The cycling tour designed by Discover France (800.960.2221, www.bikingfrance.com) replicates the storied stages of the Tour de France at a pace that allows even those with more will than muscle tone the chance to experience the spirit of this timeless test of stamina and courage. Featuring an option to arrive in time to see the real race’s conclusion on July 27, the Discover France tour, which ranges from $2,400 to $2,900 per person, then departs Paris and follows the official 2003 Tour de France course through the bucolic countryside. A choice of daily itineraries will appeal to both the avid and the novice cyclist, with regimens of either 18 to 25 or 50 to 60 miles per day. Regardless of how far you pedal, in towns and villages such as Avignon and Morzine, you will enjoy elegant repasts of regional cuisine, wine tasting, and stays in refined country inns.
However, there is no sense in conquering this course without facing a few challenges. Participants who want to put their mettle to the pedal will have several opportunities to get a taste of the great race, including a mock time trial and a go at Mont Ventoux, the Giant of Provence. Just go easy on the Bordeaux the night before.