What would you want from French cycling holiday?

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  • What would you want from French cycling holiday?
  • plus one

    No French people 😆

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge

    No British people, and Croque Monsieur.


    Lots of extremely busty women all throwing themselves at me.


    Video preview of the routes to help gauge if your idea of moderate/extreme etc tallies with the rider’s.

    Hire bikes with brakes set up UK style.

    Pointers to local culture for those who do want to immerse themselves a bit.
    Easy access to beer and food for those who don’t.

    No carrying the bikes up mountains on your shoulders.


    Premier Icon tuboflard

    Some nice quiet singletrack. An outdoor pool for the evening. A big outdoor BBQ area and / or pizza oven. Pain au chocolat and merguez sausages (not on the same plate).


    Lots of extremely busty women all throwing themselves at me.


    Premier Icon mugsys_m8

    Knowledge and confidence that my guides are fully qualified and all above board legally for the area where we will be riding. Knowledge and confidence that the company I am giving my money to is registered and permitted to be undertaking activities in the country where I will be paying them for their services.

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    Most of us take holidays for the uplift and as such are not best placed to answer on xc. XC MTB might be a bit niche ? Some thoughts;

    Sell the region, not so well known as an mtb venue imo
    Bike friendly setup inc workshop facilities and secure storage – properly locked garage and tools/stand ?
    Lots of route ideas
    Multi-day mini-adventure option ? Bikepacking / small hotel / lift to start point and ride back or visa versa.
    Road / Gravel route options

    Best of luck

    Premier Icon bigblackshed

    premier – Member 

    And wine.


    I’m planning to set up xc mountain biking holidays in the Haute-Vienne France.
    We have secured accommodation to use as a base but are not sure exactly what riders will want from their holiday so I would be interested in your views.

    We are considering guided tours,GPS downloads for self guided, providing hire bikes, airport transfers, transporting the groups to ride different areas.

    All suggestions gratefully rceived.


    Premier Icon Sandwich

    Knowledge of all the local cafe-bar in the area, opening times, patron and how far they are from the route. I would assume that like most bits of rural France, la France profonde=shut at lunchtime. This can be a downer if you’re halfway through a big day out.

    Another plus 1 for cheese, local/French and as many as possible.

    An affair with a demure school mistress
    An affair with a rambunctious peasant girl
    some mist to stare wistfully at
    an argument around existentialism with an attractive philosopher lady that leads to angry sex
    A big empty run down Chateaux where i could slam doors following realisations of the inadequacy of self and my own mortality
    not too much bike riding


    Listening with interest as planning something along those lines for the next few years .

    My area is very suited for mtb, from xc to dh. There’s a round of EWS Taking place there next year.
    I intend to leave the guiding to the professional and concentrate on the accommodation, transfer etc..

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge

    thestabiliser wins….

    Premier Icon orangespyderman

    I live in France, so probably not your target demographic. And in fact, I’m not sure your target demographic would actually buy into an XC Holiday to a fixed location. I think coming up with multi-day circuits and arranging accomodation/food along the way would be something that could sell, but there’s an enormous offer of chalets/gites/campsites in France that are in places that are probably more attractive to MTBers than the Haute-Vienne. And even if they went to Haute-Vienne why wouldn’t someone just book a gite in a place they liked rather than using your basecamp?

    Differentiators may be if you offer a workshop with bike tools available, or having a partnership with a local MTB guiding outfit (are there any?), but even so I’m not convinced. It doesn’t really sound like you’ve chosen the location based on the cycling available, but rather you’ve chosen a location and you’re now looking for ways to convince cyclists to go, and I think that’s the wrong way round.

    Don’t mean to piss on your bonfire, but I’m not convinced you offer anything that I couldn’t get at any other Gite/Chalet/Campsite in France 😕

    Premier Icon ahwiles

    …not convinced you offer anything that I couldn’t get at any other Gite/Chalet/Campsite…

    unless there’s easy navigation…

    (guiding gets expensive)

    a variety of routes, of different lengths and ease/difficulty, with easy to follow route finding. it’s easy to mock the latest generation of bikers who are used to following a prescribed trail, but if i’m holiday, i don’t want to be arguing over maps, looking for trails/paths that A) might end up being rubbish, or B) not even exist anymore.

    it has often bothered me a little, that i seem to spend a lot of time driving to the alps, past beautiful quiet landscapes that look great for biking. So i really like your plan.

    if the trails are good, and the elevation gain is manageable, you really don’t need chairlifts. not only that but climbing can be fun…

    Premier Icon nickc

    A verity of trails, I might want to kill my mech following you down the most “techy” (guide speak for un-ridable) trail in the region, but that doesn’t mean I want to do that every day.

    Please do not do the sort of massive days out that mean I climb all morning and into the early afternoon, only to get to the techy (see above) section in the late afternoon when we’re all a bit knackered and frazzled from the heat.

    Goat trails that are endlessly steep and tight switchbacks going up or down are not massively fun for a lot of folk.

    Bike cleaning and spannering facilities

    good food, Doesn’t need to be starred, does need to be well prepared and tasty though


    Guides. If I’m an embuggerance to your guide’s attempt at a strava KOM, I will have a point of view about it.

    I want to come back from holiday wanting to stay…

    Please don’t try to kill me on an exposed techy (see above) route on the second day, I know you want to show off your best trails, but I want to go home in one peice.

    Premier Icon orangespyderman

    unless there’s easy navigation…

    Sure but the FFC and the FFCT have the “Bases VTT” with a selection of graded routes all usually leaving from a single village/town, and they would offer the same, and you could choose to stay where you want. There are a bunch of them all over France. Maybe there’s more money to be made (though probably not) marketing these to the average British MTB’er (which sort of brings me back to my multi-day guided trip with luggage transfer in a van idea)

    All this sounds like it would be solved by MTB guiding, but then you open up the qualifications discussion.

    Premier Icon Northwind

    Saying “Anglais? Non, non, je suis Ecossais”

    With XC you need to set out what it really is, because that can mean all different things. From a marketing point of view it feels like you’re broadening your audience but you need to be sure that it’s also hooking people and not putting people off or attracting people that might not enjoy it, it’s a balance.

    As a punter, I know there’s holiday companies that claim to be all things to all men but tbh that’s pretty offputting to me, because you don’t know what it really means til you’re out there, and with limited guides/groups things get pulled in different directions. Personally I won’t book with a company unless I’m damn sure what it’s going to be like and you can’t do that if you’re trying to please everyone…

    A Quick Release might give you some inspiration, though admittedly it’s years since I was there. It’s “XC” inasmuch as it’s mostly pedalled, and can be fairly strenuous/fitness oriented but it’s still big bike compatible- we had folks on racy bikes and hardtails but also big long travel enduro bikes, anything pedallable worked. So it’s a fairly wide appeal but also fairly differentiated from, say, your trail addictions and white rooms and the like. There were still some uplifts- because even if you’re super fit, uplifts still mean more descending. But it wasn’t dependent on shuttling or chairlifts which opens things up.

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    Orangespyderman I sell the type of holiday the OP is proposing (on-road though) and there is a market for no-thought single centre cycling holidays. You and I are not the target market but there are plenty out there that require the services OP intends to offer.

    Marketing, marketing, marketing OP. Have bikes that are good-enough but very well maintained if you plan to offer them. Go for a biggish brand that is reasonably well-known here or the States/Canada/Australia. Good enough as the market sector has ham-fisted clients who will break them or break bits off as they don’t want to wait for recovery/rescue.

    If selling to North America know your time zones and ring them to clarify any problems. It goes down a bomb.

    Premier Icon orangespyderman

    Orangespyderman I sell the type of holiday the OP is proposing (on-road though) and there is a market for no-thought single centre cycling holidays

    Part of my concern is more whether there’s a market for single-centre no thought XC MTB holidays in Haute-Vienne. It doesn’t have a reputation for it, unlike the Var, for example (where you can also reasonably do it all year long, and in fact make probably more cash doing something else in July / Aug then MTB in what is the “off season”). I had a quick look at the A Quick Release site and yeah, Luchon, I can see that, but Haute-Vienne, less so 😐

    Out of interest, where are you Sandwich?

    Premier Icon ahwiles

    …Luchon, I can see that, but Haute-Vienne, less so…

    oh i don’t know, Luchon has mountains. And mountains mean i can’t sell this:

    as an xc (pedal uphill) venue to Mswife.

    (“yes dear, this morning’s ‘easy’ ride starts with a 700m climb…”)

    but this:

    looks much better (few massive climbs for a start*).

    (*followed by less severe descents)

    Airport transfers is a massive thing – not having to rent cars or use public transport to find the place – that’s number 1 I’d say

    Bikle Facilities – a workshop with basic tools and stands, ans secure storage for bikes – we’re all terridfied of our bikes being nicked.

    Decent accomodation – a big house (with a pool, maybe) that’s nice to chill out in after the day makes you desirable as a destination

    Weather – it’s why we leave in the first place

    Singletrack – miles and miles of it

    Lots of people of the opposite sex (or same sex if you’re so inclined) – everyone loves lovely bottoms


    Being vegetarian, lots of cheese and wine.



    Premier Icon ahwiles

    oh, and a good boulangerie.

    (it’s not a holiday in france without at least cinq pain-au-rasins per jour silver plates)


    Being an omnivore, lots of cheese, wine and air-dried meats. And bread.

    Otherwise, good routes at a variety of levels of skill, nice views and the mundance, unexciting things that mugsys_m8 said above.


    i think what i would look for is a feeling that I am getting to go on routes that are really special – going to places that are unique in some way, that by using your knowledge I can go somewhere off the beaten track that no-one else knows about.

    that, and a fire in the evenings to sit around a discuss stupid things.


    Climbing/pedaling on the bike (doesn’t have to be extreme) too many uplift venues these days.

    Less emphasis on bike destroying descents, and ego above ability type stuff.

    Options for lesser abilities.

    Variety/flexibility in rides. (Bit of touring into little villages is always nice.)

    Don’t always like communal breakfast set-ups (I.e have a few tables not one big one.)

    Good food / Wine (will always pay extra).

    Accommodation that is not a barn with a mattress.

    There is so much more to France than the Alps, I would quite like to see a bit more and often have to put my own trips together.

    Premier Icon tomaso

    I went mtb’ing there in 2002, near Neuvic and it is good terrain, nice forests and lakes. There must be an appeal to riding somewhere that is less of a tourist/cyclist honeypot.
    I like how Basque MTB seem to have developed lots of local links for food, transport, events etc to make it all a bit more special.

    I’d also want local fromage and there is now a blossoming French craft or artisanal beer scene that is worth checking out.

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    Apologies for ducking out, I’m on convalescence from a biopsy last week and sleeping is currently my favourite thing.

    I’m based in Suffolk, I get to run around after the Suffolk and Norfolk holidays, we have local help to sell abroad.

    Premier Icon kilo

    Easy access from airport, decent accommodation which isn’t cramped and en suite facilities with hot water which doesn’t run out when everyone comes back from a ride. Plentiful food and booze. Good communications when bookings are made.

    I quite like the idea of an xc holiday, we’ve hired guides when away before for xc rides so a decent set up would be of interest

    I’m planning to set up xc mountain biking holidays…

    Can you define ‘XC’? Most of us ride across country per se, but very few do it on carbon missiles with saddles that refuse to drop.


    Thanks for all your responses it is a great help for us to plan our venture.
    Orangespyderman has made some good points and obviously knows France well, we are already based in this area and have been for 15 years so we are trying to develop the idea based on our experience of riding in this area with friends and family. We do have very comfortable accommodation with a huge secure bike store and workshop facilities. We accept that we need to sell the area more than the cycling it does have fantastic routes and never very busy!
    At this stage we don’t have a specific target market. We ride organised events on Sunday mornings put on by local clubs in our area, the turn out is incredible with a huge mix of ability and ages(12-70ish) so in France this type of riding is very popular.
    I feel what we have to offer would suit people who wish to discover the area by bike rather just come here to challenge their riding skills.
    Sorry to use xc I don’t know how to better to describe my type of riding. The trails here offer wide range challenges but we can offer routes to suit different abilities of rider.
    Babble’s comment I think sums up exactly what we can offer, I went riding recently with a French guy from northern France who was staying in the area and he admitted that he would not have found the routes that we had taken him on.
    The subject of guided is an area we appreciate has complications in terms of qualifications insurance etc, if we feel that this is required to make our project work then we will get the qualifications needed to act as a guide. I must admit it is fun to ride flowing routes than to spend all day looking at a maps.
    Would GPS downloads of our routes work?
    If you want to come and try our trails we can provide free accommodation then you can gives us your advice.

    Thanks everybody

    Premier Icon Metasequoia

    Not sure how we got to the point where riding your bike cross country was considered ‘niche.’ I suspect it’s what most riders do most of the time…Its normal trail riding.

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    GPS routes are fine, not as ideal as being guided round with a few coaching tips but a starting point. Remember guests may not hae their own gps device though (note I use maps and/or GPX downloaded to ViewRanger app).

    If there are some big hills you might consider a bike trailer and suitable vehicle for uplift or form a relationship with local taxi firm who could offer such a thing.

    There have been a few threads recently with people doing something similar – you might compare notes with @Spekie and his adventure in Spain.

    You of course can do some online research and/or go on some similar holidays to get some customer experience

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    We’re using Garmin Edge for our local routes. The clients like the turn instructions as the junctions come up. One of the partners is using Mio units for the same thing. Include a paper back up though.

    Premier Icon mugsys_m8

    Bon chance avec le projet de devenir moniteur avec un brevet. Comme il faut.

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