The French have a nickname for the bicycle--la petite reine, or little queen. With the country's fondness for the queen of the road, its vast network of quiet backroads, magnificent scenery, and scrumptious eateries, it's the perfect choice for discovering the world on two wheels. In Lonely Planet: Cycling France
, Lonely Planet has created an excellent guide, chock-full of itineraries, maps, and information and advice for those who want to get off the bus and set their own pace. They've mapped out the best rides in the country for neophytes, veterans and off-roaders, with itineraries ranging from a few hours to two months. Here's a sampling: in Paris you can take the bike paths along the Seine or all the way to Monet's gardens in Giverny. The Loire Valley offers intimate excursions by sandstone villages, magnificent chateaux and scenic waterways. Take the tiny, winding roads of Provence to see perched villages and spectacular panoramas of the Cote d'Azur, or dip into Champagne for the terraced vineyards of Dom Perignon. For those up to the challenge, there's the dramatic volcanic landscape of the Massif Central, with its steep climbs and sweeping descents. The Guide includes a chapter on the island of Corsica with its rugged coastal scenery and prehistoric sites. Travelling by bike calls for a plethora of information not found in the typical tourist guidebook. Lonely Planet has it all. "Facts for Cyclists" provides practical information on when to ride, based on the weather and wind patterns, a checklist of what to bring, information on buying or renting locally, a list of cycling events, and Internet resources. There are tips for senior, disabled, or gay and lesbian cyclers, and those riding with children, and lists of which airlines and which types of trains are bicycle-friendly, and how to pack and transport your bike. The "Health and Safety" chapter explains the French rules of the road (including the confusing "Priority to the Right"), and gives tips for getting and staying fit, and treatments for common ailments on the road. Of course, there's the usual info on where to stay, what to eat, and what to see for a wide range of tastes, from camping to a night in a chateaux. There's also a history of cycling in France and a chapter on the Tour de France and its nuances. With the inclusion of the requisite chapter on bicycle maintenance and repair, you're ready to ride.--Lesley Reed
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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