A Months Cycle Tour Adventure in France (June-July 2011)

Two Members of Congleton Cycling Club, Denise and Dave Hurst, plus two friends set off with bikes and luggage from Macclesfield by train to Dover and boarded the ferry to Calais. Here is their report:

“On arrival in Calais, we jumped on the bikes and with luggage firmly fixed on the rear panniers, started an eleven day journey to Orange, staying in B&B’s and small hotels. From Calais we travelled via Arras, Soissons, Vitry-le-François, Montbard, Tournus, Bligny-sur-Ouche, Lyon, Vaison-la-Romaine to Orange. By cycling mostly on “B-Roads”, old “A-Roads” and lanes, we passed through many interesting towns and villages, where we were always made welcome by the locals. Near Orange, we joined up with sixteen other cyclists on a pre-arranged CTC tour where we toured through Provence and the Southern Alps. We were blessed with fantastic weather, only having rain on approx. 1½ days; the rest of the time was clear and sunny, often 30ºC plus. This made riding through Provence especially delightful as all the lavender and sunflowers were in full bloom.”

“Once again, on this Tour, still carrying our own luggage, we stayed in small provincial hotels, often two or more nights in some locations. Travelling to Buis-les-Baronnies, Sisteron, Turriers, Barcelonette, Guillaumes, Castellane, Oraison to Aurel. During the tour, we passed through many of the legendary gorges such as Gorges du Cians, and Daluis, via the Fortress of Entrevaux and the Grand Canyon du Verdon and many more. These locations not only have great scenic interest but are also rich in history and geology. But as we all know; going down also means going up – a bit contradictory but nevertheless, a fact. We thereby ended up climbing many Cols such as: Col des Sagnes, the Col d’Allos and the testing but rewarding Col de la Cayolle, and many more – all with fantastic panoramas and well worth the effort.”

“On some of the free days, Dave and Denise took time out to cycle some of the most infamous mountain climbs in the area, such as, Mont Columbis near Turriers, plus the famous Cime de la Bonnette and the mighty Mont Ventoux which we first climbed in 2010 with Mary Renshaw of CCC and other friends. We spent our last night in Aurel with our CTC touring friends, with a great meal, plenty of wine and good humour. The following morning we departed Aurel and cycled to Nimes airport, found an overnight stop near to. Next morning, we packed our bikes in special polythene bags and flew back to Liverpool and home.
Our comments: Great Holiday / Great Cycling / Great People – “The French” – who were after all our hosts / Great Weather / Great Food and Wine. Cycling Statistics: Approx. 1380 miles; approx. 20,690 metres climbed on marked Cols and mountains.”

“Our Advice: Get on yer bike and ride. A cycling holiday will be one you will enjoy – and remember more than most – and you can tailor and adapt to suit yourselves, before and during your time away. We found the D.I.Y approach good fun and good value. Go on the net, book some B&B’s and arm yourselves with good maps, a GPS, a phone and off you go. Don’t travel too many miles / km’s each day between stay-overs; give yourselves time to relax and chill-out. Get to know and enjoy the country you’re travelling in, and of course the people. Plus, don’t forget you make all the decisions of when and where to go.
Happy cycling, anywhere, anytime!”