April 11, 2022
St Antonin is a hidden gravel cycling holiday gem. Way off the beaten track, even for French riders it has more superb gravel trails than you’ll ever have time to ride. There are 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 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’ll 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.
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 rivers. 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 is the toughest of this gravel cycling holiday. 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 gravel cycling holiday and possibly other diets too. Get in touch for more.
It’s difficult to hire gravel bikes in this part of France, so if you can bring your own bike, please do. If you need to hire I do have a couple of suppliers but please don’t leave it to the last moment!
Speaking of bikes, if you’re bringing your own, gear as low as you can, and run the biggest tyres you can. The rides are also suitable for mountain bikes.
If you want to extend your stay, we can offer preferential b&b rates subject to rooms being available.
€500 per person based on two people sharing. The booking form below shows a price for 1 person in one room (€700). Below that in the extra services area you can add extra people at €300, which brings the total up to €1000 for a couple.
Mazarac and Bessarel are both double/twin rooms so you can add up to 1 additional person.
Capucine is our family suite which sleeps 4 in two connecting rooms, which means you can add up to 3 additional people which makes for the lowest possible price per person.
If these dates don’t work for you, get in touch. We’re happy to run this holiday whenever we have space in our accommodation.