Tour of France


Our trip to France in 2009 was our first cyclo tour ever. We were rather ambitious and packed our two mountain bikes and headed half way round the globe and into the northern autumn to ride in France. We had been inspired by the beautiful countryside and lovely places to ride that we had seen in the Tour de France TV coverage and were keen to check it out for ourselves. We had relatively few issues with the whole trip and nothing really went ‘wrong’, so we were either well planned or just very lucky (or maybe a bit of both!). We learnt so much and had a marvellous time. It would have been very difficult to return home, but that the weather had turned very cold, and we were happy to head back to a southern hemisphere summer! As with the UK tour, a variety of blog posts will describe the events and stories (in no particular order) and these will be linked to this page and vice versa. The intent is to make the route information accessible to a reader at all times. Additional information on planning, decisions and accommodation information will be posted shortly and hyperlinked here.

The Route

We had no idea where to go and ride in France. Everywhere looked lovely (except those steep ‘cols’ and high mountains of course!) I spent a lot of time reading about cycle trails and tracks and eventually I realised that there were lots and lots of them. So instead, I decided to select a rough route and then find the trails and places of interest in these locations.

France - a superb country for cycling

France – a superb country for cycling

We chose Dijon as a starting point. This was because we did not think we could cope with riding in the traffic in Paris, and doing this on the right (wrong!) side of the road. Dijon turned out to be the same size and the traffic was similar to the city where we live. We found ourselves very comfortable and it was no problem getting our cycling legs tuned in this lovely place before heading off on our adventure. We travelled along some canal routes, then headed across to the west – going to the Loire Valley. We spent quite a while travelling along the beautiful Loire river (aha! no mountains, or hills to climb!) and then headed south to see some of the more open countryside. Our avoidance of challenging terrain was more because we were unsure how we would cope with our loaded bikes, but as it turned out, it was a breeze. We finished in Limoges, where there was a special place we wanted to visit (Oradour sur Glane) before we returned to Paris by train. The following table shows our route and how far we rode each day. Posts which relate to each section of the tour are hyperlinked for easy location. As more stories are added to this blog, this table will be updated. Posts that are listed but not hyperlinked are coming soon :-). More will be added in due course.

Section Start End mi km Posts
Arrival in Paris Paris Paris at last!
Train Paris Dijon The bikes carry the load at last!
Dijon surrounds Dijon 37 60 Celebrations in Dijon
Dijon revisited
Canal route Dijon Bellenot sous Pouilly 47 75 Locks, castles & hospitality
Bussière-sur-Ouche – a place for a break
Bellenot sous Pouilly Sainte Magnance 47 75 Getting to St Magnance
Sainte Magnance Clamecy 36 58 Vézelay and St Mary Magdalene
Clamecy Narcy 43 69 Mystery feature
Mystery feature revealed
Narcy Savigny en Sancerre 35 57 When a canal crosses a river
Discovering châteaux and hunters
Savigny en Sancerre Sully sur Loire 47 75 Wines and vines – Sancerre
Le Tour de Fiefs – Sancerre
Hunting trophies – Gien
Sully sur Loire 16 25 Medieval castle in Sully
Loire River Valley Sully sur Loire Checy 45 73 Wet? Try the local market square
Magical Loire Valley
Checy Clery-St-Andre 25 40 Haunted church Meung sur Loire
Clery-St-Andre Blois 50 80 Orléans – eerie in the morning mist
A funny little lane
Summer house
Blois Selles-sur-cher 42 67 Chambord castle
Selles-sur-cher Pellevision 39 62 Dealing with the wet!
Pellevision Rosnay 55 89 Night (riding in the inky dark!)
Rosnay St-Benoit-du-Sault 51 82 The lakes of Rosnay
An unexpected find – Château de Romefort
St-Benoit-du-Sault St-Benoit-du-Sault Tour of St Benoit-du-Sault
Blois Selles-sur-cher 42 67 Valencay
Metallic knight
La Souterraine Nantiat 39 62
Nantiat Limoges 34 54 Oradour-sur-Glane
Train Limoges Paris
Nowhere special Just having fun on the bikes and taking random photos
Cycling distance 716mi 1153km
Average distance per cycling day 40mi 64km

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