Jonathon Nunan
by Jonathon Nunan

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.

Cycle Tour France In the Shadow of Giants

Bike the routes used by the Tour de France or simply discover the surrounding regions to top off your vacation.

The 2020 Tour de France route

Image credit: ASO / CyclingNews

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.

Bicycle Tour of Provence

Discover this delightful and romantic region of France.

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.

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.

Get Your Ride On

Immerse yourself in some quality bike time both as a spectator and as a participant.

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 splendour of Montpellier.

Ardeche Gorge

Discover the incredible landscapes of France from a bike

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.

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;

The Majesty of the Pyrenees

Delve into quintessential TDF landscapes on your own cycle tour.

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.

Find Your Own Peloton

Ride with the pack and experience the race vibe first hand.

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.

Dordogne Bicycle Vacation

Take a break from spectating and head out on a cycle tour to explore

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?

8. Haute Dordogne Road Cycling

Spend 8 days road biking the rural lanes, hills and historic towns of this charming setting.

Big country cycling

Find out why France is the home of wonderful biking as you pick a tour to compliment your TDF holiday

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.

Spectacular Alpine Views

Some might say the crème de la crème of Tour de France landscapes, this region will certainly give you superb photo opportunities wherever you go.

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.

Feel Inspired to Take on a Challenge

After watching the greats, push things up a gear and enjoy cycling the roads of France.

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.

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.


Beautiful Burgundy

Kick back and enjoy some leisurely wine cycling whilst you're in the area - it would be rude not to!

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.

Elegant Paris, France

End the Tour de France in the country's capital and begin your own cycle tour extraordinaire.

13. Paris-Amsterdam

Twelve days epic cycling from Paris to Amsterdam. Seriously, what else in life would there be left to do?

For some more tips about the best cycle tour regions in France, check out our article, 6 Best Regions for Bike Tours in France.