Potential Touring Trip: "Le Tour des Montagnes"

In September 2009 I cycled with a friend from Le Havre to Paris and back; two days down there, two days back. It was a fantastic trip - carrying all our kit on our old steel road bikes and loving the French back roads, cheap camp-sites and rolling onto the cobbled streets of the Champs Elysée in Paris after a few days of very rewarding cycling.

Perhaps some time in the future I will get round to writing up a blog post about the trip, if I can dig out the photo album and rack the memory. But for know I thought I would write about a planned trip that I would really like to do sometime in the future, potentially this September, depending on how finances and time go. So here it is:

"Le Tour des Montagnes": 1480 Miles, 18Days and some of the best climbs and roads in France.

The Route:

  • Le Havre, France
  • Orleans, France
  • Lyon, France
  • Grenoble, France
  • Col du Galibier, Valloire, France
  • Col de la Bonette, Jausiers, France
  • Marseille, France
  • Montpellier, France
  • Saint Girons, France
  • Lourdes, France
  • Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry, France
  • Santander, Spain
The plan would be to do it in "Lite Touring" Mode - i.e. Lightweight tent, small single burner camper stove, camping wild when we can, buying supplies en-route and carrying as little excess kit as possible - live in a cycling jersey and shorts - gets a little smelly sometimes!

The route takes in a few of the best climbs in France - Col de Galibier, Col de la Bonette and some mountains in the Pyrenees, the precise choice of which i'm undecided on at the moment. Cycling in France is a completely different experience to riding a bike on British roads - most of the motorists seem to want to help you, rather than kill you; the D-roads are in better knick than most of our A-roads and the signposting is far better and more suitable for back-road touring than what you find anywhere in the UK. If the weather is favourable it is the utopia of cycling, and the mountains are certainly something that the UK would have a serious job to replicate.

All I need to do is get a new rack fitted to "The Ol' Peugot" Winter training bike and persuade a friend that it is not such an insane idea; perhaps show them a few pictures of the South of France beaches and I'm sure they will be convinced! It would be a fantastic trip and a great way to end the season, bringing the mile count up a serious amount as well!

I always reckon there is no better way to experience a country than on a bike - Vietnam was certainly even more fantastic whenever we could saddle up and ride through the paddy fields. We'll see how the season goes, but watch this space for more ideas and potentially 18 days of blogging from the saddle as I do my own version of the "Tour de France".


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