From the ‘Grand Departs’ on the promenades of Nice, to the celebratory sprint up the Champs Elysee - this year’s 107th running of the Tour de France feels different. Exciting, different. Inspiring, different. Block out a week or three this June/July, and head to France to get your yellow jersey fix.
Read on for 13 inspirational cycling tours that will have you falling in love (again) with France and le Tour. Thirteen very different cycling adventures; Exciting, different. Inspiring, different.
Tour de France 2020:
In the Footsteps of Napoleon
As it begins in the footsteps of Napoleon, looping inland from the Cote d’Azur, through the perfumed fields of Provence, this year’s ‘Grande Boucle’ traverses all five of France’s mountain ranges, never once crossing the French border.
Following the opening salvos in the Hautes-Alpes, the 2020 Tour winds west through the magical Ardeche, down through the Languedoc and on to the jagged Basque playground of the Pyrenees.
After a blustery seaside sojourn through the valleys of Bordeaux and the Dordogne, the race heads east, through the Massif Central, skywards to the Alps, then north through the Jura and on to the Vosges, where the Tour may still be decided atop La Planche des Belle Filles.
South Eastern France – Stages 1-5
Provence & The Mediterranean Coast
The opening three stages of ‘Le Tour’ are based in and around Nice, the jewel of the Provence-Cote d’Azur-Alpe region. Whilst famous for its delicate Rose’ and its fields of lavender, Provence will present a not so delicate early parcours, showing off its spectacular mountain-to-sea terrain.
Take time between catching glimpses of the peloton, to experience the romantic villages and valleys of Provence by bike.
1. Upper Provence
Six days cruising around the lavender and loveliness that is Provence. Close to the Tour’s opening stages. Take it easy, or take on Ventoux. You’re in charge.
Cycling France - Tour Upper Provence (Option A+)
This six-day, self-guided bike tour allows you to explore the heart of Provence at your own pace and in fantastic accommodations.
2. Mont Ventoux Cycling Weekend
Tick every cyclist’s bucket list and conquer the ‘Giant of Provence’.
3. Tour de Provence Roman
This jaunt through history and culture is one for the lovers, the Francophiles and well, everybody.
Tour de Provence Roman: Cycling Holiday Provence
A cycling holiday in Provence is a lifelong memory. It’s no wonder that some of the greatest artists in history have based their work on the panoramas of Provence; discover why on this sweeping circular route through the best of southern France.
The Rhone Valley & The Ardeche
Stages 4 & 5 sees Le Tour heading west through the ancient olive groves and hillside Syrah vines of the Rhone Valley, traversing les Hautes-Alpes and on to the dream-like water ways of the Ardeche. The Tour then sweeps further south over the Midi-Pyrenees and through the Languedoc, an area known for its Grenache and the medieval splendor of Montpellier.
4. Tour of the Canal du Midi
The most difficult thing about this seven-day sojourn along the canal paths and coastal villages of France’s Mediterranean shores - will be having to go home afterwards.
Cycling France Tour of the Canal du Midi
From sweeping coastal views to sublime canalside cycling and UNESCO listed villages, no two days are the same. Of course, being France, the region is also plentiful in local vineyards and gourmet delights, which you will heartily take advantage of.
South-Western France – Stages 6-9
The Occitanie & The Pyrenees
The next four stages endlessly dive and soar, like the majestic eagles and vultures of the Midi-Pyrenees; on to the Basque playground and spaghettied roads and farmers tracks of the Pyrenees-Atlantique.
Here you can treat yourself to two equally unforgettable, cycling experiences by day, whilst sampling the local Malbec by night;
5. Pyrenean Coast to Coast
Eight days cresting the most famous cols of the Pyrenees. You’ll need to pack your climbing legs for this one.
6. Pyrenees Fitness Week
Hit the classics of the Tour de France as you cycle with expert guidance and coaching in this magnificent setting.
Pyrenees Fitness Week
Spend 8 days riding the climbs used in the Tour de France as you train with the experts in the glorious Pyrenees.
Western France – Stages 10-12
The Atlantic Coast, Bordeaux & The Dordogne
Following a much deserved Rest Day in La Charente-Maritime, the GC riders will be looking for protection in the blustery coastal winds. Stage 10 should be one of the most memorable and dramatic, as the peloton races from one island to another, along the windswept Atlantic coast. Stages 11 & 12 venture east through the iconic Bordeaux vines and the gastronomic delights of the Dordogne Valley.
As well as sampling the regions sought-after Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot, don’t miss the opportunity to take in the beauty of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine in this region.
7. Tour Dordogne
If hilltop castles, ancient caves, foie gras and truffles isn’t your thing, you will probably hate this seven-day agri-turismo pilgrimage. Sounds awful doesn’t it?
Cycling Tour Dordogne
Discover this fascinating region of France on a 7 day cycling tour of the Dordogne; marvel at the beauty of hilltop castles and underground caves, between tastings of world class wines, cuisine, and even a canoe along the Dordogne river itself.
8. Haute Dordogne Road Cycling
Spend 8 days road biking the rural lanes, hills and historic towns of this charming setting.
Haute Dordogne Guided Road Cycling Holiday
The Dordogne region of southwest France has been attracting visitors for years and on this trip you are offered the widest variety of rural French riding possible in a week-long getaway!
Central & Eastern France – Stages 13-19
Along the Rhone Valley, over the Massif Central and on to the Alps
Just like the Tour itself, you could justify unpacking the bags and settling in for the next week, as the peloton spends the next seven stages straddling the Rhone Valley, the Massif Central and the majesty of les Alpes.
Time to invest in some serious ‘me-time’, on one of these epically scenic cycle tours below.
9. Alpine Cols of the Tour de France
You’ll be the envy of your cycling buddies after this epic eight-day masterpiece.
10. The Three Lakes
Six days exploring the majestic Alps; but without all that pesky climbing. Oh, and bring your swimsuit.
Three Lake Cycling: Geneva, Bourget & Annecy (Option A+)
Sizzling scenery, mesmerizing mountains, and spectacular accommodations!
11. Chamonix & The Alps
From the pristine waters of Lake Annecy to Chamonix at the foot of Mont Blanc, this fully-supported cycling adventure, will set your heart and your bike racing.
France Biking Tours of Chamonix & the Alps
Explore the dramatic landscapes of the Alps on a 6 day bike and hike trip.
12. Burgundy Guided Tour
This fully supported, 6-day amble through the Grand Crus vineyards of iconic Burgundy might make you forget the world’s biggest annual sporting event is passing nearby. You might even forget where you put your passport.
Burgundy Guided Bike Tour
Beautiful scenic itinerary exploring all that Burgundy has to offer
Le Finale – Stages 20-21
The Vosges & Paris
The fact the Maillot Jaune may still be up for grabs, on the penultimate stage’s time trial up La Planche des Belle Filles, should be dramatic enough. The scenery as you gaze across from the Vosges, to the nearby German and Swiss borders, will take your breath away.
And then there is Paris. There is always Paris.
Time for one more adventure though, as the world’s toughest bike riders, finish theirs.
Twelve days epic cycling from Paris to Amsterdam. Seriously, what else in life would there be left to do?
Amsterdam to Paris
Great cycling in France, Belgium and the Netherlands over 12 days as you bike from Amsterdam to Paris.
For some more tips about the best cycle tour regions in France, check out our article, 6 Best Regions for Bike Tours in France.
6 Best Regions for Bike Tours in France
Cycle the colorful provinces of France - a country bursting at the seams with rich heritage, stunning coastlines, and an undeniably strong sense of self, plus perfect terrain ripe for biking exploits