Golden Gears: autumn by bike

On fresh cool mornings and golden afternoons, the best way to discover the sights,
scents and secrets of the autumn countryside is to get out and about on a bike. From riverside pedal-and-paddle ‘greenways’ in the Dordogne to the thrilling challenge of downhill mountain biking in Corsica, enjoy the scenery from a different angle with our round-up of (mostly) easy rides in France, Corsica, Mallorca and Tuscany.

Mallorca: The Campanet Valley

The Campanet valley is criss-crossed by country roads that connect the pretty villages of Moscari, Selva, Caimari and Binibona, passing through olive, almond and citrus groves and skirting the foothills of the Tramuntana Mountains. You’ll find somewhere for a coffee or cool drink in all these villages, or make a longer stop at the fascinating limestone caves near Campanet. The roads are quiet but there are no cycle lanes and it’s quite a climb up to Caimari, so this route is best suited to those with some road biking experience.

We recommend: Ca’n Sion, in the tranquillity of the Campanet valley, conveniently close to historic Pollença, just a 15-minute drive away.


 

Tuscany: L’Eroica, Italy

Italy’s famous Eroica is both an annual cycling event for vintage bikes and a 205-kilometre circular route through the magnificent scenery of Chianti, Siena, Val d’Arbia, Montalcino, Val d’Orcia and finally the Crete Sinesi. You can join the route wherever you like although, as large sections are on unpaved ‘white roads’, it’s worth checking on the Eroica website to make sure your legs and bike are up to it!

We recommend: Recently refurbished Casa Brilli, a comfortable choice near the impressive Renaissance town of Castiglion Fiorentino.


 

Provence: Calavon Greenway, France

With its honey-toned hill towns, challenging climbs and exhilarating descents, Provence has everything a cyclist could wish for, but for something less demanding, we recommend this traffic-free greenway which begins near Coustellet (bike hire available) and covers 37 flat kilometres along the banks of the Calavon, flanked by the hilltop villages of the Luberon.

We recommend: Villa Rose, an exceptional Provençal-style villa, with pretty south-facing views across the Luberon.


 

Dordogne: Berges de L’Isle Greenway, France

This is another easy route, running for 21 kilometres along the river from Trelissac to Marsac-sur-I’Isle close to Périgueux, the gourmet heart of this region. The path is smooth and flat, and as it runs parallel to the blueway canoe route, you can combine pedaling with paddling for a really energetic day out. The path is clearly signposted, with picnic areas along the way.

We recommend: Domaine des Soleils for its stunning, far-reaching views. Stay there and you’ll also find yourself surrounded by the wild countryside of the rugged Périgord Noir.


 

Corsica: Alte Cime mountain bike park

With 33 marked trails, lifts to take care of the climbs and bike hire on site, you’ll find everything you need here to tackle some pretty challenging terrain beneath the spectacular ‘needles’ of the Bavella Mountains (left), around an hour’s drive from Porto Vecchio. The park is designed as a one-stop shop for downhill and cross-country biking, with guides and lessons available for all ages.

We recommend: Villa Fiorella near the magnificent Ospedale forest with distant views of Porto Vecchio harbour. The large terrace is ideal for basking in the sun, followed by a leisurely dip in the private infinity pool.