How about discovering France by taking it easy, taking your time, savoring encounters and landscapes to fill up with beauty and serenity? On foot, by bike, on the water or on horseback, the Hexagon is a wonderful playground and itineraries for local micro-adventures, always full of originality. Ready to give it a try? Our advice for darkening… smoothly.
By bike: if we left early in the morning …
© Atout France – @WorldElse – By bike on the ViaRhôna, which follows the route of the Rhône through Lyon, Valence or even Avignon.
22,800 km of cycle routes and greenways, 5,500 km of regional tourist routes and 3,000 road and mountain bike circuits… In the country of the Tour de France , the little queen has no shortage of great getaways. And to each his own mount, sporty, all terrain or electrically assisted, to hurtle down the Champagne hillsides., climb the mountains of Auvergneor the passes of the Alps, pedaling with your hair in the wind on the edge of the Atlantic or dawdling, from one castle to another, in the Loire Valley.
Whether you opt for a one-day loop or a route in stages, each region has multiplied the routes, beyond the major routes that link our gentle France. On its site, which is both practical and thematic, France Vélo Tourisme lists them all. At the head of the peloton, with 900 sumptuous kms from Nevers to Saint-Brévin, Loire à Vélo sports the yellow jersey of attendance. But the Véloscénie, from Parisat Mont Saint-Michel, the ViaRhôna connecting Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean between vineyards and lavender fields or the Vélodyssée, undulating from Brittanyin the basque countryalso have them under the pedal. Just like the Vélomaritime and its 1,500 kms with sea viewalmost uninterrupted, from Roscoff, in Finistère to Dunkirk, in Hauts-de-France.
To get your head off the handlebars, Accueil Vélo takes care of the logistics. 3,200 service providers throughout France offer services to cyclists: accommodation, catering, repairers, rental companies, tourist sites, tourist offices … All you have to do is ride and enjoy, knowing that the French Cycling Federation is also present on its site some 650 good cycling tourism addresses. So, in the saddle!
Hiking: the best way to walk …
Ants in the feet? Lace up your shoes, take your poles… And to you the hiking trails, the coastal paths, the dunes by the ocean, the small country roads, the climbs in the mountains. With 11 national parks, 54 regional natural parks and 180,000 kilometers of marked trails including 65,000 for long-distance hiking (GR), France is taking small steps in big. Everyone then has to adjust their effort, from a simple day trip in the pretty hilltop villages of the Luberon to a trek with bivouac in the Alps, around Mont Blanc, or in the great cirques of the Pyrenees.
Fancy an introduction to initiation? The Ways of Compostela , and in particular the famous Via Podiensis which follows the route of the GR 65 from Puy en Velay in Auvergne, should inspire you. Large spaces, beautiful encounters and joyful tables in stopover gites cultivating conviviality will put you in your legs, especially if the guide Miam Miam Dodo, bible of the organized pilgrim, is slipped in your bag.
Some other routes of high renown? The Via Alpina, the Chemin de Stevenson, to peck with or without a donkey, the extraordinary GR 20 in Corsica or the tonic GR 34 in Brittany, where you hardly ever see customs officers, are sure values. Nature of the route, difficulty, duration … To facilitate the choice, the French Hiking Federation, which is responsible for the maintenance of the GR and PR (Small hikes marked in yellow), publishes under several collections of precious topo-guides teeming with information. Let’s go….
River tourism: take the plunge
Ready to cast off the moorings of everyday life? To disconnect from the slow rhythm of peaceful navigation, under green foliage, rocked by the lapping of the water? With its beautiful rivers, its majestic rivers, its rows of canals, France invites navigation. 8,500 kilometers of navigable waterways, of which 6,700 are marked Voies navigables de France, even make it the European champion of the largest river network. Then immediately embark for a long tracking shot of greenery dotted with elegant castles, small picturesque villages, flowery lock houses and beautiful port cities.
On the canals of the Rhône, Burgundy or the Midi, at a cruising speed of 7km / hour, travel by barge, these motorized houseboats (without a license), make holidays, with family or friends, look like a long quiet river … But you have to set foot on land to also taste “river” tourism. Combine gentle navigation with truant pedals, on the ViaRhôna and the Loire à Vélo for example, hiking or horseback riding on the towpaths, discovery of heritage, gastronomy and local know-how, this is the good idea!