Published by Lyn on 20 January 2015
Robin emailed from Australia to ask about buying a bike for a cycling tour along the EuroVelo 6 from Orléans in the Loire to Dole in Franche-Comté.
I am hopeful you might be able to help me. My husband and I are travelling from Australia to France in May to travel on sections of the EuroVelo 6 from Orléans to Dole. We are having a lot of trouble getting a reasonable bike rental because of delivery and pick up issues (it will cost more than €300 to deliver and pick up two bikes between these towns).
We thought we might buy cheap bikes in Orléans and leave them in Dole, but we don’t really know if we can do this in a short time frame. We have seen suitable bikes on the Carrefour website, but I don't ’now if we can get these in Orléans at the Carrefour shop there. Can you offer us any suggestions? We would be very happy if you could.
I wrote back:
Yep, pleased to help (especially as you are fellow Aussies!)
Bike hire pickup/delivery is hard to find outside the immediate river area of the Loire, and in general it gets more expensive the greater the distance (and the more regions you cross). There are much better delivery services in the south of France.
For bike purchases, I'd opt for Décathlon – there is a store in Orléans.
This is a nationwide chain of sports goods stores. It's very good. They have good bike sections with mechanics on hand to set you up etc. They'll also have accessories, panniers, pumps and anything else you need. They mainly have their own brand Btwin bikes, but they should be fine to kit you out.
You can see their bike range online so you know what you want and you could even email or phone ahead to make sure they have what you need in stock.
For leaving the bikes at the other end, I'd check with your B&B/hotel to see if they'd be interested in buying them at a cheap rate for future guests.
Otherwise, try listing them in advance online at leboncoin.fr. This is a nationwide buy-and-sell website that most French people use. Decathlon bikes should sell well on there if priced well.
I hope that helps. I'd love to hear how you get on.
Robin wrote back:
Thanks sooooo much Lyn. This is such great advice; we have been worrying quite a lot. We are happy to donate our bikes at the other end to someone (we thought perhaps to a backpackers somewhere). Don’t really have to sell them providing they didn’t cost too much. We were worried about the set up, so this is perfect. We will check it out online and perhaps try to preorder.
I am sure I will email you for more advice in the near future. We are very excited about our trip.
I wrote back:
That store definitely has mechanics (see 'atelier' under 'services).
The benefit of buying from Decathlon as well is that the bikes will be protected by warranty, and you can pop into any Decathlon on your route if you have problems with the bikes and they will fix/tweak them for you. See the 'nos magasins' link for the map of France to see where else they have stores on your route.
I'm usually a big fan of local bike shops, but they can be very expensive here in France and Decathlon are so reliable and affordable that it makes it hard to shop elsewhere for basic stuff (we get all our kids' bikes from them, plus we have one of their town bikes to trundle around on). We also buy our cleats and pedals there for our road bikes.
See also my accommodation section (or the map below) for B&Bs and hotels – I don't have loads (yet) for that route but the ones that are there have bike storage etc as I've checked with each place. See here for other advice on accommodation options in France.
The chain hotels (Ibis etc) are fairly stock standard, but they are usually affordable and in handy areas for the Loire.
See also this article on following the Loire from its source to the sea.
See also my tour listings for the Loire secton in particular, as the companies there generally cover all the best bits and you could steal some must-see ideas from them.
Drop me a line if you need any other info and I'll help if I can.
Send your reader Q&As to me at email@example.com and I'll try and help if I can. I post Q&As on the blog so they can help other people too, though contact info, full names etc are kept confidential. You can also post questions on our Facebook page to benefit from the collective wisdom of the Freewheeling France community.