June 6, 2022
Having spent the entire winter checking out routes, we’re really excited to be launching our gravel cycling france holidays. We had a sneaking suspicion that the riding would be good around here, but we’ve been blown away by how amazing it really is. We have spectacular routes through gorges, medieval packhorse trails winding their way through ancient oak forests, hidden valleys revealing how life was lived in rural France hundreds of years ago, austere Limestone plateaux with huge views across cliffs and gorges and sometimes, gentle, green rolling countryside. All of this variety is accessible from our doorstep, there’s no need to travel by car to get to any of it.
This gravel holiday doesn’t follow sanitised, graded biking trails. This is real, rural France, way off the beaten track, made accessible by our local knowledge. We’ve struggled along trails that don’t exist, trails that are blocked and trails that are unrideable so that you don’t have to. We can show you the best routes the area has to offer.
The rides we’ll be doing cover some challenging terrain, but won’t be done fast, nor will anyone get left behind. To get the best from it you’ll need to be reasonably fit but not superhuman! You’ll also need to be confident riding off road on trails which can sometimes be quite rough, but you don’t need to have amazing technical skills. We list this as a gravel holiday but a mountain bike would also be fine – I’d recommend a hardtail.
We always do our best to build in lunch and cafe stops into the rides, but we’ll be crossing very remote countryside so that won’t always be possible. When it’s not, we’ll take a picnic.
Day 1 is all about the Gresigne Forest, one of France’s biggest oak forests. We’ll start by climbing up a remote valley, past a prehistoric burial chamber and an outpost of the Knights Templar before entering the forest. On a clear day the Pyrenees are visible, but it’s always a magical place to visit. In the forest we’ll ride a mix of singletrack and forestry tracks before the flat return to our HQ along the Aveyron gorge, threading our way between towering cliffs alongside the river.
Day 2 is a gentler ride north through a stunning hidden valley draped with thick moss and hidden pools. We’ll have a café stop in the medieval village of Caylus, from where we climb up onto the austere Limestone plateau which separates the Aveyron from the Lot river. We’ll follow a roman road across the plateau before returning along shaded pack horse trails through a dwarf oak forest. The ride finishes with a grin inducing singletrack plunge back into St Antonin.
Day 3 explores the long abandoned Causse d’Anglars which starts at the cliffs above town. People once tried to farm up on the causse, but with no surface water and very little soil, it didn’t work well and most of it has now been left to run wild. Quite a lot of the ride runs along the edge of the plateau which gives amazing views of the gorge, but we’ll also venture into the abandoned interior.
Day 4 is the toughest of all. It follows a remote section of the Aveyron Gorge which has no road. Most of the time it’s an easy ride by the river, but there are challenging rocky climbs and a few unrideable sections. The return is via what is probably my favourite find of all in this area, a deep narrow valley which was once a hive of activity but was abandoned around 100 years ago. Little sun penetrates the valley which means everything is covered in a thick layer of moss. Lots of trees have fallen, but the valley is so narrow that they don’t lie on the ground, they form endless higgledy-piggledy bridges across the valley. The trail was built for packhorses – even in it’s heydey, nothing with wheels could reach this valley, but it’s rideable on a gravel bike.
We can accommodate vegetarians and vegans on this holiday and possibly other diets too. Get in touch for more.
Hiring gravel bikes in this remote part of France is difficult but not impossible: I have two suppliers I use. If you need a bike please don’t leave it to the last moment!
If you want to extend your stay, we’re happy to do that if we have rooms available.
€600 per person based on two people sharing. One of our rooms, Capucine, is a 2 roomed suite which accommodates 4 which means for a group the price per person will be lower if you pick that option.
You can book your place below. First you book a room and 1 person, then in the extra service area you can add additional people at a lower price. For 2, that works out at €600/person.