Where to fill your bidons while cycling in France

Don't get caught out with empty water bottles on a ride – here's some practical advice to help you fill your bidons while cycling in France.

Eau non potable or undrinkable water in France

Don't go there! Photo: Aslak Raanes

For those not used to riding in France, it's worth knowing that it can be hard to find places to top up your water bottles on long rides, especially in the countryside, on weekends and on public holidays when many shops and restaurants will be closed or only open for limited hours. (See this article for advice on public holidays in France).

If you're riding in the mountains or in the countryside – particularly in summer – it really is important to plan your hydration ahead if you're setting off on a ride (especially if you have a thirsty young family in tow).

The key to using public drinking water spots is to look for the word “potable” as this means the water should be safe to drink. Avoid at all costs taps and public fountains marked “non potable”.

In general, local cafes, bars and restaurants will usually fill your bottles or let you use the bathroom, especially if you're grabbing a coffee or lunch while you're there. 

Useful vocabulary: 
un robinet: tap
un bidon: water bottle
Vous avez un robinet?: Do you have a tap?

If you find a town, start by checking in the market square, which should have a tap or toilet. Church yards and cemeteries are also often good sources of clean water. Tourist offices are also usually keen to keep visiting cyclists happy. 

Here's some more local advice.

 

We've also come across this websitewhich is starting to build a network of safe drinking spots in France (thanks to @nemovelosolo for letting us know about). You can add your own suggestions to it as well if you're riding here.

Now, if only there was an equivalent for ice-creams ...

We have more advice here to help you plan your cycling holiday in France

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