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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) | Green Jersey French Cycling Tours

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Is my money secure?

Yes, 100% secure. You can book with confidence as Green Jersey Cycling Tours are members of the Travel Trust Association which guarantees financial security for our customers over and above the requirements of the Package Tour Regulations 1992. All customers are provided with a Financial Guarantee document  issued by the TTA and your money is held in trust by them until after your holiday is over. For more details see here

Why should we book with you?

Our holidays are carefully planned and designed to show you the best of France, whether it is a long weekend or a two week odyssey you are undertaking. We are a specialist family-run company sticking to what we know and love; we therefore firmly hope and believe that you will get an excellent level of service from us. Our enthusiasm is unending and our sole goal is to give you a great cycling holiday in a country that we love. In short, we want to share the many years of happy biking in France that we have had, with you. You will more than likely make new friends, sharing a common experience and goal.

We ensure that everything is taken care of down to the smallest detail, and our staff are chosen for their 'can-do' attitude - if you want anything, just ask, and they will do their best to provide it.

Is there a single supplement?

We actively welcome single people, who due to the nature of our holidays will instantly have things in common with our other guests. We have completed many cycling tours on our own and in company, and know from experience that whilst you may be quite content to pedal along at your own pace, it's always nice to have people to talk to in the evening.

There is no supplement if you are happy to share a room with another single traveller of the same sex. If there is an odd number of people on the trip and you end up with a room to yourself then you've got lucky, there is still no supplement.

You may however select the 'Single Room option' if you prefer a guaranteed room to yourself and you tick the relevant box on the booking form, in which case we will reserve a room for your exclusive use and charge the amount stated. The price varies from trip to trip and can be found on the relevant trip page.

What about meals?

Breakfast and dinner are included in the holiday price, with a glass of wine, beer or soft drink included in the price. As our guests may go at different paces, you make your own arrangements for lunch - we can recommend suitable places along the way. Anyone who has travelled in France will know that French hotel breakfasts can at times be somewhat limited. We make sure that the hotels we use do not fall into this category and offer a generous breakfast buffet.

On most tours an evening meal will not be included on one night on each week of the tour when your guide has his / her evening off, or on rest days on our longer end to end trips. This will be made clear in the final documentation.

Please note self-guided tours are on a Bed and Breakfast basis only.

How do I find my way each day?

Most people use a garmin or similar, and tracks are provided. They make life much easier and you will not spend time looking at the instruction sheet. Prior to the holiday you will also receive your 'carnet'. This detailed notebook contains full route details, descriptions, distances and other useful information - many people keep these as a fond memento of their holiday with us! If you do manage to get lost we will guide you back to the route or come and collect you. We recommend that you also carry a map with you just in case you feel like a detour or a shortcut.

Does a guide ride with us?

People will be riding at different speeds and there is no compulsion to ride together as a group so there is not a riding guide. It would not be right for the guide to force his or her pace on anyone else, be it faster or slower - you are here to enjoy yourself - and a riding guide would then only be of use to anyone riding at the same speed. Potentially this leaves 1 person with a private guide and 11 feeling a bit left out, which is not how we want it. With garmin tracks, paper route cards and vans at difficult turnings you will not need someone riding with you.

Can I start riding earlier / later in the morning?

The simple answer is yes, of course. Your holiday information pack will include an itinerary that sets out timings and these are the timings to which the support team will adhere. This means that if you decide to leave early or late you may run the risk of missing the cake and coffee, and you will need to be confident looking after yourself out on the road and to take everything you need with you as the day bags will in all likelihood be behind you for a large portion of the day.

Our Gradings

Our gradings are an indication of both the hilliness of a ride and the daily distances. You can find the distances in the itinerary section for each tour, so as a starting point you should be comfortable in cycling that distance on your holiday (see 'What about daily distances below?'). A ride that was completely flat, regardless of the daily distance, would be graded 'easy' because we assume you have looked at the daily distances and are happy with them. We then alter that grading to reflect how hilly it is. A ride with a couple of steep hills each day would be rated easier than a ride which undulates all day. We are happy to provide further information on each ride including elevation profiles. We want you to make the correct choice!

Climbing Quotient ('CQ')

CQ stands for Climb Quotient. It is a unique Green Jersey Cycling Tours measure of how hilly a day / ride is. Some tour guides get in trouble for saying a day is ‘not hilly’, ‘flat apart from the uphill bits’ or other such euphemisms which basically mean it is hilly, or for forgetting a hill (well, we do have over 20,000 miles of routes and we are human)! The CQ is an attempt to do away with the subjectivity of climbing and to add some facts to the climbing and distance; it means that you can compare your own rides at home to see how it might feel on tour. Quite simply, it is the ascent in metres divided by the distance in kilometres and the higher the figure, the harder the day.

What about the daily distances?

The rule of thumb is that you should be able to comfortably cycle half the planned daily distances, so if you can do about 20-30 miles prior to departure you should be fine. Good first time tours are our Canal du Midi ride which is pan flat for virtually the whole ride, our Loire Valley Classic route, which is pretty flat with just a few undulating hills, or our Bordeaux Superieur route. By the end of your vacation you'll notice how much easier it is! Watch out though - it's so rewarding having a great cycling holiday that you'll be thinking about the next one before you've finished the first!

What does it mean when you say the rides are 'supported'?

Our fully supported holidays are accompanied by a full time member of our staff. They are there to make sure you have a good time throughout your trip and to take care of you. They will see you off in the morning having loaded your luggage ready for onward transportation. Throughout the day they will be positioned at various points to offer to fill your water bottle, or so that you can get extra clothing or shed clothing, from your luggage. From a safety point of view, this also means we know everyone is OK and can be alerted to problems at an early stage. At the end of the day our domestique will be waiting at the hotel with your bags. At any point they are contactable by mobile telephone. Each evening during supper they will give a briefing on the next day's ride and weather forecast, and answer any questions.

What about the 'Self Guided' option? 

On our self guided option you get the same great routes as our supported trips. We realise that not everyone can make our scheduled dates, or may simply want to holiday on their own. Simply email us with your choice of dates or put them on the booking form and we will check availability by return. You still get the advantage of our research into the area and the best roads, and our route books with directions and interesting facts. We book and pay for the hotels on your behalf, on a bed and breakfast basis. We are still available to answer your questions or to tailor the trip for you, perhaps adding an extra night here or a shorter day there. You will need to transport your own luggage and be self-reliant when it comes to bicycle maintenance as there is no vehicular back up on these tours.

Can you provide electric bikes?

Yes, we will be pleased to arrange hire of an electric bike if you would like one. Clients who have used them really recommend them and it means couples or groups of friends who may be used to cycling different distances can still enjoy a fantastic cycling holiday in France together!

What do I need to take with me each day?

You should be able to fit most things you are likely to need into your jersey pockets and seat pack, such as a waterproof, camera, wallet, suncream and lock. Some people bring a small rucksack or have a bar bag, which should be easily detachable in case you want to stop off and look at the sites. A bar bag is probably better as you can attach your route notes to the top of it. At the beginning of the tour we will provide you with a 75cl water bottle (which are yours to keep) and our support team will be strategically positioned at points along the route with water and snacks (included). It's a good idea to bring a small bag with you to put in the van for things you may need during the day.

How do I get to the start and home again after the ride?

Our rides are carefully planned to offer easy access to the start and finish. Some begin or end in St. Malo which has a direct ferry from Portsmouth, others in towns with an airport. At the end of your holiday you can either fly home or let the train whisk you home - the French railway network, SNCF is excellent although you will need to consider Transporting your bike. Different mainline routes in France have different bike carriage policies. These are outlined on the route information pages but facilities are liable to change so you must check with the railways yourself, but generally speaking most TGVs (the type of train you take if you want to get anywhere quickly) carry several cycles, but pre-booking is essential. The notable exception to this are the trains back from our St Malo to Sete route, where you will need a bike bag. We will be pleased to answer any questions about this and make enquiries specific to your needs.

We also offer a Bike Return service to St Pancras allowing you to relax on the train whilst we help with getting your bike back form the south of France.

On the holidays which start at St Malo and Ouistreham, we set off early in the morning soon after the ferry from England arrives (ususally 8.15 to St Malo and 6.45 to Ouistreham). If you are arriving by other means we recommend arriving the night before. We can recommend a convenient hotel if you would like us to.

Do you hire bikes?

The vast majority of our riders bring their own bikes and we cannot possibly hold enough stock to guarantee a good fit, or the right type of set-up, for the small number of people who wish to hire bikes. For this reason, we do not directly hire bikes but we can put you in touch with someone who can. You can arrange to collect it yourself or have them ship it to us and collect it after your tour - we will happily advise on what is the best option for the tour you have selected and for where you are coming from. In this way you can liaise directly with the hire people to ensure that they have exactly what you are used to.

Can my non-cycling partner come along?

Yes, we welcome non-cycling partners who want to come along and see the sites. We will probably even have a spare bike for when they are converted! They can ride in the vehicle with our tour managers, or of course you can bring your own transport, they pay the same price as a cycling member of the group. Non-cycling partners travelling with the tour managers should be aware that our first priority is to the safety and comfort of the cyclists and that they should not view the tour manager as a personal driver to take them wherever they want!

Transporting your bike

The good news is that on some of our routes (St Malo to Sete, St Malo to Nice, and Calais to Nice) we offer a bike return service, so no bike boxes are required and no baggage handlers can do their best to squash your finest carbon frame, and you don't need to worry about taking your bike on the Eurostar. This costs £50 per bike (2019) and we will let you know which train you should take to get back to St Pancras to meet us. You can also book your luggage onto the van for the return at £20 per item. We can sometimes arrange to deliver them back to your house / a friend's house if it is on our route (extra charges may apply); please just ask as we like to help wherever possible.

Sometimes if the van movements allow, you can courier your bike to us in advance and we can take it out to the tour for you, or you can drop it off at our premises. Once we have given our word that we will do this, we will not mess you around, so we do charge for this service at £25 per bike per journey. This also helps offset the rising cost of fuel and ferry tickets which may have to be booked on more expensive routes / times than we would otherwise  use.

If you are flying you will need a bike bag or box. Boxes are sturdier and whilst more expensive, they give more peace of mind against damage and are a good investment if you take your bike away often. There are also places that hire them out and we suggest http://www.bikeboxhireeasy.co.uk/index.shtml.

With bike bags you will need to take off your pedals and turn the handlebars at right angles which normally entails undoing your headset. It is a good idea to put bits of wood between the forks (the wheels will have to come off) and to wrap up your rear derailleur in cloth, bubblewrap or both.

We have found that useful for extra protection is a cardboard box from our local bike shop which will protect the bike from knocks, over which we put the bike bag. Pipe lagging is also a good idea to protect as many tubes as you can, or just tie newspaper around the tubes.

If you are taking the train home your bike may still need to packed up into a bike bag although you generally will not have to go to the lengths described above as it will be carried around by you, not an airport baggage handler. It will have to fit the maximum size allowable for luggage which is 1.2m x 0.9m, in order to fit into the luggage racks on the trains. An increasing number of French high speed trains (TGVs) take bikes fully assembled and we can advise on this, although they do need pre-booking and cost 10 euros.

On local trains you do not need to pre-book and can take your bike, fully assembled, onto the train with you.