We are based in the charming town of St.Jean-en-Royans in the Vercors National Park, Auvergne Rhone-Alps - a short stroll from cafes, restaurants and shops. All our routes leave directly from our door, on a network of relatively flat, secondary roads and quiet main roads passing by walnut groves, orchards, sunflower fields and a matrix of rushing rivers fed by the surrounding mountains with the stunning views of the Vercors limestone cliffs as the backdrop. Routes are generally loops ranging from 20 km upwards through the rural countryside to visit the local towns of Pont-en-Royans renowned for its houses built precariously into the steep cliffs overlooking the Bourne river or St.Nazaire-en-Royans with its architectural aqueduct high above the Isere river. En route, there are opportunities for wild swimming, picnics, a boat trip, a visit to a water museum and an tour around an interactive garden. If that's not enough, canyoning, canoeing, paragliding, via ferrata and zip wiring are other local activities within the region. And when you've had your days adventure, Velo Vercors will be a welcome place to return for a dip in the plunge pool or to chill with a glass of the local 'Clairette de Die' before strolling into town to enjoy the local food and wine of the region at one of the local bistros.
Summer 2020 family package (based on a family of 4)
Self-catering gite, bike hire, 1 home cooked evening meal with wine and aperitif £1330
Forests, prairies and jaw dropping cliff top roads.
As well as the relatively flat routes from our base, our location at the foothills of the Vercors gives you the opportunity to easily access the three major climbs leading up to the Vercors plateau at 1200m where you will enter a different world of forests, prairies and jaw dropping cliff top roads. The cycle up any of the gorges will be an adventure in itself and possibly your first time, as a family to experience a long, alpine climb of between 10-12 km. The climbs may be long and challenging, but they are not steep with an average gradient of 5-7%. However, be prepared and take lots of water and energy bars as the cafes and restaurants are mainly situated in the towns on the plateau so you will have all the work to do before getting to them. The stunning views and changing landscapes should be enough to keep you going and whichever route you decide to take to the plateau will be a unique cycling experience you will recall, as a family, for many years to come.
Alternatively, you may decide to take the hard work out of it and drive up to the plateau to experience the many marked out forest trails and walking routes to see the unique fauna and flora of the Vercors. You may even come across the wonderful array of wildlife living on the gorges and plateaus including stags, deer, chamois (small wild goats who cling to the mountainside) and peregrine falcons. Wolves were re-introduced into the high Vercors a few years back but you are very unlikely to come across them.
The plateau is dotted with pretty hamlets and villages giving you the opportunity to stop for a well earned lunch or drinks. Just make sure you arrive between 12-1.30 as they have a limited serving time!
There are lots of things to see and explore in the region which will be of interest to all the family. In an exceptional setting at the foot of the high Presles cliffs, the Grottes de Choranche owe their reputation to their renowned, extremely beautiful “soda straws”, like crystal straws made from limestone, caused by a rare phenomenon. Scientific research has now unveiled their history. The hour-long guided tour will also show you the olm, an early form of amphibian from the age of the dinosaurs, and also a fairyland of underground lakes and a magical son et lumière show.
If you are interested in the history of the French Resistance during WWII there is a memorial and museum at Vassieux-en-Vercors in rememberance of those who lost their lives.
If you don't fancy the 57km round trip bike ride, its worth a drive to St.Antoine de l'Abbaye to journey back in time to the Middle Ages. Marvel at the beautiful roofs, half timbered buildings as you stroll along the charming winding streets to the XI abbey in one of France's 'Beaux Villages'. Lunch at one of the cafes or restaurants before popping into one of the artisan pottery, leather and jewellery shops.
Le Jardin de Petrifiantes is a beautiful garden created around waterfalls on the banks of the river Isere. Interactive and artistic drawing on nature it is a wonderful, peaceful place to spend some time. Pick up the Bateau Roue at St.Nazaire-en-royans and take a trip down the Isere on a old 'steamer' style boat to be dropped off outside the garden where you can have a drink or lunch at the outside cafe under the shade of trees.
Day 1 - Arrival day. Hello and welcome. After a tour of Velo Vercors and a refreshing drink we'll get you settled into your gite before fitting you on bikes.
Day 2 - Cycle to the picturesque medieval village of Pont-en-Royans (9km) renowned for its suspended houses which look like they are about to topple into the river Bourne positioned at the gateway of the fabulous 'Gorges de la Bourne'. Spend the day swimming in the river or the fresh water pools and waterfall. If you are up for it, there is the option of cycling up the first 5 km of the Gorge de la Bourne which is relatively flat and overlooks the Bourne river and waterfall in the gorge below. Visit the Water Museum/cafes and restaurants before your cycle home (9km).
Day 3 - Velo Vert cycle route. Pick up this 42 km dedicated cycling route from St.Nazaire-en-Royans which follows the Isere river crossing over it and back at various points. Stop for a picnic en route or head to Romans-sur-Isere for lunch.
Day 4 - Cycle to St.Laurent-en-Royans (9km) and along the quiet cul de sac valley road of the Combe Laval watching out for large lizards but also remembering to look up at the vast caramel cliffs of the Combe. (6km) Visit the Greek Orthodox monastery at the end of the road or stop for a picnic by the river. Cycle on to the next village to the 'Cascade Blanc' - a 40 ft waterfall and river where the locals hang out on hot summer days.
Day 5 - A morning drive to the Choranche caves stretching 30km underground housing a rare collection of stalactites and the 'Proteus', one of the most ancient animal species. In the afternoon cycle to Lac du Marandan (20 km round trip) - a man made lake very popular with local families.
Day 6 - . Trip into the Vercors! From St. Jean-en-Royans drive up the spectacular national heritage 'Combe Laval' - a classic road that clings to the side of the mountain looking down on an extensive gorge with magnificent tunnels cut through the mountains. Stop off at Lente to explore the trails in the Foret de Lente which harbours wild boar, chamois, deer, falcons, owls, peregrins and rare fauna. The Vercors was at the heart of the French Resistance during WWII and suffered great loss of life. A cemetary, memorial and museum at Vassieux-en-Vercors pays tribute to the civilians and Maquisards who paid the ultimate price.
Day 7 - Cycle to St.Nazaire-en-Royans (9km) and take a boat ride down the Isere river finishing at Le Jardin des Fontaines Petrifiantes - a wonderful fun, inspirational and educational garden for all the family. Lunch at the garden or picnic on the Isere river and then a 6km cycle along the river back to St.Nazaire for a well earned refreshment at one of the local cafes. Then its homeward bound to St.Jean-en-Royans (9km)
Day 8 - Goodbye, farewell, au revoir.