12 reasons that will make you want to explore France by bike
With the Tour de France starting in the UK this year – for only the second time in history – interest in French cycling is at fever pitch with a huge surge in UK cyclists thinking about France.
‘France en Velo’ is a photo guide charting a spectacular new cycle-touring route across France, via its rural heartland from the Channel to the Mediterranean, taking in the greatest sites and natural wonders along the way. Here’s 12 reasons (if you need them) to explore France by bike this summer.
1 – The waters of the Gorge du Verdon are a vivid emerald green, a striking sight as you gaze down into the gorge from above It is the longest and deepest gorge in Europe and the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon.
2 – As you climb up to the highest point of the Gorge du Verdon the views are spectacular as you look across the aquamarine waters of the Lac de Ste Croix and across Provence as far as Mont Ventoux.
3 – Brittany is criss-crossed by quiet country lanes, virtually unused except for farm traffic and cattle. The road side verges are studded with wild flowers.
4 – As you approach Castellane at the head of the Gorge du Verdon you see the distant hills and sharp edged cliffs of the gorge behind you.
5 – A rugged rocky coast line hides hidden coves and sandy beaches. Deep dunes protect sun bathers from the wind and the air is scented with the wild fennel that grows among the Marram grass.
6 – Deep fields of wheat and rows of vineyards line the road as you approach Brissac-Quince. One of the most beautiful chateau in the Loire it is set on a hill surrounded by an quaint small village.
7 – Evening sunshine turns the road and surrounding fields a rich golden colour, as a rider approaches the end of a long but satisfying day in the saddle on the flat and easy roads of the Loire.
8 – The setting sun at the top of the Gorge de la Ardeche draws out the distinctive red hues of the rocks. Misty outlines of distant hills are edged with shadow as the last rays of evening light pick out their rocky outline.
9 – A water fountain can be found at the centre of almost every Provencal village. The perfect spot for cyclists to fill their water bottles and locals to meet for a gossip.
10 – The vines of Villes-sur-Auzon grow under the watchful gaze of the white tipped summit of Mont Ventoux. The grapes from these vineyards are used by the wine cooperative Terra Ventoux and are amongt the best in the region.
11 – La Vienne River is the perfect spot for bathing. It is wide, deep and slow with large rocks mid-channel that allow swimmers a place to rest and dry out in the warm evening sunshine.
12 – Sault is the ancient capital of the Provence lavender trade. Visit the area in June and July and you’ll find row after row of deep purple covering the hillsides and a strong scent of lavender everywhere you go as huge bunches of fresh flowers are sold in the market and from the road side.
France en Velo is published by Wild Things Publishing Ltd, and is available in all good bookshops and as an ibook. Visit franceenvelo.cc for your copy of the book at a special 20 per cent discount using code SMNAD.
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