FRANCE is renowned for its beautiful and scenic trekking and cycling trails, here my travel journalist friend Andrea Wren offers her tips on making a good choice:
From cycling through the peaceful Loire Valley or hiking the gentle coastal walks and riverside paths of Brittany; to stepping it up a notch and scaling the rugged peaks of Corsica or climbing the much tougher (and for the experienced only) Mont Blanc Ascent, there is much to choose from.
Many people prefer to experience this type of activity in the company of others – and trekking and cycling trips come in many shapes and sizes - as many routes or trails there are to enjoy in France, there are organised holidays to choose from.
If you are opting to discover the beauty of France this way, and there's nothing better than being outdoors in the company of others to really take it all in, then you need to think carefully about which sort of holiday will suit you the most.
Before deciding, these are the questions you need to be asking.
1. How many days do you want to walk or cycle out of the whole holiday?
You need to work out how much of the trip you want to spend actually walking, or turning those pedals, and how much time you'd like to just do your own thing.
2. How many hours do you want to walk or cycle?
Think about whether you fancy an easy-going two hours per day, or something more like seven to eight.
3. How high are you happy to climb?
If you are mountain trekking, and Mont Blanc is a famous ascent, remember that the higher the trek, the tougher the walk.
Check altitude and gradient charts or figures if given, or ask for advice on what ascents will be involved with the trip that interests you.
4. What's the weather going to be like?
Temperature and weather conditions are important factors to consider, extremes can make trekking and cycling uncomfortable. The height of summer will undoubtedly be well, hot, whereas the depths of winter – hmmm, maybe not?
5. What kind of terrain will you encounter?
Distance can be misleading; what you really need to know is what the landscape you'll be walking over or cycling through is like. Find out just how flat or hilly it really is.
6. What comfort level do you require?
A campsite in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, or a grand and elegant château in Cote-d'Azur? You might be happy camper for the sake of a wonderful outdoors location, or you might prefer to forego this to ensure a comfortable hotel with all the amenities.
You want the right comfort level for you, so check out where you'll be spending each night.
7. Do you prefer a linear or circular routes?
Decide if you want to walk from point to point or go on circular hikes (this would often be a centre-based holiday, returning 'home' each day).
8. What is your fitness?
Be realistic about your level of fitness and choose a tour that allows you to walk or cycle at a comfortable pace suitable to your level of stamina and fitness.
You will enjoy it much more if you can keep up with everyone else and are not aching in every joint.
And the reverse is true, you don't want to feel you are being held back by a group who is not so able as yourself.
9. What kind of footwear will you need?
You might need trainers, walking shoes or trekking boots for the trip that you're interested in. Make sure your feet feel comfortable, because if they don't, it could ruin a whole holiday.
10. What equipment might you need?
You will always need a water bottle, layered clothes and, if relevant, sun cream and bug repellent, but you might need to buy some specialist gear depending on your chosen trek. Find out if this applies.
Andrea Wren, travel journalist and founder of Wren Elite Travel, is able to provide more about trekking or cycling tours in France, or holidays in general.
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