Cycle Tour or Self Guided?

One of the considerations when planning your cycling holiday is whether to join a cycling tour or undertake a self-guided holiday. There are benefits to each option and we have listed these out below so you can determine what is best for you.

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

Cycle Tour groups

There are numerous Cycle Tour companies offering up many different and varied options for riding in France. Your level of fitness and the amount of riding you wish to undertake each day will determine which specific tour is best for you. Whilst we have never personally partaken in an organized cycling tour, there are many advantages to doing so. These include:

Pre-planned ride routes. This means you needn’t be concerned with mapping out your own rides or accidentally taking the wrong turn!

  • Fully supported riding. Often tours will include the assistance of mechanical support during your ride.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bike hire. A lot of cycle tour companies will organise your bike hire. Depending on the tour company this can also include access to the latest top end bikes as well.
  • Meal inclusions. Most of your meals are included in the overall tour price. This will change dependant on the tour company, but often there are a number of meals which come all inclusive with your package.
  • Refreshments. Food and drinks are provided for each day of riding.
  • Privileged access to the Tour de France. Many Tour Companies offer up special VIP type access at the biggest race of the year.
  • Photography. Provision of photos and/or videos of yourself riding up those iconic climbs.
  • Ride leaders. You’ll be well served with dedicated ride leaders pacing you up the climbs, coaching you through longer days on the bike.
  • Follow car. For those days where your legs just want a rest you will have the option of stopping and choosing to ride in the follow car.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Transfer services. Often your tour group will offer a concierge type pickup from local airports or train stations.

To help you plan we have put a list of companies together who offer bike tours in France.

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

Self Guided Tour

Whilst it may require more planning than going on an organized cycle tour, deciding to undertake a self-guided tour also comes with its own benefits. These include:

  • Choose your own adventure. You are free to design your own riding routes taking in the areas and climbs which appeal the most to you.
  • Tailor the riding to suit your levels of fitness. You needn’t be concerned with ‘holding anyone up’ or indeed being held up by others!
  • Cost. There is no doubt about it, going on an organised tour can be quite expensive. Whilst you will need to do a lot more research beforehand, a self guided tour will more often than not be a fraction of the price of riding with a tour group.
  • Flexibility. Choose the time of year, the length of your rides, duration of days and areas where you wish to ride. On a self guided tour you are the ultimate decision maker. This extends to the accommodation type you wish to stay in, as well as dining options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Local interactions. Organising a self guided tour means you will have more interactions with French locals. Whilst this can sometimes put you out of your comfort zone, often these interactions are the ones you will remember the most.
Two bikes in annecy loaded up for cycling in the French Alps