Cycling holidays in France

For many, France is the centre of cycling, home to the world’s greatest bike race, the Tour de France. It also has more cycle tourists than anywhere else. And I’m bound to say there are good reasons for that.

The French are tuned in to us cyclists, there's a genuine warmth towards anybody on a bike, whether you're cycling a modern racing bike in your finest lycra, or an old bone-shaker. It's a marvellous experience, when you're on one of our cycling holidays in France you're the King of the road.

The French are also famous for their food. One of the great joys of exploring France is the variety of regional cuisine. In Provence there are fresh vegetables and fruit, local herbs and olive oils – even vegetarians are safe in Provence. Not so in Dordogne where the cuisine is based largely on duck and goose.

Périgord geese near Les Eyzies, Dordogne, ©2004 Simon Moss
Lunch at Chateauneuf du Pape, Provence
Stunning vierw of the Dordogne from Domme, Dordogne, ©2004 Simon Moss

Burgundy also boasts a distinctive regional cuisine, much of it now world famous, dishes such as Boeuf Bourguignonne, Coq au Vin, snails, frogs legs, as well as oeufs muerette and jambon perseillé. In Normandy we find beautiful cheeses, all made from the high-fat milk of the Norman cow. Forget the bland camembert that you’re used to, we cycle through the village of Camembert itself, and along with Livarot and Pont L’Eveque, Normans are rightly proud of their cheeses.

But you can’t just turn up in France and enjoy the finest food on offer. The French have the largest tourism industry in the world, and if visitors aren’t careful they risk being treated as just ‘this week’s bunch’. That’s probably the most important thing that The Chain Gang does – we will show you the best routes, the best food, the nicest hoteliers and restaurant owners.

Cycling through vineyards, Bordeaux
View across the garden of Catherine di Medici to Château Chenonceau, Loire Valley
Why not, Dordogne, ©2004 Simon Moss

Introduce a bit of adventure into your wine-tasting.

One of the reasons that France is so popular with travellers is that it offers everything. The most famous wines in the world come from Bordeaux and Burgundy. But many of these are out of reach for mortals, our challenge is to introduce you to some secrets of French wines. We visit Monbazillac and Haut Montravel, where we taste truly exquisite dessert wines – don't groan, these are served properly, and they are beautiful. We will change your view of dessert wines (unless you already love them!).

We visit some of the newest Appellations, such as AOC Les Baux-de-Provence, famous chateaux like Lynch-bages in the haut médoc , world-famous white wines in Chassagne Montrachet and Meursault in Burgundy. But the holy grail for any wine lover is to find the appellation separated from a famous neighbour by a drainage ditch. The same terroir, the same climate, the same vines, but they can’t charge the same price, and they have to try harder. Places like Pécharment in Bordeaux, Vacqueyras and Gigondas in Provence. Our aim on all our French tours and cycling holidays is to introduce you to the best they’ve got.

Group photo in the médoc, Bordeaux
Wine tasting in Gevrey Chambertin, Burgundy, ©2008 Ben King
Wildflowers in the Loire Valley

France, the best country in the world for cycling!

We haven't even mentioned the scenery in Dordogne, the renaissance chateaux of the Loire Valley, the Roman theatres and aqueducts of Provence, the beaches and museums of Normandy. Everyone can find somewhere in France, everyone.