“We won’t beat about the bush : traveling has a serious impact on the environment. But traveling enriches life, is interesting, fun, and makes us forget our hard jobs for a while. A brilliant alternative to pollute less is to travel by bicycle!” – Wim Maertens, Le Vélo Voyageur
It can sometimes be hard to know how to plan your bike trip, so we thought we’d share some routes that you can try out in France.
One day destinations in Occitanie
Day trips are a great way to feel like you have been on an adventure without expending so much time and energy. They’re also a great way to explore this beautiful region and get some fresh air in the hot summers!
There are many bike tracks called voies vertes (green ways) which are most often protected and separate from the main road and often surrounded by nature.
Here is our selection of 3 trips that you can do in a day.
Canal des Deux Mers from Carcassonne to Trèbes
This route allows you to cycle alongside the beautiful Canal du Midi. As you enjoy your ride under the oak trees, you will be able to see some of the locks through which the boats pass. There is, however, a 2.5 kilometer stretch that is a little bumpy, but that’s only a small part of the 12.5 kilometer trip, or 25 kilometers if you’re doing a round trip.
Regional Natural Reserve of Camargue – round trip
The Camargue Natural Park is a wonderful cycling (and walking) destination, with many species of wildlife roaming freely. This 33.6 kilometer bike ride is easy and suitable for all levels. The roads are mostly asphalt, with the exception of a few country lane sections, but nothing for a Vélo Tout Chemin (VTC) or Vélo Tout Terrain (VTT) couldn’t handle. The starting point is a car park, making it easy to get there and hop back in your car at the end. The route is fairly flat, but as there’s little shade, we recommend doing it in the morning or evening when it’s cooler or outside of the summer months.
Cycling through the garrigues, vineyards and medieval villages around Saussan – round trip
This easy cycle route to the west of Montpellier is suitable for all levels of cyclists. It starts near a car park for an easy start and most of the route is tarmac. This ride is 22.9 kilometers long and should take about an hour and a half. You will pass through the amazing garrigues, the village of Cournonsec and even a troglodytic cave, with beautiful views all the way.
Cycling routes for the weekend or longer
In Europe, there is an initiative called EuroVelo (EuroBike), which consists of a large network of cycle routes that allow you to travel around Europe, how great is that?! In France, there are 17 véloroutes (cycle routes) that cover long distances, making up almost 9,000 kilometers to be discovered so far. Each route has a number and a specific logo so that you can easily identify it.
Which véloroutes to try out?
- Vélodyssée – EuroVelo 1
- Scandibérique – EuroVelo 3
- Vélomaritime – EuroVelo 4
- Via Romea Francigena – EuroVelo 5
- EuroVelo 6
- Méditerranée à vélo – EuroVelo 8
- Véloroute to the North Sea – EuroVelo 12
- Véloroute Rhin – EuroVelo 15
- ViaRhôna – EuroVelo 17
- La Meuse à vélo – EuroVelo 19
These routes can be ridden over a weekend, or longer if you are planning a cycling holiday. If you do not want to do the same route twice, you can look for voies vertes that take a different route to get back to where you started.
Good to know: the EuroVelo network isn’t totally completed so make sure to check where you will be passing through.
How to recognize cycling routes?
Cycle routes are signposted in the same way as roads, but with a bike on the sign, easy! There is usually a sign at the side of the road indicating the next stops and places of interest. If you are on the road, the cycle lanes are indicated on the ground, it may be green or just a white line with a bike symbol.
What type of bike should you use?
VTC (Vélo Tout Chemin) are bikes with wheels made for all types of tracks. They will be suitable for anything including more gravely and stoney country tracks, but if you plan on going “hors-piste”, or want to have wheels with more grip, a VTT or Vélo Tout Terrain (all terrain bike) is the way to go. If you plan to cycle regularly or on long trips, a trekking bike may be more suitable. To find out more about choosing the right bike for you, don’t hesitate to read this article from Decathlon, which is famous in France for its accessible products. The article is in French, but don’t hesitate to use Google Translate to read it.
Where can you rent bikes?
Luckily for you, the lovely Wim, one of our previous Renestance consultants, now works for a bike touring company! We asked him to talk a bit more about it:
“About 12 years ago, two young women founded Le Vélo Voyageur, a bicycle travel agency. They did this after having traveled the Danube on their bikes, discovering the best way to travel.
12 years later, a dozen employees and hundreds of partners provide bicycle holidays all over France and the neighboring countries.
Almost all of the holidays we have created over the years start and end near a train station. About three quarters of the customers are French and a lot of them travel by train to the starting point. It’s comfortable, fast and you don’t have to worry about parking.
And there is more: to diminish our impact even more, we are heading towards a paperless company. Le Vélo Voyageur created its own travel app a few years ago. Our customers can now travel without using a single sheet of paper!
It’s maybe a small step, but it gives people the chance to travel without feeling so guilty about polluting the planet.”
Check out this exciting agency to plan your next trip at www.levelovoyageur.com!
Rent a bike at Le Vélo Voyageur: www.levelovoyageur.com
Learn more about EuroVelo cycling routes: https://en.francevelotourisme.com/tips-and-advices/eurovelo-cycling-routes-in-france
Plan your next cycling trip in France with this interactive map: https://en.francevelotourisme.com/cycle-route
Get fully prepared for your trips with these tips: https://en.francevelotourisme.com/tips-and-advices
How to choose your bike: https://conseilsport.decathlon.fr/quel-type-de-velo-choisir-2
Cycling trips mentioned:
- Canal des Deux Mers from Carcassonne to Trèbes: https://www.af3v.org/les-voies-vertes/voies/26-spip_tag/#headCart
- Regional Natural Reserve of Camargue round trip: https://www.komoot.com/smarttour/e1016715533/la-reserve-naturelle-regionale-de-la-tour-du-valat-en-boucle
- Cycling through the garrigues, vineyards and medieval villages round trip: https://www.komoot.com/fr-fr/smarttour/e990332471/entre-garrigues-vignobles-et-villages-medievaux-boucle
All articles by: Leslie Belliot