Frequently Asked Questions

Bike hire

Yes, many bike hire companies offer top end road bikes hire options. These are normally available at a premium cost. Our page shows typical costs.

Yes you can find e-bike hire in France. As riding e-bikes is more popular they are becoming easier to find for hire. Our page lists out typical costs. We recommend pre-booking your bike rental to avoid missing out.

Yes. There are plenty of places to hire a bike in France so the answer is definitely yes. Our destination guides lists the bike hire options available in thePyrenees and Alps. Many hire shops have a website allowing you to reserve your bike before you get there. Plan and book well ahead as bikes will be harder to get in the busy summer months at short notice. Most hire shops also now offer e-bikes for hire as well as road bikes and mtbs. Gravel bikes are also starting to become more popular.

Cycling in France

No. There are many Tour Operators running cycling tours, but you can definitely cycle in France totally self guided. Our post lists the benefits of each.

In France cars drive on the right hand side of the road.

How fit you need to be to cycle in France depends on the type of terrain you wish to ride. If you are looking to ride up some of the famous Tour de France climbs, you will need a reasonable amount of fitness. If you choose to join a Tour Operator, you will find most of the tours on offer will cater for all levels of fitness. France is a big country and there are so many riding options which don’t involve any mountains. Our post on the Greenways of France gives you an indication of some flatter routes on offer. Other options now also include e-bikes which means you can tackle the more difficult terrain with a little motorised help as well.

Yes – our personal experience has shown it to be very safe to cycle in France. Check out our guide about riding in France which explores this more. French car drivers are extremely courteous when it comes to people on bikes and are used to sharing the road with them.

Destinations

Many French Mountain Passes are not accessible year round. Typically the higher mountain passes are open from May through until November each year. This is highly dependant on current snow conditions. Climbs located at lower altitudes are often open year round. Our ride guides each set out the elevation at the summit of the passes. You can view the detailed guides on our destinations pages here.

The French Alps are located 625km / 388mi from Paris by car. Depending on traffic this would take approximately 6.5hrs. Our destination pages are a great guide for travel options.

The French Pyrenees are located 850km / 528mi from Paris by car. Depending on traffic this will take approximately 8hrs. By train it is almost 5.5 hours and by plane flight time is 1hr 20mins. Check our Pyrenees destination pages for details on how to travel to the Pyrenees.

The French Alps are located in the East of the country and border both Switzerland and Italy. Our destinations pages list the best way to travel there. Depending on where in France you are travelling from you may be able to make your way to the region by either car, bus, rail or air.

The French Pyrenees are located in the South West of France along the border with Spain. The Mountain range spans across from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. Check our practical guides for information on how to travel to the region.

We recommend basing yourself in either Bourg d’Oissans, Annecy, or either the Maurienne or Serre Chevalier valleys. Check out our practical guides for the Alps which provide you with handy information on where to go, how to get there and where to ride. From either of these four locations you can access multiple Tour de France climbs.

For a short cycling holiday in the Pyrenees we recommend staying in the Lourdes region. From here you can easily access many infamous Tour de France climbs. These include the Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aubisque as well as Luz Ardiden and Hautacam. Check out our destination guides for more practical information about the Pyrenees.

Eating and drinking

Yes, French water fountains marked as either ‘eau potable’ or simply ‘potable’ have water which is safe for drinking. You can find a list of fountains here. Learn more here.

Tour de France

The Tour de France is held in July each year starting early in the month and running for three weeks. Check our Tour de France section for more information about seeing the race in France. The Tour de France occasionally starts earlier or finishes later to accommodate events such as the Olympic Games or Football World Cup.

Transport

No, it is not necessary to hire a car in France. Public transport links are very good. See our trip planning pages for more information about travelling in France. Whether you choose to hire a car will ultimately depend on personal preference

Public transport in France is very good. It is very easy to use. You can easily get around France without the need for a car. See our planning pages for more information about travelling around France.

Lyon and Geneva are the closest French international airports to the French Alps. For more information on the major French Airports see our dedicated page. For a list of which airlines fly to France check out handy resource.

Toulouse is the largest international airport to the Pyrenees. Smaller airports also operate out of Lourdes/Tarbes and Pau. Check out our dedicated page on airports to see which one is best for your trip.

Travelling with a bike

Yes, it is possible to take your bicycle on a train at no extra cost in France. This depends which train service you are travelling on. In general, there is no cost to take your bike on the TER or TGV trains (provided your bike is disassembled on the TGV). French Intercités train services charge €10 per bike. Read about our experiences on travelling with your bikes on trains here.

Yes. However, to travel for your bike for free on a TGV you need to first dismantle it and place it in a bike bag. You also need to check the dimensions. The bike bag needs to fit in the luggage compartment on the TGV. You are able to take your bike on a TGV without dismantling it. However, to do this you will need to pre-book and pay €10 per bike. The TGV requirements are set out here. To read our tips about travelling on French trains with a bicycle check out our post.

Yes, You can on-forward luggage in France. There are luggage services available which you can utilise to do this. The amount of luggage and distance you want to ship it, will determine the overall price.

Yes , typically a bike bag will fit in a hire car – although this will depend on both the size of your bike bag as well as the hire car. It is most important you book a hatch or station wagon. If you do this then you shouldn’t have any issues fitting the bike bag in with the seats folded down. Don’t forget to factor in any other luggage you may have as well. Check out our trips for travelling with a bike here.

Yes. You you can buy a cardboard bike box at certain airports. We recommend researching the specific airport prior to travel to find if anyone has them available for purchase. Check out our French Airport pages for more information. Sometimes a dedicated provider such as Swissport will have them available for sale. At other times it will be the major airline provider at that particular airport. You may also be able to purchase these from left luggage. With some forward planning you may find the nearest local bike store will also have these available for you to collect.

Yes. It is safe to travel with your bike in a cardboard box. Of course this will also depend on how well you pack your bike ready for air travel. Check out our page for travelling with a bike for more handy tips.

Yes, you can take bike lube on a plane – provided it is not flammable? To be safe check the label prior to packing and also make sure the amount meets any subsequent airline restrictions. Check out our page on travelling with a bike for more handy tips and considerations

It depends on the airline. The regulatory rule on these is up to 4 28g Co2 cartridges can be taken on a plane. Some airlines still ban them so it is best to check with the airlines you are planning on travelling with. For more tips and information about travelling with a bike check out our page.

Yes, it is possible to have your bicycle shipped to or from France. A service like this is usually quite expensive. However, it may be appealing to you if you only plan to cycle for part of your holiday and don’t wish to transport your bicycle for the rest of your holiday. Check out our page on travelling with a bike for more tips.

No. Shipping your bike to France is a more expensive option. You can learn more about travelling with a bike here.

This depends on the airline you fly with. Check our resource which lists all of the airlines and their rules in regards to taking a bike on a plane. Some airlines allow bicycles to count as part of your overall luggage allowance and hence, do not incur an extra charge. Other carriers will charge you for the transportation of your bike.

Yes, bicycles are permitted on French trains. In fact train travel with a bike is quite easy. Check out our recent post which gives our top tips for bringing your bike on French rail. The type of train you are travelling on determines whether you can take your bike on as is, or if you need place it in a bike bag prior to boarding. There are often also special areas to store your bike on each train carriage.

In order to take an e-bike on a plane you will need to remove the battery. You cannot take an e-bike with the battery installed on a plane. Some airlines will allow e-bikes with the battery removed while others do not allow them at all. Check out our guide about flying with a bike for more.

Trip Planning

Yes, hotels in France catering for cycle tourists do exist. Typically this accommodation would include a secure storage area for bikes. They often have a place to assemble, wash, carry out maintenance and disassemble your bike. They may also include access to tools to help you service your bike. Meal packages catering for cyclists are often provided. Some providers will also offer up a laundry service as well. Even if they are not marketed as a cycling specific hotel, our experience has shown most providers are bike friendly. Our destination pages list out cycling specific accommodation providers in each region.

The Schengen visa will permit you to stay in the zone (which France is part of) for 90 out of 180 days. This is taken on a rolling basis. Check out our page on visa requirements for more information. If you wish to stay for longer then the 90 days, you will need to apply for a longer stay visa. Longer stay visas must be applied for prior to travel to France.

Euro is the currency in France. Check our trip planning pages for travel tips to consider when planning your French holiday. Everything from currency, when to go, where to stay and what to do.

Yes, as long as your cell / mobile phone is a GSM phone you will be able to use it while in France. It is best to check with your mobile phone provider in relation to the cost of any international roaming charges. Note, some US providers -namely Sprint and Verizon – use CDMA technology which will not work in France.

No, you do not need to be able to speak French in order to enjoy a holiday in France. Our page about speaking French has some great tips about this topic. However, we do recommend you learn a few basic phrases prior to your travel. Outside of the bigger French cities you will find English is spoken less and less.

It depends where you come from. Travellers from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, planning to stay less than 90 days do not require a visa prior to travelling to France. Your passport will be stamped on arrival to the country. Citizens from an EU country are free to travel freely through France. The implications of Brexit on longer term travel through France is still being worked through for those with UK citizenship. Check our trip planning page on visa requirements to learn more.

Weather

The best French Weather app is Meteo France. It is available for both iPhone and Android. Check out our weather page for more information.

France gets quite hot in Summer. How hot will depend on which region you are visiting in France. Temperatures in some areas can reach the high 30Cs/100F. Keep this in mind when booking your accommodation to make sure you have a room with air conditioning. Check out our page on French weather for more information.

We think Spring and Autumn (Fall) are the best times of year to cycle in France. Our trip planning guide on when to go to France explores this more. Typically temperatures are still very mild and cycling at this time of the year means you won’t have to deal with huge holiday crowds in the middle of Summer.

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