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France - End to End - advice

waltho bum gravywaltho bum gravy Posts: 153
edited April 2008 in Tour & expedition
OK, the role I'm currently in workwise comes to an end towards the end of May. This fits in with a holiday I have planned with the missus to see a friend of hers in Hong Kong. It turns out that I'll have time after we return before I take up another role. I'd like to fit in a decent sized tour in that time, and have always fancied a crack at the Channel to the Med.

Quite apart from convincing my good lady to let me go off for a week, could I ask for some advice on this?

Firstly, I'm unlikely to be granted more than a week. We arrive back from Hong Kong on a Sunday, so with a fair wind and everything packed in advance, I could be in France, somewhere on the Monday. I'd probably be able to stretch to about 8-9 days if absolutely pushed but my question is whether the Channel to Med is really possible in that time? I'm no longer a particularly fit rider, having had maybe 2 years doing no more than a few rides here and there. I once had a reasonable degree of fitness but like I say we're talking 2 years ago really.

Also, any clues on the best route. I'd be going over on a ferry from the South East, or possibly, depending on times, to Dinard on Ryanair. I'd like to go west of Paris and take in as much of the diverse scenery as possible. I have no great inclination, on this tour at least, of taking in any mountains of note though. I will leave that for either later in the year, or more likely, another year.

I'll be cycling with minimal gear and staying in Formule 1's etc.. I doubt I'll camp as I don't want to carry the extra gear, however if someone can make a great case, I'll consider my options there. It may well add a few extra hours of cycling to each day for example.

Anyhow, any help greatly appreciated.

Posts

  • perhaps i should have mentioned that i'll be doing the france end to end, i dunno, 15 times. i'd have got more of a response. seriously though, any tips at all? am i missing the point here? are there already a million threads of this nature in the archives somewhere?
  • heavymentalheavymental Posts: 2,020
    perhaps i should have mentioned that i'll be doing the france end to end, i dunno, 15 times. i'd have got more of a response.

    :lol:

    Sorry, can't help but found that funny!
  • rayboraybo Posts: 86
    I'm biking from Paris to Avignon in May, 2008. I've been researching my trip for several months. You can read about my plans at this page.

    This page has 48 links to information about bike touring in France. Not all of them will be of interest to you but some will give you some good ideas.

    For what it is worth, I am using www.couchsurfing.com and www.hospitalityclub.org to find places to stay and I intend to take camping gear, at well.

    Ray
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    perhaps i should have mentioned that i'll be doing the france end to end, i dunno, 15 times. i'd have got more of a response. seriously though, any tips at all? am i missing the point here? are there already a million threads of this nature in the archives somewhere?

    As far as I can see short specific questions usually get the best results. Questions that amount to 'please plan my holiday for me' may or may not find someone with the time and patience to spend a long time replying. A suggestion that you've done some research for yourself usually also helps.
  • pneumaticpneumatic Posts: 1,989
    It will be about 900-1000km That's at least 130k per day for a week, or 80 miles. How often do you do that distance?

    Assuming you are up to that, try this:

    boat to Le Havre

    follow the route of the N138 (but not always the road itself)
    2 days ride to Le Mans (you get to go on the circuit!)
    1 day ride to Tours (where you cross the Loire)
    follow the N10 to Angouleme (again, using parallel side roads)
    Bergerac, Toulouse (staying West to avoid the hills)
    Pick up the canal du midi to Narbonne
    fly back from Perpignan

    Over various years, I've done the bit as far as Tours by bike and the rest hitching or by car.


    Fast and Bulbous
    Peregrinations
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • apologies if it sounded like i wanted someone to draw up a route map and do the pedalling for me. i enjoy the route planning and the organising of a tour enough to want to do it myself as i have done many times in the past. i suppose i was just a little over excited at the prospect of getting away on the bike this summer as it was totally unexpected. the missus has also given the green light, so it's all systems go for the first week in june.

    what i was really after were general points of advice, which is why i suggested that i'd look to go west of paris and avoid the bigger mountains. i'm not after "take the 456 for 8 kms, turn right onto the d46 for 6 kms...".

    if anyone knows of any particularly stunning things to see i can make up my mind whether to incorporate them into my route. also stuff like where is good to cross the loire and any advice on avoiding the major cities. there appears to be a corridor that snakes down the west of france avoiding the bigger cities and the higher mountains and another that runs from bordeaux to the med. i'd be looking to use this as a rule of thumb type of route, picking out interesting sites along the way. i suppose it's the potentially interesting sites that i'm looking for. good roads, scenery etc..

    in terns of distance i'd be looking to cover 100 kms + per day and have had no problem in the past with this. i suppose i'll get an idea of how likely that is after my first training run, in norfolk this weekend. thanks for all responses.
  • Mark AppletonMark Appleton Posts: 14 Operations Editor
    An option that may be worth considering: last year we did a 'sort of' French End to End. Flew Stansted to Biarritz then spent eight days riding back to St Malo to catch Portsmouth ferry covering an average of 60 odd miles per day. Mixture of budget hotels and camping, quiet roads, varied scenery, great food/wine, no p***tures :wink: great trip! One advantage of this route is that it starts off in Les Landes - totally flat - so no major initial shock to system.
  • pneumaticpneumatic Posts: 1,989
    Places along those corridors that I have enjoyed in the past are:

    Saumur (Loire crossing a bit West of Tours)
    Chambord (worth the diversion)
    Cognac (not just for the obvious reason, quite a pretty town)
    Angouleme (impressive citadel, if you can be bothered with the climb!)
    Brantome (just a pretty town)
    Carcassonne (crazy Romantic reconstruction of mythical chivalric past)

    I would seriously consider camping, too. Almost every town has a site and they are generally very good.


    Fast and Bulbous
    Peregrinations
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • ut_och_cyklaut_och_cykla Posts: 1,594
    As part of longer ride I rode from Oloron (S of Pau) to Verdun in an almost straight line. Lovely small roads most of the way, a bit lumpy in places but no hills of note. Very rural in places too. AND a tail wind ALL teh way!!
  • Roger_ThisRoger_This Posts: 136
    You could check out 'Downhill All The Way' by Edward Enfield. It describes his (leisurely) ride from the Channel to the Med. It's a slightly odd mix of guide book and memoir, and fairly amusing in a grumpy old git kind of way.

    Doesn't include a map, unfortunately, so you'd need to read the book and plot the route.
  • theres a good cicerone guide which takes you up the river loire from Orange to St Nazaire, I'm basically using that for my trip thru France and into Spain to do the Way of St James, but I'm doing the route backwards from the book and starting from st malo , the IGN 25K maps are great for giving you all the quiet roads and linking a few campsites, gites d'etape and towns together. so as long as you know roughly how much milage you can do each day then you shld be able to cobble something together to help you on your way.

    hope that helps you with your planning.
    'since the flaming telly's been taken away, we don't even know if the Queen of Englands gone off with the dustman'.
    Lizzie Birdsworth, Episode 64, Prisoner Cell Block H.
  • vernonlevyvernonlevy Posts: 969

    I'll be cycling with minimal gear and staying in Formule 1's etc.. I doubt I'll camp as I don't want to carry the extra gear, however if someone can make a great case, I'll consider my options there. It may well add a few extra hours of cycling to each day for example.

    Anyhow, any help greatly appreciated.

    I cycled at a leisurely 100km or less per day at a wine consumption rate of 1 litre/100km from Calais to Montpellier having crosed over to the east of Paris and cycling down the Rhoan/Soanne gap. Travelling lightweigh or at a more determined pace should make the journey possible in a week.

    My route was more or less the same as a CTC Channel to Med route:

    CALAIS
    Wissant
    Marquise
    Desyres
    Beussent
    Montreuil
    Abbeville
    Yzeux
    Amiens
    Roye
    Noyon
    Blerancourt
    Soissons
    Chateau-Thierry
    Montmirail
    Sezanne
    Mesgrigny
    Troyes
    Verrieres
    Ville Noyenne
    Merry-s-Arce
    Chatillon-s-Saône
    Dijon
    Beaune
    Chaion-s-saône
    Cuisery
    Pont-de-Vaux
    Pont-de-Veyle
    Trevoux
    Lyon
    Pierre Benite
    Grigny
    Givors
    Vienne (West Bank)
    Tournon
    Valence
    Le Teil
    Viviers
    Pierrelatte
    Orange
    Borges
    Caumont-s-Durance
    Senas
    Aix-en-Provence
    St Maximin
    Brignoles
    Le Cannet des Maures

    3 Alternatives:-

    1) La Garde Freinet
    Grimaud
    ST TROPEZ

    2) Le Muy
    St Maxime
    ST TROPEZ

    3) Le Muy
    St Aygulf
    ST TROPEZ

    I followed the route as far as Orange then aimed for the Carmargue. CAmping will reduce the cost considerably and not slow you down too much. Average campsite fee was around ten Euros.
  • OldSeagulOldSeagul Posts: 574
    You could try Bike Adventures 'Channel to the Med' (Calais to Nimes) here:

    http://www.bikeadventures.co.uk/indholinfoxf150.html

    They charge £335, but they detail the route and book all your accommodation, it also includes the cost of the ferry - all you have to do is get to the start and ride.
    The people who turn their swords into ploughshares, generally end up working for the people who kept their swords!
  • OldSeagul wrote:
    You could try Bike Adventures 'Channel to the Med' (Calais to Nimes) here:

    http://www.bikeadventures.co.uk/indholinfoxf150.html

    They charge £335, but they detail the route and book all your accommodation, it also includes the cost of the ferry - all you have to do is get to the start and ride.

    thanks, i might well have a look at that.
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