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Cycling Around The French Countryside

Updated on January 12, 2016
Princessa profile image

Wendy moved to France in 2005 where she fell in love with everything French

Cycling in France for Fun and Fitness

With all the talk about being ecological, cycling is one of the best options to get from one place to another without contaminating the environment and spending money on fuel. On top of that, cycling is one of the best sports to keep yourself fit.

I learnt to cycle when I was a little girl but I hadn’t cycled for more than 20 years when I decided to start cycling in France a couple of years ago when I moved here. People tell you that once learnt you never forget how to cycle… well, they are right. It took me a few tries before I managed to feel safe on my bike but I did it. I started cycling again and I haven’t stopped since.

Me and My Bicycle


Cycling in France

I live in France, in an area where almost everybody practices some kind of sport. The most common sports are cycling, hiking, walking, hunting, fishing, horse riding and swimming. When I just moved to France my new friends were surprised that I didn’t practice any sport at all. They couldn’t believe it. My retired neighbours were touring the country on their tandem bike, my best friend went out every weekend on all day family rides carrying her baby in a security seat at the back of her bike and another friend with heart trouble went cycling with her professional cyclist husband as often as she could.

Eventually, out of shame I decided to start cycling, but as I was not familiar with the cycling tracks I decided to go along with a private tutor. That happened to be a great idea, as he taught me the rules of the road when cycling and made me discover the fabulous cycling routes around my area. On top of that, I had the incentive of going around with a professional who pushed me to keep going even at the hardest points.

As I grew more confident with my bike I started to wander around alone. I discovered the most beautiful sceneries. I could get lost in the countryside all day long just cycling and admiring the surroundings and the wildlife. Of course it helps that France has many cycle trails actually covering thousands of kilometers that are well marked, providing the perfect atmosphere to experience the country.

Cycling Is Better Than Shopping. Did I Say That?

Last year one of my best friends came to visit me in France. Usually every time she comes we go for a few days shopping spree to Paris and any other big city on the way. Last year however, when she arrived she was amazed to see me so radiant and fit. She asked me if I was dieting –which I wasn’t- or if I was going to the gym –which I wasn’t either. I told her all about my French cycling.

Two days later we were on our way out for a cycling tour of the surroundings. She liked it so much that we spend the whole week cycling. We would start in the morning, cycle to one of the farms around the area, buy some fresh goat’s cheese, homemade butter and local wine. Of course, that involved a long chat with the farmers and very often a visit to their cheese-making facilities and tasting their farm products. The next stop would be the baker for some freshly baked baguette. After that, we would just cycle around, circling mediaeval castles, sleepy villages and the lovely French countryside until we found an appropriate picnic site by the river where we ate, sunbathed and had a siesta before cycling back home.

We enjoyed it so much that we completely forgot about our Paris shopping or any other shopping. Later on, my friend wrote to me to tell me that this was her best ever holiday in France.

Some of the Sites we Cycled

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A favourite pic nic spot, perfect for a quick swim on a hot day!Coming out of one of the home-cheese-making facilitiesA well deserved restWeirds things found while cycling in the countryside...
A favourite pic nic spot, perfect for a quick swim on a hot day!
A favourite pic nic spot, perfect for a quick swim on a hot day! | Source
Coming out of one of the home-cheese-making facilities
Coming out of one of the home-cheese-making facilities
A well deserved rest
A well deserved rest
Weirds things found while cycling in the countryside...
Weirds things found while cycling in the countryside...

Cycling for health and fitness

  • Cycling can burn between 300 to 700 calories per hour.  The amount of calories used depend on different factors such as your weight and size, your speed and the difficulty of your cycling track among many other variables.
  • Riding a bicycle is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. 
  • Minimizes the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • It tones your muscles giving you a slimmer more defined look.  There is a definite shaping, toning and firming of the thighs, calf muscles and the pelvis region.
  • Cycling is claimed to be one of the few exercises that can help reduce cellulite from the thigh region.
  • It builds up stamina.  I personally feel energized all day long when I go for an early morning ride.  You don’t need to cycle for a long time, a 20-30 minute ride would do the trick.
  • Cycling can help you keep your weight down.  Believe me, we were eating a pound of cheese and a whole baguette each for lunch with my friend and we never put on any weight.  
  • Cycling in the countryside alleviates stress, anxiety and depression.  Whenever I am feeling low a good cycle makes me feel as good as new.
  • It is claimed that cycling increases the body's protection against various forms of diabetes and high blood pressure

Everyone Can Cycle

Who can Cycle?

I am no expert, but for what I see around me there are no real age barriers to cycling. I have an 80 year old neighbour who had surgery on both knees and I see him cycling regularly every summer. Another 60 year old neighbour who had a mini heart attack was back on his tandem bike with his wife two months after he came out from hospital. I also see everyday in the village, old ladies taking their bikes as a mean of transport to come to the village and do their shopping. They ride slow but they get there!

Obviously anyone with heart disease or other conditions affecting their activity should, consult their doctor before starting any exercise programme.

Cycling with My little Boy in Royan


Getting Started

  1. You will need a bicycle to suit your needs. There are several types from road bikes, mountain bikes, tandems, vintage and even hybrid bikes. Keep in mind where are you going to use your bike and how often before you buy one.
  2. You might also want to wear a helmet.Currently, in France, there is no legislation which places any requirement on you to actually wear a helmet. Whether you wear a helmet or not is a matter of personal choice.
  3. Cycling gloves. I do recommend wearing cycling gloves otherwise, the rubbing of the handle will harden the skin in your hands.
  4. Bike racing gear. You don’t really need to wear special clothes for the odd cycling trip, but if you are going cycling seriously you will feel more comfortable if you are wearing appropriate cycling clothes.

Family Day Out


Cycling in France and Road Signs

Cyclists must obey traffic signs and signals in the same way as other road users; this includes respecting "no entry", "one way" and "stop" signs.

A last word: Dangers of Cycling

As with any other sport, cycling has its dangers. You take the risk of having a road accident if you are riding on the roads.  At the end of the summer last year I had a cycling accident when I was run over by a car on a country road.  As a result I ended with a broken wrist and ankle.  Seven months later, my ankle has healed but I still have a sore wrist and probably will need surgery to fix it. 

Did I go back on my bike after the accident?  Of course I did!  I was dead scared the first few times but I did.  The boost and the health benefits that you get from cycling are for me worth the effort and the risk.  I wouldn’t give up cycling in France.

You cannot stop me now!
You cannot stop me now!

© 2010 Wendy Iturrizaga

What do you think?

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    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 

      8 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      Limousin is a super place to organise a cycling holiday! yours looks like great fun!

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      Royal Jelly: Yes, for me cycling and walking are the most entertaining and yet efficent forms of exercise.

      Extenze Pills: I find that if I cycle I can eat all the cheese I want without putting on extra weight ;-)

      Extenze: Cycling in France is fantastic, lovely scenary and perfect weather during spring/summer/autumn

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Love to see girls who love cylce. Would love to cylce in France one day.

    • profile image

      Extenze Pills 

      9 years ago

      very encouraging hub, thanks. I am working on my waistline now, and this hub comes just in time. :)

    • profile image

      Royal Jelly 

      9 years ago

      cycling is a great way to get fit if you love the outdoors, fresh air, sunshine then cycling is the best form of exercise for you

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Marcel: yes, cycling is a very good way to see new things that you ordinarily do not see when you pass the same places in a car.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Cycling is fun and enjoyable.

      It could als be combined with diets if you want a healthy exercise and lose weight at the same time.

      Cycling is also a way seeing other things and finding new impressions. They attribute to a healthy life.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Micky Dee: that sounds magnifique, nice to meet a fellow cyclist!

      Barry: I hope you can make it one day. I'll happily show you around.

      Ecercisebike: You will find that cycling in France is very relaxing.

    • profile image

      Exercisebike Critic 

      10 years ago

      Love to see girls who love cylce. Would love to cylce in France one day.

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 

      10 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I would love to cycle in France why I watch Le Tour De France every year. and one day hopefully will make it over there!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      10 years ago

      Nice to see another cyclist. I rode Paris-Brest-Paris back in 1995. I love France and especially cycling in France! The French love the bicycle more than any other country. We rode around Chablis after PBP. Thanks for being a cyclist, promoting cycling, and this hub! Happy trails!

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Jamiehousehusband: I haven't seen the Champagne region yet, but I will soon :) I've been in Glascow and Aberdeen, always loved the vibrancy of Glasgow I was a fan of the Celidhs!

    • Jamiehousehusband profile image


      10 years ago from Derbyshire, UK

      Great hubs! I love France and have been cycling in the Champagne region, Chateau Bellinglise is where we stayed for a few nights and then Rheims. See you have been in Scotland where I am from, my wife Glasgow and myself Aberdeen. My wife's brother has lived in Barcelona for a while and we know there fairly well.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      sabu singh: It was very hard to go back, I needed a lot of pushing and determination. But I am happy I am back cycling, I would have felt defeated if I had stopped then.

      At the end, I believe that if something was meant to happen there is nothing you could have done to stop it. Life is all about risks, even the most innocent things can be risky, one needs to enjoy and take advantage of what the world offers to us.

      Good luck to you and be careful.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Purple Perl: early morning rides are the best. During the school holidays I usually go for a ride early in the morning, before my children wake up. I find it invigorating plus the traffic is light -almost non existent here- at that time and in the countryside you can still catch the wildlife before they hide for the day.

      Mamelody: I would love to cycle in Rio, you are lucky!

      ethel: yes, traffic is a big "off putting". After the accident I had I have been very panicky about traffic but I am steadily going over my fear and growing more confident everyday. I wear a helmet now and also special gloves to support my wrist.

      charlesroring: on you go!

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 

      10 years ago

      Bravo Princessa, to get back to cycling after being knocked down by a car.

      I bought myself an ATB (All-Terrain Bike) a few months ago and couldn't agree more with you that cycling is great exercise and great fun. Ofcourse the risks associated with cycling on Indian roads are far higher than the French countryside, but what the hell? Thank you for sharing.

    • charlesroring profile image


      10 years ago

      After reading this story again, I want to buy a new bicycle.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      10 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I still have my bike but have not ridden for a few years now. I might one day though. I loved cycling you just need to be so wary of other traffic.

    • Mamelody profile image


      10 years ago

      I agree with you that cycling is better than shopping! I lived in Nice, close to Corte A'zur for about a year and I cycled across the coast every weekend. I love to Cycle and here in Rio there are plenty of cyclist although not as much they are in Amsterdam! Great hub hun and actually I'm getting ready to head off for a cycle so thanks for the booster hub!

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Esther Shamsunder 

      10 years ago from Bangalore,India

      WOW! Now I seem to be catching the cycling bug,all thanks to you , Princessa! I also used to cycle as a little girl, and tried it a couple of years ago , and like you said, you do not forget cycling ever. Only problem is I live in Bangalore where the traffic is heavy,I'll have to go for early morning rides.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      hypnodude: thanks for the rating and the stumble. I agree with you, all these people over 60, 70 and even 80 who are going around in their bycicles are fit to do it because they never stop exercising. At least here, for them, riding their bikes is not seen as a sport but as fun and sometimes a means of transport, for those people who like me never learnt to drive a car.

      Pamela, it is a fantastic way to see a country. Touring in a car you isolate yourself from the rest of the world, you are safe in your metal cocoon. Getting out riding a bike you get to see the people and interact with them.

      cashmere: You've done it, you know it works... time to get that bike out again :-)

      Leandraluv: next time you come to Paris you'll be able to get around the city in a bycicle. Recently, the councel has implemented a self help bicycle hire service called Velib. The self-service bicycle hire scheme supports Paris pollution reduction policy and supports the government initiative to support a healthier lifestyle to fight obesity and obesity associated diseases. You can find more here:

      ocbill: It is 100% fun :)

      mbwalz: You are right on your view about sports. Here sports are part of life, they are practiced for fun in your free time because you enjoy them, not because you have to. Thankfully, so far I have not seen that kind of extreme competition that you mention at schools, I hope we never get like that.

    • mbwalz profile image

      MaryBeth Walz 

      10 years ago from Maine

      Great hub and loved the pictures. I get France fever every Spring. Fortunately, I'll be back there this summer,

      When I was 13, my Aunt and Uncle (French) borrowed a 10 speed for me and entered me into a friendly 45 km "race". I think it was my uncle's Doctor friends. It was the first time I'd even been on a 10 speed.

      Wow, was it fabulous, we were not far from Paris. I actually finished and my folks were so proud, the bought me a Motobecane in the Fall. That bike was my best friend until after college.

      I think everyone does sports, partly, because sports aren't done thru schools but through clubs and groups. There's something for everyone and every level. Unlike school, where only the best make the team and everyone but the very best sit on the bench. Sports in school are a lesson in how humiliating your lack of skills are rather than something to do for the pure joy of it.

      Thanks for this great trip down memory lane!

    • ocbill profile image


      10 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      someone already said it, the french countryside, ever so beautiful. I remember the train ride I went on. Just so picturesque. Cycling is fun and enjoyable.

    • Leandraluv profile image


      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I love this hub because recently my husband and I bought bicycles and started riding. We live in Brazil at the moment and everyone here rides bicycles. There is the boardwalk along the long stretch of beach and there's a cycle track so we go riding as a form of exercise and I love it. It's really fun and I too say that I never thought I'd ride a bicycle again - thought it was something from my youth. On another note - I love France! Spent Christmas and New Years there in 2009 and was there in 2006 as well and it's my favorite so far - Paris. I am hoping my husband gets transferred to Paris :-) Great hub thanks for sharing! I like how you listed the benefits of cycling because I was wondering if it really is good compared to walking/running etc.

    • cashmere profile image


      10 years ago from India

      I did a lot of cycling the year I lost 10 kgs...after reading the hub I want to go dust it off and take it out of the garage again. It is fun and yes very healthy for you.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Princess, What a fantastic adventure seeing France on a bike where you can interact with the people and nature. The pictures are beautiful and I know you must have been a picture of health after that type of summer. It sounds like a wonderful time. Great hub.

    • hypnodude profile image


      10 years ago from Italy

      After twenty years of stop a couple of years ago I begun going around with my bicycle again. As you said it's funny, it keeps you healthy and fit, for the moment it's free and it's also great for the environment. If they would only build more bicycle lanes it would be the answer to a lot of issues. Actually when I see someone above 60 going around with their bicycle my thought is that they are more than 60 because they use a bicycle. And Princessa, the pictures are simply great.

      Rated and stumbled. :)

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      BkCreative: thank you. I like to write about the things I have "tried & tested". I am happy you enjoy visiting my pages.

      LRobbins: It is a great way to see a place. I am amazed at all the things I hadn't noticed about the same places when I passed by in a car. When you are cycling, you get the time to actually see things and enjoy them much more.

      artrush73: I think it depends on your level of fitness and of course on the time you want to spend visiting places. As a guide I can tell you that my retired neighbours do every summer a one month cycling tour of France, last year they completed bordering half of the country in one month. To train themselves before their cycling holiday they cycle between 50 to 100km per day.

    • artrush73 profile image


      10 years ago

      Great Hub, thanks for sharing :) If you would get on a bike, how long do you think it would take to travel across France? I love long rides.

    • LRobbins profile image


      10 years ago from Germany

      This looks like an amazing way to see the country, get off the beaten path and get some exercise. This would be so much fun, thanks for sharing your adventures and for the idea.

    • BkCreative profile image


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I would love to do this. Thanks for the idea. I love your athletic spirit and I love that you do all the things that you write about. Great stuff!

      Always glad to read about your adventures!

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      prettydarkhorse: I really enjoy cycling and it makes me feel great, full of energy. Maybe we'll cycle toguether one day :)

      Patty: Thanks for the thumbs up :) It is a big incentive to get out cycling early in the morning when I know that if I am lucky I'll come across some deer!

      Wanderlust: There are plenty of cycling holidays for the French countryside and now the trend is also invading big cities including Paris, where you can tour the city of lights riding a bike.

      H P Roychoudhury: You are welcome. I certainly do my bit. I don't drive at all -I don't have a driving permit- so I cycle everywhere.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      10 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Cycling is good to win over distance but also help indirectly to keep the atmosphere, carbondioxide free. Thanks for sharing.

    • Wanderlust profile image


      10 years ago from New York City

      French countryside - what can be more beautiful? Always wanted to explore it! Maybe on a bicycle one day!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Now I want to live in France, too. Thumbs Up!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      10 years ago from US

      cycling is fun and many health benefits! and yes it is better than shopping hehe! beautiful pics Madam Princessa! specially with your pic there, GO!! Now I want to go biking as well!


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