Diverse Directions: Self-Guided Cycling Tours in France

Our Customers Share Their Cycling Tour Experiences

We thank each of the following customers for taking the time to share their Diverse Directions cycling tour experience with us.

Barb & Paul of Chichester, New Hampshire completed Diverse Directions' Pilgrims, Castles & Cave Art Tour in August 2016. About their trip Barb writes:

This tour, (our 5th one with you!!!) was perfect! We're older now, so the difficulty of the routes and length of the day spent biking was exactly right for us. Biking through the Dordogne countryside on back roads is so delightful. These routes were really nice, taking us along rivers and through beautiful towns. The sight seeing was great! I love that we can go at our own pace and linger at sites that strike our fancy.

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The directions, lodging, bikes, and luggage pick-up were all very good. The weather was perfect - a bit cool and cloudy our first day (exactly what we wanted for climbing to Rocamadour) then sunny and in the 80's the rest of the time.

We especially liked Hotel Les Esclargies and loved Montfort and La Barde - we could have stayed there the entire time! Marie makes breakfast pastries that are heavenly. The big surprise for me was how much I enjoyed Foret des Singes. I never would've guessed after spending 2 weeks in France among stunning scenery steeped in history I'd come back talking about monkeys!

Hats off to you! Once again our bike trip was pure delight!!

Debra & Roger of North Pomfret, Vermont completed Diverse Directions' Provence Gems 5-Day Circuit Tour in September 2015. About their trip Debra writes:

Roger and I just wanted to get back to you and let you know how much we enjoyed the biking. As I mentioned after our first day, we truly appreciated the work you did in keeping us on the back roads. I will say, we appreciated having our Garmins; following the course was effortless! Hard to pick our favorite, but the loop ride north of Orange was memorable. We also enjoyed that city quite a bit.

Maggie, our local support representative, was great to have. We had a few texts back and forth during the tour and her replies were always helpful and prompt. And in case future clients should ask, the B&Bs in Fontaine de Vacluse and Orange that we stayed in were wonderful. Hotel du Poete was beautiful with a tranquil outside terrace and pool. Great spot to relax and sip a glass of rose. A Propos was similarly relaxing and quiet. The owners of A Propos were extremely affable and helpful with restaurant reservations, recommendations, etc. They went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed our stay, upgrading us to a beautiful and large suite. If anyone is questioning, I would highly recommend either of these locales.

Again, many thanks for your help in putting together a great tour. We are enjoying the last few days of summer in Vermont, getting out on our bikes!

Steve & Melanie of Carrollton, Texas completed Diverse Directions' Western Loire Valley Châteaux 2-Day Circuit Tour in June 2014. About their trip Steve writes:

Wow!!! What a great trip!! Just wanted to drop a note of THANKS for helping us arrange a fantastic ride thru the French country side. Everything you did was spot on! 100%!! I would have no problems ever handing you the keys to the castle! We'll be in touch very soon for another adventure.... Stay tuned!

Bernard & Tracy of Norwood, Massachusetts completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Tour de France Tour in June 2014. About their trip Bernard writes:

Bernard and Tracy at Mont VentouxWe just wanted to thank you for the wonderful experience we just had in France. Tracy and I had a great time. We really enjoyed biking through the farm land (a lot of fruit in season), countryside and up through the villages for some wonderful views. It is unbelievable how the beautiful medieval villages are situated on the hillsides. Unbelievable that people still live in a place so full of history. A few of the mornings we were lucky enough to have a market in the town we were staying in. Great job picking some nice roads to enjoy quiet riding. We also had a great time going through the Gorges de la Nesque and over Mt. Ventoux. Yes, the weather was exceptionally warm in Provence, but I was glad to see that almost every town had a fountain with potable water to keep topped off. We definitely were prepared with a Camelbak and plenty of bottles - and we are glad we had them. Mt. Ventoux actually had almost ideal weather (no wind, milder temps as it was a bit cooler up there). The lodging was also very good too - everyone was welcoming and helpful we felt comfortable every night.

Bernard cycling VentouxWe were also grateful to Maggie for moving our luggage for us. Tracy had a few extra things due to a work trip in Paris the previous week, so we one heavier bag that I would have liked to have shrunk. Yes, we should have read that section in your info packet more carefully beforehand! We always encounter this on our vacations...won't say who is typically to blame...Tracy left Maggie a note, which hopefully she got. We also sort of disconnected from our cellphones except for emergencies, so we got some of the messages late. But everything actually worked out very well as far as that is concerned.

The only issue we had was there had been, and probably is a TGV strike, caused our train to be cancelled from Avignon to Paris. So we had to kind of rush out of Avignon to catch an earlier one. SNCF added extra cars to some of the trains that were actually running and let people on that had their trains cancelled. They were especially helpful at La Banasterie with sorting this out. We spent a few more days in Paris at the end just unwinding and taking in some of the sights there. Getting to the airport was also a little more difficult as the RER was effected.

We only wish we had more time to stay and explore. Time riding on the bikes was about right, as the distances seemed pretty reasonable, but we tended to linger in the different places we had stopped at for too long. It is hard to leave a nice place and move on, but we definitely made the most of each stop. We will just have to make a return trip one day. Tracy works for a French company, so in the future, I am sure we will be back a few times. Perhaps we will even try one of the other regions you offer. We definitely have had a lot of good things to say about Diverse Directions!

David & Jane of Seattle, Washington completed Diverse Directions' Loire Valley Châteaux 6-Day Circuit Tour in mid-September 2013. About their trip David writes:

photoWe have been back in the US for several days now and are just getting back into the swing of things. But I wanted to write and thank you for all your work via Diverse Directions. Our three week trip started with biking in the Loire and we found the whole adventure great fun and extremely enjoyable. The accommodations were uniformly excellent and the innkeepers were all friendly and helpful. The bikes were just right and the overall experience was fantastic. The weather wasn't quite as sunny and warm as we had hoped but the only frustration was a windy, drizzly afternoon ride from Chaumont-sur-Loire into Amboise. Thankfully, Sylvie's Au Charme Rabelaisian had a great room ready for us with a lovely bath for Jane to enjoy.

The balance of our trip involved 8 nights in Paris followed by 2 nights in Normandy (via rental car) and then three nights up in Amsterdam. Overall, the trip was a wonderful way to celebrate our 30th anniversary and enjoy central France. The work you did on our behalf was greatly appreciated and I would highly recommend your services to any and all of our friends. We hope to do this type of trip more regularly now and you can be sure that we will call upon Diverse Directions once again.

Paula & Camilo of Bogotá, Columbia completed Diverse Directions' Western Loire Valley Châteaux 2-Day Circuit Tour with their two children in mid-July 2013. Paula writes:

I wanted to share with you a few pictures of our wonderful trip through the Loire Valley. It was truly unforgettable. We enjoyed it so much that my husband and I are considering taking a trip to Vermont this fall. Hope you like the collage.

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Suzanne, Stephen, and their three children, Katherine, Julia, and Chloe from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada completed Diverse Directions' Loire Valley Châteaux 6-Day Circuit Tour in early August 2013. Suzanne writes:

photo Best trip ever! We're back in Canada (unfortunately) and wanted to let you know that our bike trip was the highlight of our vacation - the maps and directions were fantastic. The accommodations were perfect - we had a mix of everything and loved arriving at our destination and seeing our bags in the hotel. Top spots were Chateau L'Aulee - we arrived at 6:00 pm after a 36 C+ day in the sun and jumped in that pool! Bought a few bottles and they managed to make it home in the packs safely. The other highlight was the Hotel Gargantua in Chinon. The girls had a room in the little tower complete with view of the roasting "sanglier" (which was very tasty) and the fireworks. Being in the middle of the medieval fair was brilliant. We also loved the Hotel Le Blason as the little room looked like it was out of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. The owner of Le Plessis in Blois gave us a bottle of sparkling rosé when we left - very nice owner.

The distances were perfect for the family - Chloe (9 yrs) was always happy to reach the final page for the day but it was never too much and she always had energy to see the castles. We also appreciated the little roads, LAV bike paths, and the sunflower fields... Here are a few pictures...Chloe getting ready for the day - broken arm and only one arm warmer :) and the other is the girls biking in the sunflower fields.

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Julie & Richard from Burlington, MA completed Diverse Directions' Many Faces of Provence Tour in mid July 2013. Julie writes:

I wanted to let you know that Rick and I had an AMAZING trip! Our hotels were great, La Magnaneraie was beautiful (even if it was up a hill,) the pool was treat at the end of our rides and we loved staying in Villeneuve-les-Avignon, it was a highlight of our whole trip. Villeneuve was perfect to walk around in the evening and we enjoyed some great food.

We rode less than we had originally planned but we enjoyed a morning at the market and took a train to Marseille with the bikes to go to the beach one day. The bikes were great and the staff at Provence bike were very helpful. We appreciated all the tips. The Air France bus worked well and your metro instructions were very helpful in getting us to Gare de Lyon.

Thank you for everything! Your help really made our trip one we will never forget!

Tom & Kelley from Redondo Beach, CA completed Diverse Directions' Loire Valley Châteaux 5-Day Circuit Tour in early July 2013. Tom writes:

Diverse Directions' attention to detail and comprehensive communication made for a worry-free experience both during trip planning and during the trip itself. The breadth of options available through Diverse Directions meant that we could easily find the perfect package to suit our needs. Thanks again for a great vacation!

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Lillian from Connecticut completed Diverse Directions' Loire Valley Châteaux 2-Day Circuit Tour with two of her friends in early June 2013. Lillian writes:

Ridiculously great trip. You made it a totally stress free vacation. I usually enjoy doing the details of my own trips but this time I needed a vacation, not a project. Your meticulous directions made that possible. By the way, just FYI, Le Grand Monarque is a great great hotel and deserves another star!!! Also, the little hotel in Tours near the train was great---looked a little sketchy outside but the proprietor was dear, the room was perfect for three, super clean and details paid attention to. We had sixty degree sunny days. So perfect. Thanks for a great job---very much appreciated.

João Carlos of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Tour de France Tour with his wife and daughter in late May 2013. And they have the photos to prove their successful ascent of Mont Ventoux. João Carlos writes:

Dear Stephen, as you can see the trip was Super. Thanks for your support.

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Pam and James from Lake Wendouree, Victoria, Australia completed Diverse Directions' Loire Valley Chateaux 6-Day Circuit Tour in September 2012. Pam writes:

Our bike riding expedition was wonderful and most successful. We loved every moment and did not have any problems and we would like to thank you very much for the excellent service and product you offer. Our accommodation was excellent and of course we enjoyed some wonderful food and wine! It certainly is one of the world's most scenic and historic areas to visit.

For James and I this package was perfect! The approximate 40kms per day was ample as there was so much to see along the way we did not need to cover any more ground, and we were suitably tired at the end of each day. Having 2 nights at each town is certainly the most enjoyable for us as you not only have time to get your bearings before moving on, but you can get to explore the town itself.

So again thank you very much for your part played in what was another wonderful holiday experience for us. We are certainly interested in another cycling excursion with you. Being in our early sixties we do not need to think about it for too long! We shall check your web site for future options.

Jessica and Emily from Bloomfield, New Jersey completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Caesars Tour in August/September 2012. Jessica writes:

photo Emily and I wanted to thank you so much for all of your help organizing such an amazing trip! We had an incredible time exploring Provence and doing so on bike was a wonderful way to see some of the more remote areas. The hotels you chose for us were perfect - really charming and situated in the heart of each town. The route itself was diverse and enjoyably challenging. The maps and directions provided were incredibly thorough and your time estimates were spot on. We felt like we were able to accurately plan how long each leg of the trip would take and thus better able to make the best use of each day.

The trip was really incredible - thank you so much for making it happen! We will absolutely be recommending this vacation and Diverse Directions to our friends. We've included a picture of us taking off from Vaison-la-Romaine on our last day's ride.

Warren, Mira, and their two children, Noa and Elijah, from Chevy Chase, Maryland completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Caesars Tour in July 2012. Warren writes:

I apologize for the delay in letting you know that the trip was a huge success. Everything worked great from the bicycles to the weather to the hotels.

The Escarbille in St Martin d'Ardèche stands out for special recognition - really nice staff - and though the hotel may have been only two stars - the on-site restaurant was 4 stars - really sweet pride of ownership on that fact.

The kids bicycles worked out great - just the right amount of cycling - very good we went with the individual and not the tandem. Elijah did really superb.

Thank you for all your assistance in arranging a superb trip and the priceless memories that it provided us all.

Justin and Tracy from Plymouth, Michigan completed Diverse Directions' Loire Valley Châteaux 6-Day Circuit Tour in June 2012. Justin writes:

I just wanted to write and let you know that we had a fantastic time on our cycling trip in the Loire Valley. Apart from the wonderful countryside, lovely people, impressive chateaux, fantastic food and wine, the detailed information you provided and the whole setup was great!

Your turn-by-turn directions were awesome and easy to follow; we never got lost. Trace would take one page and lead and then I would have the other page and lead and when we finished that we would stop photoand both turn pages and then continue. Too easy. Seeing other cyclists with just a highlighted single-page map as their instructions made me realize how much time and effort you had put into your documentation.

We even changed it a bit one day when we decided to catch the train (with bikes) from Amboise to Montrichard to see a winery built into the hillside (Monmousseau), and then just road back to Chenonceau, visited the chateau and then continued with your instructions from there. Simple.

Unfortunately the last day in Chinon it bucketed down with rain so we abandoned it, which was unfortunate because I really wanted to see Fontevraud Abbey. Next time!

All the hotels were great, particularly Le Clos d'Amboise which was really beautiful. The baggage transfer was never a worry and the bags turned up always before we arrived; this made life very easy.

We spent 2.5 weeks in Europe (France, Belgium, The Netherlands) and the 5-6 days of cycling was by far the most enjoyable for both of us.

Europe really has it right with all the bike paths and supporting infrastructure, why can't we do the same in the US and Australia (where we are from)?

Again thanks for all you did, and I am sure we will use your services in the future!

Maile and Joe from Powatan, Virginia completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Tour de France Tour in June 2012. Maile writes from her iPhone from France:

Bonjour! I just wanted to let you know that the cycling portion of our trip was beyond wonderful. The B&Bs especially were a fantastic experience and of course the scenery and cycling each day was perfect. We could not have had better weather and the climb and view from Mont Ventoux was an experience to cherish forever. There was a race that Saturday and it was an experience in itself to see so many hundreds of cyclists all sharing the same amazing climb. Your tips and directions were great and everything went smoothly. We have sadly traded the bikes for a car for our last few days here but again just wanted to thank you for an incredible adventure. Merci!

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David, Amy, and their son, Tad, from Flagstaff, Arizona completed the 3-day version of Diverse Directions' Black Périgord Tour in October 2010. David writes:

I just wanted to drop a quick line to say how great the Dordogne trip was. Everything worked out perfectly. Paul was very helpful. The weather threatened rain but came through for the days we went biking. We had my favorite meal of the trip at the Couleuvrine: a great duck terrine entree. And the Saturday market in Sarlat! Wow.

Thanks for all of your help: I was very impressed with your suggestions and rapidity of correspondence.

Jennifer and Jeff from Annapolis, Maryland completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Caesars Tour in September 2010 with 8 of their best friends. Jennifer writes:

Wow! What a trip we enjoyed! It was a wonderful trip and we are so grateful for all of your assistance. It really was a trip of a life time, and sweet memories were made. I am so glad you'd sent out the info early -- regarding having a good spirit, including dealing with rain or what ever else might pop up! Or theme was "go with the flow", and we'd make a funny little arm gesture like it was flowing along, as we ran into bumps along the way. The first one being that Jeff and I left our tour materials folder on the airplane! We did also have a torrential down pour as we left Aiguèze, soaked through and through, no way to keep the socks and shoes dry. Even my passport was wet. Little things I think I remember reading ahead of time, like having a "rag" in the front bag, were invaluable, I thought. I think I was the only one that had read that suggestion and picked up on it. Zip lock bags were really helpful for me, so I could grab it and pull out the chap stick, ibuprofen, gum, and tissues in a quick swoop.

I did want to mention that Stéphane was most helpful, very patient especially the day we checked out our bikes. The day we returned our bikes, I noticed a nice "billboard" for the shop, but didn't see an address on it. We were walking from the bike shop to the train station in Avignon, when I saw the billboard.

Truly enjoyed our charming hotels, and I think we came in on budget, though the wine, may have put us over a smidge. At our stay in Vaison-la-Romaine, a couple of gentlemen came up to my husband, Jeff, to find out about our/your trips, and Jeff gave them the web-site. They noticed our bag tags, which didn't have a web-site, so that might be a thought for your future bag tags. And while he trained very little, Jeff is now talking about buying a bike and where we might travel for future trips

Sheryl and Harold from Sydney, Australia completed the 5-day version of Diverse Directions' Mediterranean Canals & Beaches Tour in September 2010. Sheryl writes:

We arrived home last week after 10 days in Spain touring galleries and museums. Very different from our cycling in France. The cycling directions were excellent and we very much enjoyed riding the canals. I was totally fascinated by the locks. They were very interesting. The hotels were great. We had a marvelous night in Homps enjoying the hotel restaurant by the side of the canal and watching the magnificent sunset. The food was really good too. Gruisan is just delightful and we should have spent the entire day there. The wetlands were great. I loved the birds. We saw flamingos, falcons, herons, pipits and a huge flock of frigate birds (that was incredible). We unfortunately did not go to Beziers, but chose to go to the market in Narbonne and took a picnic on our bikes to a lovely place in an avenue of trees beside the canal which I might tell you was just fabulous. French cheeses are just divine and so was the wine.

Thank you for arranging it all for us. The bicycles were just superb. The paths were rough and those bikes just kept going and we had no problems at all. Everything went very smoothly. You did a wonderful job. Thank you.

Ciara and her father, Murray, from Cape Town, South Africa completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Tour de France Tour in May 2010. Ciara writes:

Thank you for a truly terrific time. It's a little belated but life has a way of sweeping you straight back into the swing of things after a good holiday. Everything was perfect from the weather to the food to the hotels. We made it up Mont Ventoux - an experience not to be forgotten and really enjoyed the hilltop villages and even just the agricultural countryside. Every day was different and engaging: gorgeous scenery. The route was well-planned and the directions and arrangements were spot on. Thank you for everything.

Randolph and Jean from Houston, TX completed Diverse Directions' Magical Lot Tour in September 2009. Randolph writes:

I wanted to let you know that we had a great time on our Magical Lot cycling adventure. Both Joel and Cliff did super jobs, and they handled all logistics very professionally and efficiently for us. The hotels and inns along the way were wonderful, especially La Terrasse in Meyronne and Villa Ric in St Céré. At both of these places, we were treated to excellent dinners as well as beautiful scenery. I especially appreciate that both places accommodated my vegetarian diet. I cannot speak highly enough about our stays in these inns.

The route itself provided us a fantastic glimpse into a world we had only seen before in books. Our previous trip to France had been only to Paris. So, we were treated to an entirely different side of France by biking through the small towns and villages of the Dordogne Valley.

I also appreciate the services that your company provided. You made it very easy for us by setting up everything in advance. We will recommend your company to our friends, and we look forward to our next cycling adventure with your company.

Inge and Henri from Calgary, Alberta, Canada completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Caesars Tour in May 2008. Inge writes:

Just returned from Europe and would like to complement you on this very well organized trip. We were very pleased with all arrangements and felt well taken care of. Since we did not have a telephone, we did not use any of the contacts - but also, never needed help. Thank you for the brand new bikes! We also enjoyed the large print of the route description enabling us to read [oh dear!] while riding without the use of reading glasses. The tour itself was very well laid out with the option to cycle the Ardèche gorge. This is spectacular country with such interesting historical sights. Thank you again.

Trudy and her boyfriend from Calgary, Alberta, Canada completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Tour de France Tour in September 2007. Of their tour experience, Trudy writes:

My boyfriend and I have arrived back to Canada from our trip to Europe. I can not say enough about how great the bike tour was. We had one hiccup in the beginning getting out of Avignon, but from there it was smooth sailing and we had no more difficulties.

The accommodations were fantastic. You've managed to pick places with great service and charming character. Typically, our luggage was even sitting in our rooms upon arrival...Bonus after a day of cycling!!

The cycling in itself was amazing. Every day was different and presented new challenges. Provence is so beautiful (not to mention the wine flowed like water)!! The highlight would have to be the ride to Mont Ventoux. Man, was it windy...I didn't even notice the grade because I was so focused on trying to pedal into that wind. Both of us managed to get to the summit in good time without walking and still smiling. What a feeling, we were very proud of ourselves!

All in all, on behalf of myself and my boyfriend I just want to thank-you for all you're information and excellent service. Being avid cyclists, it was truly the trip of a lifetime for us. I will be recommending Diverse Directions to others no doubt. Hopefully, you'll hear from us again in the future.

Deb and Rocky of Sebastopol, CA completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Caesars Tour in May 2007. They were kind enough to provide us with the following feedback:

Just a quick note to say how much Deb and I enjoyed our Provence of the Caesars tour. Your recommendation (with endorsements by Bill and Nancy) were spot on. The hotels were great choices (including, of course, your Paris recommendation) and I must say the tour route was excellent. The instructions were easy to follow. We saw quite a few bicycling tourists in the area but I was impressed that they always disappeared whenever your route sent us down some of the best country roads of the day. On those sections, we'd see the occasional local cyclist out on a training ride and the occasional car; it gave us a sense that we were on roads less traveled.

There's really not much to say about the Provence region other than that we loved it. The food, the weather, the people, even the traffic, were great. We'd highly recommend the tour to anyone who cared to listen.

Deb and I hit it off with Stéphane and we had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with Beatrix, his girlfriend. She's a real sweetheart and he's quite a character. We're hoping one or both of them drop by our place when her business brings her out to California. And both of them insisted that we still had some of the best of Provence yet to sample (Lubéron, I believe). We'll definitely give it some serious consideration for next year or soon thereafter.

So it was, quite obviously, we had a very successful tour and thank you for service. It was excellent.

Peggy and Ed of Laramie, Wyoming completed Diverse Directions' Mediterranean Canals & Beaches Tour in May 2007. Upon return from their tour, they wrote:

We returned from France last week and want to share thoughts about our trip.  Everything was perfect. The information from your web site helped us pick the right trip.  Your guidance in adding days allowed us to enjoy each of the communities. The materials you sent helped us plan, train and bring the right items for the trip. Phil Donnison was delightful as he explained our bicycles and adjusted them to size. They were new and perfect in performance. When we had a flat tire at the end of the trip, the tools for repair were in the bags and the interruption was minimal. We bumped into Mick Oxley in Olonzac and appreciated his role in transporting our bags and willingness to allow us to keep the bikes an extra day. The daily directions were complete and informative and the larger map gave us a perspective for the entire trip. The canal was beautiful and the path proved to be described correctly in the daily directions. We had good weather with a bit of rain one day to remind us of our good luck. The three star accommodations were just what we desired. The people in the inns were cordial and helpful. We especially enjoyed Lynn and Glyn. We had some confusion going from Agde to Sète, but two gendarmes pointed us in the right direction. We confess we like the peacefulness of the tree lined canal and the quiet pleasure boats far better than the excitement of traveling on roads with automobile traffic. As you can tell this was an excellent trip and we have recommended Diverse Directions to all who inquire about our travels.

Again, thank you for your patience in guiding us on this exceptional trip.  We hope to travel again with Diverse Directions.

Deb and Hobie of New Hampshire completed Diverse Directions' Vineyards and Van Gogh Tour in September 2004; and Diverse Directions' Castles in the Cradle of Mankind Tour in September 2006. Deb writes:

Hi David. First, we have traveled throughout the world, to Australia, where my husband has family, to Belize and Costa Rica, Hawaii, Guadeloupe and extensively in the U.S. Our cycling trip to France we have declared our greatest adventure ever. Thank you for your flawless guidance.

I am the Page 1 Editor of our newspaper here, the Daily Hampshire Gazette. I am writing a cover story for the magazine section about our trip and Diverse Directions will figure prominently.

Here are excerpts from Deb's article, "The Grand Tour", in the November 19, 2004 edition of the Daily Hampshire Gazette:

Diverse Directions is one of only a handful of companies that prepare trips for cyclists who want to ride independently, rather than with a guided group. My husband and I did want to ride independently, both because of the freedom it afforded and because doing it this way saved us around $1000 per person.

Diverse Directions offers several trips in France, as well as two approaches to some trips. We chose an eight-day "hub and spoke" tour - five rides from Avignon and three from Arles. A "circuit" tour would have taken us to a different location most nights.

The information packet we received from Diverse Directions well before the trip date left no stone unturned.

Bill and Nancy of San Clemente, CA completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Caesars Tour in July 2004. Bill writes:

Nancy and I just returned from our Provence of the Caesars Tour, and we couldn't be happier. The routes were beautiful, the hotels were great, and of course the food and wine were incomparable. This was out third tour with Diverse Directions, and they keep getting better and better.

We used to do our own route planning, take our own bikes to Europe, and pick our own hotels at the ends of each day. Ten years ago we did a three week tour of Provence that way, so that gives us a very specific basis of comparison with the service that Diverse Directions provides. It's no contest.

The routes selected by Diverse Directions are much better than we could have come up with by simply looking at a map, the hotels were far better, and of course it doesn't hurt to have luggage transfer either. The rental bikes were excellent, and of course we didn't have to carry them through the airports to France.

The extra service provided by Stephen and David was terrific. On a couple of occasions while transferring our luggage, they drove ahead of us over the route and discovered that the French had installed a traffic circle, changed a sign, or done something else that might be confusing to us, so they drove back to find us and inform us of the change. Nancy and I have a hard time imagining another bike tour without the help of Diverse Directions.

Elizabeth from Juneau, AK completed Diverse Directions' Mediterranean Canals & Beaches Tour in July 2003. Elizabeth writes:

Thank you so much for everything. I have to admit, I was kind of nervous about traveling alone. But now that I've done it, I'm so proud of myself. I realize however, I couldn't have done it without you. Your tour documentation was so great. Your pre-trip Preparation Guide was really helpful. From the packing checklist to the pictures of the road signs I'd be seeing in France, the information made a big difference in my self-confidence. I must have read the tour materials at least three times before my trip and each time I did, I got more and more excited. And your route instructions were clear and easy to follow (I only made one wrong turn!). Thanks again for a really memorable experience.

Ray and his son from Denver, CO completed Diverse Directions' Mediterranean Canals & Beaches Tour in July 2003. Ray writes:

As seasoned cyclists, my son and I felt pretty confident that we could handle just about any situation that we might encounter while on the road. When my rear derailleur broke however, I knew we had no option but to call for assistance. As much faith as we already had in you guys, we were amazed when the Diverse Directions support vehicle appeared with a replacement bike only 45 minutes after I called. We had a great trip. We hope to join you again in the future.

Audrey and David of Seattle, Washington completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Caesars Tour in June 2003. Audrey writes:

I just wanted to say hi and happy holidays to both of you!!!  We had a fabulous time on our Provence Diverse Directions tour last summer, and can hardly wait to plan our trip for summer of '04.  We have recommended your tour company to many fellow cyclists, and hope some of them book a tour with you. Again, thanks for helping us organize one of the best vacations ever!!!!!!

And while on their tour, Audrey and David wrote:

Just wanted to let you know that we are having a fabulous time! Your directions are meticulous, and the rides have been awesome. On our "free" day at the Ardèche Gorge, we did part of the Gorge ride (St. Martin to Madeleine grotto.) We spent some time at one of the caves due to the cooler temperatures. The camelback motto of "hydrate or die" has taken on new meaning.

Jennifer and Thomas of Chicago completed Diverse Directions' Provence of the Caesars Tour in October 2002. Jennifer writes:

I've been meaning to write to you since we got back from our Provence bike trip to tell you what a great time we had! Although we were in France for 10 days, those 5 days of biking are the only ones we ever talk about. You all did such a great job of finding roads that weren't trafficky, of guiding us through foreign towns, and of showing us the best that region had to offer. I can't even say we had a favorite day or a favorite town -- we loved different things about each place and each ride.

Thomas actually asked me to marry him overlooking the Pont du Gard, so that was definitely our most memorable moment, yet we loved the whole tour! In fact, next time we plan a trip to Europe, we'll bike the whole time. There's no better way of seeing the country.

Please keep us on your list of email updates. I would love to work with you again. Thank you for all your help.

Bill and Nancy McIntyre, from southern California, completed Diverse Directions' 15th Century Seaports Tour in June 2002 and the Magical Lot Tour in June 2001. Bill writes:

Diverse Directions may well have prolonged my bicycle touring for many more years. The service they provide is worth far more than I paid for it.

The directions provided by Diverse Directions were simply incredible. If I had been planning my own tour using the maps, I would have simply not noticed many of the little roads that they sent us down. If I had noticed them, I wouldn't have had the guts to try them without advice. But their directions gave specifics down to the 10th of kilometer for each turn, along with things like "this turn is not signed, but after you go X kilometers you will see a sign for Y. If you don't find it, you took the wrong turn." The directions were so good that I almost never took out my map unless I found a need to simply see where I was in the big picture.

Among the highlights of the trip were two different cave tours. On one we rode boats through an underground river about 320 feet below the surface. At the other, we did a walking tour through fantastic rooms full of stalactites and stalagmites and all sorts of more exotic formations, along with cave art dating back to 25,000 years ago. It was awesome to contemplate those guys standing down in those dark places painting that stuff by torch light.

We were concerned that the demi-pension option might result in lower quality meals than we could have found at restaurants around town, but we took Stephen's advice and went for it. We were very happy with the food. In most cases, the menu for demi-pensioners gave us at least two choices for each course. Since we were not familiar with the wines, we just asked the waitress for a local recommendation. They were all good, and some cost the grand total of about $7.50.

Steve Warkentin of Chicago completed Diverse Direction's Provence of the Caesars Tour in May 2002 and the Wine, Castles, & Cave Paintings Tour in May 2001. Steve writes:

I've now ridden two tours from Diverse Directions in France and plan to do a third. On these tours I've realized a combination of experiences that make it hard to conceive of not traveling again with Diverse Directions. Pedaling a bicycle allowed me to slow the pace and get closer to the ground so I could really notice the colors, the light, and the details of the scenery as I passed through. I've gone on routes that let me escape, where I hardly had to share the road with autos, and was not visually assaulted by billboards and commercial clutter. Instead, I got full doses of the landscape, with its beautiful natural growth, and of farms and vineyards lovingly tended.

I can confide that there is some element of challenge in making a trip like this. But the effort of riding, of pedaling, of climbing hills, of going the distance is invigorating. I am able to put this body to the test and succeed, and the accomplishment feels great each day. Doing a working trip also justifies the pampering that comes later in the day. To indulge in a fine dinner of rich French food and wine as a daily diet would seem extravagant, but paired with the day's earlier effort, it completely makes sense. And to rest thoroughly in hotel settings of such picturesque charm and history make the cycle complete (pun intended.)

I've traveled fairly extensively and can't say anymore that going to new places gives me the kick it once could. Instead, I now find that if I can manage to step into the rhythm and tempo of a different culture and see and feel some of the distinguishing textures of the lives of other folks, I can have a vacation that satisfies. For now, touring on a bicycle seems to be the best way to accomplish this.

Lisa and Chris of Chicago completed Diverse Directions' Wine, Castles, & Cave Paintings Tour in May 2001. Lisa writes:

We will definitely use Diverse Directions for other tours. The directions were complete and easy to understand; no guesswork was needed. The accommodations made for us by the Diverse Directions staff were top notch: wonderful rooms, warm and friendly hosts, and most importantly, great food! The informational booklet put together for us regarding what we need to pack, etc. was very useful, as was the country-specific information provided. Taking our first trip to Europe using a Diverse Directions tour was the best vacation we have ever taken. We're looking forward to our next one! There's no better way to see a country than on a bicycle. The folks at Diverse Directions make it easy for anyone to have that wonderful experience!

Barbara Krause, Carole Martin, their husbands, and four children (from the south Bay area of California) completed Diverse Directions' Wine, Castles, & Cave Paintings Tour at the end of June 2001. Barbara writes:

We're back from our trip and we had a wonderful time! You were very much with us, guiding us every (pedal) of the way. The directions were completely accurate and we didn't get lost once on the main trip. (The only time we did was when Tom and I asked the hotel personnel for the easiest way to Domme and ended up on some road that was really a rutted path leading to nowhere. We retraced our route, took out your directions and got there easily.)

We loved Hotel La Roseraie in Montignac. It was really a paradise after a hot day of riding from Limeuil. The pool was beautiful, set among lavender and roses, with gracious old buildings in the background. The rose garden and grass (which was sprinkled with wild mint that became fragrant as we walked on it) was the ideal spot for peaceful reading after a cool dip. The food was good in the restaurant, served on the patio with attentive waiters. The rooms were nicely decorated and comfortable -- and the kid's room was a showpiece. It's shown in their brochure, with stylish curtains and antiques and a huge bathroom. That was our favorite hotel of the whole trip and we would have been happy staying another few days there.

The bikes and panniers were in tip top shape -- all seemed new.  We had no flat tires or mechanical problems (with the usual exception of chains coming off the derailleur from time to time, to be expected) but they were trust-worthy and steady on the road. They were delivered as planned to us in St Emilion, and picked up in Vitrac.

We ran into an escorted bike tour group at St. Genies and it reinforced the wisdom of our decision of choosing a self guided tour. Who needs a sag wagon?  Wimps!!!! Also, just having so many riders converge on the little town at once felt intrusive to us. Just writing about this makes me long to be there again! It sounds like a cliché, but it was a vacation I know all of us will never forget.

Carole, on the same tour, adds:

We had a wonderful time, thanks to your great arrangements and preparation. My one big fear before leaving was that we would have trouble on the road -- either with the bikes or the directions. Your directions were so accurate that we did not get lost even once. This is truly amazing....The bikes also performed very well.

We loved being able to travel independently. I know we had a much richer experience than if we had gone with a group. Your support allowed us to have the freedom to experience the Dordogne directly. Thank you so much for all of your help and support. If you ever need a testimonial, we would be happy to provide a rave review.

Ron from eastern Washington took a honeymoon trip with Diverse Directions in August 2001. He and his fiancée purchased our Magical Lot Tour to celebrate their marriage. Just after receiving their Diverse Directions package Ron wrote:

Diverse Directions has given me back my free time.  Now, instead of going home and pouring over maps and guidebooks all night (after a long day at work), I go home and kick my feet up, dreaming of the day we get to start our trip.  Thanks so much for all your help.  When I received your tour package containing hotel confirmations, bike rental confirmations, maps with routes highlighted, sights to see, etc., I realized just how much work would have been ahead of me, had I decided to do all this on my own. This is one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. Whoever said you can't buy time obviously didn't know about Diverse Directions.

Upon completion of their honeymoon trip, Ron provided the following feedback:

The routes were magnificent! A brilliant job of finding the most picturesque back roads. The highlight of the trip was the riding...the scenery, views, chateau, villages, etc. The underground river trip (the Gouffre de Padirac) was amazing...delete this as an option on your guide. It is not an option, but a must see! Period. Wow. That whole day was especially fun and beautiful. Rocamadour is beyond description of course.