You may see the 'Accueil Vélo' label when you're researching your French cycling holiday – here's what it means.
The 'Accueil Vélo' mark is the endorsement French tourist offices give to businesses that welcome cyclists.
The label is of most use for cyclists when researching accommodation, but it's also used by tourist attractions, bike shops and hire outlets, tourist offices, restaurants, and other businesses to signal that they welcome cyclists.
Separate guidelines apply to each category of business (eg for bike hire, a minumum of 18 gears are required on bikes, along with guaranteed opening hours between April 1 and September 30).
Full guidelines on the requirements of the label can be found here in French for the Centre-Val de Loire tourist office, but the rules are applicable nationwide.
Accommodation providers carrying the Accueil Vélo mark must be located within 5km of an official bike route and offer what tourist authorities describe as a 'warm welcome', which includes the following in no particular order (all these are compulsory):
- Advice on local bike routes
- Weather information
- Breakfasts geared towards cyclists
- Either providing luggage transfer services or being able to arrange these via local partners
- Laundry facilities and clothes drying areas
- Bike rental either on site or via local partners
- Bike cleaning services (hose, buckets, etc)
- Safe and secure bike storage
- Basic repair kits and tools
It's worth nothing, however, that there are plenty of super bike-friendly businesses across France that, for whatever reason, don't carry the Accueil Vélo mark.
For example, they may be located more than 5km from an officially sanctioned bike route. The 5km provision alone means that Accueil Vélo is most commonly found in more popular leisure cycling areas (read: flatter areas) such as the Loire and Burgundy (though increasingly on long-distance routes and along EuroVelo routes).
That's not to say accommodation providers in places that aren't as well-developed for cycling (or which don't have strong pro-cycling tourist board lobbies) aren't bike-friendly.
Many of the places listed in our accommodation pages aren't official Accueil Vélo partners, but they still meet the general criteria used by most cyclists when they're looking for somewhere super to stay. See here for the general benchmarks I usually pass onto owners (as a rule, safe and secure bike parking is my 100% non-negotiable).
As with everything when planning your trip, research is the key.