France offers the verified velophile so many options - from road, mountain and cyclocross right through to long-distance touring, alpine climbing, urban exploring and more.
As this is a 'ten-minute trip' let's first get the elephant out of the room and talk about the world's premier annual cycling event, the Tour de France.
More a celebration of all things cycling than a bike race, le Tour is an experience that has to be seen to be believed.
After dreaming about the big trip for years my first tour was in 2012 - the year after Cadel Evans' glorious win.
The first stage I attended was in the majestic city of Rouen. Walking in the warm French sun, through the crowds toward the finish line after years of late nights watching it on tele, well this instantly became one of life's highlights.
Le Tour de France is a drug, the race should come with a warning.
Being on the Champs Elysees 3-weeks later, feeling the atmosphere as Mark Cavendish, yellow jersey wearer Wiggo and the colourful peloton blasted the final laps of the race ... it was completely surreal.
I went back the next year, 2013, to see Froome win, and again in 2014 (with official press accreditation this time) to watch Vincenzo Nibali don yellow.
So if you're planning to cycle France, make sure do it in July so you can enjoy the best race in the world and a sensational European summer cycling holiday.
Where To Ride?
At approximately 700,000 sq km in size, there are literally thousands of biking options in France.
Although no way exhaustive, I've whittled a long list down to my top 5 places to ride based on annual trips to 'République Française'.
#1 - The Alpes
No trip to France is complete without conquering a col or ten. Your legs will ache, heart will beat sky high, and your lungs will burn. But nothing beats the feeling of riding up one of those near-vertical climbs made famous in the Tour.
I've spent a fair amount of time around Grenoble - easily accessible from Paris via a high-speed TGV train. Grenoble, and nearby Gap are two towns that are perfect bases for those who want to take on the 21 bends of Alpe D'Huez.
Don't discount that famous peak's neighbouring climbs - Col D'Morte, Col D'Ornon and Col D'Grande Serre. These are just as worthy of your attention (and energy!). Further details here - http://www.alpineroads.com/grenoble.php
#2 - The Eurovelo
Think you've got a pretty good local bikeway?
Sorry but it's nothing on the Eurovelo network. With 14 long-range cycle routes connecting the European continent, Eurovelo is used by bike tourists and local cycling enthusiasts alike. A well-signposted network of primarily bike-only bitumen roads, this is bike touring at its best.
I've been fortunate to travel extensively on Eurovelo 3, 5 and 6 and simply want to go back and do more ... tomorrow!
The various Eurovelo's abound in accommodation and food options, trips can be easily planned and researched online. Drool over http://www.eurovelo.com/en for more.
#3 - Besancon Region
Often include in the Tour de France itinerary, the region around the historic city of Besancon features the very best of France.
The smooth bike paths along the waterway of Le Doubs are fantastic for fast passages or calm and gentle touring - it's up to you.
Besancon offers some great bike shops and I guess we'd also better mention the citadel, described as one of the world's finest masterpieces of military architecture.
More info at http://www.besancon-tourisme.com
#4 - Strasberg to Colmar and The Rhien
Last year I joined my Paris-based brother in exploring the myriad of bike
ways and paths around Strasbourg, Colmar and the enormous Rhein River.
Criss-crossing our way between Germany and France, we ate, drank and biked the week away.
With a mix of canal and riverside paths, quiet, traffic-free roads and bike paths, we enjoyed an amazing two-wheeled trip to this fairy-tale part of Europe.
Fine food, well-priced hotels and sensational local beers punctuated solid 100km days. As a result Alsace is high on the 'gotta go back' list.
Some great info here! http://www.cyclomundo.com/p_alsace_intense_6_days.html
#5 - Don't Forget Paris!
Not only is Strava a sensational way to record your rides and progress, it's also a great way to recount trips that otherwise might be forgotten.
Tracking back through my slow but satisfying records, the city of Paris pops up often. Though many might want to escape a big city to get away from the traffic and ride, Paris offers some sensational cycling!
With a well-established network of bike paths, bike infrastructure abounds. And so do Strava segments!
Not only will you find some of the planet's best bike shops in Paris, you'll also discover some world-class cycling.
I'd recommend riding the parks of the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes. Check them out on maps and you will see what I mean!
Speaking of Strava - the site features some great rides of paris which you can see here https://www.strava.com/local/fr/paris/cycling/routes_