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Cycling the waerways from Le Havre to Bordeaux

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Hobart, Australia
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Cycling the waerways from Le Havre to Bordeaux

HI, we are a group of 8 intrepid Australians, wanting to tourthe waterways of France from Le Havre to Bordeaux.over 5 weeks in October this year, 2011. We hope to camp along the way and the odd B&B hopefully. Anyideas gratefully accepted..... are camp ground closed in October?

Tampa, Florida
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1. Re: Cycling the waerways from Le Havre to Bordeaux

sometimes...because by October it can be quite chilly, especially on the northern end of that route (frost!).

Paris, France
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2. Re: Cycling the waerways from Le Havre to Bordeaux

If you are looking for dedicated bikeways use some of the links you were given in your previous post and apply them to the different regions in France you wish to cycle through. For example, do a google seach on "pistes cyclables normandie" or "voies vertes normandie" to find routes in the Normandy region and then apply this method to the other regions you wish to travel through. I doubt you will find a continuous stretch of waterways and associated bikeways all the way from LeHavre to Bordeaux, however. While France does have many bikeways along some of its rivers and canals there is none that extends for lengthy distances with the exception of some of the well known canals. To travel such long distances at some point you are going to have to get onto the road. As was pointed out it could be chilly in October, especially towards the end of the month, so if you want to camp out perhaps you might want to consider doing a long distance journey in the south of France, perhaps incorporating a trip along The Canal du Midi where there is a lengthy bikeway along the canal.

For a 5 week journey by bike you are likely going to have to get on the road and there is really nothing to fear on the smaller roads as concerns auto traffic. I bike quite often in the countryside outside of Paris and I never look for dedicated bikeways, I just use my Michelin map and stick to the small white roads and sometimes the yellow roads. Traffic is very light on these roads in the countryside and sometimes almost non-existent.

Here are a few tips on how to bike using the Michelin maps of the scale 1:200,000. I generally stay on the small white roads and sometimes the yellow roads while generally trying to avoid the red roads (which carry the most traffic). If a road has a hill with greater than a 5% gradient you will notice that such a road will have a gradient arrow superimposed on the road. One arrow means a gradient of 5%-9%, two arrows means a gradient from 9%-13% and three arrows means a gradient of over 13%. Just because a road has no gradient arrows doesn't mean there are no hills but whatever hills there are should not be too strenuous. Twisty roads often mean hilly as well. Areas shaded in white are generally flat to gently rolling and non-forested terrain while areas shaded in green mean either forested and/or hilly terrain.

The maps are loaded with icons for things of touristic or historic interest such as châteaux, churches, abbeys, ruins, caves, megaliths, designated scenic roads and a whole host of other things. I try to plan a route that has few to no gradient arrows, perhaps follows a portion of a designated scenic road and incorporates some of the icons I just mentioned (especially towns with the historic church, ruin or châteaux icon). I also try to plan a route that passes through lots of small villages.

I would also get guidebooks for any region in which you plan to bike through so you are aware of what there might be to see of interest that you can incorporate into your bike route. Two popular ones are The Michelin Green Guide and DK Eyewitness Guide. You might also want to look for guidebooks that are oriented towards bikers. Google searches are going to be very helpful.

As a final thought, you might contact some of the self-guided bike touring companies and see if they might be able to help you put together a route. Usually these companies also include lodging and meals as part of their service but perhaps they could do something special for you and just put together a bike route for you, without taking care of your food and accommodation. Here are a few links to some of these tour companies.

http://cyclomundo.com/

http://www.discoverfrance.com/bikeindex.html

http://www.detours-in-france.com/

www.nicholexpeditions.com/francebike.htm

Edited: 4:42 am, February 01, 2011
3. Re: Cycling the waerways from Le Havre to Bordeaux

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Hobart, Australia
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4. Re: Cycling the waerways from Le Havre to Bordeaux

Thankyou for your detailed response, I will take note of all you have said. What does green guide mean on a michelin map?

5. Re: Cycling the waerways from Le Havre to Bordeaux

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6. Re: Cycling the waerways from Le Havre to Bordeaux

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