Bike Across France
The Award-Winning Addition to Ciclismo Classico’s “Bike Across” Collection
It’s time to discover a new world! The three regions of France, Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillion, in the southwest, rival the best of Italy for its storied history, thousand castles, lush green scenery, stone villages, excellent wines, ancient art, prehistoric sites, generous people, and hearty provincial cuisine. Explore it with us on this deliciously offbeat itinerary.
On this journey we cycle along country lanes and discover that every trail reveals a fantastic scene from traditional France: timeless villages of golden stone, hilltop castles shining like visions from a medieval tale, and towering oak forests where a knight on a white horse might not look out of place. The full cultural immersion in this corner of France is facilitated by the amazing enchanting towns visited and included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site List, like Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux area and Albi and Carcassonne. Bergerac zone and Sarlat represent also another great surprise if you have never been in the area called “Perigord,” situated in the Dordogne Departement.
The list of activities range from two wine tastings, a canoe ride on the Dordogne river, a visit to the Museum of Toulouse Lautrec in Albi and the guided visits of Castelnaud Castle, prehistoric site of Cap Blanc in Dordogne and historic center and fortress of Carcassonne.
This tour has been beautifully tailored to peel back the layers of history, while savoring the gastronomy and the French life style in the southwest, also from the vantage point of our saddle to really feel immersed in the nature, looking for the right rhythm to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience in this unforgettable corner of Europe.
Allez, allez les cyclistes!
- Named one of National Geographic Traveler’s Top 50 Tours of a Lifetime
- Discover five Unesco World Heritage sites: Saint Emilion, Vezere Valley, Albi and Carcassonne fortress and Canal du Midi
- Explore by bike the Natural parks of Causses du Quercy and of Haut Languedoc
- Truly discover the road less traveled in the rural idyll of the three regions of Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillion
- Enjoy the cultural differences of six Departments: Gironde, Dordogne, Lot, Tarn et Garonne, Tarn and Aude
- Savor the wines of four major wine areas visited on tour: Bordeaux, Bergerac, Cahors, Gaillac
- Learn about prehistoric sites of Cap Blanc and Medieval Castelnaud Castle in Dordogne
- Visit the historical town of Carcassonne and the museum of Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi
- Stay in charming hotels, stunning castles and classic properties
- If it is market day feel like a local in Sarlat discovering the local fresh produce
- Tranquil canoe ride on the Dordogne river
Day by Day
Saint-Emilion warm up ride
Today we meet in the lobby of our hotel at 12:30pm for introductions and a light lunch followed by a ride through the country farmlands and vineyards. Our route takes us through nearby villages and gives a good overview of the local terrain and ambiance. The Ancient Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion is an outstanding example of an historic vineyard landscape that has survived intact and in activity to the present day. In the evening, settle into our beautiful hotel and sample one of the superb reds of the area.
Our ride unfolds along famous vineyards and quiet landscapes and ends near Bergerac, a gem of well preserved historical homes and churches. The local appellation wines are among the top rated in the whole Bordeaux area, such as “Pecharmant” which in the local Occitan dialect means “nice hill.” Surely we we'll not miss a sip of this noble nectar during dinner. Our hotel is a charming Manor immersed in the countryside and in more than 25 acres of vineyards; other amenities include an outdoor heated swimming pool, a sauna and a “petanque” field to play bocce in the French style!
Sarlat and Cap Blanc
Upon entering the heart of Périgord Noir, a region famous for its wealth of walnut trees and truffles, you will undoubtedly marvel at its natural splendor, as well as that of the castles which dot it. Today we’ll be riding in the Vézère Valley, one of the UNESCO Sites of this area. To help us on our journey into the past we will meet the local guide Bart for a visit to Cap Blanc, the only site of prehistoric sculpture that isstill open to the public. Our final destination today is Sarlat-la-Caneda, the charming capital of Périgord Noir and a perfect example of a well preserved Medieval town.
Vitrac: Canoe trip
Sarlat is also famous for the local market which is weekly on Wendesday and Saturday: on this tour we have been able to set dates that, almost in all our departures, happen to be in those days in Sarlat. Today we have also a beautiful, tranquil and with no-rapids canoe trip down the Dordogne River to see all that the region has to offer. Lunch will be a CC picnic on the banks of the river in the imposing shadow of Castelnaud castle. After lunch we climb up the hill for a guided tour of the castle itself which will give us an insight into the historical significance it holds. Before dinner there will be more time for relaxation, more visiting or simply a nap!
Chateau de Mercues
If it is market day why not taking a stroll in town and live like a local for an hour or so? Today's ride will lead us onto the Quercy region, in the department of Lot. This area is known for its authenticity. Still basically undiscovered by the public at large, this region is also known as ‘the land of fairy-tales’ thanks to its exquisite, picturesque spots, beautiful architectural buildings and authentic farmhouses with hundreds of stone walls. Our ride ends near the town of Cahors, in the beautiful Chateau de Mercues. Before dinner we’ll enjoy a wine tasting and visit to the Chateau’s cellar to discover more the robust and full-bodied Cahors wine, featuring the Malbec grape widely grown here.
The route we will take, winds its way through well-kept countryside, beautiful farmlands, and pastures of the area. The Tarn River winds its way through a quite area as we head towards the historic town of Albi, a Unesco World Heritage Site and the ancient capital of the Cathars. Albi is also home to the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in France and the Pont Vieux, a 1000-year-old bridge that is still in use today.
In the morning we will have a chance to enjoy some free time in town visiting the museum of Toulouse Lautrec, or the huge cathedral in the center, explore the narrow alleys in the oldest part of town, or take great shots of the Pont View on the river Tarn. A late morning ride today winds its way through a variety of settings, from dense forests to granite cliffs to pastures in the quiet and pristine Park of Haut Languedoc. Our very charming hotel is in the center of the lesser-known town of Castres, which is believed to have been founded in AD 647, possibly on the site of an old Roman fort (castrum).
On todays’ ride we discover the forest of the black Mount on a spectacular 6-mi climb at about between 4-6% average grade, followed by a breathtaking view of the Pyrenees in the distance en route to our final destination: the town of Carcassonne. Founded by the Visigothsin the fifth century on the village previously fortified by Romans, this quaint town features a fortress, which was thoroughly restored in 1853 by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, and was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sitesin 1997.
Loop to Limoux
Enjoy a final parade through the countryside of the enchanting Languedoc-Rouissillion region, heading towards the small town of Limoux. Immerse yourself in the quiet remote atmosphere of the southwest of France and don’t miss to enjoy the view of the Canal du Midi which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This masterpiece was built in the 17th century to serve as a shortcut between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, connecting the Canal de Garonne to the canal du Midi which goes from Toulouse to the Mediterranean, passing by Carcassonne.
After breakfast, we have a 5-min group shuttle around 9am to the Carcassonne train station to make your next connections or to extend your stay in the area.
- Transfers from the end of tour
- Bike rental equipped with odometer, map case, handlebar and seat bags and bike pump
- Ciclismo jersey and water bottle
On The Tour
- Daily Cycling Clinics & One-on-One Coaching
- 3 guided visits: prehistoric site of Cap Blanc, Castelnaud Castle and the historical town of Carcassonne
- Canoe ride on the Dordogne river
- Full Van Support and 2 Informative Guides
Accommodations & Meals
- All accommodations
- 7 Dinners, 2 Lunches & All Breakfasts
- 2 Wine Tastings