Imagine seeing the French countryside from the seat of a road bike. You gaze out at the mist-covered Côtes de Nuits vineyards, travel past the Burgundy canal and the famous Hôtel Dieu. Inspiration fills you as you pedal along pastoral scenes and into French cities.
Visiting France is one thing. Biking France is quite another.
“One thing that’s nice about self-guided tours is people can do their own thing,” says Loren Siekman, president of Discover France, a bike tour and active vacation company. “Customers can go and come anytime they want. People really enjoy having that freedom.”
For your tour, you’ll be equipped with all the info and gadgets you need to be a first-rate solo adventurer. And that means if you want to stay a little longer to learn about the history of the abbey church in Cîteaux, then you don’t have to frantically pedal back to a meeting point like a gargoyle out of you-know-where. And with a slew of top hotels and restaurants in its arsenal, Discover France takes care of reservations for you, while making sure your luggage gets from where you’ve been to where you’re going.
Siekman says his company’s most popular tour is the Burgundy Gastronomy and Wine excursion. Food and wine—“those are two of the biggest reasons people come to France,” he says. This 30- to 35-mile-a-day trip takes visitors on back roads through the French countryside, and Siekman says clients often return praising the laid-back, low-stress French lifestyle. “I often hear about the quality of life and how the French have it figured out—taking the time to appreciate the art of living,” he says, adding that clients are often envious of the French attitude and are inspired to make changes to lighten their own busy lives.
Biking the Purple Mountain Majesties
Want something closer to home? Here are some recommendations for U.S. treks:
> Discover Maine’s Gold Coast with a tour from Summer Feet Cycling. This excursion also includes kayaking and sailing as you make your way through fishing villages, famous towns and Acadia National Park, while dining on lobster and fresh seafood and taking in the picturesque coast.
> Experience Glacier National Park in Montana on an intermediate to advanced five-day/four-night trip that starts and ends in Whitefish. Considered one of the best ways to experience the glacial lakes and jagged mountain peaks, this trail will take you through the beauty and diversity of the park, including travel on the well-known Going to the Sun Road, cycling through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and stopping in at historic hotels.
> Arrive in Arizona for a bike tour that takes off from Tucson and travels through the Saguaro National Park, where cacti can reach 50 feet high and 250 years old. Pedal on to the Mission San Xavier del Bac, which dates back to the 1700s, before continuing to Tombstone, the setting of the famous OK Corral shootout and home to the haunted Birdcage Theatre and plenty of treasure hunting.