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Help on Italy, France, camping and GPS routes

harpoharpo Posts: 173
edited November 2009 in Tour & expedition
I'm thinking of flying into naples or further south Italy and working my way back up through Rome, across the alps, through Swiss and up through France to Calais which is only a short ferry ride from home. Probably going to start this next year in May so it is before the warm summer and will take about 3 maybe a little more weeks. Happy to take less direct routes will probably take a tent and mixture of camping and lodging along the way.

Going to get a touring bike for it as I've done some considerable distance touring on my specialized hybrid but fancy a specific touring bike for this one. I'll be researching that separately! I have a carbon road bike and commute on that and the hybrid as well as longer training rides on both depending on the weather. So should be fit enough for it and will plan on covering up to 80 miles a day.

For now I'd like any assistance on GPS routes through Italy and beyond. For example are the euro velo routes available anywhere to download? I've looked at the CTC website and there are a few routes that look interesting but can anyone tell me what quality or detail you get in these routes? Is it worth joining the CTC?

Camping in Italy and France - has anyone much experience of this and are there regular sites or is wild camping recommended?

Cheers for any info you might think is of interest or will be of help to me.


  • dilemnadilemna Posts: 2,187
    It will be a beautiful ride at that time of year. I would take 3 weeks to just ride around the Dalmatian coast and up the backbone of Italy it is so beautiful. Then you have the Alps .....

    Not sure if it's worth joining the CTC just for your planned ride. There is loads of stuff on the web.

    Specialised hybrid would not be a problem if it fits you properly and has the braize ons for fitting racks. My Sirrus Sport is now a good tourer.

    Not much help to you with the GPS maps. Personally I would get paper maps as they are lot better to plan a route IMHO and give a much better impression of the layout of an area. I love looking at maps. I would have thought you wouldn't need to carry that many for your trip. Post the ones home you've finished with or note the ones you need from planning before departure and buy them as you go along if space and weight is a problem. I believe there is a cycle route from Venice to London.

    Lots of cheap campsites and guest houses in Italy and France. Camping Municipals in France only several Euros a night. Never had a problem with them.
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
  • harpoharpo Posts: 173
    I've got a Sirrus Elite which I've toured with a heavy load and tent round Mull and west coast of scotland as well as a fair stint of LEJOG until my girlfriend had an accident and halted that. Think I'll upgrade the wheels as they don't seem to be very good and have needed a fair bit of attention. Also the rack isn't that strong so might get a new one. Or might just get the new bike??????

    I'll probably take paper maps (cutting off any big areas I don't need) and pick up some as I go and post others home like you say. I have a friend in Rome that I can rely on a bit for some of that. But I find the Garmin good for sitting back and relaxing and getting some miles covered with minimal routefinding.
  • campsites in france are so plentiful. Go to 1st tourist info as you cross into a new department - they will have a list of sites in their department. Two people & tent we generally paid about 10-12 euros a night this year - cheapest was 4.50.

    I'd recommend Michelin 1:200,000 road atlas for France - get a spiral bound one and only take the pages which you need. But then with this user-name I'd be expected to say that and ignore your GPS question - sorry, no knowledge of such stuff.

    I just tour on my hybrid (Ridgeback Meteor) - one day I'll have enough space to add a tourer.
  • harpoharpo Posts: 173
    I cut out my route for LEJOG and taped them together and it worked well. I have a michelin map of France so can rob what I need from that like you recommend. If I have more time and go a less direct route then I can always adapt with buying maps as I go.

    Nick - Will I find most campsites open in late May?
  • dilemnadilemna Posts: 2,187
    Most municipals in France should be open late May maybe not in mountain areas if the Cols aren't open yet. But you should be ok. If not then in all likelihood you could probably still camp just that there will be no facilities such as toilet or showers. I went to the Basque, Bearn and Pyrenees in early june a few years ago some campsites had only just opened. Alternatively you could camp on a farm with the farmer's permission of course. You should be fine on the Riviera where some campsites open late march early april which is a beautiful time to be there - Spring and can be quite warm. Around Frejus and St. Aygulf there are quite a few that will be open mid April. The Italian Riveria is beautiful at this time as well. Still lots of snow visible on the Alps behind. Deep blue skies as well.
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    3 weeks to go from Naples to Calais?

    There may be some useful routes here:

    Otherwise check out the FIAB (Italian CTC - sort of) website.

    Failing that, maybe try these guys: ... &cat_id=22

    they publish maps and guides to the Ciclopista del Sole.

    My experience is that your choice of campsites will be somewhat restricted. A lot of campsites do open from Easter but a lot open later - maybe even beginning or mid-June. But these days most campsites have a website so you can check opening times and prices. Google Maps is an invaluable tool.
  • geoff_ssgeoff_ss Posts: 1,234
    At a guess, without checking the map, you're looking at over 2,000 miles. In 3 weeks you're not going to leave much time for sight seeing as you'll be riding around 100 miles/day with camping gear through some quite demanding country.

    That would have been too much for me even when I was fit and I'd be frustrated with not being able to explore interesting byways because of the time demand. We did a very similar camping trip over the same time scale in an Austin Healey Sprite in 1970 except we drove there and back. I just remember that our speed was governed by the engine temperature gauge (it was late August/September)

    btw I think it's worth joining the CTC regardless. It's the only organisation representing our views to the government and worth supporting.

    Old cyclists never die; they just fit smaller chainrings ... and pedal faster
  • harpoharpo Posts: 173
    I'm thinking about the route what I want to see and what is achievable. It is a work in progress. So greatful for your thoughts. I'll look at the links provided.

    In three weeks? Yes.
    Naples via Rome, Pisa, Milan, Basel, Reims and onto Calais is by the most dirst route around 1200 miles. I said three weeks but most likely will take up to 25 days off, possibly a couple more. So 1200/25 equals 48 miles a day best case scenario and if I go off route by 300 miles then that totals 60 miles a day. I plan to do some bigger days of sitting in the saddle for 100 miles to get some distance covered in parts where I'm less interested in seeing things which will allow some more comfortable days. If I get sidetracked and hang in some places for longer then I can grap a train at some point. If I fly into Rome then that will take 150 miles off and give 2 days more comfort. I'm flexible and your comments and giving me food for thought.

    I fancy a challenge as much as a tour. I want to challenge myself to a mini expedition. I should cope physically as I'll be commuting throughout the winter good and bad weather averaging about 100 miles a week with some swimming and running thrown in on quieter weeks. I managed 80 miles a day on LEJOG with two peoples kit on my bike and could have managed more some days so if I reach the same level of fitness as then I should be OK.

    I'll have a better look into the CTC I think.

    I've done a small bit of routeplanning with the help of viamichelin website and bikeroutetoaster and sent it to a mate who lives in Rome so I await his comments to see how close I am to what might be a suitable route on Italian roads.

    Any Italian experienced riders have a comment on the route?
  • harpo - sorry, only gone on one camping trip in France which was in August, so no idea about sites in late May. Are all alpine passes definitely open in May? The only reason I ask is because I'm sure they occasionally have to shorten stages of the Giro due to snow blocking roads.

    Once in Basel, you could head out for the Route des Cretes in the Vosges - as the name suggests (cretes = crests) it follows the main ridge of the Vosges but isn't actually that hilly once you get onto it.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    You might find this page useful:

    if only for the maps of the main routes:

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