Biking Without a Backpack
|Scenery along Bicyclette Verte’s Voie Bleue.|
April 20, 2005: You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to enjoy cycling through France’s beautiful countryside, but the fun of biking at a leisurely pace can be spoiled by carrying a heavy backpack. One way to avoid the problem is to choose a small city in the provinces as a base to return to every evening after an excursion in the environs. Tours, for example, is a perfect choice: it is surrounded by the châteaux of the Loire, which can be visited on day trips; you can be in the countryside within minutes of leaving the city, which itself is charming and offers a good selection of hotels and restaurants, both French and international (the area around the Place Plumereau is packed with them). Another option is to book a bike trip with a company like Bicyclette Verte, which reserves your hotel and restaurant for each evening of the trip and transports your luggage to the hotel for you. When you arrive hot and sweaty in the late afternoon or early evening, your suitcase is waiting for you and all you have to do is shower and dine. The beauty of this option is that you and your companions are completely independent and can go at your own pace, since detailed maps of each day’s itinerary are provided, following country lanes and quiet back roads with beautiful scenery as much as possible. Our only complaint was that instead of the quaint oases in the countryside we had imagined, many of the pre-booked hotels were totally without charm, although always clean and well-equipped. After a long day of biking, however, we were happy just to have a bed to fall into for a good night’s sleep. Itineraries of different lengths and levels of difficulty and in various areas are available.
La Bicyclette Verte: 36, route de Saint-Hilaire 79210 Arçais. Tel.: 05 49 35 42 56. Fax: 05 49 35 42 55. www.bicyclette-vert.com
© 2005 Paris Update
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