Mountainbiking (VTT) in France-navigation tips

In the UK we have two things going for us with regard to trail navigation:
-An excellent range of Ordinance Survey maps
-UK trail centres generally mark their tracks so clearly that you would really have to try to get lost

France also has decent maps from their IGN organisation and they have also created a range of waymarked mountain bike trails around many tourist locations and towns. Look for VTT or Velo Tout Terrain in France. However finding a VTT route can be just the start of your fun…here are a few tips to make your life easier when mountain biking in France.

  • don’t go on a waymarked ride without a map! The VTT labels are unevenly distributed, common on the easy bits and missing entirely at key junctions. You will get lost if you just trust the VTT signs
  • This is what you are looking for VTT SIGNS.
    A good VTT mountain biking signpost!
    Looks simple doesn’t it? The colour shows the grade and the triangle to direction. If only life were that simple! You will soon be struggling with:
  • signs that have faded to white on white
  • signs that have simply crumbled in the sunlight to dust
  • signs that are totally obscured or hidden up trees
  • inconsistant use of signs for straight on, (turn left vs keep left etc)
  • A typical VTT mountain biking signpost!

  • get your area maps and riding info sorted before you go! Tourist Information offices often don’t sell any maps (huh?) and may not know anything about VTT rides
  • you can buy maps in newsagents (Maison du Presse), but they only usually have a very limited range of 1:25k hiking maps. Note that nobody seems to stock the 1:50k trail maps, which would cover a wider area and often be more useful
  • Once you get over all these, you will realise that mountain bike riding in France rocks!
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