Channel to the Med – 10 Day Tour
Welcome to Peak Tour’s cycle challenge “extraordinaire”, the 10 Day Channel to the Med cycling holiday in France from one end of this beautiful country to the other. Starting from the northern French coast at Ouistreham close to the port town of Caen we continue southwards to finish the tour near Nice on the Mediterranean coastline 10 days later.
So, Why France? France is a wide and diverse country which contains a variety of different and stunning landscapes. France is also only one quarter as densely populated as the UK and much more rural so the roads are quieter and cyclists are treated with a good general level of respect.
Most people have heard of the Tour de France and the country can arguably be considered the cultural home of cycling. We will cycle through some of the iconic landscapes that you may have seen whilst watching “The Tour” and most notably we will take in the unforgettable Mont Ventoux and Gorge de Verdon en-route to Nice.
France enjoys much better weather than the UK so chances of a dry and sunny tour are much more likely than if tackling LEJOG although it must also be noted that it can get very hot in the summer months, especially in the south.
France is also well known for it’s gastronomy and also fine wines and we will do our best to ensure that you sample plenty of the delights on offer. Added to that a rich culture, medieval villages and stunning architecture, all of which makes France an ideal place for a long distance cycle tour. Covering the country from the English Channel to the Mediterranean enables you to visit many of Frances most beautiful and interesting places.
We have been organising UK end to ends or Lands End to John o’Groats tours since 2010 and have safely seen countless happy cyclists complete the challenge. Now we are focusing on a different adventure with the Channel to the Med tour.
Our French end to end will run in much the same way as our LEJOG tour with the ‘magic van’ providing refreshments throughout the tour. Your bags will be transported for you each day and we will be having a mixture of restaurants and some fantastic picnic lunches with an emphasis on finding local specialities to ensure that you sample the fantastic food on offer – you certainly won’t go hungry!
You are provided with detailed route notes and for those with Garmins we also have GPX files of the route (or you can hire a device from us with the route loaded on). A tour leader cycles at the back of the group and there is a support vehicle on hand should you require assistance. We also carry a few spare bikes just in case you have any major mechanical problems.
The tour is similar to our 10 Day LEJOG tour in terms of difficulty although the initial section is slightly easier but the final section is harder as there are a number of long climbs as we cycle through the Massif Central. Covering approximately 840 miles over 10 days we average around 84 miles a day with some longer days in the flatter areas and some shorter days in the hillier areas especially when we climb Mont Ventoux (there is an option to cycle round it).
We will start our tour at the port of Ouistreham near Caen on the north coast of France and cycle southwards through the stunning scenery of areas such as the Loire Valley, Puy-de-dome and Provence before we finish the tour on the south coast near Nice.
THE 10 DAY CHANNEL TO MED IS A TOUGH CHALLENGE AND SHOULD ONLY BE ATTEMPTED BY FIT AND COMPETENT RIDERS
Tuesday 19th – Saturday 30th May 2020 – Places available
Tuesday 15th – Saturday 26th September 2020 – Places available
THE 10 DAY CHANNEL TO MED IS A TOUGH CHALLENGE AND SHOULD ONLY BE ATTEMPTED BY FIT AND COMPETENT RIDERS
Tuesday 19th – Saturday 30th May 2020 – Places available
Tuesday 15th – Saturday 26th September 2020 – Places available
Wed: Arrival Day
Arriving into Ouistreham by either the morning or overnight ferry will see us safely in place ready for ‘Le Grand Depart’ the following morning.
Thu: Ouistreham to Alencon (89 miles) Elevation Gain: 3880ft / 1182m
After the obligatory photographs and adjustment of Lycra we gear up for our Gallic adventure with a gentle start to the day along the Suisse Normand cycle way. This smooth tarmac surface follows the river Orne, meandering along the banks of the river. We will pass through Caen and follow the river through a lovely gorge surrounded by woodland. A lovely lunch with a view will stand you in good stead for the latter part of the day, as the terrain becomes hillier. We round off the day making our way through the forest of Andaine to our first nights accommodation in the lively town of Alencon.
Fri: Alencon to Azay Le Rideau (101 miles) Elevation Gain: 3044ft / 927m
Today starts us off fairly gently and then gives way to undulating roads through the pretty villages and countryside of France. The undulations eventually give way to easier terrain and we stock up on energy for the afternoon with our usual Peak Tours lunch feast!. Today and tomorrow will see us putting some extra miles behind us to reap what we sow in days to come. At the end of the day’s cycling the grand buildings and chateaux by the river of Azay le Rideau await our arrival.
Sat: Azay le Rideau to Crozant (102 miles) Elevation Gain: 3439ft / 1048m
The longest day of the trip today as leaving the Loire region behind we will continue southwards alongside the River Indre. Passing through Chatillo-sur-indre. Our mostly flat route takes us into the Brenne National Park. This calm, quiet area is known for its many lakes, interesting habitats and rare aquatic species. Further along we will join with the River Creuse and continue through Argenton where the route starts to get a little hillier as we pass by a number of viewpoints en-route to Crozant.
Sun: Crozant to Eyegurande (90 miles) Elevation Gain: 6752ft / 2058m
Leaving lovely Crozant behind we head south to the Limousin region, characterised by gorges, woods, rivers and moorland. This beautiful but challenging day is a little shorter to allow for the climbing. After a great lunch in the picturesque village of Moutier d’Ahun we crack on through this undulating national park to the convenient stop off point of Eyegurande.
Mon: Eyegurande to St Flour (75 miles) Elevation Gain: 6545ft / 1994m
We will start to notice the hills increase today as we continue to the foothills and into the volcanic region of the Massif Central. Today’s ride will provide good practice for some of the larger climbs which lie in wait for us further south! Another cracking day with lakes, gorges, fine views and all that’s inspiring in this fantastic country to cycle in. The afternoon will see us arrive at the attractive town of St Flour, often used as a staging post in the Tour de France.
Tue: St Flour to Les Vans (98 miles) Elevation Gain: 9285ft / 2830m
Once we have left St Flour a hilly road takes you over to the Viaduc de Garabit where the road descends to a scenic lake. A nice ride by the lake is followed by a big climb and a number of ups and downs. The day continues with a long winding descent into the town of Mende and then a lovely winding and undulating road continues through woodlands with some stunning views on to the pretty town of Les Vans in the Ardeche.
Wed: Les Vans to Vaison (76 Miles) Elevation Gain: 5481ft / 1670m
In the morning we head past the iconic natural bridge of Pont d’Arc in Vallon. The scenery is stunning as we cycle above the limestone gorges of the Ardeche with fantastic vistas around every bend. Further along the road descends and we will pass through St Martin before we catch our first glimpse of Ventoux, the revered mountain that will be ever present for the next few days. Our day’s ride ends at the lovely Roman town of Vaison la Romaine.
Thu: Vaison to Oraison (81 miles) Elevation Gain: 8591ft / 2618m
Following in the footsteps of some of the previous Tour de France greats, after a morning 8 mile limber up we’ll begin our climb of the iconic Mont Ventoux. This classic ride is a tough climb but you will be rewarded with fine panoramic views over area. A long descent takes you down into Sault where you will have a well deserved brew. For those who don’t fancy Ventoux there is an easier route to Sault which is also a fantastic ride. Either way we will continue through the lavender fields and small villages to the outskirts of Oraison for a well deserved rest!
Fri: Oraison to Castellane (77 miles) Elevation Gain: 8656ft / 2638m
One of the toughest but most rewarding days of the trip today as, with the ever present smell of lavender we leave Oraison passing through a number of ancient towns and villages and the landscape changes to steep sided valleys with a number of fantastic views opening up. Passing by the picture postcard town of Moustier St Marie, one of the most spectacular sections of the tour awaits as we venture into the Gorges du Verdon. The azure waters of the Lac de Saint Croix marks the start of the “glorious ascent” to the top of the canyon. After the gorge the route is mostly flat and down hill as the route takes us along the top of the gorge then down to the strikingly aquamarine Verdon River which we follow to all the way to Castellane.
Sat: Castellane to Nice (50 miles) Elevation Gain: 3374ft / 1028m
Our final day in the saddle is another stunning ride. A climb away from Castellane reveals superb views back over the town before the road flattens out and continues along a lovely valley surrounded by mountains. Further along we will cycle along the top of the Gorge de Loup and descend for about 20 miles all the way down to Nice. The scenery is stunning on our ride to the coast. As we near our final destination we will meet the coast and cycle along the sea front beaches and soak up the sun and maybe a dip in the Med before out final photo’s and group meal.
Sun: Departure Day
Following our final night’s accommodation in Nice, today is departure day. The guides will be leaving around 8am as they have to drive back to the UK but Nice Airport is within easy reach from the Hotel you will be staying at and public transport and taxi’s are readily available to transfer you there.
The tour price includes 10 nights accommodation, 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, snacks, tea, coffee, & hot chocolate, full trip support including a tour leader that cycles with the group, back up van with spare parts and a few spare bikes, detailed route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, certificate, luggage transfer each day, lots of fun!
What’s Not Included?
Evening meals, cycle hire (available for a fee), ferry to France, accommodation in Ouistreham, transport from Nice.
The group will be a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 25 people. We feel that this size of group works best as there will always be enough in the group for some good company but there won’t be so many people that it becomes overcrowded.
Accommodation is in clean and comfortable, B&B’s, guesthouses and hotels. Either sharing a twin or a double room or, if you would like your own space then you can choose the single room option, or sole occupancy of a double. Most of the rooms are en-suite however there maybe a few nights where your room isn’t en-suite (sole occupancy of a double is guaranteed e/suite).
Covering approximately 840 miles over 10 days we average around 84 miles a day with some longer days in the flatter areas and some shorter days in the hillier areas especially when we climb Mont Ventoux (there is an option to cycle round it).
All of your breakfasts and lunches are included in the price of the trip. Many of the guesthouses in France only provide a basic breakfast and for this reason we always have an early brew stop with extra food available. Lunches will be provided each day in a cafe or restaurant. Evening meals can be bought at your accommodation or in a nearby pub/restaurant. We also have fruit, biscuits, nuts etc in the back up van that you are welcome to pick at throughout the day.
An experienced tour leader will cycle with you each day and be on hand to help with any bike problems that may occur. You will have detailed route notes so that you can go slower or faster than the leader if you prefer or you can cycle with the tour guide at the back so that you don’t have to navigate at all.
A back up van will leap frog the group a number of times each day so that help is never far away. We carry a range of spare parts so that repairs can be made en-route and we will have a spare bike available in the event that your bike has a serious breakdown.
We highly recommend that you use a bike that you are used to and feel comfortable riding. Your bike should be fully serviced and in good condition before you start, this will reduce the risk of mechanical problems and unnecessary stoppages along the way. Either a road bike or a hybrid bike is preferable. We have a range of road and hybrid bikes available for hire if you don’t have your own bike. We will take your bike over for you if you bring it to us before hand and we will take it back for you at the end of the tour as well (free of charge if you drop off and pick up or £70.00 if we box the bike and post it to you).
This tour is suitable for someone with a good level of fitness and who wants a challenge. If you do plenty of training beforehand you should have no problem completing the ride. We will have a training day in the Peak District available if you would like to join the group before the main event.
It must be stressed that a good amount of training before the ride will make your tour much more enjoyable and ensure that you finish your ride. We are always happy to advise you about training plans in preparation for the ride.
Clothing & Equipment
Clothing for all weathers is recommended so waterproofs are essential. A full recommended kit list is provided & we are always happy to answer any questions that you may have.
It is highly recommended that you take out adequate insurance to cover against, personal accident, loss of belongings and cancellation cover.
What happens at the start of the tour?
We will start the tour from Caen in France. The first day cycling is on Thursday so it is advisable to get to Caen either on Wednesday or early Thursday morning.
To get to Caen you can take the ferry from Portsmouth. We will be around throughout the day on the Wenesday before the tour and can pick you up from the station in Portsmouth when you arrive. We will take the overnight ferry which leaves at 22.00 or 22.45 and arrives in Caen at 6.45 on Thursday morning. We will have time for some breakfast and aim to start cycling around 8.30. Details of ferry services can be found here http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/
Accommodation is included on Thursday night but the ferry fare isn’t included in the tour price.
What happens at the end?
At the end of the tour we will finish in Nice and have a celebratory last night meal and no doubt a few drinks as well. Nice has a large airport which has flights to London, Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle, Edinburgh & Belfast.
As an example you can fly from Nice to Manchester for 64 euro’s and the flight takes 2 hours 25 minutes (prices liable to change).
How do I transport my bike?
Your easiest option is to drop your bike off with us beforehand and will will take it over for you and bring it back at the end of the tour – there is no charge for this option. We are based in Glossop, Derbyshire so this may not be a convenient option for you.
Another option is to take your bike with you at the start of the tour and at the end of the tour you can either take your bike with you on the plane (we will provide a cardboard box and packing material for you and help you to box your bike). Alternatively we can take your bike back to the UK for you and box your bike and post it too you – there is a charge of £70 for this option.
Another option is to rent a bike from us.
Whatever arrangements you make we will be happy to help.
How difficult is the tour?
The tour is comparable to the Lands End to John O’Groats tour in terms of difficulty.
The fitter you are & the more training that you do beforehand will add to the enjoyment of your tour and improve your chances of succeeding the challenge. If you need any advice about fitness please contact us and we will be happy to discuss any questions & concerns that you may have.
What mechanical knowledge do I need?
We don’t expect you to be an expert bike mechanic but there are a few simple skills that will be a great benefit to you. The most important skill you need to know is how to fix a puncture. It is quite likely that at some point you will have a puncture or 2 so it is essential that you carry a puncture repair kit & a spare tube or 2 with you. It is also helpful if you know how to change your brake pads and adjust your brakes & gears however this isn’t essential. Our guides will help you with any repairs & adjustments en-route.
What are the lunches like?
Lunches will mostly be picnic lunches situated in some picturesque places. We will source local specialities and provide plenty of delicious French food every day of your tour, you certainly won’t go hungry. We will have plenty of food available and will cater for any special dietary requirements.
Will I be left behind?
No, a tour leader cycles at the back of the group so that you won’t be left behind if you are worried about cycling too slowly. Throughout the group there will be a mix of abilities & cycling speeds so you will usually be able to cycle with others that cycle at a similar pace. Some people like to cycle fast whilst others prefer to take their time, stop for coffee & cake or stop to take photos etc so whether you are a ‘speed demon’ or more of a ‘tourer’ there usually will be someone to cycle with each day.
What are the groups like?
Obviously each group is different but generally they are a fun, friendly, helpful & adventurous bunch. There will be people of all ages and from all walks of life. We tend to get quite a few older riders although there will always be a few younger riders as well. So far our youngest rider (for the 10 day Lands End to John o’Groats tour) was 15 & the oldest 80. We think that a group of 20-25 is ideal as there will be plenty of people with similar interests & character without being such a big group that it becomes too much.
Generally the group will be split 50/50 between people travelling alone & people that travel as a pair such as two brothers, two friends, two partners. There will be plenty of people to socialise with throughout the day and in the evening.
Many of the people on this tour will have cycled LEJOG with us previously so you may even bump into someone you know!
What happens in the evenings?
Once you have arrived at your accommodation you should have chance for some time to relax, have a shower etc before the evening meal. We usually arrange somewhere to eat for the evening meal so that we can all get together & you won’t be left alone if you would like to eat with others. Quite often will simply arrange a certain pub to meet up & just drift in when you are ready whilst at other places we have a set time to eat – it just depends on the location.
Does the support vehicle follow the group?
No, the back up van doesn’t drive behind the group at all times but the van shouldn’t be too far away if you require assistance. In the morning we have a group brief and set off cycling, meanwhile the backup driver will collect all the luggage from the various B&B’s and hotels. Once all of the luggage has been loaded, the support vehicle will leapfrog the group stopping when necessary. The backup driver will be at the lunch stop should you need anything from the van & in the afternoon will go on ahead to ensure that your luggage is in place before you arrive.
How much luggage can I take?
There is limited space in the back up van to store luggage. We therefore request that you try to keep your luggage size to a minimum and try not to bring too much with you. Washing clothes can be done en-route so you shouldn’t need to bring a clean set of clothes for every day. The ideal size for luggage is 70 x 50 x 30 cm and a weight of 15-18kg (or less).
What training should I do?
The more the better. We will provide a training guide for you so that you can build up your cycling strength and prepare for the ride in the correct way. It is important that you cycle two long days back to back whilst training & also that you cycle on some hills. We hold training weekends at the start of the season so that you can meet with others in the group, ask any questions you may have & also test yourselves amongst the hills of the Peak District.
What bike should I use?
The most suitable bike for this trip is a road bike, however it is entirely up to you what type of bike you use.
Please ensure that your bike is fully serviced and in good working order before the start of the trip.
Tyre inflation & rubber composition is important & a tyre width of 25cm is recommended for this tour. Please ensure that you have hard wearing tyres with plenty of tread.
You are going to cycle 840 miles so it is important that your bike won’t let you down. You may want to fit new brake blocks, tyres & inner tubes before you start the ride and also bring 3-4 spare inner tubes, pump, puncture repair kit and multi-tool to carry with you each day. It is essential that you are able to fix a puncture.
It is also advisable to have lights from & rear lights on your bikes and try to be a visible as possible.
Can I hire a bike from you?
It is advisable to use your own bike if possible however we realise that it is not always possible to use your own steed so you may wish to hire one. We have two types of road bike and three types of hybrid/touring bikes bike available. Details of these bikes can be found by clicking on the ‘Tour Extras’ tab.
All of our hire bikes come fitted with cycle computer, pump, 2 water bottle cages, bell and front and rear lights. There is also a small saddle bag with a spare tube, multi-tool, puncture repair kit & tyre leavers. We can also provide a helmet for you at no extra cost.
What gear should I take?
We provide a suggested kit list so please contact us if you would like a copy sending to you.
What is the male / female ratio?
This varies with each group. There are usually more guys than gals but an average would be about 1/4 ladies & 3/4s gents.
France is a wide and diverse country which contains a variety of different and changing landscapes. France is also 1/4 as densely populated as the UK and much more rural so the roads are quieter and cyclists are treated with much more respect.
France is the cultural home of cycling and everyone has heard of the Tour de France. We will cycle through some of the iconic landscapes that you will have seen whilst watching the tour and most notably we will take in Mont Ventoux en-route to Nice.
France enjoys much better weather than the UK so chances of a dry and sunny tour is much more likely than if tackling LEJOG although it must also be noted that it can get very hot in the summer months, especially in the south.
France is also well known for it’s gastronomy and also fine wines and we will do out best to ensure that you sample plenty of the delights on offer. Added to that a rich culture, medieval villages and stunning architecture all of which makes France an ideal place for a long distance cycle tour. Covering the country from the English Channel to the Mediterranean enables you to visit many of Frances beautiful and interesting places.
To book a tour please send a completed booking form and (a) Deposit of £250.00 per person for tours of 7 days or longer or £50.00 for all other tours or (b) The full holiday cost. If only the deposit is paid at time of booking then full payment of the holiday is required no less than 8 weeks before the start of your holiday. No further reminder is sent. If you book your holiday within 8 weeks of the holiday start date, the full holiday cost is required at time of booking.
Cancellation by Us
In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the tour you will be entitled to a full refund of all monies paid or we will move you to a different tour date if you’re able to do so. If the tour is cancelled because the minimum number of people required to operate this tour hasn’t been reached then you will be notified no less than 3 calendar months before the departure date. If the tour is cancelled by us we will not be responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred such as travel expenses, visas etc & no compensation will be paid to cover these expenses.
Cancellation by You
If you have to cancel your holiday then please notify us as soon as possible. We always try to be fair and will always try to move you to different tour date if possible. If you cancel your tour less than 8 weeks before your tour start date then you will lose all monies already paid. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance to cover cover this.
Notice of Cancellation Charge (% of Full Price)
|Length of time before the tour is due to start||Cancellation Charge|
|More than 60 days before start date||Deposit|
|Less than 60 days before start date||100%|
Cooling Off Period
If you decide to cancel your tour after receipt of your booking form you will be entitled to a 14 day cooling off period. During this time you will be entitled to a full refund of any monies paid.
B&B Option – double or twin
If you chose the B&B only option you will stay in a mixture of B&B’s, hotels and country pubs. If you are travelling with a friend then you will be roomed together in a twin or or if you’re with your partner then you will be in a double room (or a twin if you prefer). If you are travelling alone then you will be roomed with another member of the group in a twin room (same sex). The actual stopovers may change from the advertised accommodation providers, if this happens then an equivalent standard of accommodation will be used nearby. The majority of the rooms you stay in will be en-suite however you may stay in a couple of rooms that are not en-suite.
Single Room Option
If you choose the single room option you will have your own room for the duration of the trip. This will be in either a single room or single occupancy of a double room in a mixture of en-suite and non en-suite rooms.
Sole Use of a Double room Option
If you choose this option you will have a guaranteed double room to yourself throughout the tour. You will always have an en-suite each night of your tour. There may be a rare occasion when you have a separate bathroom but this is very unlikely.
YHA (Youth Hostel) Option
This option is only available for the 14 day LEJOG tour. If you chose the YHA option you will stay in a mixture of hostels, hotels & B&B’s staying in single sex dormitory rooms, single rooms, twin rooms & triples.
On tours with 8 people or less in the group then there may only be one tour guide with you who will drive the back up van each day. Tours with 8 - 15 people in the group will have two tour guides with one guide driving the back up van and the other guide cycling with the group or both guides driving a back up van each. Tours with 16+ will have a guide that cycles with the group plus two back up vans do provide support.
If you choose the cycle hire option you will be provided with your bike at the start of your tour. The bike comes with everything you need for your trip although some people like you use their own saddle, peddles and/or helmet (just let us know beforehand). At the end of your tour you can simply hand your bike back to us when you finish cycling. Please see the additional cycle hire sheet for details of the bikes we have available.
If the minimum number of people required to run the trip is not met then we will have to cancel the trip. You will be notified at least 3 calendar months prior to the start date of the trip if the minimum number (usually 8 people) hasn’t been met & you will receive a full refund of all monies paid.
In order to comply with EU Travel Regulations 1992 your deposit & final payment will be held in a separate account until your holiday is completed. This is to ensure the financial security of your holiday.
It is compulsory that you take out adequate holiday insurance including medical cover, personal accident, loss of belongings & cancellation cover. We cannot be held responsible for your own illness, injury or loss/damage of your bike or belongings while on holiday.
EHIC – European Health Insurance Card (for EU nationals travelling in Europe)
This card entitles you to greatly reduced or free state medical services throughout Europe, including Switzerland. We recommend you send off for one of these before the trip and carry it with you. It’s important to bear in mind that these cards are not a substitute for travel insurance and adequate travel insurance is compulsory for this tour. This link will give you all the information you need about the EHIC. www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC
Cycling is a potentially dangerous activity & the risks involved should be considered before undertaking such a trip. We will be cycling mostly on quiet back roads however there will be times when we cycle on busier roads where traffic density is higher. All persons undertaking this tour do so at their own risk & Peak Tours cannot be held responsible for any accidents that may occur whilst on the trip. For further details please see our risk acknowledgement statement here which forms part of these conditions.
By signing your booking form you agree to the booking conditions as outlined above. Peak tours will carry out our obligations as detailed in the tour itinerary & any information supplied to you.
DUE TO ‘BREXIT’ AND THE EVER DECREASING VALUE OF THE POUND WE MAY HAVE TO APPLY A SMALL SURCHARGE TO THIS TOUR IF THE SITUATION DOESN’T IMPROVE. PRICES WERE SET BEFORE THE ‘BREXIT’ VOTE AND SINCE THEN THE POUND HAS PLUMMETED AGAINST THE EURO. IF THE POUND CONTINUES TO FALL THEN UNFORTUNATELY WE WILL HAVE TO APPLY A SMALL SURCHARGE TO THE TOUR. IF WE DO HAVE TO APPLY A SURCHARGE THEN YOU WILL BE ENTITLED TO CANCEL AND HAVE A FULL REFUND. WE HOPE THAT THIS WONT HAPPEN BUT IT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE OUR CUSTOMERS AWARE.
The following extras are available for this tour: