Zoom in and click on our map of hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and self-catered gites and apartments to find accommodation for cycling in France. These are all places that have been recommended to us as being bike-friendly.
Finding a place to stay in France is never a problem - if you are arriving with your bicycle, finding somewhere with a suitable place for your bike to sleep is sometimes more problematic.
Cyclists we've spoken to have rarely had a problem with hotels turning them away if they arrive by bike, though it's always best to ask in advance and to let the owner or manager know you'll need somewhere to store your bike. Self-catering cottages and apartments are often more suitable than hotels for cyclists as they tend to have more storage space for cyclists. However they're not always the best option if you only need to stay one or two nights. We are building a database of known cycle-friendly accommodation options in France - if you can recommend a place to us, then please get in touch so we can add it to our list.
Here are your other options for finding accommodation during your cycling holiday in France.
Hotels and B&Bs
Hotels and B&Bs in France, as in other countries, cover all budgets and levels of quality. In some rural areas, you’ll find budget hotels (and their breakfasts) very basic. B&Bs are broken down into chambres d’hôtes (essentially B&Bs or guest houses) and tables d’hôtes, where evening meals are offered in addition to breakfast. Try searching our where to stay section for cycle-friendly B&Bs and hotels.
Try booking services like booking.com – not only do they have a wide selection of available hotels (especially in larger towns and cities), but they also sometimes have discount rates. It often helps to cross-check reviews with those on a site like TripAdvisor.
There is a range of hotels available via ALL hotels (formerly the Accor hotel group). They include ultra-budget options, such as bargain basement chains like Hotel F1 and Ibis Budget Hotels, medium range hotels like Ibis Hotels and Novotel, as well as upmarket options like Mercure Hotels. They are all commonly found on the outskirts of towns as well as in city centres, and they all generally have late availability and, sometimes, late/discounted rates.
In larger cities or towns (and often on the outskirts of cities), look out for ‘aparthotels’ such as those operated by Adagio, part of the ALL hotel group, and Citadines, ApartCity and All Suites but there are others. These are essentially hotels that offer studio and apartment accommodation, all with kitchenettes and often able to accommodate extra people on a fold-out sofa. They can be a good option for groups and families.
Chalets, villas and holiday cottages can be a great idea for fixed base cycling holidays, and can prove especially affordable for groups and families. In France, even renting your own chateau is possible – and affordable – for larger groups. Again, try our cycle-friendly accommodation listings for leads.
In exchange for a fixed fee, you’ll get exclusive use of the property, with utilities (electricity, water and, increasingly, internet access) usually all included. You may have to pay a bond. Book well ahead for holiday periods, especially in July and August, when the most expensive rates (or tariffs) will apply. Most prefer weekly bookings but some wil accept guests on a nightly, mid-week or weekend basis.
It’s often possible to deal directly with the owners, either by linking up via their own internet site, or via online booking website. The network, Gîtes de France, offers a similar service.
Booking services like booking.com now also list self-catering properties
France has some of the best campgrounds in Europe – affordable and clean, many of them with five-star amenities. We list some cycle-friendly campgrounds in our accommodation database, and are adding more all the time. There are privately run campgrounds and holiday parks, as well as cheaper, more basic municipal – or council-run – sites. Some are tents-only, but most offer a combination of tent pitches, cabins and caravan/motorhome berths. All can get busy in school holidays, and in July and August in some areas it can be nigh on impossible to find a pitch without a booking.
If you intend to cycle camp, research campsites ahead using a site like EuroCampings, from camp specialists ASCI. It has reviews as well as a booking service in English. See also the bike-friendly Flower Campings network of independent sites, as well as Le French Time, which brings together dozens of locally owned sites. These can also be good family options, with regular tent pitches available as well as chalets, gîtes and even treehouses. EuroCamp, meanwhile, offers only self-catered cabins and tents.
If you fancy a more freestyle approach to your camping, there’s wild camping (or free camping) – we have an article on free camping in France.
For more information on camping, see also...
Hostels (Auberges de jeunesse)
‘Youth hostels’ are open to all, regardless of age, and can be a cheap and social way of travelling. They can often be found on good and out-of-the-way cycling routes, and are a good place to meet and exchange information with other cyclists. Many in France are independently owned, while others are run by associations such as Hostelling International - membership is often necessary, but non-members are usually welcome for a surcharge. Some hostels provide meals, and most have communal kitchens available for guests to use.
Rest houses and lodges
Sometimes – often in more remote areas – farmhouses, mountain hotels or the local mairie will make (usually basic) bedrooms or dormitories available to passing cyclists and walkers. These are variously referred to as gîtes d’étape, gîtes d’étape et de séjour, gîtes-auberges, refuges-hôtels, and gîtes-hôtels. Meals may or may not be available, but kitchen facilities and showers are usually provided. Guide Gites d’etape et Refuges is a good place to look.
Bienvenue à la ferme is a network of farms offering holiday accommodation, usually B&B-style, but they often also have tent pitches available. Farm produce is usually also available for sale. These are great for cyclists as they are often on out-of-town routes, and usually always signposted from the road. Farms must meet certain criteria to be accepted into the network.
Free accommodation in France
It’s possible to travel the length and breadth of France and not pay a single euro for accommodation. The of the two most popular options are Warm Showers, a hospitality network especially for cyclists, and CouchSurfing, a more mainstream but equally well-established alternative. For a full list of free accommodation options, see our article on finding a free bed in France. See also our article on free camping in France.
In alpine areas, it’s sometimes possible to use free mountain huts, refuges or forest cabins (refuges de montagne, chalets-refuges, gîtes d’alpage and cabanes forestiers), though these are usually located in places more suited to walkers that cyclists.
Can you recommend accommodation for cyclists in France?
Have you stayed in cycle-friendly accommodation in France? Recommend it to others cycling in France by posting the details below.