November 29, 2011

France Resources: Websites

Discovering that this site is sometimes used to help plan trips in France, I put together a list of internet resources for cycling there. People often ask me how I plan a solo cycling trip: they usually travel with a group, sag supported. And many people ask me about traveling as a solo woman cyclist. Here are my resources. The list is based on my bookmarked sites, but unfortunately, I remember some sites that I can't find again. Although I tend to use sites in French, I tried to locate and include the English language version.

Categories are tricky. Many regional and town sites will list lodging possibilities. You will find those under regional sites, not under lodging. These regional sites can be a wealth of information.

That said, when planning a trip, I decide what I want to see and where I want to go. Then take a  look at my Michelin Maps to decide the best route. After I have a route I find places to stay. That’s it in a nutshell. It's pretty simple, but it's not a fast process.

I'll add to this list as I find new sites and welcome corrections and suggestions for additions. Just put them in the comments or email me!


Communications: Telephone & Wifi
Useful information for internet access.

I bought a European phone from them before my first trip, and for each trip after that have purchased service.


Cultural Venues




Cycling Sites
The content is mixed here: routes, guided trips, other information.

Suggested touring routes and things to do, places to stay along the way.

Just what its name says.

Journals, articles, tips. I prefer Trento's format, but there is also good content here. Check both places if looking for ideas.

The UK’s national cyclist organization. Packing tips for bikes and more.

Do not miss Gerry Patterson's site if you will be in the Languedoc, or are considering the Languedoc. It is a fabulous site, and I am not telling you that only because I have guest written a tiny bit.

Mr. Patterson Goes to Languedoc. Excellent site for Languedoc, companion to Cycling Languedoc, above.

http://www.etoile.fr/fr/velo.htm 
Routes in the Cevennes

Resources, advice and stories.

Information on the high passes of the Pyrenees. Interactive.

www.pedaldancer.com
Super site, especially for the  posts on travelling in France and the Tour de France.

http://www.provence-cycling.co.uk/home/advice-and-good-practices/pro-bicycle-policy-in-vaucluse.aspx
Cycling routes and resources in Provence.

I've used this site primarily for their well-organized descriptive material about Pyreneean cols, but have frequently heard that it is a great organization.

A wealth of trip reports from all,over the world, and some articles also. Good for inspirations and ideas. Definitely aimed at touring, not racing.

Excellent resource for planning a trip in the Cevennes.

Paddy Sweeney's cycling blog, full of his photos and info on the Pyrenees. Be sure to look if you may be in the Pyrenees.

Cycling routes in the Aquitaine. I noticed the signs occasionally along my route during my Pyrenees trip and they were always on good riding roads. Found the site after I returned to the U.S.

Italian site, fabulous for information on climbs world-wide.

The  cycling  page of the official French government tourist office. It includes a long list of web resources.


Guides & Visitor Information 
www.bonjourlafrance.com/travel.htm
Practical, basic info including maps showing  tourist bureau locations by town or city.

www.routard.com
French travel guide. Available in paper in bookstores and very handy.You may see their sign in lodging windows; I have had good luck at those establishments.
A web guide to sports and nature by region.


Language Schools
Worldwide, classes offered in many cities. This is the Paris site.

Many reputable language schools carry the FLE designation. Courses vary in length and intensity. They can often link students up with inexpensive lodging.


Lodging
Chambres d'hotes (B&Bs) (includes gites)




Camping, including gites and chambres d'hotes on farms


Hotels



Maps & Route Planning
I buy the yellow, 300-series maps from them. They have been reliable and shipped quickly.

Helpful for distances and a general sense of climbs. I understand the mileage to be more accurate than altitude gains.

Google Earth
Don't forget it, a good free resource. Street view can sometimes be helpful. It once showed me a busy road, no shoulder and a guard rail tight on the roadway. Didn't look like happy riding to me.


Miscellaneous


Park, Regional, Town and Departmental Sites
Don't forget to google the town's you will be visiting to find tourist bureaus, museums, businesses, etc. They include a tremendous amount of useful information. If you can get around in French try google.fr.


Cevennes National Park site. 




www.lespyrenees.net/en/
Pyrenees National Park site.






Trains & Planes




Regional trains. Easy to use with bicycles.



French rail site.


Weather
Current weather and forecasts.

If it is possible to generalize about weather based on historical data, they will give you the info. Go to weather history.


















2 comments:

  1. Hi Suze, great to read your stuff! I am planning a trip from London to Italy for next year, and for the most part I will be travelling through France. I was wondering if you had any info on 'aire naturelle de camping'? I'm looking to the whole thing on a bit of a budget and a free pitch where I can get it is going to help out a lot.

    Thanks!
    Will

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Will, Thanks for your note! I think if you go to google.fr and put in "aire naturelle de camping" you will get a good list. It's not free, but you might find good inexpensive camping at the camping on the farm site: www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com/en/

    The village and town sites are also often low-cost, and many towns have campgrounds.

    I haven't used it, but warmshowers.org offers free reciprocal lodging for cyclists ... you need to join, I think. As far as stealth camping goes, I don't have any real experience, the only free camping I did was at the recommendation of local residents!

    Good luck and have fun!

    ReplyDelete

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