£1,995.00 per person*
($2,294.25 USD or $3,591.00 AUD)
£350.00 single room supplement
There are currently no scheduled dates for this tour, but please contact us if you want to schedule a private tour for six or more people.
Ajaccio airport or ferry terminal
Our latest road bike adventure is a fantastic way to explore the dramatic scenery of this beautiful island, birthplace of Napoleon and part of France since 1789. Corsica still retains many characteristics which distinguish it from mainland France. The locals speak both French and Corsican (Corsu) which is closely related to the Tuscan dialect of Italian, and have a fierce pride in being Corsican rather than French. The least developed of all the French regions, with a population of just 322,000 the countryside and coastline is unspoiled.
Starting in the beautiful coastal town of Ajaccio, birthplace of Bonaparte and home to his ancestral mansion, now a museum, the route heads north, hugging the coast with vistas of the blue Mediterranean. Alternately climbing inland for gorges, canyons and mountain passes, then descending back to the coast for more stunning seascapes, the route follows clockwise around the northern half of the island. Stops are at the coastal towns of Porto, Calvi and Saint-Florent. For the final two days riding, we climb into the centre of the island, with some of the wildest, most rugged terrain in Europe. After an overnight stop at the bustling town of Corte, once the island’s capital and now dominated by the medieval Citadel, the final day is an epic that takes us over several passes, finally descending to the sea to complete the circuit back to Ajaccio. The rides average around 95km per day, with challenging climbs and sweeping descents that are no less beautiful than, but lower and more gentle than our Alpine or Pyrenean tours!
As well as some of the most stunning riding imaginable, during the course of which riders will ‘bag’ several cols each day, our tour will showcase the wonderful cuisine of the island, which takes its cues from the fish and seafood from Corsica’s rivers and coast, and especially the game dishes from the interior featuring wild boar, whose diet of acorns and chestnuts gives the Corsican boar such a wonderful flavour, whether in the form of sanglier itself or made into delicious Corsican figatellu. Staying at very comfortable 3* and 4* hotels, nearly all with swimming pools, our Corsica tour should be on every cyclist’s bucket list!
We collect from Ajaccio airport and make the short transfer back to the hotel. After getting bikes set up and perfectly adjusted, there is a warm up ride out along the coast to the Tour de Parata, a 16th C watchtower built by the Genoese government to warn of attacks by Barbary pirates. The route back to the hotel climbs inland to warm the legs before descending back to Ajaccio. The first of many fine dinners awaits!
From Ajaccio we set off north, heading inland and over the Col de Listincone before going up to Col de San Bastiano and rolling down along the coast around the beautiful Golfu di Liscia. Up the coast and back inland takes us over the day’s big climb of the Col de Sevi (1100m) before descending through the Gorges de Spelunca to the gorgeous fishing harbour of Porto.
Our second day is another of coast roads and cols, rising around the Golfe de Porto and ticking off the Col de Palmarella before dropping back to the coast and into the village of Galeria for lunch. After lunch the route undulates gently north towards Calvi – there is one steep climb (around 18%!) to the Notre Dame de la Serra chapel, but well worth it for the fantastic views over our stop for tonight, the busy port of Calvi.
Despite being one of the longer days, the last 20km of today is downhill! From Calvi in the morning, we set out along the coast road before turning into the hills after a few km. The highest point of the day is only at 690m, so the climbs and descents are shorter and more frequent, and for long time we have a picture-perfect view all the way back to the sea at Calvi from where we’ve climbed. A coffee in the bustling port of Ile-Rousse should fortify us for the day’s most sustained climb – the 20km up to the Col de San Colombano at 692m. From here where we may take a picnic lunch, it’s downhill for 25km before the last, smaller climb of the day (the 300m Col de Vezzo) and a roll downhill into St Florent.
Today we leave the coast and head into the heart of Corsica, to Corte, the citadel town which was briefly the capital of an independent Corsica under Pasquale Paoli (every town has a street named after him). In WW1, German prisoners of war were kept in the Citadel and during WW2 the French Resistance was for a time coordinated from Corte. In 2013 the Tour sped through town during its 2nd stage and we will follow in the pros’ tracks tomorrow. The route to Corte climbs for 30km in the morning, before dropping to the valley floor and rising over two more gentle climbs in the afternoon and a descent into Corte itself, nestling in the mountains at nearly 500m altitude.
The last day of riding takes us from the high point of the town of Corte down to the coast at Ajaccio, but naturally it is not all downhill! It also includes sections of the 2nd stage of the 2013 Tour de France, such as the Cols de Bellagranago, de la Serra and Vizzavona. The climbing starts after a gentle 10km out of town, and there are four more climbs during the day, topping out at 1200m. However none of the climbs are more than 500m vertical in one hit, and the day ends with a 20km downhill run into Ajaccio through the beautiful Gorges de Prunelli and past the artificial lake at Tolla. Views down to the coast start all the way inland up here, so the afternoon is truly spectacular! After a beer in Ajaccio, we celebrate with our final meal together before departing the following morning.
Departing from Ajaccio is possible from the airport or the ferry port.
Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays bike tour:
We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.
We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.
We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.
We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.
Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!
It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.
All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.
All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc. Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow.
We do not include lunch, as the costing of these is beyond our control, but where route and weather allow we organise picnics; these feature copious salads, cold meats, cheeses, crusty bread, fruits, etc, and a choice of drinks; we ask for a contribution for the costs of the consumables, which usually works out at 10 or 11 euros per person per picnic. Where route or weather does not allow a picnic, we recommend suitable cafés and bistros.
We provide lightweight alloy framed Trek ‘hybrid’ touring bicycles with 27 indexed gears, our guides will generally be on hand to fix punctures and minor mechanical problems and carry pump, tubes etc.
For carrying the items you might need during the day (camera, wallet, windbreaker etc.) we fit a capacious handlebar bag which also features a large map pocket. These clip on and off the bike in a flash so that you can always take your valuables with you when off the bike.
The bikes are meticulously maintained and we keep a wide range of sizes; female specific saddles are also available. We do not provide helmets automatically, as we find people prefer their own if they want to wear one, and sizing and fit is quite personal; however we always have helmets available for use. We also carry rain-capes should they be required (but hopefully not!).
For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike.
Please contact us for details.
There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.
Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.
Only a few minutes’ transfer from the airport or ferry port, this large modern hotel is a short walk from the centre of Ajaccio and has a large pool overlooking the bay – ideal for winding down after our warm-up ride in the hills north of Ajaccio.
A lovely 19th Century villa tastefully converted into a seafront hotel, Les Mouettes has a pool overlooking the sea and small private beach accessible directly from the hotel.
Renovated during the winter of 2014/15, this hotel is only a couple of hundred metres from the shore in the gorgeous little harbour of Porto. It has its own pool overlooking the bay.
Tucked around the corner from the rocky harbour, this hotel looks out over the tiny but busy port itself of Porto. From the terrace you have a commanding view of all the comings and goings.
A large modern hotel on the hill behind the port of Calvi, the Regina has a pool and spacious rooms overlooking the bay.
Converted from a Franciscan Abbey, this charming hotel looks out over the bay of Calvi and is a stone’s throw from the waterfront.
Just two minutes’ walk from the centre of town and the port, this hotel has a large mature garden with a swimming pool and views away from town over the Golfe de Saint Florent
Three minutes’ walk from the centre of St Florent, and tucked away from the main road, the Dolce Notte has gorgeous ground floor sea-facing rooms, a few feet above the beach.
Named after Napoleon’s loyal general, Jean Thomas Arrighi de Casanova, the Duke of Padua, the hotel is right in the centre of Corte, a minute’s walk from the main street and five minutes from the old castle and museum overlooking the town.
Situated a minute’s ride out of the centre of town, the Jardins de la Glaciere is an oasis of calm in the Restonica valley, with a charming garden, large pool and spa area. A generous breakfast will set you up for the day’s riding.
Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays cycling tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.
Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our cycling tours in France.
The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.
For nearly all of our cycling tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party who have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.
The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!
We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time consult their doctor before considering any activity-based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.
We pick up and drop off from the nearest TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We may be able to drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:
Ryanair flies into the following airports:
Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)
Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.
Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.
British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).
If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.
The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.
The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.
Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.
This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We may be able to arrange parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long-distance tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.
If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience has the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.
However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.
Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:
Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.
SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe.
Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!
Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!
We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.
The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.
As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.
We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.
There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.
We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.
In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.
This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.