British Tour de France

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The success of British cyclist Bradley Wiggins – the first British man to win the Tour de France – has seen cycling fever grip the country like never before. Feeling inspired to get out on your bike? Read Frederic’s feature on France’s fabulous new cycle tracks, only on CD-Traveller

Unless you have been living on another planet, you’ll know that last Sunday – for the first time in sports history – a British sportsman won the Tour de France. Bradley Wiggins’ name is now known by all on this side of the Channel, as well as that of Christopher Froome – Wiggin’s team member whom finished second. And that wasn’t the end of the British achievement: Mark Cavendish won the last stage of Tour de France with a hard, final sprint on the Champs Elysées. Subsequently France is proud to pay tribute to British cycling in 2012. If you come on a holiday in France and hire a bicycle don’t forget to put a small Union Jack on your bike: you’ll see a lot of welcoming smiles from all those you pass.

Bradley Wiggins (credit: phptp by Sapin88 )

Here’s the low-down on the latest French cycle tracks…

The Greenway London – Paris
Last month, Bertrand Delanoë, the mayor of Paris, opened the ‘Greenway London – Paris’ – a new 370km cycle road from Paris to Dieppe. Just in time for those who want to cycle to the Olympic Games. He said that he did not know if his schedule would allow him to cycle across! However I am proud to say that in July 1948, with a group of six friends, Claude -my father-in-law – went cycling from Paris to London to see the Games the last time they were held in London. It took them two days to get to London, two to get back and they spent 10 days in London watching the Games. Today this ‘Greenway London – Paris’ is a mix of traffic-free paths and quiet roads and lanes. It has signage (at least on the French side) on some of the routes, at least on the French side. On the British side, a few high traffic zones remain.
http://www.avenuevertelondonparis.com
www.sustrans.org.uk

The Greenway London-Paris (credit: http://www.avenuevertelondonparis.com)

The Loire à Vélo trail
France has plenty of fabulous scenic bike trails for those who travel at a slower speed than Wiggins. On 6 June 2012, the two presidents of Pays de Loire and Centre regions announced that the longest French cycle track, 800km along the Loire river valley, was completed. This network leaves you free to choose which part of the Loire River valley you want to explore, from Nevers to St Nazaire on the seaside. The fairly flat terrain makes any stage a relaxing route that would be suitable for both adults and children. All along the Val de Loire, amazing castles, vineyards, small villages and nice restaurants await you. You are in the heart of ‘Douce France’.
The best idea for those who intend to pedal along the Loire is to have ‘The Loire à Vélo Trail’ by Michel Bonduelle (Ouest-France Editions), the first and only handy bike guidebook of this part of France which is available in English. To prepare your own tailor-made route have a look at http://www.cycling-loire.com. There are plenty of places where you can hire bikes.
The Loire valley is easily linked to UK, with Ryanair flights from London Stansted to Tours or with EasyJet flights from London Gatwick to Nantes. Alternativel from Paris, trains travel to most of the main cities along the Loire. Tours is less than 90 minutes away and Nantes is only three hours. The train option makes it easier for those who travel with their own bikes.

 

 

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