.
Even better, if you’re tempted to drink during the day, it’s customary in France to order half pints, or ‘demis’. Which means a refreshing lunch-time beer doesn’t have to send you off on a wobble.
Tempted? Where to Cycle in France
There’s so much spectacular cycle terrain to choose for family bike tours in France, that you can’t really go wrong. There are 13 great routes in this article by the France Tourism website, who’ve kindly provided some of the images for this article.
Choose easy-going tours and windswept coastal paths in the north in Brittany and Normandy. Cycle through fields of sunflowers in the Loire Valley or lavender farms in Provence. Take on the canal paths of Burgundy, the beaches of Bordeaux or plan Annecy cycle holidays to take on the lakes tour.
Of course one of the reasons why French cycling holidays are the best is you can follow famous Tour de France routes (at a more sedate page). You can take on gruelling mountain passes in the Pyrenees or explore the snow-capped scenery in the Alps… The choice is yours.
For the simplest French family bike tours, leave the car at home. Book the family on a ferry or hop on the Eurostar and you could be peddling along the coastal paths of Brittany, through the pleasant pastures of Normandy, or taking in the beautiful beaches of Opal Coast, within a matter of hours.
We hope these reasons why France cycling holidays are the best inspired you to visit!