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Jaillan Yehia

Ask Yourself This Question Before Researching Self-Guided Cycling Holidays

Written by Jaillan Yehia

Post Categories: Continents | Europe | France | Opinion | Savoir Cycles

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self guided cycling holidays road bicycle

The open road

You’re about to start researching (or maybe you’ve already started) self-guided cycling holidays in Europe, and there are lots of different options, destinations and companies to consider.

There are 50 countries in Europe, many sharing mountain ranges and offering similar types of terrain with slight differences, so the choice is overwhelming.

scenery on a self guided cycling holiday

The scenery on self cycling holidays is a big factor

But as much as you love the open road and the sense of freedom a bike gives you, and as important as the scenery you’ll see along the way is to the overall enjoyment of your cycling trip, make sure you consider this one key fact before you go any further:

A cycling holiday is the best foodie vacation you’ll ever go on.

I say that because it was the single biggest takeaway – if you’ll pardon the pun – from my own road cycling holiday in Provence.

baguette cycling holiday meal

Carbs ahoy – if you can’t eat this after cycling 40km when can you?

So the question you need to ask yourself before you start researching any cycling holiday abroad is simple: ‘which country’s food do I like best?.’

Or put another way, ‘which cuisine do I want a free pass to eat for a week straight, without gaining any weight?’

breakfast in Provence

Croissants, croissants and more croissants – this was one of the best things about cycling through France

Of course a lot of people go everywhere with their bike. And a lot of people go all over the world in search of good food. But one thing I would never have fully appreciated until I went on my own proper dedicated cycling holiday, is that you really have struck gold when you combine the two.

cycling and beer

Also ask yourself ‘which country’s beer do I like best?’

If you think about it, apart from the actual cycling, the only activity you are guaranteed to do for hours every day on a cycling vacation, is eat. So when booking it makes sense to base your decision on the food you’ll eat almost as much as the cycling you’ll do.

Cycling builds up an appetite like no other – and unlike with so many types of holiday, you really and truly earn a slap up lunch and a decadent dinner on every single day of your biking trip, so you might as well pick a country where you’ll be rewarded with the cuisine of your dreams.

French food on a cycling vacation

What would you eat if you could eat anything?

The reason self guided cycling holidays are an even bigger win for foodies over guided cycling holidays, skiing holidays or many other activity holidays is that you find yourself at a different hotel, and in a new town for virtually every meal  – meaning you have an unparalleled opportunity to sample a wide range of different dishes in a host of settings.

breakfast in France

Another day, another bread basket

For that reason I’m glad my first cycling holiday was in France – a country famed not only for it’s good food, but for long, leisurely meals, usually involving copious amounts of cream and cheese.

cake on a cycling holiday

There’s never any need to skip dessert on a cycling holiday

Put simply, there is no way I could have indulged in a 4-course dinner every night, including a cheese board, on a normal vacation. I wouldn’t have had the appetite for it, and even if I did I wouldn’t have been able to do my trousers up for the flight home.

There are also pitfalls to look out for with this food + cycling + holiday = happiness thing.

If you’re covering lots of ground in places like rural France, it can be very tricky to find food outside of normal restaurant hours, so you have to make sure your main rest stop coinices with lunchtime, or you’ll find yourself feasting on cherries by the side of the road in lieu of lunch (true story).

cherries for lunch on a cycling holiday

A pit stop for lunch – quite literally

It’s also a good idea to look into the days of the week the towns you’re cycling in or through hold their markets, and conversely, close their eateries – it could mean the difference between tucking into a bountiful picnic in between cycling sessions, and being met with a sign that says ‘fermé le lundi’. Or you can go with a company like Mark Warner who offer holidays which include cycling and food.

Fruit and vegetables France

Markets and village shops are great places to create your own picnic

But of course one of the big plus points is that in many European countries ‘prixe fixe’ or menu del dia lunch menus are common – meaning you can have a wonderful 3-course set meal for a fantastic price.

prixe fixe France

It’s easy to stop for lunch at a restaurant offering a set menu

So I hope I’ve convinced you that as much as climate, terrain, scenery, equipment and cost are all factors on planning your bicycle adventures, the kind of food that makes you drool is more important than the lot.

For my next cycle tour I’ll undoubtedly choose Italy – it’s the only way I can get a free pass to gorge on pasta and pizza on holiday and still come home home feeling fitter.

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