MSM

Road Cycling in the Massif Central

8 days
from
£1,099
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Trip code: 
MSM
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Drop Bars
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

The beautiful Massif Central is the third highest mountain range in France and has regularly hosted some of the most exciting and unpredictable stages of the Tour de France. The region is home to Romain Bardet who polishes his climbing skills on the local cols each year. The area is far less well-known than the Alps or Pyrenees and as result it retains a peaceful, almost remote feel, with few cyclists or cars on the excellent roads. Another real attraction is the incredibly varied, ever-changing scenery along the route, ranging from the lush green dormant volcanoes of the Auvergne to the spectacular limestone gorges and canyons of the Cevennes where we finish the ride. Join us in this road cycling mecca!

Highlights

  • France’s undiscovered alternative to the Alps and Pyrenees
  • Conqueur the climbs of Puy Mary and Mont Aigoual
  • Cycle through the dramatic gorges of Tarn and Dourbie

Key information

  • 6 days cycling with partial vehicle support (limited seats)
  • 100% paved roads 
  • Hilly route with mountain passes 
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus leader in suport vehicle. Min age 16 yrs
  • 7 nights hotels
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Days of Cycling
Day by day breakdown
Day 2102.0km/63.0miles
Day 395.0km/59.0miles
Day 474.0km/46.0miles
Day 5108.0km/66.0miles
Day 671.0km/44.0miles
Day 7113.0km/70.0miles
Rainbow MSM

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Montbrison.

    Once checked into to our hotel there will be time to set up bikes and possibly go for a short ride to Mont du Forez. In the evening we will have a tour briefing and a full overview of the cycling for the rest of the week.  

  • Day 2

    Ride through the Forez mountain range, crossing the Col de Beal (1390m) en route to the village of Sauxillanges.

    Leaving Montbrison we start climbing steadily to the village of Chalmazel to reach the plateau of the Forez mountain range at around 1000m above sea level, with superb views of the valley of Saint Etienne. We continue to climb to the impressive Col du Beal (1390m) on the border of the Loire and Puy de Dome regions. On a clear day the views stretch across the Massif Central to the Alps. From here we descend and ride to the village of Sauxillanges.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Cycle through Issoire then climb the Gorges de Corgoul to Col de la Chamoune (1155m) and the beautiful Plateau de Cezalier; continue to Allanche.

    In the morning we cycle through the pretty town of Issoire then climb the Gorges de Corgoul to the Col de la Chamoune (1155m). This col is between the Monts Dore (North) and Mont du Cantal (Sud) ranges, both superb areas for cycling. Continuing the ride we reach the beautiful Plateau de Cezalier, a huge remote expanse with a truly remote feel – we are unlikely to see many cars up here. We continue to the town of Allanches where we will stay the night.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    A short but challenging stage, climbing the spectacular Col du Pas de Peyrol (Puy Mary-1588m), Col de Perthus and Col de Prat de Bouc.

    A short but challenging stage with 3 big climbs in the Cantal Mountain range on the menu. First we tackle the 13km Col du Pas de Peyrol (Puy Mary-1588m), this lovely climb has featured 10 times in the Tour de France and is famous for being the highest road col of the Massif Central. We descend to the nice village of Mandailles before the climb of the steeper Col de Perthus, shortly followed by the easier climb of the Col de Prat de Bouc ) to the ski resort of Le Lioran before an easy downhill and flat ride to the town of Murat.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    A beautiful undulating route to La Canourgue, passing the spa town of Chaudes Aigues.

    After a short ride to the Cantal plateau with superb views of the ‘Monts du Cantal’, we descend to the thermal town of Chaudes Aigues which is famous for its natural hot spring water, at 82°C it is amongst the hottest in Europe. A short but steep climb accesses the Aubrac Plateau, home to the local breed of Aubrac cows. From here a beautiful undulating route to takes us to La Canourgue, a charming town known as the ‘Little Venice of Lozère’.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Spectacular ride through the magnificent Gorges du Tarn to pretty town of Florac.

    Today’s ride starts with a climb to the Causses Plateau This vast limestone area, enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011, is known for its remarkable Mediterranean landscape and local integrated agriculture. From here we descend to the beautiful village of La Malene and the spectacular Gorges du Tarn, an incredible natural canyon that is up to 500m deep. During this stage we will experience a dramatic change in scenery towards a Mediterranean landscape and climate. We stay the night in the pretty town of Florac. 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Cycle into the Cevennes region and climb Mont Aigoual (1567m) for panoramic views; continue through the Gorges de la Dourbie to Millau.

    Our final ride follows the valley of the ‘Tarnon’ to the village of Vebron as we enter the stunning Cevennes National Park. The main challenge today is the summit of the Mont Aigoual (1567m), a rewarding 19km climb with a steady gradient to a weather observatory built in 1887. Mont Aigoual is the southern-most mountain of the Massif Central and is famous for its climate that can be extremely cold in the winter with strong winds. On a clear day the views are incredible, reaching as far as the Mediterranean, Mont Ventoux, the Alps from Mont Blanc to Mercantour, and the Pyrenees! The long and enjoyable descent leads down to the beautiful Gorges de la Dourbie, past lovely villages like La Roque Saint Marguerite. The ride finishes in Millau, a nice town recently made famous by its spectacular bridge crossing the Tarn Valley – at 2.5km long and 350m high it is an amazing piece of engineering. Here we will enjoy a final dinner and celebrate a fantastic week of riding.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    The tour ends in Millau.

    After breakfast the tour ends in Millau. 

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

France

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

France

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts are included.

For breakfast you can expect a large continental buffet with cold meats, cheese, bread, jams, pastries, cereals and tea and coffee. 

We stay in or near towns with a good selection of restaurants offering delicious food so you can re-fuel after the days cycling.  

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified Drop-bar

Activity Level 6 (Challenging/Tough).

Average daily distance: 93km (58 miles)

6 days cycling with partial vehicle support (limited seats) 

The gradients do not get much steeper than 10% but the climbs can be long. Daily distances are realistic, and there are plenty of opportunities for stronger riders to add more kilometres if they wish. The support vehicle is always available for riders who have achieved their personal goal and require a lift up or down any of the hills.

You should be aware that cycling of all kinds has its dangers and that accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake. 

Please note: Exodus drop bar cycling holidays are not run in a training camp style, all our daily rides are group rides and we aim to cycle as a group wherever possible. The days are broken up with food and coffee stops so it is likely that we will be outside for the majority of the day (sometimes between 9am – 5pm). It is common for the group to split on the longer climbs, please keep in mind that if you are looking to push yourself on the climbs you might have a wait at the top for other members of the group, however the support vehicle will be there to offer warm clothes and snacks.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Call us on 020 8772 3936