Cycling is becoming an increasingly popular holiday pastime in France as equipment evolves along with dedicated cycle tracks, hire shops, tourist information and general enthusiasm.
I have had a number of cycling experiences in the south of France recently which helped me realise quite how many people are electing to enjoy this simple pleasure on holiday.
I'm a late developer when it comes to cycling and it was actually just after my divorce seven years ago, when I was feeling rather down that a good friend of mine called from the bike shop in Skipton and said "Peter I'm buying a great bike right now and there are two, do you want the other one?" I don't really know why but I just said yes and £1,200 lighter I never regretted it for a minute.
Yesterday I had a dream day with my new wife, one I had been looking forward to for a long time. It was May day in France and the whole country was on holiday. In glorious sunshine, with a light breeze blowing off the sea we cycled from Cagnes sur mer all the way to the port at Nice and back (32km). What a fabulous day we had.
Eliane is new to cycling and I was wanting an easy, safe but interesting ride for her and my hopes were high when we popped the bikes on the back of the car and headed down to the coast and parked close to the horse racing track (Hippodrome), by the beach.
Any concerns I had soon evaporated. The coastal cycle track is superb, clearly marked, flat and easy and a "no brainer" to follow. Along the way there is so much to see that time flies by and the slight saddle sore and muscle fatigue after three hours of riding is barely noticeable, helped by regular stops.
The highlight was the small fishing port at Cagnes sur mer where the local fisherman had just landed a small (metre and a bit) harmless shark which was attracting great attention. We had passed by many times in the car but didn't even noticed that this little gem of a port existed. You see the freedom to stop and explore is part of the attraction of biking.
Then there was the seafront area with all the cafes and restaurants, just before we reached Nice airport, again just off the main marked cycle track (which is only a facility you are not obliged to stick to it all the time) and we picked out plenty of places we plan to return to for a meal.
In Nice we loved riding along the "Promenade des Anglais" which stretches for about 5km, where we passed people on roller blades, skate boards, 2 wheel electric stand on things (Segways), joggers, children on tricycles, just about everything you can imagine and others you can't like the step machine bicycle which had everyone ogling. By the port at Nice we encountered a small parade of young folk carrying an effigy, the "sardine queen" and singing folk songs. In short we were thoroughly entertained and the azur blue sea dazzled all along the way.
The sheer number of people we encountered riding on all sorts of varied bicycles was a real eye opener, I hadn't expected such popularity, being more used to solitary riding up in the mountains. Happily cycling along were families, friends, young and old, serious cyclists who looked like they were in the Tour de France, aged couples, people from numerous different countries, all with one thing in common, they were clearly enjoying themselves.
The French have invested heavily in cycle paths all along the coastal areas and elsewhere, a brave move, clearly a success story. The local tourist offices are well tuned into cycling requirements too. It makes sense really as the French are a nation of cycling enthusiasts, a phenomena which is catching on in the UK and elsewhere.
A villa holiday in France is perfect for taking your own bikes on the car. You can store them safely and easily at the house and they are yours so they are adapted properly to your height and physique. You can take them on the ferry or tunnel at no extra cost, it's ideal.
Have a look at our outstanding selection of holiday houses in France and find the perfect base where you can relax, unwind and enjoy some cycling. If it is a villa in Nice you are after we have a good choice. Book it NOW you won't regret it for a minute.
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