3 Regions of France That Absolutely Must be Explored by Bike

by Bert Maxwell /
Bert Maxwell's picture
Nov 29, 2013 / 0 comments

The lure of the open sky, wide fields, country lanes, a bike, and your own time and place – France is calling you. If you’ve always wanted to explore France by bike, here are some great routes for you. From Provence to Alsace to Normandy and Brittany, France is packed full of amazing sights, clear skies, and magnificent food. First Choice offers affordable cycling holidays that are definitely worth looking into – and makes me want to hop a plane and ride, ride, ride. If you’re intent on biking through France, as well, take a look at these three regions – and routes. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to have an incredible journey.


1.    Provence, Southeastern France


Lavender fields, Provence

When you picture a French cycling holiday, it’s impossible not to think of Provence, with its rolling vineyards, vivid lavender fields, and of course the Tour de France.

Extending from the banks of the lower Rhone River on the west to the Italian border on the east and flanked by the Mediterranean Sea to the south, it is a generally hilly region and many of its villages are scattered across neighboring short, sharp hills. Cycling here you’ll discover vineyards, orchards, sunflowers, lavender trails, and perched medieval villages.


•    Suggested Route: Aix en Provence, or any in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur
•    Terrain: Mountainous regions, colourful countryside, the French riviera
•    Points of interest: Maseille, Avignon, Nice


Provence road map

Provence map


2.    Alsace and Vosges

Alsace fills a swath of land in the far eastern corner of France, bordering Austria and Germany. From the crest of the Vosges Mountains, to the River Rhine, this often-overlooked pocket is brimming with magnificent scenery that is best explored on two wheels.



Alsatians speak a kind of German dialect and consider themselves removed from both the French Interior and the Germans. What you’ll find here is a completely unique blend of French and Germanic cultures and values; from delicious home cooking (be sure to try the ‘Choucroute,’ a much better tasting sauerkraut than you're used to, and ‘flamekuche’ Alsatian salt-pork pizza) to pristine, half-timbered houses complete with flowering window boxes.

•    Suggested Route: Route du Vin
•    Terrain: Rolling hills and fields, vineyards, orchards, villages.
•    Points of interest: Strasbourg, Colmar, Vosges mountains

Alsace Vineyard route


3.    Normandy and Brittany, Northwest France

As the site of the D-Day landings and with over 500km of cycle paths, Normandy offers as much to the history buff as it does the avid cyclist. These northwestern parts of France have a history that is deeply entwined with that of the South of England, with trade and migration routes going back long before Roman times.

The region is geographically similar, too. Brittany, with its rugged granite cliffs and little sandy coves is reminiscent of a slightly sunnier Northern Cornwall, and Normandy’s white cliffs of Etretat could easily be mistaken for the famous Cliffs of Dover.

With over 350 miles of coastline to explore, sleepy fishing villages, and breath-taking ancient strong-holds, this corner of France would make for an ideal cycling holiday.

•    Suggested Route: D-Day Beaches to the Mont-Saint Michel
•    Terrain: beaches, wetlands, gorges
•    Points of Interest: D-Day Beaches, Saint-Malo, Mont Saint-Michel, Carentan

St Malo to Mont St Michel