This road cycling holiday in France epitomises the 'spiritual home of cycling'. The French love affair with the bike began in 1861 when Ernest Michaux and his son invented and manufactured the first pedal and crank; and soon the modern bicycle was born. Very rapidly, cycling caught on around the country, and indeed, the rest of the world.
Cycling wasn’t only a means of transport to the French; it became a leisure pastime and then a popular sport. On 31st May 1903, a mere 42 years later, 15 men set off on the very first Tour de France. The rest, as they say, is history. Since those early days there has never been a more appropriate destination for a cyclist to visit; there simply is no better way to appreciate the home of the bicycle than pedalling through this beautiful country.
Skedaddle’s 'Channel to Med' odyssey takes us from Brittany’s St Malo shoreline and doesn’t stop until we reach the glamourous and warm Mediterranean waters of Nice on the French Riviera. Our journey of more than 950 miles takes us through no fewer than 19 of France’s regional départements as we ride into some of the country’s most striking and dramatic landscapes, discovering the true heart of rural France.
Passing through a patchwork of subtle and striking changes in terrain and landscape this is a route of two distinct halves. We begin by hugging the Brittany coastline, momentarily flirting with Normandy, and seeing the iconic Mont St Michel before heading south to the banks of France’s longest river, the Loire. After crossing the wheat fields and grazing land of Poitou-Charentes, we reach the rolling hills of the Dordogne.
On leaving the Dordogne we turn a corner. The terrain changes as hills become ever more prominent, slowly giving way to mountainous terrain and steep sided valleys; there is also a change in climate and terroir. The route hugs the banks of the Lot River, picking a gentle route into the mountains and occasionally propelling us up its valley sides, before we reach its source and the northern edge of the wild and wooded Cévennes. The route then plunges down into the fruit and vineyard choked Ardèche département before following the famous gorge of the same name to the Rhône valley, and luckily for us a taste of the world-renowned wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Crossing the Rhône announces our arrival in Provence. The towering shape of Mont Ventoux on the skyline, hot sun, lavender fields and blue-shuttered cafés, combine to make you feel as if you are in a separate country entirely. Finally, after an exhilarating descent to the Mediterranean coast we cruise along the Promenade des Anglais for a celebratory dip in the Med.
This is the original and ‘Classic’ road schedule but for those looking for a slightly more leisurely cycling holiday in France, we have another version (Explorer) which involves cycling the same route over 20 days and includes a rest day. Or if you are looking for more of a challenge check out the 10 days of riding of the Challenge’ itinerary.
For more information download our trip notes
Probably the most fun I've had on a bike for years!
From the outset, attention to detail was second to none! Our guide was forever cheerful. Nothing was too much trouble. His dexterity with a mobile phone was awesome! (He wasn’t bad on a bike either!)
The St Malo to Nice trip worked out really well, including the weather in September! Meeting up with 14 strangers of mixed cycling abilities was always going to be ‘interesting‘...In a short space of time strangers became friends and the warmth and support that was mutually given made the experience so much more unique.
John, Isle of Wight
As seen in the press...
France is the spiritual home of cycling and what better way to explore it than on your own Tour de France. This 1,000-mile journey takes you from the Channel to the sunny Mediterranean. Choose to complete this challenge in 13, 16 or 21 days.
The Telegraph (June 2016)
Very good trip
Tour Leader John was very good – checked we were all ok regularly, and also provided good bike maintenance advice/assistance when required. It was my birthday during this trip, and my husband asked John to pick up a cake and party bits and pieces for dinner that evening, and John did a great job with arranging this for us and keeping this a secret from me as a surprise in the evening. Very motivating to ride with – always encouraging everyone along. Great sense of humour too!
Two days stand out for me – riding up the Verdon Gorge and the final decent to Nice.
Both Will and John lived up to our Skedaddle expectations. Friendly, courteous, entertaining, caring and extremely knowledgeable and professional. Favourite days included all the Gorges – Ardeche, Nesque and Verdons. Also the riding day 3 was remarkable due to the torrential weather – Dunkerque spirit, astonishingly enjoyable!
A real challenge but worth every pedal revolution!
France’s reputation as a culinary goldmine is well deserved. We ate like kings. The pre-finish lunch in Cagne sur Mer was one of the happiest memories. Plenty of released emotion. The celebratory last supper in Nice (Chez Freddy) was a special occasion and no mistake. Our guides John and Will were fantastic, taking care of bumps, scrapes and luggage, transportation for guests and hilarious pre ride briefings!
Excellent value for money!
Given the service we received it was excellent value for money. Overall the quality of the hotels was excellent as were the lunches provided. Tour Leader John was always extremely supportive and helpful and his unfailing good humour and Glasgow wit helped to make the trip memorable! Favourite day has to be the Gorge du Verdon.
Tour Leader Will entertained us each morning with the route notes, he and John were very professional, helpful changing punctures and really encouraging on the long days. They went out of their way to provide excellent varied lunches. Two favourite days-Verdon Gorge and ride to Partenhay.
Charley and Will did an excellent job and really helped make this a memorable and enjoyable holiday with a great tour group. Both always had a good sense of humour and were ready to help out and assist. I’ve been on a lot of holidays – both cycling and backpacking – and this is one of the best I’ve been on.
A fantastic journey of a lifetime led by excellent guides...
Loved the Gorge du Verdun. Tremendous climb and stupendous view.
As lead, Charlie was outstanding. He provided great insight into the route and points of interest on the way, was very patient at all times and his wonderful sense of humour was a real plus. He also gave good insight into riding in general and other trips. A real pleasure to be with.
Skedaddle picnics are better than anything Jamie Oliver could rustle up....
This was the best holiday I have ever had! Pre ride communication was excellent- of of my questions were answered and I felt completely at ease before going on the trip. The service provided by your two Skedaddle guides John Walsh and Paul Davies, could not be faulted! They were brilliant.
Skedaddle picnics are better than anything Jamie Oliver could rustle up…. and they manage to prepare them by a roadside too! Delicious and plentiful. Could not have asked for more.
Without a doubt – the Gorges du Verdon on the penultimate day! The most incredible day I’ve ever had on my bike.
John struck the perfect balance between leadership, being approachable and also being able to inject fun into everything. He was always extremely clear in his instructions re; route and directions, and he never failed to make us look forward to every part of every day’s ride (even the “rude” climbs!). His local knowledge is excellent and this really enhanced our experience of the French landscape and culture. Any problems were swiftly dealt with. John was fab! Thank you!
One of the best holidays I have had...
Fantastic guides, fantastic route, great accommodation. Well above my expectations.
John was a fantastic and outstanding tour leader. Extensive knowledge of the tour and associated history and geography. Presented the days tour in clear and interesting briefings. Very helpful and a good communicator who was very encouraging when we were getting tired!
I had initially thought the holiday was quite pricey! But having done the holiday I can understand the pricing and I do think it was good value for money. I would not want to have compromised on the quality so I do think you have got it absolutely right. To compromise on hotel quality I think would definitely be detrimental to the overall experience so I would if anything rather upgrade than downgrade even if the cost was slightly more.
The route is skillfully constructed...
St Malo to Nice showcases cycling in France at its best. The days were well balanced, and there was no “second class” day. My personal favourite was the ride from Mende to Pont d‘Arc but Entraygues to Mende ran it close.
John clearly loves the route, France and cycle touring. He is thoughtful and engaging, and very skilled in briefing in an uncomplicated way. He role models safety and responsible cycling very effectively. He has a great sense of humour, and rescues unexpected situations very coolly. He is exceptionally patient and a good leader in the general sense.
I recommend Skedaddle to almost everyone I know....
John Walsh is an amazing guide. John is just so great with everyone in the group, brilliant in his daily briefings, his knowledge is exceptional and the way he works within the group just so great to see. He’s totally responsible and an absolute credit to Skedaddle.
Hannah was just great and looked after everyone so well. Nothing was too much and she’s very attentive and has enormous knowledge of biking through her work and I really enjoyed that side too. John and Hannah worked amazingly as a team.
Excellent holiday with a superb route...
The guides John and Hannah made the holiday with their friendly, efficient support. Their knowledge and experience of cycling made a big difference.
My 2nd trip with Skedaddle, another great experience.
The guides were excellent. Vanessa made fabulous lunches Will’s enthusiasm for the job was fantastic!
The guides were all extremely hard working behind the scenes! I would definitely recommend Skedaddle to my friends!
The route just got better and better. Every time you thought “wow, that’ll be difficult to top…” it was topped. Even the last day had some fantastic and entirely unexpected surprises in terms of landscape / terrain. So it’s hard to pick a “best” day.
Relaxed, organised, friendly, helpful, professional service from Skedaddle. Just so switched-on in general.
Enjoyed the whole trip!
Place to place
15 nights hotel accommodation
14 days riding
Breakfast and lunch
Guided and vehicle support
Airport and ferry transfers
GPS device inc pre-loaded routes
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Last Updated: 07/07/2017
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