If you’ve never experienced an electric bike, you really don’t know what you’re missing. Hugely popular in Europe, the e-bike is a great way to get you up those attractive yet daunting hills in order to fully appreciate the surrounding countryside – and it beats the hell out of sitting in a stuffy car. Whether you’re new to e-biking or an experienced old-timer, you’ll find that rural France ticks all the boxes for a fulfilling and enjoyable trip.
It’s time for you BUCKiTDREAMERS to give the beast a try! To begin, let’s take a look at a few things you should know about the e-bike.
First Up, You Do Have to Pedal It This is surely a good thing though because it means that you’re getting some cardiovascular exercise amongst all that lovely fresh air. The good thing is you choose how hard or how easy to make the cycling. Most e-bikes have 4 modes to select from, with each one increasing the assisted power via the electric motor to your pedal. You can also opt to cycle without any assistance – it’s all easily controlled via the display panel on your handlebars.
It Has a Removable Battery This is the most common way in Europe of powering the electric beauties. It takes around 4 hours to fully charge your battery, which will then last anything from 50 to 150 kilometers, depending on your model and how much of the battery assistance you use per outing. Obviously, if you opt for turbo power for the whole trip, it ain’t gonna be a very long one! Batteries are charged in a battery pack, which takes a regular plug – so recharging is pretty straightforward.
They’re More Expensive Than Regular Bikes – to Buy or Rent You’d expect this though, given the assistance you’re gonna get! An e-bike is kinda like a cross between a bicycle and a scooter. It’s heavier than a regular bike, which is something to bear in mind if you’re transporting yours. But no matter what load you’re carrying – whether it’s just a few daily requirements or all the gear you need for a cycling holiday – help is at hand to get you and your luggage up those hills.
Let’s Take a Look at the Aude Department This area is located towards the bottom end of the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France. Characterized by a beautiful Mediterranean coastline, rolling hills, picturesque little villages, vineyards and dramatically located ancient castles, it’s a perfect area to experience the relative comfort of an e-bike saddle. It enjoys 300 days a year of the sun (with the odd Mediterranean storm thrown in), but it’s also one of the windiest regions of France, so plan your cycles carefully in accordance with the weather forecast.
Away from the main towns of Carcassonne and Narbonne, you will experience quiet, country roads with little traffic (except in the peak months of July and August), and you will find that the majority of drivers are very aware of and courteous to cyclists. It’s a hilly region all right, but that’s where you really win with your e-bike. Imagine ‘sailing’ up a relatively steep gradient and arriving at the top still fresh and invigorated, thanks to having turbo power at your fingertips!
Preparing for Your Trip If you’re looking for day trip cycles in this region, then you really can’t go wrong by just getting on your bike and taking off. Remember to have your battery fully charged and your tires pumped to the correct pressure, and don’t forget your helmet. Be sure to have plenty of water and some refreshments with you, as well as sun block and layers of clothes. You can plan your own route from a map, which gives you the advantage of just stopping where and when the mood takes you.
Check Out These Two Villages Two villages worth visiting in this region on your e-bike are Lagrasse and Termes. Lagrasse is part of ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ association and on entering the village, it’s immediately obvious why. Old meets new in this most idyllic of places where you’ll find an ancient abbey, a stunning 12th-century bridge over the river Orbieu, medieval houses, and streets and a weekly market. This is all coupled with wonderful craft and art shops, galleries, and excellent restaurant and café. If time allows, be sure to stop for a meal at the fabulous Les Trois Graces restaurant, a little gem hidden away amongst the labyrinth of cobbled streets that make up the interior of the village.
Termes is also another must-see village in this region. Accessed via a road that is constantly climbing, twisting and turning, you will definitely appreciate your e-bike power on a cycle up to Termes! What a charming, sleepy little village, dominated by a dramatic, old castle that is well worth the extra climb (by foot). Be sure to stop at the Café Milo in the village for a refreshing drink or some tasty, home cooked food and a laugh with the wonderful owner, Nathalie. Oh, and ask for directions to the waterfall which is a few kilometers out of Termes. You’ll probably have to wheel your bike down to the viewing area (or leave it secured at the top), but be prepared for a little bit of heaven when you get there.
More Stuff to Know If you prefer to have more structure to your e-biking in this area of rural France, then check out the Cycling Languedoc website, which is full of useful information and route suggestions. Also, if you’re looking to rent an e-bike, check out their link here for a list of locations.
Whether you take your own bike or rent one, plan your routes or just get on your bike and go, you will not be disappointed by your e-biking experience in rural France. Stunning scenery, warm temperatures, quiet country roads, friendly people and wonderful cuisine … what’s not to like! Oh yes, and the added enjoyment of your e-bike, which will soon become your best friend – especially on those tough, uphill climbs. If you enjoy cycling of any sort, then check out The Best Cycling Trips in the World and Cycling Paris: An Idiot’s Guide.