I love being active and keeping fit, and try to spend as much time making the most of the great outdoors as possible. I used to live in France, and like to go back as often as possible, especially during the summer for the Tour de France. I'm a keen cyclist myself, so enjoy driving over with my bike on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle; it only takes 35-minutes, which means that I can get on the road to enjoy my holiday in no time!
Le Tour de France, 2014
For cyclists and fans of the sport alike, the Tour de France is one of the most exciting events in the sporting calendar.For 2014, the Tour de France is running from 5 July to 27 July, starting off in England, up in Leeds. The first three stages of the race will be held in the UK, before moving across the Channel to France.
Start: Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
The fourth stage of the Tour de France, and the first leg in France, will be held on 8 July in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage.
The beach at Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
has the reputation of being one of the most elegant holiday destinations in Northern France, with many luxury hotels and grand villas in and around the town. The stunning coastline in the part of France makes for a beautiful backdrop for cycling excursions, and there are also routes that run through the famous local golf course.
If you can't wait until July to visit, why not tie in your trip with the International Kite Meeting that will be held at Berck-sur-Mer between 12 April and 21 April, 2014.
Nord-Pas de Calais Countryside
The scenic countryside in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of France, with its peaceful winding roads, is perfect for a leisurely bike ride.
The Paris-Roubaix cobbles
If you're in the mood for something a little more challenging, however, the famous cobbled Paris-Roubaix cycle route cuts through the region. The professional race takes place on 13 April, with the route open to the public the day before. There are three different circuits to test your mettle, depending on your ability. Often hailed 'the last great madness of cycling', or the 'Hell of the North', you may want to try on of the shorter routes before tackling the full 170km distance.
The fourth stage of the Tour de France is due to finish 164km from the starting line in Lille on 8 July.
Lille town centre
Lille is the capital of the Nord-Pas de Calais region
, and due to its proximity to the Belgian border, is heavily influenced by Flemish culture. If you're travelling with kids, I'd recommend the cycling routes around the Parc du Héron, with its beautiful lake and quiet paths.
The city of Lille has lots else on offer to tourists aside from cycling, including some delicious regional fare. If you're into cheese, then don't miss the mimolette or the maroilles, two of the local specialities.
In my opinion, Spring is the perfect time to enjoy a cycling holiday in the Nord-Pas de Calais region, as it's not too hot and the roads are still relatively quiet. That said, I wouldn't miss the madness of the Tour de France in July for anything. I hope to see you there!