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France and Belgium

Bruges to Bordeaux

Guided Road Bike Tour

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

15 days

Prices from

$3,880 P.P.
France and Belgium

Bruges to Bordeaux

Guided Road Bike Tour

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

15 days

Prices from

$3,880 P.P.
BOOK NOW
Our journey of over 900 miles takes us through two of the world’s most passionate cycling cultures; Belgium and France. As we ride we encounter a wide range of scenery from the infamous cobbled climbs of Belgium and the vineyards of Burgundy before the mountainous extinct volcanoes of the Auvergne and finally the gently meandering Dordogne river.
We start our journey in the picturesque Market Square of Bruges, surrounded by cyclists, everyone in Bruges is riding a bike! From here we cross Flemish speaking Flanders, taking time to learn of its famous cycle race, the Tour of Flanders (or Ronde van Vlaanderen) and briefly sample its cobbles. Crossing into French speaking Wallonia we spend our final night in Belgium in the city of Mons.
Leaving Belgium the scenery noticeably changes. As we enter the Montagne-de-Reims it is a sea of vineyards, arriving into the Champagne producing region. Vines become a theme of our journey as we cross through Champagne, Burgundy and Haut-Beaujolais. The terrain and climate conducive to growing fine wine also makes for excellent cycling.
In the Auvergne we take a departure from vineyards as we tackle a series of climbs, including the Puy Mary, an extinct volcano used many times in the Tour de France. Wooded mountainsides, small sleepy villages and virtually traffic free roads, makes this a high point of the tour in every sense!
This road cycling holiday from Bruges to Bordeaux is a hugely varied journey designed to satisfy all your cycling needs! In the day we cycle through gorgeous scenery on carefully chosen roads and in the evenings we have the chance to enjoy Belgian beers, and the wines of Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux. A cycling and cultural extravaganza!
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Highlights

  • Dramatic spires and bustling market squares of Bruges
  • Belgium’s cobbled climb, the Koppenberg, made famous by the cycling Classics.
  • A chance to ride through some of the most famous vineyards in France.
  • Climbing the extinct volcano of Le Puy Mary
  • Visiting several of Les Plus Beaux Village de France
  • Exploring the elegant and cultural city of Bordeaux

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival: Brussels Airport
Non Riding Day

Arrive into Brussels International Airport, Bruges Station or Zeebrugge Ferry Port to meet our guides who will transfer you to Bruges where you will have time to explore the city and check over your bike before beginning tomorrow’s ride. Lively and exuberant Bruges has been attracting travellers for centuries. Its dramatic spires and medieval architecture means that it is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Narrow intimate medieval streets open up into expansive squares where we can sample traditional Belgian beers, frites and mayo. The market area is now the site of many restaurants and the iconic towers of the belfry are clearly visible from near-by. For fans of the cult classic film ‘In Bruges’ it’s a chance to spot many of its filming locations or you could spend your afternoon in Bruges very own ‘Beer Museum‘.

Day 2
Bruges to Mons
85 Miles / 137 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 755 Metres Approx.

In Bruges everyone cycles and we will take our place alongside daily commuters and racing cyclists as we start our ride alongside the canal on dedicated cycle paths.

Cycling is deeply imbedded in Belgian culture and many professional and aspiring cyclists choose to make Belgium their home, and of those many choose Oudenaarde where we will have our coffee stop in the Flanders Museum. Here we will learn more about the classic one-day race, the Tour of Flanders, and see memorabilia from its history. After a quick coffee we will be off to sample the cobbles of one of Flanders’ most infamous climbs, the Koppenberg.

Our ride starts in Flemish speaking Belgium but toward the latter part of our day we will cross into French speaking Wallonia where we finish our day in Mons, the 2015 European Capital of Culture.

It’s impossible to ride through this area without seeing the lasting scars of the First and Second World Wars. Mons was one of the first engagements of the First World War and one of the last moving battles before static trench warfare took over.

The Grand Place, the central square of Mons, is expansive as it is stunning, and is a great place to celebrate our first day on the bike. One tradition whilst in Mons is to stroke the head of the iron monkey found outside the main entrance of City Hall. Its origin is not really known, but it dates back several centuries and is supposed to bring good luck.

Day 3
Mons to Signy l'Abbaye
73 Miles / 114 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,175 Metres Approx.

Today’s route is constantly rolling, featuring lots of short little ups and downs, characteristic of this region. The Ardennes could be described as a more modest Dordogne. Gentle hills lack uniformity so the lines of the horizon are ever changing and we’ll be passing through agricultural land, often planted with potatoes and beets.

We pass by stunning open timber beam barns which are actively in use housing animals and storing crops. It is a landscape that has looked unchanged for centuries but this region saw some of the most severe fighting of the World Wars and occasionally we pass not fields, but cemeteries of white crosses.

Signy l’Abbaye is a small town, typical of the Champagne Ardennes region, pretty yet unassuming. On the edge of the wine growing areas it is a relaxing place to spend our evening.

Day 4
Signy l'Abbaye to Vertus
81 Miles / 130 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,290 Metres Approx.

Today we enter the region of Champagne making, passing through row after row of vines. The terrain and climate that makes great wine also makes for great cycling giving us some fantastic views and an enjoyable day in the saddle. The gentle slopes of this area, so perfect for vine growing are also kind to the legs of bike riders!

We skirt round the busy town of Reims on quieter roads before entering the Montagne-de-Reims natural park. It is the unique geology of the Montagne-de-Reims, a layer cake of different soils and rocks which lends itself, to growing the very important vines this area is famous for.

As we ride through the vineyards there is a lot to look out for as each row of vines has a marker, often with a famous name emblazoned on it, giving us a chance to see where the grapes of our favourite bubbly actually grow. Toward the end of our day we pass through Epernay and along the Avenue de Champagne where such names as Moet & Chandon, Mercier and Pol Rogers have their home. Beneath our wheels lies 110km of cellars and over 200 million bottles of Champagne making this one of the most expensive street in the world!

Our stop for the evening is in Vertus, a small village surrounded by a sea of vines, the perfect place to relax.

Day 5
Vertus to Essoyes
77 Miles / 125 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 995 Metres Approx.

We make good progress on relatively flat roads to begin our day but as we pass through the Foret d’Orient the scenery and gradients change and we climb through the woodland and into the hills bordering the Seine river, close to which we will pass our evening.

Our stop for the night is the village of Essoyes, in the heart of the Cote des Bar champagne region and once home to the famous painter Renoir. Renoir was brought up in Paris but his wife was from Essoyes where they lived together and now both are buried in the gated cemetery in the village. The painting theme can be seen throughout the village with large murals of Renoir’s most famous works and easels filled with flowers to mark significant viewpoints.

Old crooked beamed houses lean in a jumbled fashion over the river with the scenery remaining very similar to how it would have been whilst Renoir was there painting. Some of his most famous works were of the landscapes around Essoyes.

Day 6
Essoyes to Gevery Chambertin
82 Miles / 132 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,490 Metres Approx.

Today we pass into the Cote d’Or region (or literally golden coast). The region could very well be named after all the gold that the wine production brings to this area, or more poetically after the sea of golden leaves that can be seen after the harvest during late autumn. Here the roads rise gently and we have more sustained climbs than on earlier days in the trip.

We pass from the vines of Champagne production to the Grand Cru vintages of Burgundy. Our evening stop in Gevrey-Chambertin gives us opportunity to sample the Pinot Noir this area is known for. Gevrey-Chambertin’s greatest Grand Cru is named after the field of the monk Bertin (Champ de Bertin) and in all the village boasts an impressive 9 Grands Crus. Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest wine-producing village in Burgundy’s Côte d‘Or. As we wind our way through the vineyards we will be able to spot the higher slopes of the Haute Cote, the vines used for the more prestigious vintages.

Day 7
Gevery Chambertin to Cluny
71 Miles / 115 Km Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,095 Metres Approx.

A slightly shorter and easier day gives us a small respite from climbing as we cycle through the vineyards of Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet close to Macon. Burgundy wines are grown in small sections known as ‘climats’ or ‘lieux-dits’. These smaller areas make a distinctive patchwork on the landscape and are unique to this region, so much so that they are now protected as a UNESCO world heritage. This style of growing is a product of many centuries of savoir-faire from wine growers who learn the unique characteristics of each plot. Some ‘climats’ are surrounded by dry stone walls to protect them from herds of animals, often with elaborate gateways with the name of the domaine on them. These are known as clos and many were constructed as far back as the middle-ages.

We finish the ride in the picturesque town of Cluny built around a Benedictine Abbey, once the largest in Western Europe, but only a fraction remains. Whilst the Abbey itself is hidden behind high walls it is open to visitors and the surrounding medieval streets are atmospheric for an evening stroll. Without entering the Abbaye itself you can still you can visit some of the 18th century cellars by wine tasting at Le Cellier del’Abbaye.

Day 8
Cluny to St Symphorien de Lay
75 Miles / 120 Km Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,400 Metres Approx.

Today we have a series of small cols to conquer as the gentle slopes of vineyards give way to wooded mountain tops as we begin to cross the Massif Central, but before we leave this wine growing region we visit the iconic Roche du Solutre.

This sculptural limestone escarpment rises up above the vines and has become a symbol of southern Burgundy. From the top it is possible to see the Alps on a clear day but we won’t have time to tackle the hour long trek to the top as we have mountains of our own to climb. At the base of its slopes geologists have found thousands of mammoth, bison and auroch remains and the area appears to have been inhabited for over 52,000 years. We wind our way up to the Roche through the Mâconnais vineyards spotting the names of Pouilly-Fuse and Saint-Veran along the way.

We pass over our first proper col of the trip as the rolling hills increase in height to small 600m-700m mountains and we are rewarded with an exhilarating descent that leads through the aptly names Haut-Beaujolais region to the town of Beaujeu itself. Beaujeu was the medieval capital of the area and is named after the Beaujeu family whose grand castle once dominated the town. Whilst no longer such a significant town its pretty centre and wine museum makes it a popular stop on the wine trail.

Our ride continues through quiet roads, lush green fields and densely wooded hill tops, each summit giving way to gloriously easy descents as we tick off several more minor Cols on our way to our stopping place of St-Symphorien-de-Lay.

Day 9
St Symphorian de Lay to Auzelles
70 Miles / 113 Km Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,075 Metres Approx.

Our route profile today is a little different. Yesterday’s profile resembled a saw tooth of minor cols but today we have just one significant climb to tackle, the Col du Béal. Here we attain our first pass of over 1,000m at 1,390m in preparation for the Puy Mary still to come. The top of the climb forms the border both physically and administratively between the Loire and Puy-de-Dôme Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. From the top you can see in the west the Puy de Dôme, the Dore mountains, the Cantal mountains and even in very clear weather to the east the Monts du Beaujolais, Mont Blanc and the Alps.

The col is a gradual 27km in length, its lower slopes through villages and farmland before wooded upper regions where we ride alongside rocky streams. We break the climb at Chalmazel where we will stop for a coffee in the shadow of its grand medieval castle.

After our descent of the col we are into the Auvergne region and we pass through the pretty village of Bertignat with its tumble of medieval buildings mixed in amongst more recent architecture. We rest in the village of Auzelles, a small hamlet nestled in amongst sweet chestnut forests.

Day 10
Auzelles to Murat
71 Miles / 114 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,080 Metres Approx.

To kick off our day we have to tackle a short climb up out of Auzelles but once this is behind us we are treated to a relatively easy morning as we gradually descend toward the Allier River and the village of Blesle, listed as one of France’s most beautiful villages, a ‘Plus-Beaux’ village. Built beneath a basalt cliff edge Besle started its life in the 9th century with the foundation of a Benedictine Abbey. It remained a prosperous town until the 17th century when the arrival of the railway halted its expansion leaving its architecture little changed since then.

The Allier river cuts its way through a gorge which creates a playground for white water rafters and kayakers throughout the summer months. A gentle road accompanies the river and we trace its edges for the remainder of our morning gradually gaining height until we say good-bye to the river and head towards the Col de la Croix de Baptiste at 1,229m.

Once we have reached the top we retain our height, with just minor dips and rises, until we reach our overnight stop where we rest our legs in preparation for the challenge of the Puy Mary in the morning.

Day 11
Murat to Salers
31 Miles / 50 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,080 Metres Approx.

Today we tackle the Pas de Peyrol, that leads us to the Puy Mary, an extinct volcano which featured a number of times in the Tour de France. A slightly shorter day means we can savour the climb.

Puy simply means volcano and its highly distinctive pyramid shape draws 600,000 visitors a year to enjoy its expansive view across the Cantal region and marvel at Europe’s largest, now dormant, volcano. A chain of smaller puys can be viewed from the top, their mounded humps looking like the back of a sleeping prehistoric stegosaurus.

After a short warm-up our climb starts in Dienne, the ascent is 13 km long and takes us to a height of 1,589m. The average percentage is a seemingly gentle 4.3 % but that hides the truth of the steeper 13% sections but by this stage in the trip our legs are strong and ready for it.

Our shorter day means that we don’t need to rush the climb and we can take our time enjoying the high point of the trip, celebrating with a welcome coffee at the top in the rustic bar. With the climbing done it is all downhill to the town of Salers on possibly one of the most fun descents you can do anywhere in France. Once the first steep section is over with minimal pressure on the pedals you can maintain your speed all the way to our night’s stop.

Salers is now famous for its breed of cattle that go by the same name and as a maker of Cantal cheese. Instead of sipping fine wine tonight you can instead enjoy some finely aged cheese from the caves of Salers.

Day 12
Salers to Souillac
83 Miles / 133 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,215 Metres Approx.

Whilst we still have some climbing today the overall trend is downhill, with the occasional up to keep our legs awake, as we drop all the way to the Dordogne River. As the road mirrors the meander bends of the river the lush green countryside and distinctive turreted roofs of the traditional buildings it’s dramatically different to the mountain of the previous day.

We follow the course of the river for over 60km, stopping to admire the many beautiful villages along the way. In Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, its literal translation ‘beautiful view’, we pick up a virtually traffic free narrow wooded lane, that keeps us within close sight of the river. Toward the latter part of our day we follow the banks of the river to visit the ‘Plus-Beau’ village of Carennac, once significant for its boatmen who would ply people across the river. Its stunning architecture and distinctive red-brown roof line is well worth a picture and if time allows we will enjoy an afternoon coffee in one of its pretty cafes.

Shortly before our arrival in Souillac we leave the river behind as we head to this modern working town with a hidden medieval heart. In amongst its modern shops there is a tight network of tiny lanes opening up into the Place du St Martin, a perfect spot to end our day.

Day 13
Souillac to Bergerac
76 Miles / 122 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,110 Metres Approx.

We resume our journey alongside the Dordogne visiting several of the pretty villages that make this region beautifully picturesque, and popular. The number of fortified villages, or bastides as they are known, we pass through today reminds us of the unsettled history of this area.

There are approximately 500 bastides in France, most of these are in the southwest, and the majority of them were built in the two centuries from 1200 to 1400. At the time, the southwest of France was a frontier region, belonging partly to France, and partly to the kings of England. The establishment of bastides was a way to bring the population together in areas which could be more easily controlled and defended than isolated farmsteads. It also allowed the development of trade which over time meant these towns became amongst the most prosperous in the area.

We deviate away from the river for a short while which allows us to enjoy lunch close to the virtually untouched bastide town of Monpazier, its traditional covered market square at the centre of the village, just as bustling today as in medieval times.

We rejoin the banks of the river as we head toward Bergerac and once again start to encounter vineyards as we make good progress on relatively flat roads.

Day 14
Bergerac to Bordeaux
78 Miles / 126 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,020 Metres Approx.

Our final day of pedalling and we have a bonanza of Bordeaux vineyards on our way to our final destination. We pass through St-Emilion and encounter the names of the most famous wine chateaux of this region. Our final kilometres are on a well-maintained tarmac cycle path alongside the river, which allows us to relax and enjoy the grand views as we cross the river to our final night’s accommodation.

Bordeaux held the title of number one European tourist destination in 2015 and with good reason; it is a World Heritage site and has undergone extensive restoration of its grand 18th-Century buildings and public spaces. It is elegant in design and its buildings speak of the great wealth of their earlier inhabitants who were able to create such sumptuous dwellings for themselves.

Culture, food and wine play a huge role in Bordeaux lifestyle, it is indulgent without being showy, its buildings graceful and refined. Here we will have a chance to celebrate with a final glass of the local vintage and review the many and varied places we have cycled and stayed.

Day 15
Departure: Bordeaux Airport or Train Station
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

Following our final night of celebration, we say goodbye to Bordeaux. Transfers will be arranged to Bordeaux airport on the final morning for those returning home.

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The Cycling

Terrain

The terrain varies dramatically with flatter days near to the start, a crescendo of climbing in the middle and more gentle rolling hills as we reach our conclusion.

Our route is chosen with care to balance the climbing and terrain with the daily mileages generally higher when the terrain is flatter. The trip has some short but steep climbs in Belgium where the terrain is otherwise flat, the mid-section of the route becomes increasingly hilly as we cross the Massif Central building to the climb of Le Puy Mary (1600m/5250ft) and finishing with easier riding along the Dordogne river.

Road surfaces in France are generally good although some of the more minor roads may include uneven sections, occasional potholes and gravel patches, but surface quality in general is superior to the UK. In Belgium we will have some short sections of cobbled terrain to get the flavour of this unique, and famous, riding style.

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Road Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 - 4: Moderate/ Challenging

Distances between 50-75 miles / 80-120km per day

For more regular riders who like to push themselves a little from time to time

Not extreme but certainly challenging on occasions with some good climbing opportunities

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You’re an enthusiast. Road cycling is probably your main hobby and you ride regularly at weekends, staying on the bike for much of the day. You’re in pretty good shape, and you might also participate in cylo-sportive events. You also love a challenge and are looking for a tour with some good climbing, preferably with an opportunity to tick off some famous Tour de France cols, or the like. You’re a competent descender, and you’re not afraid of speed, but you ride safely and within your limits at all times. You understand road etiquette and you’re comfortable riding in a bunch. You might even take a stint at the front of the pack if the need arises.

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Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
18/07/2021
Return Date
01/08/2021
Duration
15 days
Price
$3,880.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms)

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full support service, including Skedaddle support driver and Skedaddle riding guide

D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid

E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers

F) GPS device with pre-loaded daily routes

G) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Brussels International airport (BRU), Bruges Train Station or Zeebrugge Ferry

H) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Bordeaux airport (BOD) or train station

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike hire (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Airport and ferry port transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Group airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday. To join the airport transfer on arrival, you’ll need to arrive into Brussels airport (BRU) before 13:30 for a 14:00 transfer.

At the end of the tour, we will transfer the group to Bordeaux airport (BOD), with an estimated arrival time of 14:00 – please consider this when booking your return travel and allow enough time to check in for your chosen flight.

Please contact us for more detailed information on the specific flight schedules available for your holiday. Please check with us before booking any flights, to make sure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to ensure your flights fit with our scheduled transfers. Please note – If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the above time windows there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

Accommodation

Accommodation (shared twin or double rooms) will usually be en-suite in 2 and 3 star hotels, chambre d‘hôtes and local auberges. Our accommodation has all been hand-picked and chosen for their room and service quality, as well as their food quality and, of course, French charm.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have bikes available to hire. These bikes are Scott Addict 20 or alternative brand equivalent, great bikes with good quality components. If you do decide to hire a bike we can include a helmet and all necessary spares for the trip. Please request helmets when booking. The bikes come with flat pedals as standard, so if you prefer to ride with clip-in pedals please bring your own pedals along with you.

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