Summary of our market study

The bicycle tourism market in France has experienced strong growth, with economic spin-offs reaching 5.1 billion euros in 2020, an increase of 46%.

In 2020, there were over 5,000 "Accueil Vélo" certified establishments, supporting hospitality and service quality for cyclists.

France has an extensive network of cycle routes, including over 17,515 km of developed national routes, and plans to extend this network to 100% of cycle routes by 2030.

EuroVelo routes, part of a European cycling network, have seen a significant increase of 21%, with a total of 8,184 km of routes available in France by 2020.

The bicycle rental market for tourists is also significant, estimated at between 500,000 and 700,000 bikes, and the sector is dominated by small businesses.

Tour operators play an important role, with 250 operators present, 26% of whom are French.

The Covid-19 pandemic had a considerable impact on leisure activities in France, with cycling activity initially falling by 72%, but quickly returning to previous levels.

Cycle tourism in France is booming

Cycle tourism in France has seen a marked increase in recent years. The appeal of discovering France's picturesque landscapes on two wheels has increasingly attracted both French and international visitors.

In the last decade alone, by 2020, the economic impact of the bicycle tourism market has risen by an impressive 46%, from an estimated €3-4 billion to over €5 billion.

The breakdown of demand shows strong participation by domestic tourists, who account for between 80% and 90% of the total number of cycle tourists, translating into over 100 million overnight stays in various types of accommodation in the country in 2019 alone. The remaining 10-20% were international tourists, with a significant proportion coming from Germany, the UK and Ireland.

The diversity of cycling routes in France - ranging from greenways to regional cycle paths and the vast European cycling network, EuroVelo - adds to the attractive offering available to cycle tourists.

The EuroVelo routes have been particularly popular, with the Atlantic Coast Route (La Vélodyssée) generating economic spin-offs in excess of 100 million euros.

While sales of traditional bicycles are stagnating, sales of electric, high-end and specialist bikes are growing strongly.

Cycling is the leading leisure activity in France, with more than half the population taking part.

The majority of cyclists cycle for leisure, but a growing number use their bikes to get to work.

The average age of cyclists is around forty, with a fairly even split between rural and urban dwellers.

Men account for around two-thirds of the cycling population.

Players in the French bicycle tourism market

  • Accueil Vélo has a vast network of establishments, including accommodation, restaurants and bike rental and repair shops
  • Among tour operators, UCPA occupies a dominant position, known for organizing a wide range of outdoor activity holidays. Its recent acquisition of "La Balaguère" enables it to extend its field of action into cycle tourism.
  • Discover France has carved out a niche for itself with self-guided bike tours.
  • Le Vélo Voyageur is another company that organizes tailor-made bike tours
  • Cyclomundo offers tours throughout Europe
  • EuroVelo offers a variety of itineraries, in particular the "La Vélodyssée" route along the Atlantic coast.
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1 Market summary

1.1 Definition and scope of the study

The bicycle tourism, or cycle tourism, is a way of discovering a territory or region by bike, in order to discover its main tourist attractions.

Cycling tourism represents an important market, the majority of which is related to accommodation and restauration, with more than 100 million overnight stays registered in France in 2019. France is the second largest destination in Europe for bicycle tourism, just losing out to Germany. Overseas tourists represented 20% of the total number of cycle tourists in France in 2019, with the most represented nationalities for cycle tourists being Germany and Uk & Ireland.

There are 7 different categories of establishments/ associations that make up the whole cycle tourism industry:

  • Accommodation establishments
  • Restaurants
  • Touristic attractions
  • Tourist offices
  • Bike rental companies
  • Bike repair companies
  • Cycle routes

All these establishments, with the exception of cycle routes, are mostly represented by the France Vélo Tourisme certification "Accueil Vélo". As of 2020, there are over 5,000 establishments with this certification in France. There are also other establishments (that do not have the "Accueil Vélo" certification) that also contribute for the cycle tourism industry in France.

In terms of cycle routes, France is divided into 3 types of cycle routes:

  • Voies vertes (Greenways)
  • Véloroutes (Regional cycle paths)
  • EuroVelo (European cycling network)

Voies vertes are the most common in the country, while there are only 10 EuroVelo routes in France as of 2020. However, EuroVelo routes are the most popular for cycle tourists and here is where tourists spend the most money. The Atlantic Coast Route (La Vélodyssée in France) is the most popular route in the country, with economic benefits of over €100 million in 2018.

The actors of bicycle tourism are counting on a diversification by taking advantage of local partnerships with tourist offices, hotels and restaurants to provide the richest possible tourist experience for tourists.

There are no technological or legislative obstacles to be seen in this market, which just requires sporting ability, knowledge of cycling rules and a particular attraction for cycling.

1.2 The growing role of bicycle tourism in Europe

In Europe, it was estimated in **** that there are *.* billion bicycle tourism trips happening every single year. The economic benefits of the cycle tourism industry was estimated at €** billion in **** and involved with the jobs of around ***,*** people in the European Union [***].

The total cycling industry in the EU is made ...

1.3 A growing and strong French market

Since ****, the bycicle tourism market in France has experienced a very positive period, with its economic total benefits going from *.* billion euros to *.* billion euros in **** (***).

Economic benefits of the bicycle tourism market in France France, ****-****, in billions of euros Source: ****

In particular, however, the French bicycle tourism industry was ...

1.4 The impact of Covid-19

While the Covid-** pandemic caused a large part of the world's economy stop, the cycling industry managed to rise in these troubling times. Although the number of people going cycling in France fell by **% when lockdown restrictions were first implemented in mid-March ****, when lockdown restrictions were first lifted on the **th ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 The evolution of bicycle sales in France

The bicycle market in France has been growing steadily since **** (***). This highlights the fact that the average price of bicycles has been increasing. For instance, the average price of electric bicycles in **** was €****, as oppose to €*** in ****. Similarly, the average price of a traditional bicycle increased by **% between **** and ****, going from ...

2.2 Cycling, the most popular leisure activity in France

In ****, cycling was the most popular leisure activity for the French, with **% of the population claiming that they practice this activity. Other leisure activities such as hiking and running are also fairly popular, but not as much as cycling [***].

Most popular leisure activities in France France, ****, in % Source: ****

In terms of ...

2.3 Profile of cycle tourists in France

The distribution between men and women among the cyclists in France is **% and **% respectively. In addition, cyclists are on average ** years old and **% live in rural areas, while **% live in urban areas [***]

Gender distribution of cyclists in France France, ****, in % Source: ****

Moreover, while most of the tourist cycling activities happen during ...

2.4 Who are the overseas cycle tourists?

Overseas tourists represented **% of the total number of cycle tourists in France in ****. German tourists and British & Irish tourists accounted for the biggest share of the total overseas cycle tourists in France (***). Moreover, only *% of cycle tourists came from outside of Europe.

Distribution of overseas cycle tourists by nationality France, ****, in ...

3 Market structure

3.1 The never-ending growth of bicycle routes in France

As of April ****, **% of the total existing or planned cycle routes in France (***) were open and operating - that is, **,*** km of operating cycle routes of a total of **,*** km. This therefore means that there are *,*** km cycle routes yet to be opened in France. The plan is that ***% of the ...

3.2 The growth of EuroVelo

As of the *st of January ****, there were *,*** km of European cycle routes available in France, which represented **% of the total *,*** km of routes that were projected to be available in France by **** [***].

EuroVelo routes in France France, ****, in % Source: ****

Between **** and ****, the amount of EuroVelo routes in France increased by ...

3.3 The growth of Accueil Vélo

"Accueil Vélo" is an accreditation given to French establishments with a high quality of welcome and services for cyclists using French cycle routes. There are * different types of establishments that can obtain this accreditation: 

Accommodation establishments Restaurants Touristic attractions Tourist offices Bike rental and repair companies

As of the *st ...

3.4 The importance of bike rental services

A very important part of the cycle tourism industry in France is the bike rental services. In ****, it was estimated that the number of bicycles available for rental for tourism purposes was between ***,*** and ***,*** [***]

In ****, it was estimated that there were approximately *,*** bike rental services aimed at cycle tourists (***) of these ...

3.5 The role of tour operators

Bicycle tourism is very distinct to other types of tourism, as there is less dependance on tour operators. Most of cycle tourists in France are mostly self-sufficient (***) still rely on them for their bicycle trips in France.

In ****, there were *** tour operators in France, being a **% increase from the *** operators in ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 Main tourist bicycle routes in France

Among the main cycle routes in France, the Vélodyssée route (***) is the least popular for tourists.

Share of tourists of total cyclists using French cycle routes France, ****, in % of total cyclists Source: ****

The rest of the share of total cyclists using French cycle routes is composed by excursionists - ...

4.2 The popularity of leisure cycling

Among France's main cycle routes, the most popular cycling category is by far leisure cycling. However, touring cycling is extremely popular in routes such as Via Rhôna and Loire à vélo

Types of cycling practiced by cycle tourists in the main cycle routes France, ****, in % of total cycling categories Source: ...

4.3 Understanding the offer of bike rentals

The average price of bike rental in France varies depending on the type of bicycle and range level. There are * different types of bikes that tourists can rent in France:

Cross-country bikes Mountain bikes Road bikes

Of all these bikes, road bikes are the most expensive to rent, while cross-country bikes ...

5 Rules and regulations

5.1 Regulations

Although there are no regulations regarding bicycle tourism in particular, the practice of cycling in France has its own set rules.

General cycling regulations in France [***]

Cyclists must always cycle on the dedicated paths (***). In the absence of these, cyclists must cycle on the right side of the road. It is ...

6 Positioning of the actors

6.1 Segmentation

  • France Vélo Tourisme
  • La Vélodyssée
  • La Loire à Vélo
  • La Méditerranée à Vélo
  • UCPA
  • La Balaguère
  • Discover France
  • Alentour
  • Alentour
  • Cyclodyssées
  • Randovélo
  • Safrantours
  • Evazio
  • Cyclomundo
  • Autocars Chauchard
  • Voyageurs du Monde Groupe

List of charts presented in this market study

  • L'industrie du vélo en Europe
  • Répartition des routes EuroVelo en Europe
  • Retombées économiques du cyclotourisme en France
  • Augmentation du nombre d'utilisateurs des pistes cyclables françaises
  • Nombre total de nuitées des cyclotouristes en France
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Latest news

Explore Europe by bike with Cyclodyssées. - 27/06/2022
  • Destinations - From Portugal to Austria, via Andalusia, Périgord, Benelux and the Black Forest.
  • Length of stay - Generally five to six days of cycling.
  • Tours accessible by train from Paris or Brussels.
  • End of the year: Extension of the range of tours to Ireland, England, Bavaria and Tuscany.
  • Potential development of one- to three-day microadventures.
  • Routes designed to be quiet and safe, with limited changes in altitude and steep gradients, and stages of around 35 to 60 km.
  • Partnerships with local companies for logistics (luggage transport, bike hire, etc.).
  • Roadbook full of information on the route and places crossed.
Parcours Vélo Val de Loire: 35 years of passion with RandoVélo - 08/07/2020
  • 35 years' experience in organizing cycling trips.
  • Over 30 years of activity in the Loire Châteaux region.
  • Packaged and tailor-made tours to suit all requirements.
  • Wide choice of trips for different profiles (couples, families, friends).
  • Tailor-made stays with a team of specialists who know the area inside out.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

France Vélo Tourisme
La Vélodyssée
La Loire à Vélo
La Méditerranée à Vélo
UCPA
La Balaguère
Discover France
Alentour
Cyclodyssées
Randovélo
Safrantours

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the bicycle tourism market | France

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