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An electrifying biking journey from Bordeaux to Toulouse


After I first inform mates I will be spending 5 days of my European vacation biking, I am met with an comprehensible mixture of shock, confusion, and real encouragement.

I’m, in any case, no bicycle owner. Nevertheless it’s the attract of contemporary air, French wine, and sunflower fields (together with the keenness of my accomplice and mates) that has me satisfied. Oh, and did I point out there’s additionally the promise of a hill conquering e-bike (that is a motorcycle that may be powered by electrical energy in addition to propelled by pedals, for the uninitiated)?

The headlines are dominated by the rise and rise of the electrical automotive but additionally of electrical bikes, with gross sales booming all over the world. From 2016 to 2021 e-bike gross sales in Australia have risen by 800 per cent, in line with Peter Bourke, common supervisor at Bicycle Industries Australia.

E-bike fanatics contend that they will encourage extra folks, maybe like me, to train – and even, quelle horreur, embark on a biking tour of France – ease site visitors congestion and scale back automobile emissions.

In France I will be becoming a member of a burgeoning two-wheeled motion of devotees of all types of biking, propelled by the green-led Paris 2024 Olympics that is seen the French capital remodel itself right into a Gallic Copenhagen.

Having simply watched the ultimate stage of the 2022 Tour de France in Paris, I really feel extra motivated than ever. My e-bike and I are driving from certainly one of France’s most well-known wine areas, Bordeaux, to the well-known pink metropolis of Toulouse. A lot of the journey, which takes me throughout the cobblestones of French communes and previous numerous vineyards, runs alongside the Canal de Garonne, an idyllic tree-lined waterway identified for its bike path.

I am driving with my accomplice, Michael, and our mates, Mark and Nikitah, who’ve kindly allow us to crash a brief portion of their honeymoon. Saddle up and be part of us on an electrifying journey round France.

DAY ONE: BORDEAUX to LA REOLE, 68 KILOMETRES

sunnov20cover e-bike cycling in the south of France ; text by Gyan Yankovichcr: Cyril Cosson/Bordeaux Tourism (handout image downloaded from https://phototheque.bordeaux-tourisme.com for use in Traveller, no syndication) Bordeaux aerial

Bordeaux. Photograph: Cyril Cosson/Bordeaux Tourism

Recent off the two-hour prepare from Paris, we catch an Uber to the outskirts of Bordeaux to satisfy Norbert, the proprietor of O2 Cycles (o2cycles.com) , who we’re hiring our 4 bikes from. Norbert is a personality and exhibits off the ability of our e-bikes, leaping on one himself to do a lap of the automotive park.

“The turbo is loopy,” he says, in a thick French accent, taking us by the totally different settings. Michael and Mark, who spend many mornings operating collectively, have opted out of the e-bike expertise, selecting to stay with conventional velos as an alternative.

We pack our panniers with the necessities and hand the remainder of our baggage over to Norbert, who will meet us once we return to Bordeaux by prepare in 5 days.

Whereas the load of our e-bikes takes some getting used to, in comparison with the boys’ mild bikes, no matter impracticalities come up are greater than made up for at any time when Nikitah and I face an incline.

The bikes have 4 settings – turbo being the best – and we take our time clicking between all of them, coasting between eco (the bottom) and tour (a contact extra highly effective, however with out the identical oomph as the game and turbo settings) many of the manner.

I have been warned that at this time would be the hilliest of the journey as we navigate the roads main out of Bordeaux, eagerly ready to get to the well-known bike path. Finally, we discover our manner, recognizing the primary of the inexperienced indicators that line the biking route the complete option to Toulouse and past.

As we transfer off the nation roads, the fields of hay bales that line the trail turn into vineyards and we spot what appears to be a vineyard, only a brief detour off the trail. We experience to Chateau La Freynelle, trepidatiously knock on the big picket door and meet Jade, who welcomes us inside for a tasting.

We be taught that the winery not too long ago handed into the arms of its first feminine proprietor, who swiftly painted the concrete ground of the chateau a vivid pink. Of the 5 wines we style, it’s the proprietor’s private favorite, a cabernet sauvignon that all of us love most.

We admire the sphere of wildflowers that develop outdoors the chateau after which head again on the bike path. The day goes rapidly as we get used to the bikes (Norbert was proper concerning the turbo, which kicks in as quickly because the bike feels you going uphill) and climb hills wanting ahead to the promise of rolling down the opposite facet, my bike’s digital speedometer hitting 50 kilometres at one level.The roads are quiet and by late afternoon we make it to La Reole to verify in to La Parenthese (laparenthese.be) within the coronary heart of the sleepy commune.

Regardless of the e-bike, my legs nonetheless really feel like jelly, and I think about how rather more ache I would be in if I would been tasked with taking up all these hills with out it. I am adequately drained, however not utterly exhausted, which I’m grateful for on day one of many journey

We meet Lucie, a sort French lady who runs the B&B, which has attractive bedrooms, excessive ceilings, and a neat backyard out the again. She tells us the one restaurant open in La Reole tonight is an Italian pizzeria a brief stroll away.

I am unsure whether or not it is the fun of getting made it by our first day or the hassle of driving virtually 70 kilometres however the primary restaurant, with its plastic tables and chairs, is a pure pleasure. I am positive my pizza, full with thick effervescent cheese and layers of roasted eggplant, would not fairly get an Italian chef’s tick of approval however it’s a meal I’ll proceed to speak about for the subsequent 5 days.

DAY TWO: LA REOLE to TONNEINS, 45 KILOMETRES

After a healthful breakfast of ache au chocolat and a contemporary baguette, served with a collection of jams and orange juice, we farewell La Reole, propelled by the promise that we are going to lastly see the Canal de Garonne at this time. We experience previous sunflower fields, stopping to admire flowers with heads larger than our personal.

Finally, it reveals itself. Tall bushes line the canal, which sparkles with the reflection of the overhanging greenery. We begin to see extra fellow cyclists, most greeting us with a wave and pleasant bonjour as we move. We not often spot one other e-bike, however zoom previous cyclists sweating of their head-to-toe Lycra.

Lucie has advised us a few lookout close to Meilhan-sur-Garonne, so once we see an indication directing us up a tall flight of stairs, we cease. From the highest we see a view throughout the opposite facet of the canal: vineyards, orchards, and kilometres of French countryside.

Persevering with alongside the canal, we move beneath and over bridges, because the bike path strikes from one facet to the opposite. Finally, we depart the Garonne to experience by golden cornfields in direction of Tonneins.

As soon as within the city, we cease for a drink at a neighborhood bar, reaching the a part of the journey the place folks talking English is not an expectation.

We verify in to Studio renove dans le centre ville and prepare dinner a easy pasta for dinner, joking about how a lot Italian meals we’re consuming on a tour of France, earlier than getting an early night time, our e-bike batteries charging beside our beds.

DAY THREE: TONNEINS to ST JEAN DE THURAC, 58 KILOMETRES

sunnov20cover e-bike cycling in the south of France ; text by Gyan Yankovich
cr: Vincent Bengold/Bordeaux Tourism (handout image downloaded from https://phototheque.bordeaux-tourisme.com for use in Traveller, no syndication)Generic for wine tour and wine tastingLocation : Léognan in Bordeaux France

Photograph: Vincent Bengold/Bordeaux Tourism

The fun of biking by fields of sunflowers would not get outdated. At present we’re travelling with our panniers full of our haul from a neighborhood grocer: French cheeses, ripe tomatoes, and a baguette, which comically pokes out of certainly one of our bike baggage.

Feeling formidable, we resolve to make a detour in the hunt for extra wine. We cease first at Les Vignerons de Buzet (nouslesvigneronsdebuzet.fr) wine retailer, and after sampling a pair, we ask if there are any wineries close by and are advised a few close by chateau that has the employees’s favorite rose.

We’ve time to spare, so wind up the hills to Domaine de Versailles (domaine-de-versailles.fr), a vineyard run by a girl named Helene, who would not communicate English.

Regardless of our language barrier, we style (and purchase) her rose, give her dachshund numerous consideration, and revel in our lunch within the shade outdoors her house. Filled with wine and cheese, we nonetheless resolve to cease at an orchard, shopping for freshly picked apricots, peaches, and nectarines.It’s a day of nice detours and we have learn {that a} night time at Domaine du Noble (domaine-de-versailles.fr) is properly well worth the time it provides to the journey. To say the home is grand could be an understatement. We pull in on our bikes, simply because the solar begins to set and admire the nation home with its trailing rose bushes and picket shutters.

DAY FOUR: ST JEAN DE THURAC to GRENADE, 79 KILOMETRES

sunnov20cover e-bike cycling in the south of France ; text by Gyan Yankovich
cr: Joel Damase (handout image supplied by Destination Occitanie : Patrick Fontanel <patrick.fontanel@crtoccitanie.fr> for use in Traveller, no syndication)See filename for Occitanie location

Photograph: Joel Damase

We cycle to Moissac, a small commune an hour and a half experience from Domaine du Noble. Over cobbled streets and highway we admire the sequence of quaint French shopfronts on both facet,

There are extra locations to cease alongside the canal at this time and we store for lunch provides after which direct our bikes right into a park simply off the pathway and order contemporary juices from a stall, taking our time to take pleasure in them within the shade. Slightly manner down the highway we spot a bus that is been transformed into a restaurant and order frites, then ice-creams.

Alongside this portion of the canal there are lots of locks and we stand near the water, watching as a ship enters and waits whereas the water ranges empty and fill, earlier than it could possibly proceed its journey.

We arrive in Grenade, one other small commune, simply an hour-drive from Toulouse. At Villa Leopoldine, we park our bikes on the garden behind the mansion as we clean up earlier than heading to a neighborhood bar.

DAY FIVE GRENADE to TOULOUSE, 39 KILOMETRES

sunnov20cover e-bike cycling in the south of France ; text by Gyan Yankovich
cr: Richard Sprang
(handout image supplied by Destination Occitanie : Patrick Fontanel <patrick.fontanel@crtoccitanie.fr> for use in Traveller, no syndication)
Toulouse : Ouvert au Public

Photograph: Richard Sprang

After the snaking Garonne we let Google Maps information us on a cross-country route in direction of Toulouse. We experience by what seems to be non-public farmland earlier than taking a barely-there path by bushes and returning to our beloved cycleway. There are goats wandering the highway forward of us and we immediately really feel removed from the hills of Bordeaux.

Using into Toulouse looks like reconnecting with the true world. There are folks on the streets and bustling shops and eating places. We seize a desk at The Sherpa, a creperie, and revel in our first and solely meal in Toulouse earlier than we get the prepare again to the place we began. We pile our 4 bikes on the prepare to Bordeaux, grateful we arrived on the station early. We watch as extra cyclists board and discover no spot for his or her bike, then depart to seek out one other carriage with extra space. Norbert meets us on the station with our baggage, we farewell our beloved bikes, and promise him that we’ll be again in France quickly.

Till then, I can not wait to point out my incredulous family and friends movies from the journey, then plan our subsequent e-biking journey.

The author travelled at her personal expense.

FIVE TIPS FOR A SMOOTHER RIDE

CARRY FOOD

I anticipated the cycleway to be lined with French patisseries and boulangeries, however this is not the case. Lunch choices could be sparse en route. Pack a wide range of snacks every day, so you may cease to eat everytime you get hungry.

BOOK AHEAD

Planning is every little thing relating to biking in France, particularly in the event you’re travelling throughout a peak interval. Lodging and baggage switch can guide up forward of time, as can prepare tickets for folks travelling with bikes.

PACK ENTERTAINMENT

Biking is tiring, so anticipate to spend a number of hours each night time recuperating. Our night wind-down ritual concerned a bottle of native wine and a deck of playing cards. Enjoying 500 collectively rapidly turned a good way to move the time at any time when our our bodies wanted a relaxation.

TAKE YOUR TIME

Whereas 45 kilometres feels like a protracted option to these of us with out numerous biking expertise, it really solely interprets to between two and three hours on the bike, relying what tempo you are doing. Take your time and make stops alongside the way in which.

INVEST IN BIKE SHORTS

On a multi-day biking journey, shorts generally is a make or break proposition. I did not put on biking shorts and, let me inform you, by our fourth day of biking, I needed I would thrown a pair in my pannier.

THE DETAILS

TOUR

In case you’d favor to have your baggage with you each night time, there are corporations that supply every day drop-off and pick-up baggage companies and pre-booked lodging. Freewheeling France has a useful listing of various excursions on provide. In case you’re joyful to organise your individual route, Bagafrance gives baggage and bike transfers. Our bike and helmet rent, plus baggage storage, from O2 Cycles price $292 an individual. See freewheelingfrance.comL bagafrance.com; o2cycles.com

STAY

There are various totally different cities to remain in alongside the canal. When reserving lodging take a look at critiques that point out perks like secure bike storage and filling breakfasts which may, sign that it is a common spot for cyclists. We discovered all our lodging by Reserving.com, spending between $200 and $345 an evening for lodging for all 4 of us.

MORE

traveller.com.au/france

au.france.fr/en



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