Laid back and off the beaten track
Some of Europe's best riding is to be found in France – and I've been exploring the roads there for more than 30 years. While I love the usual riding hotspots like the Alps and Pyrenees, I've found brilliant riding all over the country. This tour brings together my favourite less-well-known areas – with one or two must-see destinations along the way. There's something for everyone, with great towns and villages to stop in, ancient castles and cathedrals to visit, even some Roman ruins. It takes in mountains, gorges, rolling hills and fragrant forests – some of the best scenery in France.
More than anything, this trip is about getting the most out of the bike, packing in mile after mile of fabulous roads, with the emphasis on relaxed and flowing riding. It's broken down into easily managed daily chunks that would suit pillion couples or groups of riders. Whether it's your first trip to France or you've worn out all the usual destinations, it's a trip that will surprise and delight with superb roads and wonderful places to visit.
What’s included on the route? Each day’s route has recommended places to stop for coffee in the morning and afternoon, a suggested lunch stop and planned fuel stops. Tourist attractions along the way are highlighted, so you can pick which to visit.
How long is each day’s ride? Each leg of the tour is planned to be a full day in the saddle: check-out of the hotel and on the road at 9-9:30am, getting to the next location at 5:30-6pm. That's with stops for coffee and lunch: the aim is for this to be a relaxed ride. Saddle-time rating: five out of 10.
What are the highlights? The further south the trip goes, the more memorable the riding becomes – with amazing roads through the Limousin, the Dordogne, the Tarn Gorges, the Cevennes, the Ardeche and the Auvergne. Every day includes at least one stretch that could make it onto your best-road-ever shortlist. But this tour is about much more than just sitting in the saddle. There's loads to see as well so whether you like historic castles, modern monuments, World War II sites or natural splendour, you're spoilt for choice. For many people, the Millau Viaduct is a stand-out site, but you might prefer the Roman arena in Nimes or the splendour of the chateaux on the Loire.
Why eight days? The tour is designed to fit in with one week off work: set off on Saturday morning, return the following Sunday afternoon. With eight riding days, there's time for a rest day in the location of your choice for sightseeing (or riding more in one particular area). The aim is for maximum flexibility.
How is it supplied? You can simply download the GPX files and install them in your sat nav. Garmin or BMW Navigator users should download the complete file; TomTom users (or riders using a GPX compatible phone app like Calimoto, Scenic or MyRouteApp Navigator) should download the individual files. However, I strongly recommend getting the tour pack of day-by-day route notes and marked-up maps (not sold separately).
Download the tour
Garmin/BMW users should download the complete-route file. Individual day files should be downloaded for TomTom or GPX-compatible phone apps.