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Our tour and travel tips for you

About our tours

How to choose a tour

Regarding our tours in France, our France travel and bike tour and walking tours we offer this added information about rating the tours and your ability:

About the "Level" rating system we employ

  • Casual: Beginners and occasional cyclists. Easiest tours we provide. Typically flatter terrain, no notable hills or anything of a steep gradient.
  • Hobby: Weekend riders. People with some cycling experience, rolling countryside, possible short climbs.
  • Active: Cyclists with experience on longer rides. Hilly terrain with reasonable amount of climbs and difficulty
  • Pro: Avid cyclists, ride every week and love long and challenging rides. Dream on riding the Tour de France cols.

Other conditions Surface conditions – road/trails; all assumed to be in good condition; no technical experience is needed and not an added difficulty factor.

More challenging options : Ask us to design you a custom tour or simply take our maps and add miles to your route. Feel free to improvise, but know your limits and know what the symbols on the maps mean!

Weather: heat, rain, and wind will all have an effect on your ride/walk and extremes of each will make it more difficult. Load: carrying excessive weight obviously makes more work for you. We always transfer luggage, so this refers only to what you take in a day pack or in panniers.

Dress: layering, using appropriate and lightweight clothing, protection from the sun, and good footwear make it easier for you.

Equipment: primarily relates to bikes; but knowing how to shift, when to shift, and maintain your bike will make it easier for you as well. How long will it take to cover the rides/walks/hikes at these levels? There is no specific answer because everyone travels at his or her own speed. However, when we indicate a time, such as in the hikes, we generalize with an average of 5 km/hour on flat surfaces and 3.5 km/hr on grade. In the bike rides, we generalize an average of 13-18 km/h on flat surfaces and 10-13 km/h on grade. Those times do include bathroom breaks, but not time for lunch and visits. Everyone should allow time to stop and explore, visit sites, and check directions.

If you can ride a bike at 20 mph; you cannot take a trip and expect to finish a ride in 2 hours. First, you need to allow time to check directions as you go, and then stop to visit. No less than 4 hours should be allowed to do any of the hikes and rides we have in our programs on any day. Longer days will last as much as 8 hours with stops and visits included.

Star tours – aka loop trips! These are days where you return to the same hotel where you start the day. This means that people who are less strong can do shorter days than stronger persons. It also allows a day off, non-active participants to come along, and is a great way for families and groups of varying abilities/interests to do the same trip together. These tours offer everything from easy to challenging rides, (Levels 1 – 3) but are usually rated as easy because it accommodate easy.

Reading Maps and the Roadbooks

All our Tours : We provide, at the orientation, a road-book with cue sheet (step by step itinerary), detailled maps and regional information.

Cycling & Multisport tours, you will find plenty of road signs and indications to keep you on course and roads are easily identified on maps included with the road-book.

On Hiking tours, it is more important to know how to orient with a map as you will have fewer sign postings to rely upon. Hiking tours mostly follow GR routes which are marked trails, sometimes paved, but nonetheless otherwise in remote areas. We provide more detailled maps for hiking Tours and

What else? You should be an independent person, capable of reading a map, interpreting directions, and taking charge of your planning. We are here to help you, but in the end, you will be the one out there on the road/trail and the more prepared you are mentally as well as physically, the more fun and better memories you will have! Use this tour as an excuse to increase your conditioning and fitness and take some time to read everything we send to you as well as do your own research. Preparation is part of the fun in travel – don’t let it go unattended! Within this site you can discover more than just our tours, but also information about the regions of France, and information about traveling in France. Most important though for anyone visiting our site and considering a vacation in France is that you can call us! Let our service and knowledge set us apart! This website isn’t to help us avoid speaking to clients, but to facilitate your planning process, and hopefully get you the information you need right away. If you have a question though, Please contact us if you have any questions about our services.

Bikes, vans, our shop​

At Discover France, we own our own bikes! We employ professonal mechanics to look after all rental bikes as well as our regular professional service to the local customers.

You are responsible for the bikes. Bikes are delivered to each participant based on height. They are sized as close as possible but they remain rentals and may take some minor adjustments. The quality is top notch for rentals. Our mechanics review every bike after each rental to prepare for the next use. WHILE ON TOUR: remember that YOU must know how to fix a flat. We give you the tools, but we are not on call to fix that. We will resolve any other mechanical issues if they should arise.

GPS, route books, support​

Discover France Adventures is proud to be a leader in providing complete and even ‘advance’ technology on our self guided and custom guided tours that allow our clients to use the best equipment possible. We invested in GPS units a few years back and have some simple to use, easy to read, yet sophisticated devices available on nearly all of our tours. (Pictured: hybrid bike with GPS and mount, bike computer, handlebar bag with plastic map holder and inside cover of a sample route book.)

Our route books or ‘road books’ (same thing) are complete packages of information that will help you to guide yourself through the itinerary that we have planned and laid out for you our travelers. Anyone can produce a route book, in general, but we have invested significant time and incorporated the feedback of our customers over many years to make our road books even better. It is always a work in progress as roads change, sites change, and we find even better routes between 2 points. We work on them every winter to prepare for the upcoming season. Our road books include: color coded information, color maps, highlighted routes, orientation points, and easy to follow directions. We try to give you enough information to interpret the route without giving you too much information that makes you read all the time and not enjoy the ride! It is a delicate balance!

Road books are a tool, one that every traveler will use and interpret differently. 2 people do not always see the same thing on a map, and so some people will not interpret the directions the same way. We know this and its why we have created the system we have. Combining the GPS with road book really gives you all the tools and a fail safe way to make your way along a tour route without stress and all the time available to take in the gorgeous countryside, rich culture, and historic sites!

Tour Support? Yes, even on a self guided tour we are behind the scenes working and we are available to you if you need help. We refer to this in our tour pages as ’emergency support’ but we don’t treat many emergencies. In our 2 offices in the Loire Valley and in the South of France we are on standby via phone for all of our travelers no matter where they are in France. Our offices are bilingual French/English and we have some Spanish, Russian, and Italian speakers as well. This support service is available during daylight hours when our clients are out on the routes. We help customers arrange alternative transfers if weather is bad or someone is sick and can’t participate in the day’s activity. We can iron out any problem with hotels you may encounter when you arrive. We help if a bike problem should arise, and we help with additional services you may need during your trip.

Our travelers are never completely alone, even if you don’t see us. The beautiful part of a self guided trip is doing the activity yourself and those close to you; doing it when you want, how you want, but not having to do all the work to make it happen. You get expertly designed routes, support, and service. A self guided trip is the best deal going as far as were concerned, and with all the above info we think you will agree!

Travel tips for France

Part of our included services for tour clients booking trips with us is a variety of travel documents that we send prior to travel. This includes a lot of information relevant to each cycling or multisport tour such as sites in the particular region, and the points of interest. We include suggested dining spots, and any specialties of a region. We also help our customers book trains, added hotel stays, car rentals, and any other ground service in France. Below are some general travel tips we believe useful for any one traveling to France.

France Time zone France is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (G.M.T. +1). This makes it 6 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (E.S.T. +6, and +9 PST). The time is the same all over the country.

The country is divided in 95 departments, each has its name and its number and this number is set by alphabetical order. That number is found at the beginning of each zip code of the department as well as the last 2 digits of the car plates.

Documentation U.S citizens only need a valid passport to travel to France as long as their stay does not exceed 3 months. You are required to carry identification with you at all times when traveling in France. If you lose your passport, contact:

American Consulate
2, rue Saint Florentin – 75001 Paris
Tel: or

Consular Section for Canadians
35, Avenue de Montaigne – 75008 Paris

Post Office – Mail / Shipping
The Post Office is called LA POSTE or PTT. Generally open M-F from 9am to 6pm and Saturday from 9am to 12pm.

France is divided by 5 zones for the telephone. The 2 first digits of a phone number tells you the area: 01 is Paris / 02 northwest / 03 northeast / 04 southeast / 05 southwest.
From the States, you don’t need to dial the 0. But once in France, you have to dial the 0. Phone numbers must have 10 digits (including the first 0), no exception, except of course the emergency numbers. Public phones in France require a telephone card, or they can often work also with a credit card. Check for the signs Visa, Master Card, etc.

Emergency telephone numbers throughout France

24 hour ambulance (called SAMU): 15
Police: 17
Fire: 18

Other telephone numbers in Paris:
24 hour doctor:
24 hour dentist:
English language crisis line:

Public Holidays

January 1st / Easter Monday / May 1st = Labor Day / May 8th / Ascension Thursday (last Thursday of May) / Pentecote Monday (beginning of June) / July 14 = Bastille Day / August 15 = Assumption / November 1st / November 11th / December 25th.

Electric current

Electricity in France runs on 220 volt, 50-cycle AC current. If you bring electrical devices, you will need to have a transformer and plug adapter.

Banking / Purchasing

Banks are generally open weekdays 9am – 4:30pm. In many cities outside Paris banks close for lunch, sometimes for 2 hours. Most banks are closed Saturday and Sunday and all holidays. The main banks are: BNP / Credit Agricole / Societe Generale / Caisse d’Epargne / Credit du Nord, etc.

The Euro

As of January 1, 2002, the Euro is the official currency in France and the 11 other countries currently participating in European currency union. The old French Franc is now part of history and is no longer accepted as a payment form. Check before departure the equivalent of the Euro compare to the U.S Dollar. The Euro paper currency will be the same in all 12 countries, in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euros. The coins however, will bear a different face according to the country. There are 8 coins: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and 1 and 2 Euros.

Driving in France

Document / Insurance / Law

  • An American driver’s license is valid for Americans driving in France. Have another ID document with you like your passport.
  • Insurance is highly recommended, be sure you are set before you leave home.
  • The legal age to drive in France is 18.
  • Trucks, except with special authorization, are not allowed to drive on Sunday.
  • Seat belts must be worn at all times, children under 12 must sit in the backseat
  • Park your car only where it is authorized, fines arrive quickly! And cars are often towed away

Car rental
The legal age to rent a car is 21, but most companies require being 25 years old.
See our links page for companies, and insurance options.

Taxes on gas are very high in France, which explains the price of the liter:
On the petrol pump Sans Plomb means unleaded petrol. Gas stations along highways are open 24 h / 7 days. French usually get gas at large stores like Carrefour, Leclerc, Casino, etc. You can go at any time, help yourself and use your credit card.

Types of roads
Interstate toll way / Motorway = A + the number of the road / 130km/h is the speed limit. This is also a toll road, you can pay tolls with a credit card; this is the fast way to travel, but is not cheap! Every 20 km you have restaurants, gas station, sometimes shops, restrooms. National road = N + number of the road / 90km/h. If you are not traveling too far or if you have plenty of time, then the more scenic and free way to go is on the National roads. A famous road in France is the National 7 / N7. There is even a song about that road sung by Charles Trenet! Department road = D + number of the road / 50km/h. Great for seeing the back country of France; very slow going.


There are many convenient locations within Paris:

  • Carrousel du Louvre: 99 Rue de Rivoli, 75001. Metro: Palais Royal / Louvre (1,7)
  • Montmartre: 21 Place du Tertre, 75018. Metro: Abbesses (12)Gare du Nord: Metro / RER (B,D,4,5)
  • Tour Eiffel: Metro / RER: Champs de Mars / Tour Eiffel (C), Bir-Hakeim (6)
  • Gare de Lyon: Metro / RER (A,D,1,14)
  • Opera, Grands Magasins: 11 rue Scribe, 75009/ Metro: Opera (3,7,8) / RER: Auber (A)

Train Stations in Paris

  • Gare du Nord: North of France, Belgium, Eurostar to London, UK
  • Gare de L’Est: Champagne, Alsace / Germany
  • Gare de Lyon: Southeast, Provence Côte d’Azur / Italy
  • Gare Austerlitz: Loire Valley, Southwest France
  • Gare Montparnasse: Brittany, TGV to Loire and Southwest
  • Gare Saint Lazare: Normandy, western coast

More detailed travel information is available at the French Governement Tourist Office Website at

Train tickets in France - Tips

We suggest that people either buy in advance or in country! What other choice is there? The way to think about it is like this:
If you have a very popular route on the TGV; we recommend advance purchases. Usually TGV tickets with specific seats cannot be purchased more than 60 days in advance. A TGV ticket is almost pointless without the actual seat. They are 2 different things! A ticket between Paris and Avignon, for example, might be valid on any train in a certain time frame, but doesn’t entitle you to a seat on any train. You have to also buy a seat reservation.

We recommend advance tickets with seats for the city pairs:

  • Paris-Avignon/Aix/Marseille
  • Paris-Bordeaux/Tours/St Pierre des Corps
  • Paris Lyon

Rail Passes
: usually a good deal when you travel on the TGV at least 3 times, but often still a good deal if you even use it only 2 times. See the France Rail Pass at Rail Europe. A new pass/ticket option being offered by Rail Europe is the Anywhere Anytime France program of E-tickets. This also looks to be a very useful option, depending your travel plans.

Buying in country, or if you are very confident, then buy online direct from SNCF, the French national railroad: They have English language available, but you may have to go through the French language only site to make certain purchases. If a rail pass isn’t the best deal for you , then perhaps you can get a ‘PREMS’ deal on SNCF directly.

Other tickets: TER and regional trains for 1 way or simple/short round trips. We believe it is almost always best to buy them through SNCF, usually by walking into any station or at a kiosk when in France. Unless you travel with a rail pass, then your pass is good on these trains too. But, we don’t recommend buying point to point tickets on regional trains through Rail Europe. Shipping fees and even seat assignments add up to too much. NOTE: Regional trains do not require seat reservations, so don’t pay for them. Just sit in any open seat in your ticket class of service.

First of Second Class? Look at the prices! Sometimes there is little difference. On the train, there are no added privileges like larger seats or massages , etc in 1st class. What you usually have is a wagon that tends to be a bit quieter with business travelers or adults without children.