4 ways to experience slow tourism in France

What about exploring France by taking it easy, taking your time, savouring encounters and landscapes, and simply soaking up the stillness and beauty? Whether you're on foot, on a bike, on the water or on horseback, France is a wonderful outdoor playground bursting with relaxed adventure itineraries. Here are our tips for living life in the slow lane.

Bike rides and early starts

With 22,800km of cycle routes and greenways, 5,500km of regional tourist routes and 3,000 road and mountain bike circuits, the Tour de France's home country has no shortage of great two-wheeled escapes. Choose from a range of bikes - classic road, mountain or electric - and hurtle down the Champagne hillsides, climb the Auvergne mountains or Alpine passes, pedal with your hair blowing in the wind on the Atlantic coast, or saunter from chateau to chateau in the Loire Valley.

Whether you opt for a one-day loop or a longer route in stages, every region has their own range of options, over and above the major routes that criss-cross the whole of France. The highly practical France Vélo Tourisme website lists them all. At the top of the list, with 900 sumptuous kilometres from Nevers to Saint-Brévin, the Loire à Vélo trail boasts the 'maillot jaune' in terms of annual rider numbers. But the Véloscénie from Paris to the Mont-Saint-Michel, the ViaRhôna connecting Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean through vineyards and lavender fields, and the Vélodyssée, undulating from Brittany to the Basque Country, are also popular choices. There's also the Vélomaritime, with its 1,500kms and almost uninterrupted sea views from Roscoff in Finistère to Dunkirk in Northern France.

So you can take your hands off the handlebars, so to speak, Accueil Vélo takes care of the logistics. There are 3,200 service providers throughout France offering services to cyclists: accommodation, catering, repairers, rental companies, tourist sites and tourist offices. All you have to do is ride and enjoy, knowing that the French Cycling Federation has also approved some 650 specific cycling tourism addresses. Time to get in the saddle!

France Cycle Tourism (External link)
'Cyclists Welcome' (External link)
Loire à Vélo (Loire by Bike) (External link)
ViaRhôna (External link)
Vélodyssée (External link)
Véloscénie (Véloscenic) (External link)
Vélomaritime (External link)