La Grande Randonnée
A fabulous trip that will take you to some of the most beautiful areas in France in the 2 weeks leading up to the 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris. The cycling will be a mix of the challenging and easy with plenty of time scheduled to relax and take in the scenery along the way. Your non riding partners are welcome to join the tour as the trip has been designed with plenty of sightseeing opportunities off the bike. Starting with us collecting you (and your bike!) at Paris CDG airport and finishing at the Australian PBP hotel in Versailles a few days before the big event, all you have to do is turn up and enjoy yourself!
Duration:13 days (12 nights)
Dates:Sunday 7 August to Friday19 August, 2011
Start: Paris Finish: Paris
Accommodation: Selected quality 3 star hotels
Cost: AUD$3975.00 per person twin share.
Deposit: AUD $1000.00
Note: All trip costs are per person, not including airfare and based on two persons per room. Single supplement if you wish to have a room on your own is $AUD780.
- Visit the Loire Valley and Chateau Chenonceau
- Ride the famous cols of the Pyrenees
- Cycling through the Bordeaux vineyards
- Visit the most beautiful villages in France
- Enjoy the cities of Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse
- Superb riding in the Dordogne and Lot river valleys
Sunday, 7 August 2011
Welcome to Paris. On arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport we will meet you and transfer you to our hotel in central Paris. Our first job for the day is to assemble your bike before we head off on a ride later in the day to stretch your legs after your long flight to France. You may choose of course to arrive a day or two early and spend some time sightseeing in Paris before we head off on our “randonée” around France.
As it’s Sunday many of the streets of Paris are closed to cars and the city belongs to cyclists (and skateboarders). From the hotel we will cross the Seine to Notre Dame cathedral. From then continue along the river past the Louvre and down to the Eiffel Tower, before returning to the hotel later in the afternoon. Tonight we will enjoy a welcome dinner in the pleasant surroundings of Bercy village.
Monday, 8 August 2011
Paris to Chateauroux
This morning we head out of Paris early on our journey south and tonight’s destination of Chateauroux, an historic city 270kms south of Paris. Our first stop today will be the historic town of Bourges where we can have lunch and explore the medieval centre. The main sights you might like to see today are Bourge’s magnificent 13th century cathedral, or the Palais Jacques Cour, a fine example of a gothic mansion built for a local nobleman who was part of the court of King Charles. After lunch we will commence our first ride and as it’s flat country we can easily fit in a longer ride today with a pleasant 82 km route from Bourges to our hotel in Chateauroux.
Tonight we will have dinner at our hotel and refuel for tomorrow’s ride through the vineyards of Bordeaux.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
We continue our journey south towards the Pyrenees today but will take a 2 night break in the town of Libourne, situated between the city of Bordeaux and the regions famous vineyards. We will drive to the Unesco World Heritage site of the town of Saint-Émilion in one of the principal red wine areas of Bordeaux. We’ll enjoy lunch in this delightful town, with the chance to purchase sample some of the local wines in one of the town’s many wine merchants
After lunch we will head off on a ride around the vineyard clad hills to our hotel in Libourne. This is a very scenic ride with wonderful views and plenty of hills to provide a challenge and get you used to what you’ve got coming up during PBP. Tonight is free in Libourne to eat in one of the local restaurants.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
This morning we’ll take a ride north of Libourne and cross the Dordogne river and up on to the quiet roads through the wine villages of Bordeaux. Like most of our rides there will be a few hills, but little traffic apart from the odd tractor and farmer in his beat up old Renault van. It’s one of the delights of cycling in France that even near a large city like Bordeaux there are rides that take you back in time and amaze you with their beauty.
This afternoon we will head by coach into the city of Bordeaux. The afternoon and evening will be free to explore this elegant city as we will remain in Bordeaux for dinner this evening. The city centre is lined with impressive 18th century architecture, reminiscent in many ways of Paris, although with a population of just over one million it is a much easier city to explore on foot. Worth checking out are the old wine warehouses along the river Garonne, as well as the 1.2 km long pedestrian mall of Rue St Catherine which is supposedly the longest shopping street in Europe.
Thursday, 11 August 2011
To the Pyrenees
We will leave Libourne this morning and continue on to the Pyrenees. We’ll spend the next 3 nights in the famous pilgrimage city of Lourdes, which is ideally located in a beautiful valley between some of the most famous climbs of the Tour de France. Our hotel is a newly renovated apartment style building close to the river Gave in a quiet location. Lourdes was once a quiet Pyrenean village until in 1858 Bernadette Subirous had her 18 apparitions of our Lady of Lourdes that brought the town its fame. Today although still a modest size town, Lourdes has more hotels than any city outside of Paris and is one of the most visited sites in the country.
This afternoon we will head up the very good valley bike path to the town of Argeles-Gazost and up in to the hills around the base of the Hautacam ski resort, taking a loop through quiet villages that will eventually return us to Lourdes. It’s a lovely ride that will leave us with plenty of energy for tomorrow’s big challenge of Col d’Aubisque.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Col du Soulor and Col d’Aubisque
Today we have the chance to ride one of the most scenic routes in the Pyrenees that will take us to the Col du Soulor and Col d’Aubisque, two high Pyrenees passes that feature regularly in the Tour de France. From Lourdes we travel up the valley to Argeles-Gazost where we start the climb up to Col du Soulor. It’s a long steady climb with a few nice villages along the way where we can take a break for coffee and admire the view. Once we reach Col du Soulor you have the option of returning to Lourdes making it an 80km round trip, or continuing on to Col d’Aubisque for a longer 100km ride. The road to Aubisque is spectacular, carved out of the side of the mountain with jaw dropping views to the valley below.
On return to Lourdes the remainder of the day is free to explore Lourdes and it’s many attractions. Apart from the religous sites there is also the castle of Lourdes high above the town, or the funicular railway trip to Pic du Jer.
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Cautarets and Pont d’Espagne
Yesterday was a tough day so we’ve made today a bit easier, so a day to relax, catch up on the postcards and see a bit more of Lourdes. For those wanting a ride today we’ll make it an easy day with a pleasant ride to the town of Cautarets, a pleasant town in the Parc National des Pyrenees. This is another ride you shouldn’t miss if you have the energy as it’s an easy ride of 60km, but if you want a day off the bike you can always choose to travel with the non cyclists in the coach.
For those with even more energy extend your ride with a 20km loop south to Pont d’Espagne, a stone bridge crossing a spectacular narrow gorge close to the border with Spain. Tonight we’ll have a group dinner in a local Italian restaurant for a bit of carbo loading for tomorrow’s challenge of Col du Tourmalet.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Sunday, 14 August 2011
From Tourmalet to Toulouse
This morning we leave the Pyrenees but not before we tackle the highest road in the central Pyrenees, the 2115 meter Col du Tourmalet. You’ve all seen the tv images of this mighty mountain each year on the Tour de France, now is your chance to see what it’s all about. From Lourdes it’s a steady gentle climb to the town of Luz Saint Saveur, where the real climbing starts. It’s 19km to the summit with an average gradient of 7.4%, but we’ve got plenty of time so enjoy the experience. After you’ve taken the obligatory photos at the summit it’s an exhilirating descent down to the spa town of Bagneres-de-Biggore where we’ll meet the coach for the trip to Toulouse.
For those not wanting to tackle Col du Tourmalet there are a couple of options. One is the much easier and very pretty climb from Bagneres to Col d’Aspin. The other is along with the non cyclists visit the town of Bagneres-de-Biggore and maybe a visit to the spa centre for a refreshing bath or massage. After lunch in Bagneres we’ll head off to the city of Toulouse where we spend tonight. Toulouse is one of France’s largest cities with a unique red brick historic city centre earning it the name of “Ville Rose”. It’s also the headquarters of Airbus Industries and the assembly point for the giant A380 Airbus.
Monday, 15 August 2011
Gorges de l’Aveyron
Its farewell to Toulouse this morning and off to explore one of France’s best kept secrets, the Gorges de l’Averyon. From Toulouse it’s a short drive to the small medieval village of Montricoux where we start our ride up the gorge. The great thing about riding in the French gorges is that apart from the dramatic scenery its’ generally flat as you follow the course of ancient rivers and the Gorges de l’Ayveron are no exception. Our destination for lunch is the walled bastide of Cordes-sur-Ciel, a fascinating small town that is ideal for lunch with time to explore the narrow old streets this afternoon, perhaps paying a visit to the museum of sugar and chocolate!
Escaping the heat of the afternoon we’ll travel in the coach to Figeac, where we spend the next two nights in a small riverside hotel. Figeac is a delightful small town with a medieval centre and is famous as the home of Jean-François Champollion, who cracked Egyptian hieroglyphics by deciphering the triple text of the Rosetta Stone. Tonight we will enjoy dinner on the hotel terrace overlooking the Rive Cele.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Enjoy a sleep in this morning as we have an easy but interesting day lined up with a trip to the Dordogne river valley and Rocamadour, situated in a spectacular setting half-way up a cliff. Our ride will be approximately 50 to 60km depending on how we feel, with a few hills along the way to challenge us. Rocamadour is a major pilgrimage site and a staging post on the road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. St Bernard, numerous kings of England and France and thousands of others have crawled up the chapel steps on their knees to pay their respects and seek cures for their illnesses.
This afternoon you can choose to ride back to Figeac if you are still in the mood for more kms, or travel back with the non cyclists in the coach. Tonight is free to eat at one of the small restaurants in the medieval centre of Figeac.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Lot River and St Cirq Lapopie
We begin our journey back towards Paris today and have a special ride planned for this morning. From Figeac we will ride along the Lot river valley to the picture book village of St Cirq laPopie, which is an official “plus beaux” village of France. This is perhaps our favourite ride in France, although it’s hard to choose, but it’s certainly a day to remember. It’s a gentle ride following the river with the cliffs overhanging the narrow road so low that in some places you’ll feel like you need to duck. Approaching St Cirq Lapopie it’s a steep climb from the river up to this hilltop village but it’s worth the effort. After lunch we’ll head off in the coach to the town of Amboise in the Loire Valley.
Amboise is famous for the Clos Lucé manor house where Leonardo da Vinci lived (and ultimately died) at the invitation of King Francis I of France. The narrow streets and riverside setting on the Loire make it a pleasant stop for us. Tonight we will enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Thursday, 18 August 2011
Chateaux of the Loire
Our final day on the road sees us tapering off our riding with a gentle ride in the Loire Valley from Amboise with a visit to one of it’s most famous chateaux, Chenonceau. As everyone will have different plans leading up to PBP you can choose from longer and shorter routes this morning, or have a day off and travel in the coach. Chenonceau is one of the most famous of the Loire chateaux with an interesting history. During ww2 the chateau, which spans the river Cher, was used as a means of smuggling people from occupied France to free France, which was on the other side of the river.
Later this afternoon we will arrive in Versailles for our final night, so we’ll host a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Friday, 19 August 2011
Sadly our tour ends after breakfast this morning, but of course by now your thoughts are elsewhere with the start of PBP in a few days. We hope you’ve enjoyed your trip with us through France and wish you well for upcoming event.
Tour cost is per person twin share and includes:
-Transport throughout by private luxury coach with custom bike trailer.
-Services of experienced tour guides, plus our coach driver.
- Services of support van and driver.
-Transfer on Sunday 7 August from Paris CDG airport to hotel for you and your bike
-12 night’s accommodation, in selected hotels (with private facilities).
-Buffet breakfast daily
-3 course evening meals on 6 nights
-Mechanical assistance with your bike
-Sightseeing as listed
-Detailed itinerary and route maps for each day
-Bikestyle Tours cap and musette bag
- By paying a deposit you are deemed to have accepted our Waiver and Reservation Conditions. If you have any further enquiries please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Don’t forget it is a requirement of Bikestyle Tours that you have Travel Insurance for your trip.
Purchase your International Travel Insurance here.
- * We charge for our trips in Australian Dollars (AUD) and prices shown in other currencies are only approximate. We advise that you check the exchange rate before booking.