As the beautiful days return, we want to take the air more than ever! To prepare for your next family trip, here are some cycle tourism routesaccessible to all, beginners or experienced, who will take you to discover the great essentials of French territory. Along the canals, towpaths, by the sea or discovering castles, for a weekend or a long vacation, everyone will find something to suit their needs.
Do you have itchy calves? When planning your bike trip, don’t be too ambitious! As a family, doing 50 km per day is already a very good average, especially if your bikes are a little loaded. Do not forget to also allow time for visits, picnics and other breaks which will be so many shared memories of this trip. From a few hours to more than a week, here is a selection of routes accessible to beginners, as long as you take your time. Cycling is the ultimate slow life : make the most of it!
From Amboise to Chambord, discovering the Châteaux of the Loire
For a few days by bike around the Châteaux of the Loire, you have to choose your side. Our advice is to head for the castles to the east of Tours, starting with Amboise, where you can visit the Royal Castle and the Clos Lucé, the former home of Leonardo da Vinci. With a pedal stroke (15 km), here is the Château de Chenonceau, which gracefully spans the Cher. Through the Amboise forest, you then reach the banks of the Loire and the city of Blois, to discover its royal castle. 15 km further on is the castle of Cheverny, which inspired that of Moulinsart in Tintin and where children will enjoy an encounter with the pack of hunting dogs. Highlight of the show, the fabulous Château de Chambord. Unforgettable ! Its royal domain alone can be the object of a day’s bike ride.
On the towpath of the Burgundy Canal
Well known to cycle tourists, the Tour de la Bourgogneby bike allows, on a loop of 872 km, to discover the region and the richness of its historical, gastronomic and wine heritage. On this large loop, several sections are worth the detour in themselves: families can opt for the Burgundy Canal by bike, an easy route (count 4 days) completely secure from Auxerre to Dijon, on the towpath that borders the channel. Bucolic! There is no shortage of steps for toddlers to stretch their legs: the Romanesque abbey of Fontenay (founded in 1118), the historic site of Alésia where the Gallic leader Vercingétorix laid down his arms in front of César, the medieval city of Châteauneuf- en-Auxois or the Château de Commarin offer so many welcome breaks that will feed children’s imaginations.
A day cycling around Lyon
This stage of the ViaRhôna(the great VéloRoute which connects Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean) cleverly plays on the main axes of the Lyon metropolis to offer families a marked and easy route that connects the large parks and lakes of Lyon. Between Jons and the center of Lyon, along the Jonage Canal, bikes run on secure greenways. Families can picnic in the Grand Parc de Miribel-Jonage: well known to Lyonnais, it is a 2,200-hectare park including 350 hectares of water, where you can practice all kinds of water activities. and bathe. Back in Lyon, plan a break at the must-see Parc de la Tête d’Or, Lyon’s true lung: children will be able to discover the animals of the large zoo there. It takes 1h45 to go between Lyon and Jons.
Between the creeks and the pines around Les Sables d’Olonne
Do you know the Vélodyssée? This 1,200 km cycling route (on the EuroVelo route n ° 1) links Roscoff, on the northern tip of Brittany, to Hendaye, a small town in the Basque Country! For a taste, families can try out a one-day section (3 hours of cycling) along the great beaches of Pays de la Loire, on the Atlantic Ocean. Starting for example in Les Sables d’Olonne, as close as possible to the sea, beaches and rocky coves. Backed by a pine forest, the route will take you to the endless sandy beaches of La Tranche sur Mer: sandcastles, kites and surfing are yours.
From the landing beaches to Mont Saint-Michel
Welcome to the heart of the Norman Bocage! Here, green meadows rub shoulders with immense beaches. The route begins in Arromanches, the center of the 1944 Battle of Normandy. Turning your back to the Channel, you pedal due south to reach Bayeux, then Viré, through fields and small Norman villages. From Viré, a green way is offered to cyclists to Mont Saint-Michel. Apart from a few roads to cross, the route does not involve any difficulty and adapts well to families with little ones on bicycles. Special mention for the arrival in the bay of Mont Saint-Michel : from Ducey, its silhouette is revealed at the whim of the bends when the grove gives way to salt meadows. Magic. Count a week of cycling with children, without forcing.
Along the secret canals of Alsace
Around Strasbourg, Alsace unrolls kilometers of pretty secret canals. For a getaway of a few days, head to Saverne, the City of Roses and its Château des Rohan. Here passes the EuroVelo route n ° 5: it travels along the Marne-Rhine canal, in the Zorn valley. A very pleasant greenway, all the way to Strasbourg: one of the most cycling-friendly French cities opens its doors to you on two wheels! The route then leaves the Alsatian capital by the west, along the banks of the Ill and the Bruche Canal, built by Vauban. This stage of EuroVelo n ° 5 stops at Soultz-les-Bains, but you can complete the loop and go up to Saverne, about twenty kilometers further. The route from Saverne to Soultz-les-Bains via Strasbourg is 73 km.