Some 22 million people say they cycle during their holidays in France (AFP/Archives/GUILLAUME SOUVANT)
Guest houses, hotels, campsites and even private rooms: accommodation offers are flourishing in France along cycle routes, a sign of an unprecedented boom in cycle tourism, particularly in Brittany.
Some 22 million people say they cycle during their holidays and the government hopes to see France take over from Germany its place as the world’s leading destination for cycle tourism.
And accommodation is crucial to support the development of this practice which is spreading across the country, with a number of walking routes, particularly in Brittany.
Along the Breton roads, some are looking for “good bedding”, others a campsite because “it’s cheaper”, or “a warm night between two bivouacs”.
Alexis Ehrart, a 25-year-old Alsatian crossed by AFP in Saint-Pol-de-Léon (Finistère) on the Vélomaritime (from Dunkirk to Roscoff), made his choice for accommodation: “municipal campsites”.
“The campsites reserve sites for cyclists or hikers”, according to the young man who travels with his friend Florence Willer, also 25 years old, “these are not the best sites but the cheapest”.
A few kilometers away, at the Odé Vras campsite in Plounévez-Lochrist, Gaston Arnal and Yohan Wioland, the co-managers offer “Cabantapes”.
In these small, brightly colored 5m² cabins, rented for 30 to 35 euros per night, there is just room for a double bed, a bedside table with an electrical outlet and space to store your backpack.
“We bought four Cabantapes last year and two this year”, at 3,500 euros excluding tax each, Gaston Arnal explains to AFP. Located near Route 5, a cycle route along the Breton coast, the campsite is certified “Accueil Vélo”.
Accommodation is crucial to support the development of cycle tourism which is spreading across the country (AFP/Archives/Ludovic MARIN)
The “Accueil Vélo” label was awarded by the France Vélo Tourisme association to 6,500 establishments in France, nearly two-thirds (64%) of which are accommodation.
To be labeled you must be located less than 5km from a cycle route, have equipment (bike shelter, repair kit) or even suitable services (washing and drying of clothes, bike rental).
The Odé Vras campsite also offers evening meals and breakfast as well as a small “convenience” grocery store with cereal bars, freeze-dried soups and even shower gels.
– “Have a good time together” –
Ty Monde, a bed and breakfast opened in July in Poullaouen in the Monts d’Arrée by Marion and Pierre-Baptiste Gélard, is also labeled “Accueil vélo”. “It’s trendy,” Marion Gélard, 36, explains to AFP, who “promotes slow tourism, green tourism, nature” and “cycling is part of it.”
Accommodation is crucial to support the development of cycle tourism which is spreading across the country (AFP/Archives/JOEL SAGET)
“I have at least two, even three cyclists per week,” explains the owner who rents five rooms from 85 euros in this renovated old school, a stone’s throw from the Vélodyssée (from Roscoff in Finistère to Hendaye in the Pyrenees -Atlantiques) and the greenway (from Roscoff to Concarneau).
Five cyclists in their sixties have just arrived. An outing “between friends”, according to Jean-François Dubroca, retired “from the bank”, originally from Châteauroux and designated spokesperson by the happy group.
Housing, “we choose it a bit by chance,” he explains to AFP. “We see what lodges or campsites there are that can accommodate us,” adds the cyclist, who nevertheless refers to the addresses given by his Routard guide on the Vélodyssée. “Good bedding is important. We travel 80km a day so you have to get a good night’s sleep,” he explains.
In Saint-Pol-de-Léon, Loïc, 43, who did not wish to give his last name, welcomes cycle tourists free of charge via the Warmshowers site in his house a stone’s throw from the sea and on the Vélodyssée and the Vélomaritime.
Sometimes they come “for a warm night between two bivouacs”, but “it’s beyond just a room”, explains Loïc, “it’s a bit like hitchhiking, the idea is to have a good time together.”
© 2023 AFP
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