Thursday, 10 May 2007 12:00 AM
Cycling is a great way of exploring the French countryside, letting you spend time outdoors, see local wildlife, soak up the sunshine and visit charming places on the way.
It also makes for an ideal active holiday, leaving you feeling fitter and healthier than when you left.
Summer is one of the best times to get biking, as the high-profile Tour de France in July provides and exciting back-drop to keep you peddling.
Among the tour operators offering a cycling-themed holiday in France this summer is VFB Holidays, which has properties close to stages of the tour, allowing you to see the pros in action and go for rides in the area.
The tour operator has a three-bedroom Alpine chalet overlooking a valley close to La Clusaz available for a week from July 14th, which will give holidaymakers a chance to catch the first of the mountain stages.
Stages seven and eight of the tour run from Bourg-en-Bresse to Tignes, a route that rises almost two kilometres into the mountains. The chalet is 5.5 kilometres from the finish of stage seven and start of stage eight, Grand Bornand. A week's stay costs £706 (property code POL2.74).
Further south in Provence you can see stages ten and eleven taking place in Marseille on July 18th and 19th. VFB has a four-bedroom cottage around 40 minutes drive away from the city available from July 14th to 21st.
The period property in Montagne Ste Victoire has a walled garden, a south facing terrace and a built-in barbecue and its interior includes antique furniture and a rustic kitchen. A week's stay costs £925 (property code PAI.13).
Stage 14 of the Tour de France takes place further west, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region on July 22nd. The route goes from Mazamet to Plateau-de-Beille and features two tough ascents.
Less than an hour's drive away, also in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, VFB has a small one-bedroom apartment on the edge of the historic town of Carcassonne, known for its medieval old town and centuries-old monuments. A week's stay costs £779 (property code HEN.11).
For more information on the Tour de France 2007 see the official website.