Cycling has never been so popular among tourists visiting France, according to Natasha Wright, who runs the bike rental and delivery service http://www.bikehiredirect.com with her husband Neville.
“Since we launched in 2006 we have seen an increase in inquiries and bookings each year,” Wright tells The Local. “The fact that cycling has featured so much on TV and in the media has definitely helped.”
In particular, the fact that there have been two consecutive British winners of the Tour de France – Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013 – has raised awareness of cycling among British tourists, she says.
But aside from the media attention focused on the sport, families are increasingly looking for inexpensive activities which appeal to all ages.
Wright, who is a mother of three, says she would much rather take her children on a cycling trip than to a theme park, which can often be expensive.
“People are always looking for better value things to do, and also things to do as a family that children, teenagers and adults can all enjoy.
“You can do a different route every day, and go out in all types of weather.”
Wright also considers cycling to be safer in France than in her native England.
“Since we moved to France, I’ve given my children a lot more freedom outside on their bikes than I would in the UK because it’s safer – cars definitely give cyclists more leeway.”
Although the majority of her customers are English-speaking – including many Americans, Irish, British and Australians – cycling also appeals to many northern European tourists, especially the Norwegians and the Dutch.
Wright, who is based just south of Cognac, says her favourite place to cycle is in the south west of France.
“The south west may not have much to offer to a hardcore racer, but it’s perfect for the average cyclist. You’ve got beaches, fields, vineyards – pretty much everything that people imagine when they think of France.”
Founded in 2006, Bike Hire Direct offers bike rental and delivery in the south-western Charente, Charente-Maritime, Dordogne, Vienne and Haute-Vienne departments of France. Click here for more information.