Coronavirus and cycling in France

Published by Lyn on 28 May 2020

The coronavirus pandemic and cycling in France - the latest guidance and local advice.

Coronavirus and cycling in France

I will continue to update this page as information comes to hand. I welcome local advice and feedback as the situation is being managed locally.

June 2 marks the the start of France's second phase of easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures. Lockdown exit is being managed in a staged fashion and on a region-by-region basis based on coronavirus infection data across the country.

Here is my understanding of the current/latest guidance in relation to cycling in France as of June 2 when the second phase of lockdown easing measures are introduced. 

The country remains broken into 'red', 'orange' and 'green' zones in line with infection rates and hospital bed availability. (See here for government maps). I refer to these zones below where relevant.

** Note I am not making any moral judgements on what should or should not be undertaken in terms of cycling or in terms of the containment or potential virus spread – I am simply outlining the current situation as I understand it. I do, however, ask everyone to exercise caution and to make sensible decisions to help safeguard the health of us all. ** 

Can I ride my bike in France from June 2?

Yes, 'individual' leisure and utility cycling/commuting remains permitted. No organised cycling events, sportives or professional events are permitted yet. 

The French government is in fact encouraging cycling as an alternative to public transport use to minimise infection risk. There is even a national scheme to get more people back on their bikes, including an allocation of €50 for every cyclist to have their bike fixed or made roadworthy. You can read more information here

Where can I ride and who with? 

The phase 2 June 2 measures abolish the 100km limit on travel from your home. 

That means that from June 2 you can ride as far as you like, as long as it's for leisure and as long as you are not riding in a group of more than 10. (There is a general 10-person limit on social gatherings). Cyclists must still observe social distancing guidelines. The Sports Ministry and French Cycling Federation guidance says a distance of 1.5 metres should be kept if riding two-abreast, with 10 metres between cyclists riding wheel to wheel (to reduce the risk of the virus spreading by sweat/spit in slipstreams). 

Obviously common sense needs to be used when riding with small children in terms of ensuring they are adequately protected (riding 10 metres apart is clearly not practical with small kids).

This official guidance is most relevant to sportive riders, clubs and groups. For example, any support vehicles can only have one person in them. Masks are needed before and after group rides (and during if there is conversation). 

In short, I interpret the rules to mean you can cycle with your family or with a small group of friends, but that larger club rides or competitive/organised participation events are not permitted/are discouraged. 

Can I go cycle touring in France?

The French border remains closed at least until June 15 for all but essential travel (documentation is required to prove necessity). This obviously restricts visitors from other countries.

The French border will likely open to other European countries after June 15 (I will confirm here when announced), however there will be quarantines in place for high-risk countries and reciprocal quarantines on countries that quarantine French residents.   

If you are already in France, cycle touring is not explicitly banned, though the Prime Minister has suggested that long-distance travel should be minimised to prevent the spread of the virus.

Regular social distancing guidelines and advice for hand washing, etc remain in place.  

What facilities are open to cyclists?

In terms of facilities usually used by cyclists, hotels, B&Bs and campsites in 'green' zones (maps here) will be open from June 2 (June 22 for 'orange' zones).

Bike hire and other cycling businesses will also be to open (see below for organised holidays).

Cafes, bars and restaurants in green zones will also open from June 2 (terraces only in 'orange' zones). All food and drinks need to be consumed sitting down. Face masks required when not eating/drinking.

From June 2, parks, gardens, museums, monuments and other public and cultural spaces, beaches, lakes, etc will also be open.

Public transport is running again but some services are still running on limited timetables. Face masks are needed on public transport.

Are organised cycling holidays allowed in France?

Obviously much is dependent on the border situation for international travellers.

For local travellers, there appears to be no reason wy local holidays cannot be taken, as long as you follow social distancing advice.

I have spoken to a number of local tour companies, as well as B&Bs, hotels and bike hire outlets, and many are planning to start work again from June 2. Tour operators will be working closely with hotels and B&Bs, as well as cafes and restaurants on routes to ensure cycling can be enjoyed safely.

If you are thinking about a trip to France and need support, you can use my bespoke service. I can help you to find a tour company, accommodation provider and/or bike hire that can work with you to provide the necessary support for your dates.   

Will the 2020 Tour de France be on? Can I watch it in person?

The Tour de France has been postponed and will now run from August 29 to September 20. You can see the revised stages here.

The women's La Course by Tour de France will run on August 29 in Nice.

It has not yet been confirmed whether there will be any changes in terms of crowd restrictions.  

Official Tour de France tour operators are still offering packages to watch the 2020 event, and are offering 100% cancellation guarantees just in case. If you need bike hire or an accommodation/transport package for the TDF, I can point you to reputable local companies via my bespoke service

I will add further information to the website on 2020 Tour de France logistics as it comes to hand.

When will other professional cycling races like Paris-Roubaix start again?

The sport's governing body, the UCI, has revised the entire cycling calendar, largely to accommodate the Tour de France.

You can view the full calendar here.

Key dates:

  • Criterium de Dauphine: August 12-16
  • Tour du Limousin: August 18-21
  • French national road championships: July 29-August 22
  • Tour de Poitou-Charentes: August 25-28 
  • La Course by Tour de France: August 29
  • Giro d'Italia: October 3-25
  • La Vuelta: October 20-November 8
  • Paris-Roubaix: October 25

I welcome feedback from cyclists looking to visit France, as well as from local cycling businesses who are providing services for cyclists.

I will post amended information above as it comes to hand.

You can also join my Facebook group to discuss issues relating to COVID-19 with other cyclists, including many riders based in France.

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