The amazing popularity of cycling holidays in France

More and more people are taking to bikes - and are welcome, spending more in many cases than other tourists

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Cycling holidays are growing in popularity in France, making the country the second-most popular destination for cycling tourism after Germany. Cycle routes and grants are also growing.

Trips range from a single afternoon of cycling around a lake to multi-day holidays and long-distance journeys. The popularity comes after the country has sought to invest significantly in cycling overall.

The government’s plan for the national cycling route scheme is aiming to cover 26,115 kilometres by 2030, which would cover 95% of the European routes (Eurovéloroutes) in the country.

By March, the scheme had completed 79.5% of the planned network.

Read more: France to spend €43m to improve cycling paths

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“Local authorities invested €500million in 2019 to boost this sector,” said Véronique Brizon, director general of the nationale federation of tourism organisations, ADN Tourisme.

She added that in 2022, the average number of cyclists on these European routes increased by 11% compared to 2021.

The main routes are the Vélodyssée (its French name), which links Norway to Portugal via France; and Roscoff (Finistère) to Hendaye (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), on the Spanish border.

Tourism boost

In a bid to support the industry, France now has an ‘Accueil vélo (Welcome cyclists)’ label, which is valid for three years.

It can be awarded to tourist offices, hotels, campsites, river ports, and even railway stations that are committed to providing services for cyclists. These include tools for repairs, spaces for secure bike parking, cycling route information, and the provision of a good breakfast for bikers.

So far, 6,400 service providers have been awarded the label.

Cyclists are welcome visitors, as figures show they spend more on average than other travellers, at around €68 per day compared to €55. Cycling tourism in the Loire and Brittany regions in particular has doubled in the past five years.

More companies are latching on the rise, and in May last year, the French company Terres d'Aventure bought Europe's leading cycling tour operator, Austrian company the Eurofun Group.

Increasing numbers of companies now offer cycling tourism trips, and some even include luggage transfers, so that cyclists can enjoy the ride without being weighed down.

“We're seeing the emergence of a new clientele,” said Pascal Gaudin, head of French operator Vélorizons, to Le Monde. “These people who aren't necessarily very sporty, but go to the banks of the Loire, the Canal du Midi or Bourgogne.”

At the other end of the spectrum, more people are doing ‘bikepacking’ trips, in which travellers pack the least amount possible into small bags carried under the handlebars, under the seat, or on the back.

“Before, you often couldn't even find panniers,” said Emmanuel Roche, cycling trip expert. “Nowadays, you might see 10 or 20 different models in the same shop.”

Cycling tourism networks in France

Other networks aimed at cyclists are also growing in popularity in France. These include the Warmshowers website, which is a 186,000-member American site designed to connect cyclists with homeowners who are happy to provide a rest stop.

Other sites include Welcome to My Garden, which offers camping spots to “slow travellers”, and Facebook groups such as DodoCyclo.

Have you been on a cycling holiday in France this year, or are you planning one? Share your experience at

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