An alternative Tour de France - recumbent bike tours of France

Published by Lyn on 16 June 2014

Jean Ferraton runs recumbent bike tours in France and Spain. I spoke to him about his upcoming Tour de France trip, and about recumbent cycling holidays in general.

Jean vida bike

Lyn: Jean, can you tell us where the idea came from to start a recumbent tour company?

Jean: I started the company in 2013. Before that I was an IT engineer whose company went bankrupt. I took some time to reflect on my dreams and realised that hiking and cycle touring were really important to me. I had already had the opportunity to try different recumbent bikes some years before and I had really liked them. Everything then came together and I decided to create my own company and let people who love cycle touring enjoy the fun and pleasure of riding a recumbent bike.

Lyn: For people who have never ridden a recumbent, can you tell us why they are such a nice way to cycle in France?

Jean: France is attractive because of the diversity of cultures and landscapes. On recumbent bikes, you enjoy panoramic vision on an extremely comfortable seat. You can be totally relaxed, let yourself be hypnotised by the surroundings, and experience real emotions. That’s why recumbent bikes are such a wonderful way to experience touring in general, and touring in France in particular.

recumbent bike tours

Lyn: You run tours in both Spain and France, particularly in northern Spain, and along popular French routes like the Canal du Midi. However I'm interested in your self-styled Tour de France. It's an epic ride covering some 2000km over 40 stages, and follows a circular route that includes the Loire, St-Emilion, the Med Coast – there's even the chance to climb Ventoux. What inspired this trip?

The main idea was to offer an alternative to the official Tour de France, based on fun and comfort, instead of pain, an to do it on the most scenic routes of France. We created it so that people can discover the French veloroutes in the best conditions. As it crosses the different regions, it takes in different landscapes, food and wines. With recumbent bikes, you don't experience any pain or stress and you can really enjoy the ride and the view.
Tour de France
The route can be adapted to suit riders - people can do a few days or ride the whole way. Do you find this is a popular approach for your riders?
We want to offer a different kind of tour. Our trip is designed for people who love nature, comfort and cruising. We believe these people prize freedom above all so we let them choose the number of days they want to ride with us. It is also a good way to give some local cyclists and tourists the opportunity to try recumbent bikes.
For more on the recumbent Tour de France, see the Vida Bike website.

What are recumbent bikes?

recumbent bike tours france

A recumbent is a bicycle that sees the rider sit in a laid-back or reclining position. In French it's called vélo couché. (In Spanish it's bici reclinada; in Dutch it's ligfiets). While recumbents are generally two-wheeled bikes, it is possible to also get trikes, which either have two wheels at the back or two at the front.

Recumbents are ergonomically designed for comfort, with the rider's weight distributed evenly over a wide seat, and supported by the back and bum rather than just by a saddle. The change in positioin means that the pedals are out in front of the rider, rather than underneath, with the pedals actually higher on the bike than the seat. 

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