Simple - many companies see children as something that come with adults - if they could have the adults without them they'd prefer it - more profit, less hassle;-) With Breton Bikes we actually want familes with children of all ages and do everything we can to encourage this because we believe France is the perfect place for them to cycle. How does this show? Well some companies may have baby trailers for example - but do they supply bikes with special gearing low enough for you to pull them? Some may have trailerbikes, but are they the most expensive and best (Burley Piccalos?)? Do they have special child-back tandems for 6-10 year olds so they can keep up with parents? Do they have specially custom-made 'adult' bikes that go down small enough for an 8 year-old or a top quality range of children's bikes for smaller children? Do they offer cycle camping holidays in France where children have acres of grass to run around on instead of a small hotel room? Do they offer routes specifically designed for under 10's on their own bikes? With Breton Bikes the answer is always 'yes', and if you are doing one of our fixed-centre routes, then even better - the children can swap from tandem, to their own bike and back again depending on the day-ride they are doing and all at no extra cost.
Our children all grew up with family cycling holidays - mostly in France, and we learned the hard way what worked best, but also how fabulous cycling with the family was. Now we are unique in offering cycle camping including fixed-centre, gite and hotel based cycling holidays in France for families of all ages (yes babies too) Which you choose is obviously down to you and your children, but the following may help. Remember that the one big difference here is that the French love children. Not only do you not get asked to leave bars, or to quieten your children, but quite the opposite - you'll find children are often a positive advantage (especially if they are cycling) as in France people will smile and get into conversation with you, no-one gets snooty in restaurants, and people will coo! over your children every time they see them.
There is no better holiday for children than a week cyclecamping in France. The family goes out together, cycling on quiet safe roads, and explores the countryside. And for small children part of the magic is having their parents at 'their' level (i.e. on the ground) for much of the time - they love it and so will you. See how we used to do it ourselves.
There are two options here - the first is fixed-centre - read all about it here!
Or you do proper moving-on camping where the end of every day there is a grassy campsite, with acres for the children to run around in, lakes to swim or canoe in, play areas etc. and you can quietly relax over a bottle of wine until the children are exhausted, and collapse into their tent and sleep the night away. I don't exaggerate, we've had families who came cycling with children who had never slept through the night who had to be woken up in the morning! I'm sure it's the fresh air as well as the cycling that does it! Remember that your family can do fixed-centre camping, or a moving-on tour. The advantage of the former is that your family can be supplied with a mix of equipment such as tandems and small bikes so that your children can take the best combination for any particular day tour.
A couple of years ago we had a young lady who was determined to show that putting up our tent's was chld's play and went on to prove it by making the video below - many thanks Millie (aged 5)
As mentioned above the French are very welcoming to children and this includes hotels. The hotels we use are carefully chosen to be in places where there is space for children and things for them to do. There is always somewhere to eat near or at the hotel and children will always find something they like. Personally, if you have small children then the one snag is that ultimately you only have a hotel room rather than the wide open spaces of a campsite where they can hurtle around and play without anyone minding. This very much depends on what your children are like - your choice:-) If you don't fancy either camping, or the limitations of a hotel then the obvious alternative is the Gite based week which is perfect for families with young children.
Choosing a route when you have children can be a bit daunting if you don't go cycling regularly with them. You have to try and find the balance between having to drive them to cycle far further than they are happy with, or just as bad, to find they've cycled the whole route in 30 minutes. The easy way to avoid this dilemma is to choose one of the fixed centre cycle tours either camping or Gite based. The rides in the area are easy with lots of cycling on cyclepaths so ideal for children on their own bikes. The 'Fixed Centre' at Gouarec camping in one of our big canvas tents or in our Gite guarantees the company of other families at the campsite in the school holiday, most weeks it being a small village of families with smaller children. If you want a moving-on cycle cycle tour we have several routes ideal for families of all ages with roads that are quiet, or mostly cyclepath The campsites have play areas and lakes to swim in - we're happy to advise you. For small children on their own bikes the 'Easy Rider' route offers safe, cyclepath riding (with only very short road sections to link cyclepaths) with child friendly campsites and an adventure park mid way;-) The 'Two Chateaux' is longer and does use some very quiet lanes as well as cyclepath, but is ideal for younger teenagers on their own bikes especially as it includes visits to two ofthe finest Chateaux in France. Taking a tandem greatly extends your choice of rides, and older children will manage on their own bikes - often better than their parents! It's worth remembering that if you choose cycle camping then the route can be altered as you go along as you find the limits of your children's cycling ability. On hotel cycle tours you have to get from one pre-booked hotel to the next and so they don't have this flexibility. The best thing is to try some day rides with your children before you make a final decision on the route so you have an idea of what they are happy with.
Also see Dave Preston's page which has lots of information/anecdotes/photos from the families involved in the 2001 led trip!
We have every conceivable facility for cycling with children: Baby seats, 1 and 2-seat baby trailers, trailer bikes, small touring bikes and perhaps best of all child-back-tandems small enough at the back for 6-year old children. We also have sleeping bags for children of all sizes. No-one in France does more for children...