Bike Tours France

A bike tour in France is a great option for those who want to let someone else take care of all of the organization. You can choose from guided or self-guided bike tours and we will go through the difference between the two further down in the article. There are a wide variety of bike tours available in France in different locations across the country and designed for different abilities of cyclists.

While we have not joined any bike tours ourselves, we did undertake lots of research about what was on offer before our first trip. For us many of them were simply too expensive to consider and this turned is off them. After cycling in France we quickly learned that it was easy to self-guide for our cycling adventures. That being said, there are plenty of advantages of being part of a cycle tour, namely, someone else looks after all the organisations and you can simply turn up and ride.

Cycling Tour Group at the summit of Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees

Guided bike tours in France

The first type of bike tour to consider is the guided bike tour. This style of tour involves joining a group of other cyclists on a fixed date and for a fixed period. Tours of this style range from a few hours in duration to multiple weeks at the other extreme. The tour itinierary will set out where you will ride each day and may included shorter and longer distances or single distance each day.

Some tours will change location each day while others will base themselves in a single location and ride different routes from the one base. Group sizes vary depending on the tour company but would generally be between 10-20 riders. Non-cycling partners can be catered for but check with the tour company to see what they offer as this varies.

The benefits of a guided bike tour in France are many and we have put together a list of 14 benefits of joining a guided bike tour.

  1. Pre-planned ride routes. This means you needn’t be concerned with mapping out your own rides or accidentally taking the wrong turn!
  2. Fully supported riding. Often tours will include the assistance of mechanical support during your ride.
  3. Accommodation bookings. Your accommodation is all taken care of. You don’t need to research accommodation for each day of your tour and your belongings will be transported from one place to the next with each day of riding.
  4. Point-to-point riding. A lot of tour groups will stay in numerous villages for the duration of the tour. This means you will be able to access a larger area of riding than if you were based in one place.
  5. Bike hire. A lot of cycle tour companies will organize your bike hire. Depending on the tour company this can also include access to the latest top-end bikes.
  6. Meal inclusions. Most of your meals are included in the overall tour price. This will change depending on the tour company, but often there are a number of meals that come all-inclusive with your package.
  7. Refreshments. Food and drinks are provided for each day of riding.
  8. Privileged access to the Tour de France. Many Tour Companies offer up special VIP type access at the biggest race of the year if you are planning to watch the race.
  9. Photography. Provision of photos and/or videos of yourself riding through the French countryside.
  10. Ride leaders. You’ll be well served with dedicated ride leaders pacing you up the climbs, coaching you through long days on the bike.
  11. Follow car. For those days when your legs just want a rest, you will have the option of stopping and choosing to hop in the following van or mini-bus.
  12. Translation services. Your tour guides will often be multi-lingual meaning the stress of trying to speak French needn’t be there as someone can help translate for you.
  13. Meeting new people. Riding as part of a tour group is a great way to meet other like-minded cyclists from all around the world.
  14. Transfer services. Often your tour group will offer a concierge pickup from local airports or train stations at set times.

There are guided bike tours in France to suit all styles of cycling. For the road cyclist, there are lots of tour companies that offer trips to the big mountain climbs made famous by the Tour de France in the Pyrenees and French Alps. Other companies offer tours to watch the Tour de France as well as plenty of riding in the mountains before watching the stage. Other companies focus on long-distance challenges from one part of the country to another. This can include traverses of the high mountains for those looking for a really challenging bike tour. If you are a casual cyclist, don’t worry there are plenty of options for you as well including a range of electric-bike tours. Popular bike tour destinations include the Loire Valley, Burgandy, Alsace, and Provence.

We have compiled a list of tour companies that offer road bike holidays in France to help you see what options are available. You can also check list of some of the electric bike tours that are currently available in France.

cycling tour group at summit of Col d'Aubisque in the French Pyrenees

Self Guided bike tours in France

A self-guided bike tour is an alternative option to consider if you prefer a little more flexibility and would rather not ride with people you do not know. Self-guided bike tours work very differently from guided tours. As the name suggests there is no guide that accompanies you day-to-day. Typically, self-guided tours involve a certain amount of arrangement by the tour company for accommodation, some meals, cycling routes, and luggage transfers. But the rest is up to you and there is no group to join, nor are there fixed dates on which to start the tour.

A representative from the self-guided bike tour company will either meet you at the beginning of your stay or contact you by phone. During the course of your bike tour you will have contact details should anything go wrong or if you need any assistance. As there are no guides cycling with you each day, you will need to take care of any bike maintenance yourself and be self-sufficient for food and drink.

A self-guided bike tour in France is a great alternative option for those who do not want to join a guided bike tour group but would rather not worry about all the planning themselves. Here is our list of 7 advantages of self-guided bike tours in France

  1. Self-guided tours are much more flexible and can be started on any date subject to accommodation availability. This makes them a much better option if you are limited to certain dates for your bike trip.
  2. Not everyone feels comfortable cycling with a group of people they do not know. Choosing this style of bike tour means you ride only with the people you choose to bring with you. You take as long as you want for each ride.
  3. Self-guided tours are much less expensive than guided bike tours. If budget is a consideration then this is definitely an advantage.
  4. The planning is all taken care of for you and you simply need to turn up a ride. Cycling routes are mapped for you making navigation easy.
  5. Help is at hand if needed and self-guided tour companies will provide you with a contact number should you need any assistance.
  6. Bike hire can be organized for you, either directly through the tour company or through a partner of theirs.
  7. Airport transfers can be arranged for you to transport you to your accommodation and the start point of your trip.