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France en Velo, by John Walsh and Hannah Reynolds

Looking for an epic adventure on two wheels in France? John Walsh and Hannah Reynolds have some suggestions for you.

France en Velo Title: France En Velo - The Ultimate Cycling Journey From Channel To Med - St-Malo To Nice
Authors: John Walsh and Hannah Reynolds
Publisher: Wild Things Publishing
Year: 2014
Pages: 256
What it is: Suggested cycling routes in France between St-Malo and Nice
Strengths: Elegantly produced, well laid out
Weaknesses: As with all these guidebooks, there is room to debate what has been included and what has been excluded

Come the two weeks of the year in which you get to enjoy a break from the dark Satanic mill in which you currently complete your wage slavery do you:

a) Choose to stay in bed, duvet pulled up to your chin and your laptop set to Netflix?

b) Fly away to somewhere hot and lounge by the pool all day long drinking cocktails?

c) Choose to tackle some epic adventure that in days of yore would have left men like Ernest Shackleton and Edmund Hillary feeling all weak at the knees and crying for their mummy?

Most sensible people choose option A or B, but it is remarkable - to me anyway - how many people choose the epic adventure as a way of relaxing. Short of gifting such people a prefrontal lobotomy for Christmas, I guess the next best thing you can do is indulge their madness and try to guide them to do something you might even half approve of. Such as going on a cycling adventure in France and taking in parts of the country made familiar by the Tour de France (reasons for watching the Tour: men with shaved legs - 12%; crashes - 7%; bike racing 2%; scenery - 79%).

John Walsh and Hannah Reynolds's France en Velo serves up an epic adventure: a sixteen-hundred kilometre trip from France's Atlantic coastline down to the Côte d'Azur crossing 19 départments, taking the rider down through St-Malo, Brittany, the Loire, Poitou-Charentes, the Dordogne, Lot, Cévennes-Ardèche, Rhône, and Provence before reaching Nice.

France en Velo

St-Malo to Nice

For the purpose of the book those sixteen hundred kilometres have been broken down into thirty-two stages ranging in length from thirty- to sixty-something kilometres. The idea is for the user - the adventurer - to set their own limits, adding a couple or more 'stages' together if they fell like getting to Nice quickly, or pootering along at a sedate pace. And if the adventurer doesn't feel like taking on the route alone and unaided, they can always sign up to one of Saddle Skedaddle's organised bike tours, France en Velo serving as an advertisement of sorts.

Stage From To Miles Km Metres
1 St-Malo Pontorson 38 61 220
2 Pontorson Fougères 23 37 230
3 Fougères Vitré 19 30 104
4 Vitré Craon 25 41 129
Pays de la Loire
5 Craon Chalonnes-sur-Loire 39 62 172
6 Chalonnes-sur-Loire Brissac-Quincé 22 36 124
7 Brissac-Quincé Fontevraud-l'Abbaye 34 54 287
8 Fontevraud-l'Abbaye Parthenay 48 77 331
9 Parthenay Lusignan 27 43 116
10 Lusignan L'Isle-Jourdain 35 56 153
11 L'Isle-Jourdain Rochechouart 37 60 394
12 Rochechouart Brantôme 39 62 409
13 Brantôme Hautefort 32 52 443
14 Hautefort Les Eyzies-de-Tayac 36 58 444
15 Les Eyzies-de-Tayac Souillac 34 54 413
16 Souillac Gramat 28 45 613
17 Gramat Figeac 28 45 201
18 Figeac Entraygues-sur-Truyère 36 58 433
19 Entraygues-sur-Truyère St-Geniez d'Olt 33 53 554
20 St-Geniez d'Olt Mende 41 66 960
21 Mende Villefort 35 57 532
22 Villefort Pont d'Arc 40 64 476
23 Pont d'Arc Aiguèze 22 35 483
24 Aiguèze Châteauneuf-du-Pape 29 46 114
25 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Villes-sur-Auzon 24 38 294
Provence: Pays du Ventoux
26 Villes-sur-Auzon Sault 19 30 653
Le Mont Ventoux 16 26 1,152
27 Sault Forcalquier 33 53 310
28 Forcalquier Moustiers-Ste-Marie 37 60 629
Provence: Alpes-Maritimes
29 Moustiers-Ste-Marie Balcons de la Mescla 25 40 932
30 Balcons de la Mescla Castellane 25 41 361
31 Castellane Gréolières 29 46 628
32 Gréolières Nice 28 45 118

The routes chosen offer opportunities to follow in the tracks of the Tour, explore lost lanes, find quiet places to go swimming, visit fortresses and big houses, taste the local alcoholic beverages, indulge in local cuisine, and burn off all the excess calories on some challenging climbs. Pretty much, there's something for everyone somewhere along the route.

France en Velo

Pont d'Arc

Published by the same people who put Jack Thurston's Lost Lanes on bookshop shelves France en Velo is elegantly laid out, text, photographs and graphics mixing to tell the would-be adventurer all they are likely to need to know about the proposed route (what to see, how to get there and all that stuff).

France en Velo