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Bicycling Paris to Lyon
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Bicycle Tours in France: Bicycling Paris to Lyon

Experience the fairytale landscapes of France's beautiful forests and countryside on a journey from Parisian Île de France to beautiful Lyon a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A route steeped in history, this tour takes cyclists through the Loire River valley with stops at Roman ruins and Renaissance châteaux -including the breathtaking Palace and Park of Fontainbleau. Much of our tour traces the route of Annie Londonderry, who in 1895 became the first woman to bicycle around the world solo-on her 42-pound Columbia bicycle! We will finish the tour in beautiful Lyon, renowned for its authentic French cuisine and its perennial appearance as a stage city in the Tour de France&trade.

***Extend this trip by 5 days and end on the Mediterranean with our Bicycling Paris to Lyon Plus! Marseille tour.***

Day 1: Welcome to Paris!

Pedaling the French countryside near Melun

Highlights: Paris, Fit bicycles

Meet this afternoon in Barbizon a short train ride from Paris. We fit bicycles this afternoon and go out for a warm up ride. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: optional warm up ride.

Lodging: Hotel des Pléiades

Day 2: Barbizon

Vaux le Vicomte

Highlights: Melun, Vaux-le-Vicomte castle

Barbizon is a charming village nestled in the Fontainebleau forest. Our route takes us by the famous castle Vaux-le-Vicomte built for Louis XIV's finance minister Fouquet who after becoming too powerful was wrongly imprisoned for treason and embezzlement. If you like, stop in for a tour of this luxurious castle in the classical style and its magnificent gardens. Dinner is together this evening. Distance: 74km (46 miles) or more if desired.

Lodging: Hotel des Pléiades

Day 3: Barbizon to Montargis

Bicycling the forest of Fontainebleau

Highlights: Guided visit of Fontainebleau

New Years' eve 1894, Annie pedalled from Nemours to Montargis by way of Souppes-sur-Loing. The route she most likely would have followed is a major highway now so we'll follow her presumed route, or at least approximate it, on parallel roads. We'll start the day for those who wish visiting the illustrious Renaissance châteaux of Fontainebleau. Napoléon (of course!) slept here, and may have even resided here for a while. The château of Fontainebleau rivals the palace in Versailles and the châteaux of the Loire Valley in its magnificence. It sits in the middle of a 40,000 acre forest and gardens. Distance: 74 km (46 miles).

Lodging: Ibis Montargis Hotel

Day 4: Montargis to Sancerre

Cycling through a French village

Highlights: Pont-Canal in Briare

Annie rang in the New Year with a long ride on her single speed bike. She pedaled from Montargis to Cosne-sur-Loire. Annie would have picked up the Loire River valley today and followed it for the next several days, avoiding the adjacent short but steep climbs. She spent the night in a private home in Cosne-sur-Loire. We'll pedal across the famous Briare canal bridge this afternoon, Europe's longest junction canal. Dinner is together. Distance: 98km (61miles).

Lodging: Hotel Le Clos Saint-Martin

Day 5: Ride up the Loire Valley to Nevers

On the road near Charité sur Loire

Highlights: Loire River Valley

We continue up the Loire River Valley today to Charité-sur-Loire and on to Nevers. Annie would have followed the river most of the way today, so we'll do the same with a beautiful forested foothills of the Morvan. Annie rode only to Charité today so you might want to stop for photos and then plan on time to take a walk in Nevers this evening. Dinner is on your own tonight. Distance: 89 km (55 miles).

Lodging: Hotel de Diane

Day 6: Nevers to Lyon

Near Nevers

Highlights: Lyon, Bouchon Lyonnais, Vieux Lyon

It is 230 km from Nevers to Lyon, Annie's next stop. In 1895, the local head of the Union Vélocipédique du France, Mr. Nicart, persuaded Annie to take the train to Lyon "because of the deplorable state of the routes." She heeded his advice and spent two days resting in Lyon. Stage 6 of the 2003 Tour de France™ pedaled from Nevers to Lyon. While we're not going to try and pedal the entire distance, we will take a ride this morning then catch the train into Lyon like Annie did. We'll regroup this evening for dinner together at one of Lyon's many delicious restaurants. Distance: 44km (27 miles).

Lodging: Sofitel Lyon Bellecour

Day 7: Tour ends in Lyon

A movie diorama in Lyon, with Annie Londonderry, we think!

Highlights: Guided tour of Vieux Lyon

Plan to stick around this morning and join us for a fascinating guided tour of Vieux Lyon before you head home.

You can also extend this trip by 5 days and end on the Mediterranean with our Bicycling Paris to Lyon Plus! Marseille tour.

  • Highlights
    Château Vaux-le-Vicomte, Château de Fontainebleau, Loire River Valley, Lyon, Roman Ruins in Orange, Côte du Rhône Vineyards, Marseille
  • Includes
    "The Usual" plus... Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 6 nights' accommodation; all breakfasts, 4 dinners with wine; guided visit of Fontainebleau
  • Countries
    France
  • Begin/End
    Paris, France/ Lyon, France
  • Arrive/Depart
    Paris
  • Total Distance
    379 km/ 234 miles
  • Daily Distance
    Average per day 76 km/ 47 miles
  • What to Expect
    Charming towns, fabulous terrain for cycling, UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Rating
    301
    Expect some longer mileage days.
  • Notes
  • Terms
Dates Price Single
Supplement*
Notes Next
Step
May 21 - 27, 2015 $3850 $550 Book by November 15th and Save $200, per person. Book It
Aug 23 - 29, 2015 $3850 $550 Book by November 15th and Save $200, per person. Book It
*We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the single supplement rate. This fee will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available this fee will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.

Map Key

Green pinStart
Yellow pinCity (on route)
Red pinEnd
Other city dotCity (not part of route, provided for reference)
My favorite part? The tour of Fontainebleau and Vaux-le-Vicomte and riding through the forests in the upper Loire valley. The ride through the wine villlages in the Cote du Rhone was great!
David G.
Denver, CO
The routes chosen where exceptionally terrific with smooth pavement, wonderful vistas, and little auto traffic.
Jim S.
Santa Fe, NM
Every day was a new and exciting experience (plus)!
Jay S.
San Diego, CA
I was very happy with the route, the leaders, the chalked turns, and the food. It was a wonderful trip!
Claudia C.
Walnut Creek, CA