Published by Lyn on 22 September 2015
Jacqueline Brown checks out Grange 87, a self-catering apartment that may be an ideal base for your French cycling adventures.
Paul and Frances Foster have been living in Eymoutiers, about 45 kilometres east of Limoges, since 2011 and have decided the cycling here is too good to keep to themselves any longer.
Grange 87, a renovated loft apartment with a large ground floor bicycle storage area, has everything you need for a self-catering cycling holiday, including oven with induction hob and full-size dishwasher. Having spent the night there, we can confirm it really did look as good as the photos on the website.
The Haute-Vienne department in the Limousin region of France may not be the best-known area for cycling, but within a 30 kilometre radius of this apartment you can tackle climbs that will give your legs the challenge of a real mountain, as well as enjoy more leisurely rides – all amidst beautiful scenery of lakes, forests and fields of Limousin cattle. This area also played an important role in the Resistance movement during the Second World War, so there is plenty of local history to discover too.
Paul is a great source of local knowledge and he is keen to encourage other cyclists to come and sample the variety of experiences cycling this area can offer. His flexibility and his passion for cycling in this area mean he's only too happy to advise on route planning or help the leisure rider get the best out of their stay. He's also a seasoned ironman and triathlete, so he can also help you out if you're looking for a training base.
5 things we liked
1) Eymoutiers town. For a small town in rural France, Eymoutiers has retained a thriving community with plenty of bars, restaurants and boulangeries as well as a direct rail link to Limoges. The apartment is in the centre of town and within easy walking distance of all amenities, including the weekly market on Saturday mornings and the bigger street market that takes place on the third Thursday of each month. Set in the valley of the Vienne River, which thunders through town, it's also a very pretty place to explore on foot. Don’t miss Les Grands-Hommes Debout, the tall standing men statues by sculptor Christian Lapie (pictured right).
2) Paul’s enthusiasm for sharing his in-depth knowledge of cycling in the local area – even in the rain there was no dampening his spirits. The variety of cycling routes available also takes some beating.
3) The attention to detail in the apartment; from the old beams that give character without being too low, to the cozy bed and, most importantly, the safe bike storage area where there is room to give your bike the attention it deserves at the end of a day out.
4) Lac Vassivière – one of the largest dammed lakes in France. The 23.5km circuit around the lake took us just over an hour of relatively easy cycling with short climbs, descents, lakeside views and forest scenery. Named after local cycling hero Raymond Poulidor, this ‘circuit of legends’ pays homage to Haute Vienne’s greatest champion as well as other famous cyclists who each have an information panel dedicated to them along the way. This route has real cycling heritage as it has been used three times as part of a time trial course in the Tour de France, but is just as ideal for a leisurely day out, with time taken to enjoy the beaches and restaurant facilities or for a fast blast at a pace to make you sweat.
5) Mont Gargan (731m). Situated 24km to the south of Eymoutiers, the road to Mont Gargan provides a good steady climb through chestnut forests with ferns, heather and pine trees, meaning lots of cool shade on a warm day. There is a small lake at Sussac, which would make a good halfway rest point, and although there are some downhill sections to give the legs respite, from Sussac to the top is quite a steep climb.
Grange 87 can be booked for periods from three days and Paul can help with bike hire. For larger groups Paul and Frances also have another apartment in Eymoutiers, with great river views, that can be rented alongside Grange 87. This is somewhere we will be returning to.
Our guest reporter Jacqueline Brown writes the super interesting French Village Diaries, a blog about life in Poitou-Charentes, cycling, French food, travel, and books.