Customer reviews: Cycling Holidays in France
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop and, where necessary, improve our services and ensure our cycling holidays continue to be the best they can be.
Eveyone who travels with Headwater will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assesment of all aspects of their cycling holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their cycling holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
By Mr Newberry on 29/09/2016
A great introduction to the pleasure of a cycling holiday, wonderful varied scenery with ever changing views at every turn and well chosen stopovers.
By Mr Ponting on 27/09/2016
A well organised cycling tour thoroughly enjoyed by us both. Hotels were very well selected for the type of holiday, with much good food to enjoy whilst there.
The luggage transportation was good and the Headwater Rep, Steve was amazing! well done to him for all he did for us!
By Mrs Little on 26/09/2016
A wonderful taste of Provencal scenery, wine and food!
By Mr McGinn on 23/09/2016
Good, bikes, good hotels, delicious food and wine, what more could you wish for.
By Mr Bennett on 14/09/2016
An excellent first bike trip to the Loire, with 8 nights seeming just about right. We could not have eaten much more of the multiple courses of excellent food. Lovely experience to visit so many interesting towns, villages and chateaux en route, without having to drag the luggage around. Some beautiful countryside and riverside landscapes to explore. Comprehensive maps, directions and travel tips - as well as very helpful and professional Reps - were very useful to help us get the most out of the trip.
By Mrs Caruthers on 14/09/2016
If you like being outdoors and lots of exercise, this is a perfect balance to stay active and work up an appetite to indulge in the gastronomy and wine. Compared to the South East of England the lack of traffic and potholes is wonderful!
By Mr Gray on 12/09/2016
This was an interesting holiday because of the towns visited and their differing charactters - also the passage along the Canal du Midi. Food was always available of varying type. Carcassonne CitÃ© was a historic experience, as was Narbonne and BÃ©ziers. Sete unusual because of canals and maritime background. Cycling was not hard, except that the weather was unusually hot for the time of year (September) (even to locals). Having days off cycling in Carcassonne, Narbonne, BÃ©ziers and Sete was extremely helpful. Allowed some rest and catch up if there were problems.
By Mr Cook on 09/09/2016
Varied cycling, welcoming hotels with a difference and excellent cuisine!
By Mr Holt on 09/09/2016
A really lovely week touring a rural area of Provence. The scenery within the Luberon valley, protected by the two wooded and rocky ridges was delightful, shame we missed the lavender in bloom (late August) but the fruit trees and vineyards were pretty scenic. The grading is fair, one or two climbs to the hillside villages worth it for the views and a welcome cool drink! Accommodation on the whole, whilst modest, was acceptable, the highlights being the pool at Les Mas de Senecole and the 'Country Home' lounge at L'Hermitage. Not terribly taken with St Saturnin les Apt as a stop, either as a village and particularly unimpressed with the Hotel St Hubert. Routes well planned on country lanes and bike tracks but still offering interesting stop off points - we loved the Caves at Thouzon, not least for its cool temperatures on a hot day! Great reliable support from reps Laura and Tim.
By Ms Catterall on 05/09/2016
Lots of planning 'legwork' saved by going through Headwater. Hotels all carefully chosen for their individuality. We had the back up of a large organisation but the personal service of, what seemed, a much smaller one. Great standard of evening meal on the Gastronomic tour.
By Mrs Riviere on 30/08/2016
This is a great family holiday: the cycling was pretty easy for all of us (the children were 15, 13 and 10), but there was enough challenge for us to feel proud of ourselves by the end of the week. The routes were incredibly easy to follow, and took us through wonderfully varied terrain - through beautiful fields of sunflowers, past vineyards, through shady forests and along the rivers Cher and Loir. Every day brought something new to see or do. The roads were all quiet and there were lots of well-maintained cycle paths. The hotels were well-chosen and welcoming, and the only downside of the week was that we ate far too much delicious food! The back-up from James and Hazel, the local reps, was fantastic, and the bikes themselves were excellent. We're looking forward to another cycling holiday soon!
By Mr Francies on 30/08/2016
Harder work than I expected - August too hot for long cycles - Restaurants selected weere good
By Mrs Granville on 30/08/2016
Great hotels and food - a great trip in a beautiful region..
By Mrs Fuller on 30/08/2016
lovely holiday with easy cycling through attractive countryside and interesting hotels each with their own charms.
By Mr Berndsen on 23/08/2016
Great cycling. Authentic hamlets, nice quiet route.
By Mr Bridges on 23/08/2016
Bikes and Cycling routes excellent. Very good choices of varied hotels - all very good locations. The Brittany coast is best seen by bike!
By Mr Breach on 23/08/2016
A great holiday, well organised and not as physically demanding as we imagined. Steve was a very knowledgeable and accommodating host. Please let him know that I was reunited with my wedding ring and that I think we found the hidden aircraft factory that he told us about.
By Mrs Jackson on 23/08/2016
Being able to easily visit several locations made the holiday much more interesting, and so nice not to have to think about where to park the car. Electric bikes gave us so much freedom to see more things at our age (66 and 76!)
By Ms Kimsey on 23/08/2016
We enjoyed our holiday in the lovely countryside and the cycling routes were scenic but it would have been nice to cycle past some lavender fields as they feature so prominently in postcards and appear in the brochure. We particularly enjoyed the traditional country hotel at the beginning of our holiday including breakfasting outdoors and the outdoor dining and leisure area of Montmirail was particularly nice. It is nice to return from a cycle to a relaxing swim. The food and wine is generally excellent and gives the opportunity to try some regional specialities. We really enjoyed our holiday.
By Mrs Ricketts on 23/08/2016
We had a lovely cycling holiday on the Cotes to Ventoux tour. The reps were great in picking us up and explaining about the bikes and timings etc. The hotels were lovely especially the first 2, which had the best food too! It was nice cycling along at our own time and the notes were good in explaining where to go so didn't get lost.
By Mrs Moynihan on 23/08/2016
We had a superb holiday cycling in the Loire Valley. At times I felt i was cycling through a picture postcard, the scenery was so beautiful. The cycling was manageable for our 12 year old twins and the bikes were an excellent standard. The roads were quiet and the French were very polite and patient with cyclists (unlike British drivers!). The food was excellent quality
By Mrs Shorney on 23/08/2016
Beautiful scenery, wonderful dining and comfortable cycling in a lovely part of the country
By Mr Peacock on 19/08/2016
The 'multi-choice' approach to answering disguises the variable nature of the accommodation and cuisine. The route notes (for cycling) were written in almost narrative style and A4 landscape which may be appropriate and helpful to walkers but were cumbersome and awkward to follow for cyclists. Some defences were clearly lifted from walking notes e.g. references to maps not available to cyclists.
By Mr Guthrie on 19/08/2016
Headwaters choice of hotels / restaurants resulted in us having some superb meals.
By Mrs Cornish on 17/08/2016
Gentle cycling through beautiful countryside - with stunning chateaux to visit - fabulous fragrances in the air - luxurious accommodation and wonderful food and wine. At the end we were fitter - but possibly fatter too!
By Mr Hughes on 17/08/2016
This was a really lovely holiday with beautiful scenery in a picturesque area.
By Mrs Evans on 16/08/2016
Fantastic service from Steve and great routes to cycle. The Manoir des Portes served the most wonderful food. Both the Manoir and the Hotel Printania were full of character and gave wonderful service. Thank you!
By Mr Hutchison on 16/08/2016
I can't imagine any other type of holiday that is so satisfying in terms of exercise combined with relaxation, visiting new places, and truly excellent food & drink.
By Mrs Ainscough on 16/08/2016
Great cycling location with generally very quiet roads, beautiful countryside and pretty villages perched on hilltops - definitely a great way to explore the region - you can smell the lavender fields and really enjoy the countryside. Both Keith and Claire were excellent reps - really friendly, helpful and flexible in every way. The food at Dame L'Oie in Perne la Fontaine was superb as was the food at Hotel de Sable. Quality of the bikes was very good. The itinerary for the rest day at Maubec was a little underwhelming as we felt the villages weren't that picturesque with few options for coffee/stop-offs and only managed to get lunch at the last stop in Robion. We would have preferred to go back to Lacoste and Menerbes which we had whizzed through the day before.
By Ms Young on 16/08/2016
The area is beautiful with many castles to visit and easy to cycle. Food is gourmet & delicious, many restaurants and cafes on route. Plenty of history. Weather is great. Though problems I mentioned need to be dealt with.
By Mr Merryweather on 08/08/2016
Leisurely cycling tour through beautiful and quiet countryside with leisurely breaks at excellent hotels, providing sufficient time to visit chateaux and gardens along the way.
By Mr Clarke on 25/07/2016
Careful consideration of grading and your own physical ability. Whilst every care is taken - cycling can be strenuous. Using electric bikes solves everything! ( But less exercise- but great for hills and admiring the country side! Using e-bikes helps multi generational inclusion and would enable less strong cyclists to participate easily on harder routes.
By Mr Clayton on 25/07/2016
OK but accommodation, especially Auberge de la Chappelle, which was pretty poor, ordinary for the price and not representing good value.
By Mr Druett on 25/07/2016
Exxcellent trip,superb reps,only complaint food at Les Pins - an uninspired menu for the demi pension. No choice,poor value
By Mr Strauss on 25/07/2016
We can warmly recommend the Loire Gastronomic Cycling holiday which is particularly suitable for the reasonably fit and active over-65s. The hotels are excellent and all had swimming pools, the meals were really delicious and the cycling was not too strenuous. The countryside is stunning, as are the many chateaux along the route which are of special interest and add greatly to the enjoyment of the holiday.
By Mrs Southwell on 25/07/2016
Great holiday - easy cycling on quiet roads and cycle routes - delightful reps and first class hotels and food. A very successful Gastronomic holiday.
By Mr File on 19/07/2016
This area of Brittany is excellent for cycling with lots of off road cycling to interesting towns with lovely views. The long time Headwater rep here goes out of his way to provide support. He is the best rep we have had after over a dozen Headwater holidays.
By Mr Baynton on 19/07/2016
Good weeks cycling in France following the canal du midi. Headwater rep Greg was very helpful and provided us with useful tips. Standard of hotel good especially hotel in Beziers (Hotel Particulier) which was a gem. Cycling enjoyable challenging at times due to the wind and heat. Bikes supplied were of a good standard. Would definitely book another cycling holiday after this experience.
By Mrs Long on 15/07/2016
E bikes were excellent although son enjoyed physical demands of ordinary bike. Need to see them on more routes and more routes on an easy grading. Hotels can be a bit variable, all had their plus points but especially French Hotels can be a bit shabby. Need detailed larger scale maps are necessary to support the route notes which can be confusing. Food generally very good. The e bikes need to be able to manage demands of terrain and the needs of the riders.
By Mrs Cant on 15/07/2016
all in all - good trip, excellent gear - too much food!
By Mr Crooks on 15/07/2016
Wonderful relaxing holiday
By Mr Cleugh on 15/07/2016
This was our first trip with Headwater (recommended by our New Zealand travel agent) and we are very pleased with our choice and will definitely look at another cycling trip in the future- most likely in France. We were particularly impressed with by the friendliness of all the hotel staff we encountered - and their helpfulness!!
By Mr Ridyard on 02/07/2016
Excellent organisation and support, fantastic accommodation and food, very enjoyable cycle routes
By Mrs Chester on 02/07/2016
Cycling through wonderful rural landscapes; visiting beautiful hilltop villages
By Mrs Colquhoun on 30/06/2016
This was not our best holiday with Headwater the weather in the Dordonge was just awful and we had to contend with a train strike none of which Headwater could have done anything about. We dried out on the last three days in Sete which was lovely. Electric bikes are wonderful
By Mr Willard on 30/06/2016
We had a fantastic holiday, The scenery, food and accomodation were great. Although we are both pretty fit my wife isn't such a keen cyclist but she really enjoyed this. The reps were really helpful when my wife wanted to swap to an E-bike towards the end when it got really hot, and now she wants to go again which I never thought would happen! I would really recommend this holiday and the E- bikes for those less enthusiastic about cycling
By Mr Dunn on 27/06/2016
An exciting and demanding adventure with the reward of wonderful food in beautiful surroundings.
By Mr Crossley on 16/06/2016
Good alternative holiday
By Dr Dixon on 16/06/2016
Considering the heat, up to 36 degrees C, we found the cycling distances quite demanding in the time available.
We found cycling between 12 and 2pm too much in the heat, Certainly we had no time to linger and do wine tasting!
The route directions, while mostly good, did include some significant errors - we left details of these with our Rep so that corrections could be made.
A more detailed street map of the route into Beziers would have saved us a lot of confusion.
We loved the hotels, particularly the welcome. All the hotels had very good restaurants close by.
By Dr Garton on 14/06/2016
great support right from time of booking, challenges such as French floods tackled proactively, very comfortable, civilised cycling
By Mrs Gourlay on 14/06/2016
We found the holiday extremely well organised, we had no problem with arrangements from start to finish despite the problems France are having at the moment with strikes. The reps Jon and Neu were the best we have experienced on any Headwater holiday, they worked hard to ensure the experience was as good as it could be. We were also impressed with the bikes, which were easy to operate and very comfortable.
By Mrs Ramsden on 14/06/2016
Superb cycling location with generally very quiet roads, beautiful countryside and pretty villages perched on hilltops. The reps were really helpful in every way and we enjoyed our time with them. Whilst staying at the Hermitage hotel we ate in the local town at the restaurant - Dame L'Oie which was superb. At Vaison la Romaine we ate at La Barantavelle which was a wonderful meal and far superior to the alternative restaurant in the Old Town. The most disappointing was Castel Mirei as although the owners were very helpful, both breakfasts and evening meals were very poor with extremely slow service and the room was very 'tired' with traffic noise from a side road interrupting any peace. There is however a decent sized pool and small cool sitting room with cold drinks to purchase which were very welcome.
The cycling instructions were generally easy to follow though we would welcome more distances being included between turning points and perhaps a small trip metre on the bike which we have had on other holidays with one of Headwater' s competitors.
By Mr Fox on 07/06/2016
A most enjoyable holiday in Provence - beautiful surroundings and the villages could always serve great coffees! Good to have a chance to explore locally on alternate days, on the bus or on the bikes. Excellent accommodation and support from Jon and Neu.
By Mr Lee on 06/06/2016
Having been on a number of Headwater Cycling holidays in the past, I think the standard of hotels and bikes have greatly improved since we last cycled with you. The bikes have always been good Giant, La Lapierre, but these latest bikes are lighter and are easier to handle.
The weather temperature was about right for the region, had we cycled in the height of the season it may have proved difficult.
By Mr Bowman on 06/06/2016
everything was as promised
By Mr Roberts on 06/06/2016
The holiday overall was good with two provisos
It is a misnomer to call it a coastal cycling holiday. Very litle time was spent cycling along the coast or even close to it.
It is harder than a 1 cycle holiday. It fits into the description of a 2 cycle holiday without a doubt. Too many times were spent walking the bicycle uphill. Only one of the 5 days could be considered 1 cycle.
By Mr Jones on 06/06/2016
Good holiday, scenic routes and very pleasant towns and villages. Excellent support from local Headwater staff Stephen Miles - you are lucky to have such an experienced person on board.
By Mrs Wiser on 13/11/2015
On the whole our holiday was very enjoyable and we were happy with it. However, we were unfortunate enough to have heavy rain on our second day of cycling and that was the day we had to cycle to Germany along the Rhine and through the maize fields. Even without the rain it would have been a hard slog and not that interesting and quite a lot of cycling on roads with traffic. And then of course we had to return on our third day of cycling. As a group of 4 I think we all would have preferred to stay in the pretty countryside and picturesque villages of the Alsace and drink more excellent wine.
Our reception at the hotel Ville de Lyon was very disappointing, unhelpful and our bathroom was not functioning properly and was not sorted out during our stay.
Le Verger's rooms were comfortable but one certainly worked on their schedule which was rather perfunctory.
By Dr Brech on 26/10/2015
Another excellent Headwater holiday. This was one of the flattest ones we have done with some undulation only on the first and last days. Most of the route was on tracks through the forest, cycle paths and minor roads - it was only crossing the river in Amboise that we encountered alarming traffic. The hotels were all good, the food excellent. Along with other Headwater guests, we found the meals at the Manoir Bel Air too overwhelming - but it was easy to ask to drop a course. Lots of different chateaux to visit and we spent an additional two days in Chitenay which enabled us to go back and spend a complete day in Blois (an easy cycle ride through the forest and on cycle-tracks) and to further explore the area.
By Mrs Cowell on 16/10/2015
We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday and particularly like the opportunity to explore further on our days off.September is an ideal time to go, during the vendange, with the heady smell of wine everywhere and the villages full of flowers. The people in the villages are very friendly and appreciate one's attempt to speak French, however poor.The maps supplied however are not much use for the country districts and if you want to explore the more mountainous area you should buy a larger scale.
By Mr Donaldson on 15/10/2015
An excellent holiday which lived up to our expectations of a Headwater holiday ; well planned with very good support. The countryside was very attractive and the towns and villages were beautiful. The cycling was well guaged.
Margaret was able to provide a more suitable bike than the one meant for me.
By Mr Coombs on 15/10/2015
We really enjoyed the holiday which was very well organised. The only slight downsides were that the route notes were ambiguous on occasion and we got lost on a few occasions meaning that the distances were somewhat longer than they should have been and it would have been really appreciated if all 4 hotels had carried our luggage up to our room. Two hotels did this but it was no fun after a long day's cycling having to carry all our bags up 2 flights of stairs.
By Mr Allan on 12/10/2015
Excellent - easy cycling - interesting route
By Mr Gower on 09/10/2015
An excellent way to see the countryside without the stress of organising all your own itinerary.
By Mrs Denyer on 06/10/2015
Great cycling venue - lots of interest - very pretty villages - but do not expect a gastronomic feast in all Headwater hotels !
By Mrs Iron on 06/10/2015
In one word.....relaxing......because of the fantastic accommodation in great locations, simplicity of directions and easy routes with plenty of see and do along the way, topped off with superb food every evening! Hassle free holiday, thank you.
By Mrs Sanderson on 01/10/2015
We have done many Headwater cycling holidays, and this was very good. The routes were relatively easy, but there were plenty of options to do your own thing too. Accommodation and food great.
By Dr Dixon on 30/09/2015
Excellent concept of relatively easy cycling (30km/day) in pleasant countryside. Plenty of places (e.g. chateaux) to visit on the way. Some fantastic food experience (i.e. at l'Aubiniere) that merits the word 'gastronomic'. L'Auberge du Centre was competent too. Chateaux de Chissay was the one disappointment - with poor levels of service - going through the motions but not really getting it unlike l'Aubiniere. They also had large tour parties (Taiwanese in our case) at Chissay which detracted from the experience and the service level in particular.
By Mr Mitchell on 29/09/2015
Excellent scenery, route notes, bikes, food, and winetasting. The cycling was fine (don't understand why others have complained about tree roots, the paths were fine). But, no Headwater rep, no Day one talk about the route and dining suggestions. Bikes arrived on Day 2 and that was the only contact with a Headwater Representative. Why not at least collect us from the train in Carcassone? It all worked, but you have lost the personal touch that Headwater used to have. Also, the standard of the hotels was poor, the Beziers one in particular and only including one meal for the price was viewed as you being cheapskates, rather than of benefit. I like Headwater and this was our 7th trip and won't be our last. It was a great holiday, but watch out, you are too remote and are letting standards slip. If you don't improve hotels, value for money and on the ground Reps, you will start to lose support.
Dear Mr Mitchell, Thank you for taking the time to complete your post-holiday feedback questionnaire.
We were pleased to read you enjoyed the scenery, food and wine this region has to offer. Although were sorry to see you were disappointed with the service you received. As we continually strive to improve our holidays, we have made some improvements for the 2016 season. Firstly, we have made this area a Headwater rep region and because of this will be using our own bikes and transportation service. We have also changed the hotel in Bezier. We hope you will agree these changes will continue to improve this holiday for future customers. We would like to thank you for continued loyalty and look forward to welcoming you on another of our holidays in the future.
Headwater customer service team
By Mr Barnett on 29/09/2015
For people of our age and cycling experience the condition of much of the canal side paths were very difficult at times. We were advised that there are problems regarding the removal of trees at present and that diversions were likely. However I am not convinced that that is the main cause. Having cycled on similar routes in the UK, Germany, Austria and Italy I suspect that the standards in France are different. I think you should make this more clear in your literature. One other thing that would be appreciated is if you could arrange for the hotels to have our luggage in the room on arrival or at least to offer to take it to our room. On most occasions in the past this has happened. Only on one occasion (Homps) did this happen. On this subject we personally would have appreciated not being on an upper floor as my wife does not like using lifts (I will make a point of asking for this in the future).
We did have occasion to call out the cycle company and due to an initial doubt as to whether our message would be heard and dealt with for the next day I called your UK office and was pleased with the response and assurances received. We received a replacement bike by 10.30 the next day.
By Ms Brandao on 29/09/2015
Fantastic service. You fulfill your promises, which is very much appreciated. Your staff is very good. Would suggest to review the instruction on your guide on the path from the Abbaye the Fontacalvy to Capestang: we got lost after descending the hill from Ouveillan to catch the D418 and eventually got into a very busy and so dangerous road . Not clear how to get the D418 road.
Fantastic end with a room with a great view to the canal in the hotel in Sete.
Hotels in Narbonne and Beziers have a great location, but are not so good.
Overall a great vacation. Thank you, guys.
By Mrs Kyle on 29/09/2015
A wonderfully relaxed holiday with broad open views and interest on the journey every day.
By Mr Maher on 23/09/2015
This is a very pleasant holiday and easy enough for people over 65. There is plenty of interest in the towns along the way - and plenty of chateaux, if that's your go. The weather was a bit mixed in mid-September, but we had good company on the ride which made up any disappointment. We had done the Loire Gastronomic a decade earlier, but the route has changes significantly and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Our ride this time was trouble-free, but the Headwater agents were very helpful always at hand if needed.
By Mr Fraser on 21/09/2015
Cycling was excellent (though we got good weather!). For us, it was an undiscovered area with lots of interesting landscapes. Amazing villages. We really enjoyed our day in Colmar and cycling in the Kaiser Stuhl. Links with the land are still strong in Alsace - we were fortunate in seeing the grape harvest in progress, both hand-picking and machines. We need to brush up our French so we can enjoy it even more next time!
By Mrs Eatwell on 21/09/2015
Cycling was very easy, although the maps provided were not good. The IGN Carte De promenade 65 and 72 1:100,000 show the Canal Du Midi clearly - fortunately we already had these maps. On the whole, the notes were good, but a bit too detailed in some bits - we found entering Beziers very confusing and ended up on a busy road. Along the canal, infected trees are currently being cut down and burnt, so parts of the route were barracaded off, and we had to use our maps and go onto local roads. Hotels are good, apart from the Imperator in Beziers, which is average, but it is in a good location for getting around and in and out of Beziers. We're glad we booked an extra night at the end in Sete - the Grand Hotel is lovely (we got a canal view room as requested) and Sete is really interesting. Throughout the holiday, we had lovely food and great wine. So with the cycling being easy, we've not lost any weight !!!!
By Mr Otiv on 21/09/2015
An excellent holiday with well researched routes off the beaten track , very clear written instructions given . Lovely villages and gardens en route , giving a good taste of France at its most typical. The hotels selected were all excellent and varied in nature.
By Mr John on 21/09/2015
We had initially considered a Headwater walking tour of Loire as my wife is not a confident cyclist. But reading the website comments - decided Loire region was quite poor walking country but great cycling country. My wife more than coped with the itinerary and we are both raring to go on our next Headwater cycling holiday next year when we will both be 69!
Hotels and meals all excellent but we did feel that the rooms we stayed in at Chissay were a bit tired and in need of renovation, hence the fair rating.
Your HQ staff gave us excellent advice and James and Hazel as tour managers were the most brilliant ever encountered and helped make an excellent experience.
By Mr Haines on 18/09/2015
We have now done 6 Headwater Holidays and the standards are consistently high. Alsace was beautiful in September as the grapes were harvested and the window boxes were wonderful in the small towns.
By Mr Beaney on 18/09/2015
The food was excellent but having 5 course gourmet dinners every night was probably more than we really needed. The hotels were all very comfortable and very different with genuinely excellent restaurants and helpfull staff.
By Mrs Craig on 18/09/2015
We had an excellent, well organised holiday ,in beautiful surroundings with delicious food and wine. It was at the correct standard for our level of cycling.
The reps were efficient, friendly, and well informed. The three hotels were very different but all very comfortable with excellent food.
This was our third cycling holiday in France with headwater and by far the best. Previous holidays , Brittany and Canal du Midi, were not such good value and conditions more challenging.
By Mr Athroll on 16/09/2015
An initial problem with the rail tickets (we were not allocated seats with those with whom we were travelling) was sorted out speedily and new tickets allocated. In addition, due to the illness of one of the party members Ross picked up 2 members along with the luggage on the last cycling day. This removed a lot of stress/worry of getting back to Auxerre.
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable holiday (despite the illness) and the weather was kind too!
Apart from the Auberge in Clamecy the rating of the food relates to breakfast only as meals were taken elsewhere.
By Mr Patterson on 15/09/2015
Excellent cycling in a beautiful area.
By Ms Jackson on 15/09/2015
I am only learning to cycle, so some of the route was hard for me but the rep, Steve, was brilliant, very supportive and made sure I relaxed and built my confidence. The scenery was stunning and the route varied. Lovely holiday.
By Mr Browne on 15/09/2015
Easy cycling with great wine tasting opportunities.
By Mr Valentine on 14/09/2015
Excellent routes, great hotels, fabulous countryside, lots to see and good food to fuel your journey!
By Mrs Bawn on 14/09/2015
Amazing holiday, well thought out. All hotels were unique and special. Beautiful cycling routes. Try.practising cycling at home before you go. It would improve the enjoyment of the holiday.
By Mrs Raynor on 07/09/2015
Excellent holiday. Good hotels, food & service. Wonderful countryside. Cycling challenging at times. We cycle regularly in the UK. One party member cycles four times a week with a club. Our feeling is that the cycling rating was 'moderate' by the club member's judgement but somewhat more than moderate for the rest of the party. We all struggled on some of the hills. Whilst all being of reasonable fitness the extra weight of the cycles compared with our road bikes and the higher temperatures made it extra challenging. Perhaps this should be emphasised in your holiday description.
By Mr Patterson on 04/09/2015
The gastronomic cycling holiday was a great way to see the Loire valley up close. The notes for cycling were easy to follow and enabled us to enjoy the holiday at our own pace. The bikes were well maintained with a comfy gel saddle which ensured no aches and pains were felt in unwanted places! On this holiday you can keep fit and build up an appetite for the excellent French cuisine and wines which you enjoy guilt-free and come home the same weight as when you left.
By Mrs Tulloch on 01/09/2015
Have used Headwater for years and have never been disappointed. This Alsace cycling trip provided a good variety of hotels with excellent food in a stunning location. There were hills amongst the vineyards which needed occasional pushing of bikes but no hills no views! The flat cycling to Germany was in contrast and gave a good sense of space and perspective. Cycling is a good way to get to know the area and see how the local people live. Everyone was welcoming and helpful, a slow pace of life and restful holiday.
Map reading during the day to the destination gives a real sense of achievement rewarded with good food and wine.
A winning combination and I look forward to the next Headwater holiday.
By Mrs Burnett on 01/09/2015
A lovely experience in a nice part of France where the people are very welcoming
By Mr Windwood on 01/09/2015
This is a great holiday though not really for inexperienced cyclists due to the surface of the paths and roads in some places as well as the need to cycle on roads with some traffic. The distances and lack of hills make it an easy route but some degree of competance is needed. Hotels were good and we enjoyed the riding.
By Mr Grubb on 01/09/2015
Exceeded our expectations, really enjoyable experience. Our rep, Ross, was always on hand, with advice even acting as a taxi service taking us to and from the local restaurant for evening meals and also to Vezelay for the day, nothing was too much trouble.
Will be looking forward to booking our next cycling holiday!
By Mr Herron on 25/08/2015
Fabulous holiday, very well planned. We were immersed in the countryside and every day we saw beautiful places that we would never have seen travelling by car. Every night we ate a sumptuous meal of fabulous quality. A real joy.
By Mr Davey on 21/08/2015
This holiday is an ideal introduction to Headwater. Rep, Ross Brown, was excellent: knew the area well, had very good relationships with local hotels, very helpful and inspired confidence. Hotel Normandie excellent urban base to begin the holiday. Relais St Vincent is a quite outstanding hotel, full of character, very comfortable, superbly run and offering excellent food in a fine dining room. Vermenton relaxed, informal and welcoming, and food at Accolay excellent. Varied and interesting route with places to visit and wonderful rides on fine towpaths beside the rover Yonne.
By Mrs Ball on 14/08/2015
This was my 16th cycling holiday with your company in the last 12 years! Had a really good time but the grading should be a 2 bike holiday as it was tough with lots of really steep hills. I was with my daughter and she found parts of it challenging. We stayed in the walkers hotel in Dinan as the cyclists was full at the time of booking. I paid 100 euros to upgrade to a room at the back of the hotel as the front was too noisey. The room was small with a large bathroom but not really worth the amount extra I paid. I think you should maybe look to have a different hotel in Dinan as there seemed to be lots of good hotels with more competitve rates which would be better. The proprietor and staff at the Hotel d'Avaugour were not welcoming and at times quite rude. There was no hot water on the first morning. As for your rep STEVE - he is amazing. So helpful, kind and thoughtful. You need to look after him. He is taking lots of photos for your monthly competition! I hope to book with you again next year. Josephine Ball
By Mr Cumberlidge on 14/08/2015
Extremely enjoyable, well organised and busy with an excellent mix of quiet countryside cycling and fascinating places to see and visit.
By Mrs Wright on 13/08/2015
Awful maps/directions - need dramatic improvement, which I have offered
Very average to fair food - esp as it was supposed to be Gastronomic - restaurants offered very poor service and weren't interested in our custom
Give twin beds for my husband and I - not overly romantic and bizarre
By Mr Higgins on 11/08/2015
Excellent all round except for the dreadful welcome at Bel Air (the lady is a bit hit and miss we understand) of which we made light hearted remarks!
The highlight hotel was the Auiberge du Centre at Chittenay where FOUR people took our bags to our room when we arrived.
We have been many many times with Headwater and find the routes marvellous and varied with fantastic food and hotels. All the arrangements were excellent.
By Mr Reynolds on 10/08/2015
Our first cycling holiday and it was a PERFECT introduction! Looking forward to the next one.
By Mrs Norfolk on 10/08/2015
We have been with Headwater for a number of years and I am afraid that this year the level of service from the booking office and the rep was not as good as in previous years. The Rep asked us to wait for 40 mins for the next guest's train to arrive; but the journey was only 10 mins to the hotel; and there were a lot of challenges with a booking for our group from two different families. We spent an extra night in Paris, but it might have been suggested we got the Eurostar back.
The grading was 2 - but this was quite an easy two in comparison to Piedmonte.
Food, hotels and cycling were all however superb.
By Mr Evans on 03/08/2015
At heart it is a great holiday concept but we question whether Headwater any longer deserve to be the market leader.
By Mrs Unwin on 03/08/2015
A great way of getting to know a small area of France and savouring local life. On a bike you see and hear things and also meet people that would pass you by if travelling by car.
By Mrs Fowler on 30/07/2015
Excellent way to enjoy an area. Taste the food and visit the local areas of interest.
By Mr Dwyer on 27/07/2015
An excellent, well organised trip that gave all the relevant information for cycling days and also allowed us the flexibility of doing our own thing during off days, giving useful notes for potential activities as well as alternate cycling routes. A very welcoming representative who was sensitive to our needs and responded quickly to any calls and queries. I would definitely recommend this highly enjoyable holiday as a more (but not *too*) active way of exploring a new place.
By Ms Henderson on 24/07/2015
The organisation was seamfree and I was really impressed with the fact that I had decided on a cycling holiday on a Friday and I was able to leave for a holiday on that coming Monday. The lady that I spoke to at Headwater on that Friday afternoon worked extremely hard to 'get me sorted ' and spent time in describing the area and what to expect on the holiday bearing in mind that I was a female travelling alone. She was extremely helpful , honest and efficient. The arrangements went like clockwork . I had to buy my own train ticket for Colmar because it was too late to send anything but that was easy . Margaret O' Neill met me at Colmar on time and was very thorough and helpful and charming.
Although I had not really planned for a cycling holiday on my own, it just happened that way and I had a wonderful time . The heat was brutal but I felt a great achievement when I completed the trip . The irrigation contraptions in the vineyards or corn fields was a welcome sight to me and I threw myself in their path on many a day. I had chosen a week when the temperatures were in the 40 s most days , the last day of cycling was slightly cooler. I loved the Alsace region and never felt lonely, I met some wonderful people and the hotels were very welcoming . The food was excellent in all of the hotel restaurants but I was not too keen on the food in the Hotel Kapuzinergarte. Perhaps it was just personal taste.
I loved the quiet and solitude of the daily rides into the Alsace countryside and was certainly rejuvenated by this holiday.
I managed a fabulous trip into Freiburg and an exciting trip into Strasburg . I was not so impressed with the particular area of the Rhein that I visited on a boat . However, I did meet some interesting people.
This holiday will stay with me for quite some time and I have some perfect and some imperfect photographs to remind me. I do have some wonderful close ups of storks.
By Mr Curtis on 24/07/2015
Annual fitness check up for the occasional cyclist and food lover
By Mr Juckes on 24/07/2015
Had a fabulous time especially in view of the fact that we organised it within 24hours! Great work from Headwater on that.
Weather was brilliant too even with the 39degree heat day. It was always very supportive to know that we could call James and/or Hazel anytime form anywhere and they would help us. We did. One day, we didn't make the whole distance and were picked up without any issues at all.
I didn't take a helmet and I do feel it is compulsory for me, whatever the law. I think a bigger 'heads-up' re taking a helmet could be made, plus at least for the girls, take cycling pants.
All the meals were sensational. The routes were scenic and thoroughly enjoyable, especially the dedicated bike tracks and those along the rivers.
Loved the entire experience and working with this company. Five stars. Thank you.
By Mrs Riseborough on 21/07/2015
I appreciated the choice of routes given on one of the days and the rep gave us many tips to add to our enjoyment eg a restaurant off the beaten track and certain view points. He also made sure we were aware of any obstacles on our route such as road closures.
By Mrs Pattison on 21/07/2015
We were two couples of mixed ability cycling wise and most of us found the terrain challenging particularly with an average temperature of over 35 degrees! After a hot (41 degrees) and hilly last part of the first day we rang Keith, our rep, to enquire about ebikes!! Headwater very kindly sanctioned the supply of three ebikes from Day 3 and we are eternally grateful for this as it really made the rest of our holiday. I would urge non regular cyclists to consider this option particularly in high summer as there are some serious hills and the longer routes take in some beautiful places that would be a shame to miss. The sting was taken out of each day but with the pleasure of cycling still there - I am now a convert!
As for the holiday in general - overall we had a fantastic time - what a lovely region with beautiful villages. I would have no hesitation recommending it to anyone. The hotels were varied in location, comfort and cuisine but this made for greater interest and variety. There have been previous comments about Hotel Le Quercy which is fairly basic in comfort level - this was particularly noticeable when so hot with no fans or aircon, however for one night we did not feel too perturbed by it. This was also completely forgotten after having eaten at the allocated restaurant, La Vieille Auberge. We all felt the food and service in this establishment knocked spots off all the other places we stayed, wow!
Hotel Meysset was delightful as were the staff. It's only drawback was the distance to the lovely town of Sarlat, partly compensated by the view from the restaurant terrace. Shame we had to choose between a lovely cycling day trip and a leisurely walk around town! Too hot to do both with that hill!!
Les Glycines was our major disappointment - clearly a top restaurant with a snobbery and pretentiousness to match. The rooms were lovely and comfortable (with aircon - bliss!), there is a lovely garden and the town is on the doorstep to walk to which for us was a relief! The second night we enjoyed pre and post dinner drinks in town plus a pre dinner pizza (!) from lovely local restaurants with charming staff. Sadly we found the waiting staff and management aloof, uncaring and almost rude. The drinks are horribly expensive - top London prices - but when not matched by good service then you begrudge paying them. We paid â‚¬13 for a SMALL gin and tonic and the wine was also outrageous. The food was generally good and largely beautifully presented as you would expect - one menu was more nouveau than the other leaving us a little less than full! Some surprises we felt let it down but overall it was the service that let it down the most.
Finally, the charming Le Moulin de Mitou. Again another contrast. A bit isolated and quirky but none the less for it. Not sure how it got into the Relais de Silence as the road is quite busy but with aircon and double glazing this was not an issue for sleeping. Lovely food - more rustic French country cooking maybe but lovely flavours and well presented. We ate very well here!
We were all agreed at the end though that we could not wait to get back to La Vieille Auberge for one last meal and it lived up to our memories and expectations - an excellent way to end a wonderful holiday. Thank you Headwater. Claire (Sussex)
By Ms Zehr on 21/07/2015
We were very happy with the entire trip. The accommodations and food were amazing. I've already recommended this vacation to several friends.
By Mrs Tomlin on 20/07/2015
Unfortunately we had a bad start to our holiday. On Sunday 28th June our train from Toulouse to Souillac was cancelled and we had a hot( 37 C) and weary ( left home at 4am for our flight) wait in Toulouse for 4 hours before finally arriving at Souillac. Rather than a relief the hotel room at the Hotel Le Quercy,was disappointing, small, hot and tired. We were revived by our evening meal, but we do not think this hotel gives a good impression at the start of the holiday it is certainly not the standard of hotel that we would expect from Headwater. The pool area and outlook is rather drab and while we appreciate that the temperatures were abnormally high for early July the rooms really need air conditioning or at least room fans in hot temperatures as it is uncomfortable to sleep. It is not of the same standard as the other hotels on the holiday. We were dreading returning to this hotel room at the end of the week, although staff were very pleasant and evening meals were good. Â The subsequent hotels were much improved and overall the cycling journeys were enjoyable. There is one section involving a gravel path which is almost impossible to cycle on, so an alternative route maybe a better option. The holiday did deliver on gastronomy , wonderful scenery and plenty of options for visits to places of interest. We realise we experienced a heatwave in the Dordogne as we were cycling in 42C on some days. Therefore the hill to Hotel de Meysset was particularly challenging and almost put us off for the rest of the week. Sometimes it felt like an endurance test but we were very grateful for the comfort of the middle hotels , delightful pools and air conditioning. The bikes were of good quality and the journey instructions were easy to follow. Our reps, Keith and Claire were on hand when needed, In all, the beginning and end accommodation was poor and spoils the whole experience.
By Mrs Bowring on 20/07/2015
As always with Headwater we had a fabulous holiday. However this year (and the reason two of the hotels scored poor on the comfort front) two of the hotels did not have air conditioning - I appreciate it was unusually warm but surely July in that region is usually hot. It made the rooms totally unpleasant and almost impossible to sleep. I would add though if Hotel Meysett had air con it would move to an excellent (all other areas were just lovely). The same however could not be said for the first and last hotels - these just did not match up to the overall standards of the rest of the holiday.
By Mr Fletcher on 17/07/2015
Really good holiday, challenging and rewarding.Loved the routes through the byways, hamlets and villages.
Steve gave us lots of confidence, we felt that if there was a problem, he would soon sort it.
However we did think it was quite expensive and the hotels and meals though very good did not quiet reach
the standard that we might have expected. In 2007 we did a Loire valley cycling tour with Inntravel and their
hotels and dinners were superior
By Mrs Kimber on 17/07/2015
It was a super holiday cycling through beautiful Canal du Midi but there were a few minor clitches that could have spoilt the holiday if we had let it. We stayed in some lovely locations at a range of hotels. Despite no Rep being seen all our luggage got to where it needed to be on time and safely.
By Mr McHugh on 17/07/2015
Need to tell travellers that French villages have no shops or water.
By Mr Wignall on 13/07/2015
Chateaux of the Loire is an excellent intro to Headwaters cycling holidays, excellent bicycles with professional support, gently rolling hills, routes on quiet country lanes through golden fields of ripening crops, and welcome warming sunshine . With ample opportunity to visit the numerous Chateaux on route, whilst staying in a variety of outstanding Hotels/Chateaux all with superb menues to choose from, and most with swimming pools what more is there to wish for ?. This was out 8th holiday with Headwater and it is definitely in the top 3.
By Mr Turnbull on 13/07/2015
We had a fabulous holiday, the support we got from our reps (particularly James) was of a really high standard, and definitely added to the holiday experience.
The hotels (especially Vallagon and Chissay) definitely lived up to or surpassed expectations.
This sort of holiday was new to us, but we would definitely do it again.
By Mr Holt on 08/07/2015
Perfect mix of activity and opportunity to explore with time built in for relaxing. The 'two night stop' arrangement works well and whilst it helps to travel light, you soon get efficient at packing and unpacking. Even with a few challenging cycling moments (especially the visit to chateauneauf from St Sabine) it is hard to cycle off all the beautiful food and wine taken on board! Each day offered something different, both in terms of scenery, sightseeing and accommodation. The ebike was much appreciated by one of our party to help with some of the longer climbs.
We have now taken two cycling holidays with Headwater - the Carinthian Lakes, Austria and Gastonomic Burgundy, France, which were both in their first season, but were really well put together and we enjoyed the first so much we brought some friends with us on the second!
By Mrs Pryor-jones on 07/07/2015
We luckily met another couple on our trip with similar interests so it was lovely to meet up in the evenings with them, could have been solitary on our own.
Wouldn't do Gastronomique as food was too much and very similar menu at each hotel, No Air Con at hotel on 1st and last night and it was very hot when we were on holiday. The villages we cycled through had few shops and often seemed closed when we went through them but on the whole this wasn't a major problem. The chateaus were lovely and the hotel staff on the whole very helpful. The bikes were very good.
By Mr Dunbar on 02/07/2015
Enjoyed the cycling alot, lovely countryside, great food. Expensive for what you get, considering only on e evening meal included.
By Mrs Howard on 30/06/2015
I am truely impressed with Headwater , Steve was fantastic , we rode together on 2 days.
Mick the film maker/photographer joined on the last day , really great company.
I'd love to see the movie you made of me cycling to promote Headwater .
By Mr Vaile on 29/06/2015
An excellent and relaxed holiday made all the better by a very helpful and knowledgeable local representative, Ross Brown. The cycle routes along the canal and river paths especially on the final day, were delightful. Wine tasting and buying opportunities were frequent and fun and the wine collection service worked flawlessly.
By Mrs Boulton-jones on 25/06/2015
Holiday was expensive for what we received.
Lovely region of France.
By Mrs Colquhoun on 25/06/2015
Overall a good holiday well organised excellent friendly reps and a good variety of hotels some excellent some very good weather could have been a little better!
By Mr Goss on 24/06/2015
This was our first trip with Headwater, having had good recommendations from friends (hikers). We have done many cycling trips with other companies. Organisation and information from Headwater was copious and helpful, EXCEPT:
We want to have large scale maps with the route marked (like other companies do). 1:100,000 maps are fine for driving, but not for cycling. I spent several hours before we traveled printing maps and trying to mark the route from the route description. Despite this we made some errors in navigation; annoying. The A4 description sheets are awkwardly big to mount on a handlebar rack.
By Mrs Caulkin on 24/06/2015
Excellant holiday with one of the best travel reps we have come across .He put himself out to help us and nothing was too much trouble
By Mr Baker on 23/06/2015
Apart from the excellent food and accommodation, the cycling was about as perfect as it can get: smooth, quiet gently undulating roads, considerate drivers, friendly people and good weather but not too hot. Plenty to see and visit.
By Mr Broad on 22/06/2015
The easy way to enjoy a cycling holiday abroad
By Ms Pepper on 19/06/2015
If you are considering this type of holiday you can rely on the information that is provided, the bikes are easy to use all aspects 6700d of the equipment are explained , the planners are very useful, and the rep is available if required.
By Mrs MacKman on 17/06/2015
Overall a great holiday. Good idea to look up before you go as to whether any local events on in the towns. We happened by chance upon a Venetian day at a village which was spectacular although no rep advice as to the event. Food was great at first two hotels but below expectations and little choice at the German venue. We upgraded rooms in Germany and that was worthwhile for the accommodation. When looking at the holiday online it appears easier than it was in reality. A 2Km climb on the last day was tough for social cyclists.
By Mr Godfree on 17/06/2015
All arrangements worked perfectly. Bikes were excellent with comfortable saddles and springing - vital for bumpy towpaths. Luggage was always waiting for us at the next hotel. Fascinating canal architecture with plenty to see (watching boats going through the locks is entertaining). The prevailing wind (Tramontane) is generally behind apart from the out and back at Narbonne. Shade is provided along the towpath sections by plane trees. Hotel L'Octroi in Carcassone is well placed for visiting La Cite on foot and the airport shuttle bus actually passes the hotel just before the final stop (there even appears to be a stop outside which I guess the driver would drop you at if asked). Le Jardin d'Homps is a real French experience, as it was wet we were not tempted to use the garden and pool. Hotel le Residence is very convenient for the canal. Hotel Imperator seems a long intricate slog uphill on arrival but was worth it. Hotel le Grand is indeed 'grand'. We had an excellent room overlooking the canals but with triple glazing so no noise from the street below.
By Mr Moss on 17/06/2015
Ross was great as a tour guide, and very helpful in pointing out places of note/interest. Countryside and views were glorious, and the villages were delightful. However, 2 things stuck out on this tour: This was a level 1 tour but there were several 1-plus hills on the route - i think that could be better explained; and most of the pretty villages we visited were empty of life, no people, no animals, no cafes/bars or facilities - i think that needs to be better explained too, as it was a disappointment to find them shuttered up. Auxerre was interesting, and Chablis and Vezelay very pretty with plenty to see and do, but not much in between. Our 2 nights with external dinners in Vermenton were great - superb choice of restaurants, and Ross was a very considerate driver, waiting for us to finish late on both occasions!
By Mrs Henderson on 17/06/2015
Most enjoyable. Well planned and varied routes with excellent dining in the evening. Something for everyone.
By Mrs Thomas on 15/06/2015
Lovely to have everything arranged for us ; quiet cycling routes and accommodation planned by people with local knowledge and luggage taken care of . All we had to do was relax and enjoy the holiday !
Not Headwaters fault , but coming back on May 31st , we arrived at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to find that we had been put on Standby and had no seats allocated . We have since learned that this is common practice by airlines but we did spend a stressful couple of hours before being told that we could get on the 13.05 flight for which we had reservations .
By Mrs Carroll on 15/06/2015
Fantastic holiday all round. Accommodation, food, service etc all excellent if a little bit variable. The cycle routes were well planned and took us through some lovely areas. Would definitely recommend an e-bike for anyone who is not a regular cyclist or accustomed to hill work. The food was very good all round if a little heavy on the gourmet- we will not want to see any more frois gras or duck for a long time! The one exception is the bistro at Hotel Pere Leon - best avoided and easily done with the plethora of good alternatives in Toulouse.
By Mr Ricketts on 15/06/2015
As with my previous Headwater holiday in Brittany last year, the organisation and logistics of this holiday worked like clockwork, luggage was collected and delivered to successive hotels in time for my arrival. In all but one instance the hotel reception was excellent and the quality of the dining experience was commensurate with fine dining. In one hotel only, the restaurant was busy and the front of house staff were flustered and made several mistakes with my menus and orders, but this was compensated by the quality of the food and the wine suggestions of the other staff. One evening our group was taken by taxi for the evening meal to a nearby Hotel/Restaurant as our hotel's restaurant was closed for the evening. This was done with efficiency and the dining experience worth the trip. The Rep, James, made every effort to meet me when I arrived and to explain things to me and took the trouble to see me off as I left. The Reps were very helpful, sending me a postcard with their contact details on before I started the holiday, giving me the confidence that they would be there to help if anything went wrong, which I am glad to say did not happen. If you like French food and good wines this is a good choice for you. I am a keen cyclist and prefer to cycle further each day than the Headwater brochure routes. I appreciate the flexibility Headwater adopt with me in negotiating support for a longer route than the one in the brochure. I will be booking with Headwater again next year.
By Mr Christian on 08/06/2015
The cycling guide notes were excellent up to the section between Beziers to Sete. This section was quite vague in places and we got lost twice. The maps were of little use due to their large scale on the one occasion that we really needed them due to a diversion, they were no help at all. Other than that the accommodation was really good.
By Mr Redman on 26/05/2015
Excellent, good fun and good value.
By Mr Betts on 21/05/2015
We were a family group of six with ages ranging from 30 to 67 and we all enjoyed the whole experience. One of our party was a vegetarian which we recognised might be a bit of a challenge for the hotels, given that this was a gastronomic experience, but she was quite happy with the range of vegetarian options available.
By Mr Wagstaff on 27/12/2014
The notes gave the impression that you would meet your rep every night. This was not the case. The grading system was probably accurate. However, there was, in JM's opinion inaccuracies in the descriptions of the routes particularly in the Vosges (see below). The food at La Ville de Lyon in Rouffach was over the top: might be Michelin starred but two nights of that was too much - the novelty wore off! The Hotel Kapuzinergarte was generally good but it would have been helpful to know that (a) you needed to speak German, (b) there was no bar area to sit in before dinner and (c) that they wouldn't take credit card for the bar bill and didn't know that the accommodation had already been paid for. Le Verger des Chateau claimed not to have received any notification about JM's cheese allergy and JM got served with cheese the first night which she delicately picked off the salad. Fortunately JM was able to muster enough French to ensure that she didn't get cheese again but that was hard work. This feedback has been done jointly. JM has various reservations about the holiday and the 'hills' which were not mentioned: in the route booklet only one hill is mentioned - the highest point you reach on the tour which is on Day 1. The fact that both of us were in bottom gear almost from the start of the first day came as rather a surprise although JM had realised that there might be a problem when reading the route before leaving the UK and checking it to the map provided. She had mentioned that she had arthritis as she required a low step over bike. She was unable to push down hard enough to get up anything but the shortest hill and spent far too long on cycling days 1 and 4 pushing her bike - something which was extremely difficult as the arthritis makes going up hill on foot difficult. Cycling days 2 and 3 were wonderful (no hills to speak of). DW really enjoyed the cycling once he had got used to the bike and had very few problems with hills after the initial surprise of the steepness. The hotel Aux Armes de France was brilliant. They did a special breakfast tray for us on our last morning as we had to leave before the normal serving time. They were really helpful and it felt the nicest place we stayed. If you wish to discuss our comments further, please contact us. Apologies for the delay in doing the feedback but various things have happened meaning we have only just got round to is.
By Mrs Jackson on 27/10/2014
A good holiday with a balance of cycling and sightseeing opportunities. The hills were underplayed and I wouldn't recommend non cyclists to try this holiday unless they want to walk up every hill. Two of the hotels had excellent food, which was a treat. The guide instructions were mostly good although they were wrong on one of the days causing the majority of our group to find themselves on a main road. The route could do with being cycled by the rep and the notes adjusted to avoid confusion to future cyclists. We enjoyed our holiday and would consider another headwater holiday in future, although we would treat the grading of the route with caution.
By Mr McGinn on 17/10/2014
We find Headwater a very professional organisation. The cycling routes and notes are well thought out and the reps are knowledgeable and very helpful.
By Mr Smith on 16/10/2014
Compared to other companies, our view is that 'Headwater', is at the top of the tree.
By Mrs Dietz on 16/10/2014
We especially appreciated the well-chosen routes through beautiful countryside on little roads with little traffic. A highlight is the long downhills we enjoyed from ridges to river level.
By Mr Sherriff on 09/10/2014
This has previously been a very attractive formula for us in Tuscany but in Alsace the routes were a bit boring to and from Germany. Kilometres of flat maize fields get a bit tiresome.
The locations of two hotels, in Breisach and Dieffenthal were poor. Breisach had great views from the top of the hill which did not make up for the fact that the hotel was relatively isolated from the town and whatever it might have had to offer. We weren't sure what the point was in going there any way. We did visit the KaiserstÃ¼hl which was good cycling and not enough was made of it in your notes. It didn't help that the hotel food is awful and the service dreadful. It took me 45 minutes to check out!
In Dieffenthal the hotel was out of the village which itself was less than interesting. Any of the neighbouring villages would have been good, especially as Dambach la Ville was very close and had a rail station for a visit to Strasbourg. Equally, Riquwihr Hunawihr and Ribeauville would have been better.
So, in all 2/4 decent hotels, boring routes. Not sure about value for money.
By Mrs Powell on 08/10/2014
Excellent and varied cycling in a beautiful part of France.
By Mr Hickman on 08/10/2014
The holiday met all our expectations, as the description in your brochure proved to be accurate in all respects. The level of accommodation, in fact, exceeded expectations as did the dining experiences. Whilst not a budget holiday, you provided excellent value for money.
By Mr Henderson on 08/10/2014
Easy cycling. Good hotels with excellent food and accommodation in the main. Weather in late September was brilliant which made visits to chateaus etc more spectacular. All in all we had a really good holiday.
By Mrs Sanderson on 08/10/2014
Lovely area with some very good cycle routes. The accommodation and meals were excellent. The cycling was relatively easy, however you could add extra mileage and create longer routes if you wanted.
We had a very enjoyable and relaxing holiday which was organised without fault.
By Mr Bell on 08/10/2014
Beautiful area of France with easy cycling days,many interesting places to visit and, at the end of the day, mouth watering food to enjoy.
By Dr Brech on 06/10/2014
This was a good holiday made more enjoyable by perfect weather throughout. The cycling was varied and the terrain different and interesting. We spent two extra days in Dinan (we prefer 10-night tours) and found plenty to do. There were lots of opportunities for cafe stops throughout the tour. There were some hills but we four pensioners just walked up them - the countryside would have been less interesting without them! None was longer than 700 metres - nothing like the 3-km walks onto the Lot Valley causses or the 5-km slogs in the Jura. The rep, Steve, was excellent. We had heard good reports of him from other cyclists on earlier Headwater holidays and he fully lived up to his reputation. The loan of large-scale maps (1:25,000) was an excellent idea and should be taken up everywhere. And when we had our first bike problem in four years of Headwater cycling (a seized wheel bearing), he had the problem fixed with a new wheel within 30 minutes of the call for assistance. Informative, interesting and always cheerful, he is the gold standard to which every Headwater rep should aspire.
By Dr Austin on 29/09/2014
This is our seventh Headwater Holiday and as usual we enjoyed it greatly although the hills on the first and last cycling days were much steeper than we expected. Colmar is delightful and it was really interesting to go into Germany to compare German Alsace wines with French Alsace ones.
By Mrs Binns on 19/09/2014
Varied locations made for an interesting cycling holiday, time given for exploring some of locations on foot or otherwise. Helpful information given
By Mr Norman on 19/09/2014
excellent route but day excursions not clear. change hotel in clamacy as poor accommodation and food try hotel poste .
By Mrs McLynn on 16/09/2014
We have enjoyed many cycling holidays with Headwater. This was by far the best one yet!! A good friendly rep, well maintained bikes,
excellent, detailed route guides, great hotels in lovely locations and superb dinners! Well done Headwater!
By Mr Taylor on 16/09/2014
This was our nineteenth Headwater cycling holiday and once again they delivered.
An excellent selection of hotels in a variety of locations with accurately classified routes in between.
We drove through the Tunnel but with the benefit of hind site we might have considered travelling to St Marlo as foot passengers, to be collected by their representative and taken to the first hotel.
The countryside is charming, the coastal views amazing and once again it was rain free - that's only 3 days rain in 152 days of Headwater cycling holidays.
I would not hesitate to recommend this holiday, but do a little practice on the bike before you go to get the full enjoyment.
By Ms McVeigh on 16/09/2014
Great holiday with plenty of exercise. Beautiful chÃ¢teaux to visit and lovely hotels to stay with lots of fabulous food. Good idea to have a 'sat nav' or map on your mobile phone as route directions not totally accurate!
By Mr Keeling on 15/09/2014
Enjoyable itinerary and the distances were very manageable. Scenery similar with lots vineyards and fields of maize. Many of the shops closed and villages deserted in August because of the French holidays.
By Dr Luton on 15/09/2014
Excellent if quite hilly cycling in a very pretty area. Selestat is worth diverting to en route from Breisach. Colmar is very worthwhile visiting but incorporating it into day 2 ( turn off at Niedermorschwir and return to Turkheim) gives day 3 free for walks /cycling in the hills.
By Mr Dunn on 11/09/2014
This was absolutely our best holiday to date. Excellently planned, organized and looked after by our rep - Ross, we felt free to enjoy the delights of the Burgundy region. We loved the bikes and the routes made sure we saw the very best of the countryside and avoided any major roads. The opportunity to swim at designated places in the river Yonne was the icing on the cake - it was truly a 'Swallows and Amazon' experience. Fabulous scenery, weather, food and of course, wine - sheer bliss. Can't wait to go again - anywhere - as long as it's organized by Headwater. Thank you so much.
Dear Mr Dunn,
Thank you for taking the time to complete your post-holiday feedback questionnaire. We were delighted to see that you enjoyed your time in the Burgundy region of France and that you rated this holiday your best to date! It really does sound like you had a great time. It was also great to see that you felt well looked after by our Rep Ross, he was thrilled to receive your lovely comments too. We look forward to welcoming you on another of our holidays in the future.
Headwater Customer Service team.
By Mrs Barr on 08/09/2014
Contacted Headwater at very short notice to arrange our cycling holiday and the help and advice given by holiday adviser was excellent [Karen Ross]. Cycling days easy apart from Ligny to Vermenton,mileage was perfectly manageable [31 miles] but have to admit to walking through village of Courgis [this is allowed as we are OAPs] and view was worth it. Would strongly recommend buying supplies as mentioned in the notes before starting out each day as there were no cafes open at all. Area was beautiful very picturesque and peaceful. Thoroughly enjoyed our cycling holiday again - this was our 7th Headwater Cycling Holiday and are already planning our 8th.
By Mr Browne on 05/09/2014
An excellent holiday with beautiful countryside and varied activities. Steve was the best rep we have ever had and his extra maps, information made the holiday that much more enjoyable. It was reassuring to have a spare inner tube and the bikes were well maintained.
By Dr Taylor on 05/09/2014
Great bikes, great service and a great holiday...thanks!
By Mrs Lidgley on 29/08/2014
Splendid! An escape from the normal!
By Mr Carter on 27/08/2014
We are in our mid seventies and we wished to see if we could still manage to cycle the routes. We managed but found there to be more hills than anticipated and on reflection we would have been better to have taken our own bikes, particularly for my wife, this was not a reflection on the bikes provided but just what we were familiar with.
We have used Headwater a lot in the past but cannot remember the division created by those who paid extra for higher standard. It was strange in restaurants seeing some being given better located tables thus removing any possibility of conversation, they also received much superior rooms. I suppose it reflects the age we now live in but in the past there was more a feeling of adventure and sharing it with other travellers.
By Mr Craven on 27/08/2014
Good bikes, variable accommodation. Good daily distances and accurate grading. Very willing but inexperienced rep. has the potential to be a very good rep but needs to get out cycling, driving or walking the routes and making his own notes.
By Mr Roberts on 26/08/2014
Geat food and wines. Interesting and varied locations. Alsacian wine route is great.
By Mr Reiners on 22/08/2014
A very enjoyable holiday through a less visited (at least by English travellers) part of France. The one day cycling/ one day off works very well and the route gives an enjoyable mixture of different terrains, and countries. The accomodation is of an extremely high standard, though I the food at Ville do Lyons and Aux Armes de France stands out.
Some stiff climbs, but no shame in walking up !
By Mrs Rawcliffe on 22/08/2014
Our Rep John was very helpful and we were aware that if we needed assistance he was only a phone call away
Also very friendly welcome
The hotels and food were great especially after a long day cycling
Will use you again next year!
By Mr Stamper on 18/08/2014
Overall, this was a very enjoyable experience, one of the best we have experienced in France. We really appreciated the sea view room at the Hotel Printania.
By Mrs Cox on 18/08/2014
Great holiday hampered only by poor weather at times but our reps were fantastic. Chissay was lovely. How marvellous to stay in such an historic place. Every single member of staff was very helpful and friendly. We could not fault it. We could not make much use of the pool as it was not warm enough. Hotel Aubiniere was more modern and very comfortable with lovely food. again the staff were great. The Auberge was much more cramped and very busy. We struggled to be able to find somewhere to put the bikes as the shed was so full. Out of the three this was our least favourite but the food was good if a bit over fussy. A great holiday but would not want to do it for longer as the food becomes too much by the end. If we did it again we would do it without the gastronomy just simple meals.
By Mrs Provan on 07/08/2014
Well organised and enjoyable. A good mix of cycling and time to do other things.
By Mrs Culligan on 05/08/2014
Thoroughly enjoyed our holiday the excellent hotels and food were welcome relief at the end of a challenging day's cycling. Beautiful countryside and villages to visit on route.
By Ms Marshall on 31/07/2014
This was our first experience of a Headwater holiday and we'd certainly do another one. I was a bit apprehensive about the level of fitness required for the cycling, but it was easily manageable - although I'm glad I did some training beforehand. The bikes and routes were great - all we had to do was enjoy the scenery en route and get to the next destination. Loads of suggestions of things to do and places to visit - but no pressure to do anything. Bliss.
By Mrs Barry on 28/07/2014
It was a lovely relaxing holiday. Amazing weather and the cycling routes were really easy to navigate and through beautiful parts of France. We did though feel we had earned out gastronomic dinner at the end of the day - which was perfect! Two of the hotels were lovely, at Chateau de Chissay and Hotel L'Aubiniere the facilities and food were heavenly but we didn't feel the other hotel Auberge du Centre was not quite at the same standard.
By Mr Marston on 24/07/2014
A very well organised holiday with outstanding tour manager, top quality bikes, excellent hotels with very high standard of cusine in a lovely area of France
By Mr Curtis on 23/07/2014
A taste of the Loire, in more ways than one. The meal at Manoir Bel Air is possible the best you will ever encounter
By Mr Walker on 21/07/2014
An exciting 9 days in a quiet part of France with excellent accommodation in Rouffach and Ammerschwihr. A bit of a drag cycling to and from Breisach am Rhein
By Ms Bronger on 21/07/2014
Hotel rooms and area were great. We did upgrade every night. But don't expect the hotel food to be enough to keep you cycling the next day. Funky food with drizzle. The menu was repeated each night. We could have done with twice the amount we were given each night. Very expensive wine at all the hotels. Pleased we have been there but would not go on this holiday again.
By Mrs Griffith on 21/07/2014
Every detail of the holiday had been researched well which resulted in a complete and professional package. The routes, hotels and food were all excellent and from the first welcome by Ross a feeling of confidence and helpfulness was portrayed - all surpassed expectations.
By Mr Close on 14/07/2014
Lots of the little villages in France, which we passed through, seemed to have no bars or cafes, which seemed strange.
2 of the hotels gave us no choice in evening meals. We felt there should be at least a choice of 2 dishes at each course.
The food at the hotel with the Mitchelin stared chef was, of course, wonderful. We didn't expect that everywhere, but the comparison with no choice at all (and sometimes pretty ordinary food) was too big a jump.
By Mr Otiv on 14/07/2014
A very rewarding type of holiday. A very good way to get insight into a particular region.
By Mrs Lamont on 14/07/2014
Headwater provide a fair all around holiday
By Mrs Luck on 11/07/2014
I love cycling around rural areas of Europe. You really get the feel of the area and take in and appreciate the views, smells and vibrant colours all around you. The Alsace is an attractive area with lots of lovely wines to try, flowers to enjoy and history to take in.
By Mr Crockett on 10/07/2014
Brilliant holiday, made us exercise!
Hills were a challenge.
By Mr Fiske on 10/07/2014
The 'one plus' category was about right if you did not take any of the optional trips on the 'at' days or alternative routes. If you do, that will make it a 'two' bike holiday. For example, the hills in and out of Vezelay are challenging so once there we did not want to make any trips out only to have to climb back again.
On previous Headwater holidays we have always cycled the suggested routes on the rest days.
By Mr Hyne on 05/07/2014
Another excellent holiday with Headwater despite the disappointing weather! Delicious food again only wish we could have been there longer.
By Mrs Griffiths on 03/07/2014
Another amazing Headwater holiday - everything excellent as usual! John, our Rep, was really enthusiastic and informative - he was keen to find out what we were particularly interested in and then suggested relevant ideas which made the holiday extra memorable. He also gave a very professional demonstration of repairing a puncture.
By Mrs Thorp on 27/06/2014
A great holiday, well organized.
By Mr Rea on 25/06/2014
Up to usual Headwater high standards.Very enjoyable holiday, good food, hotels and biking. Last day somewhat strenuous with significant hill climbs. Some difficulty finding food and refreshment stops, en route and at some resorts. The French seem to close at will despite declared opening hours. C'est la vie!
By Mrs Thomas on 23/06/2014
a great holiday with lovely places to stay at night with food that is to die for. during the day we stopped at great locations with good facilities for lunch and exploring, would love to go again as it was a great experience thank you
By Mrs Mills on 22/06/2014
This was a fantastic hotel. The best hotel was in montignac, however the worst eating experience was in motignac at the terrace restaurant next to the building site of lascaux 4. In our opinion you should consider foregoing the 'gastronomic title' for one night and let your customers eat at one of the many riverside restaurants and save the taxi fare and let them upgrade their meal with the difference.
By Mr Simmons on 17/06/2014
A really good holiday. The hotels were generally excellent with very good food. Cycling was varied with two days of very flat cycling on the Rhine plain, and two days in the Alsace hills. When staying next to the Rhine, I thoroughly recommend getting up very early and going for a ride along the Rhine, with a pair of binoculars. No-one around, but plenty of wildlife. Strasbourg is a wonderful place to take an extra few days at the end of cycling. One slight issue is that it can get very hot cycling in the hills of Alsace. There is very little shade amongst the vines. It was early June, and we were cycling on our last day in temperatures in the mid 30's.
By Mr McLean on 13/06/2014
A more relaxing and fun way to have a cycling holiday which is well organised from the beginning.
By Mrs Demont on 13/06/2014
Fabulous area for easy cycling, with empty roads and lots of interesting places to visit on 'rest' days. A variety of good hotels in very peaceful locations.
By Mr Ricketts on 12/06/2014
Although there was an unexpected change to the accommodation at the end of the holiday the helpfulness of Steve meeting me off the St Malo ferry on the first day of the trip removed any further obstacle to the enjoyment of the holiday as my car was already located where I needed it to be for the return trip to the ferry on my last day. The bags were always present at the hotel to which I was moving when I arrived. The whole trip was made very enjoyable by the glorious weather and after the first transfer day any worrries I had about my baggage being transported were gone and I was able to enjoy the whole of the trip with a relaxed frame of mind. I would definitely consider a similar trip with Headwater now I am confident about their efficiency.
By Mrs Grover on 05/06/2014
This must have been 15th Headwater holiday for me and I have no complains about any of them. My late husband and I have used two other companies in the past (one in Germany and one in France) but always came back to Headwater. The formula is excellent (rest day between cycling or walking), the hotels are always good and very often really excellent. The reps are very helpful. You know someone else has done the background work researching for suitable roads to cycle and hotels to stay, yet it feels like an adventure as you have to find your way from one hotel to the other. I have recommended Headwater for several of my friends looking for active holidays and hope I will do many more myself in the future.
By Mr O'Loughlin on 03/06/2014
Helpful Headwater staff . Location was a bit boring compared to the Loire or the Dordogne regions.
By Mrs Lindsay on 03/06/2014
Thanks to careful planning by Headwater our holiday ran smoothly from the initial phone call to our journey home. It was our first experience using Headwater, it exceeded all our expectations and we look forward to another holiday with them in the future.
By Mr Ingram on 30/05/2014
Well organised travel arrangements. Good overall accommodation. Welcoming and knowledgeable staff. Rep support very good and while not needed by ourselves we spoke to others who had been helped. Wine collection service tried and tested - it works! (Thank you, Ross).
In our experience (May 2014) finding an open cafe and 'facilities' was not always easy.
Next trip with Headwater is already booked! Enough said!
By Mrs Logan on 03/12/2013
A good holiday with excellent cycles and this time a good rep/agent and his wife although we could have had more information on how to adjust the bikes if needed before we set off. Maps are poor and it is worth photocopying your own before leaving home to help you plan your trips. Route guidance is reasonable most days.
By Dr Whittington on 31/10/2013
I really enjoyed this area of France and to cycle around made it that much more special.
By Mrs Stewart on 21/10/2013
This was a really excellent holiday despite the cycling being a little harder than expected. The food throughout was outstanding. Keith and Claire were friendly and helpful giving excellent advice and support.
By Mr Patterson on 09/10/2013
A wonderful week's escape. Just what we were looking for. Peaceful cycling in idyllic rural France.
By Mrs Love-fordham on 06/10/2013
The holiday was terrific. Lots of wonderful villages, castles, and caves. The biking routes were well planned and very enjoyable. This was our third Headwater Holiday and all of them have been phenomenal. The food was great too, The trip notes were excellent. The bikes were very good bikes. The holiday was not exactly leisurely. If one does just the trips on travel days, it still would not be leisurely due to many tough hills. If you do the optional trips on 'lay over days,' the accumulation can be quite exhausting. However, many of the really great things to see are on 'layover days' - so resting on these days is not really an option. Personally, we enjoyed the level, but agree with others that the level needs to be at least moderate. I would rate this trip as moderate to challenging. The good news is that even if you are not an active cyclist, you can always hop off your bike and push it to the top of the difficult hills - pushing is not as difficult as it might sound. And once you get to the top, it is worth the effort for long rides with great views on quiet roads. The sights Headwater recommends in the notes are perfect! The Headwater reps (Keith and Claire) were very helpful and went out of their way for us.
By Mrs Craig on 25/09/2013
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday. It was very well organised with varied routes on almost deserted roads through beautiful countryside and coastline.
Because it was very windy we found it more tiring than expected. Although the landscape is fairly flat there are some steep climbs.
All the hotels(which were very different) were comfortable and the food of a high standard.
By Mr Valentine on 24/09/2013
This is an excellent holiday for those that can afford it. Loads to see and do if the weather isn't wonderful. Easy cycling. Good food all the way around the trip.
By Mrs Lythell on 24/09/2013
Very well organised holiday. Quality reliable reps. Food and accommodation was good.
By Mrs Coburn on 23/09/2013
The title 'gastronomique' is deserved - the food was wonderful. The cycling was generally easy and the many chateaux were a delight. Special treats Clos-Lucé in Amboise; the gardens in Chaumont; the delightful Cheverny.
By Ms Webster on 21/09/2013
Very good. We have always enjoyed our Headwater holidays.
By Mr Wall on 20/09/2013
Cycling in the Loire is a great way to see the area, with the opportunity to visit at least one Chateau a day (so that by the end one is 'chattered'!). The accommodation arranged by Headwater, amazing food, and efficient back-up, all provide for a memorable holiday.
By Mr Dunn on 19/09/2013
As you can tell from the above 'excellent' rating we had a very happy and memorable holiday and returned home feeling relaxed and fit. The holiday exceeded our expectations and we appreciated the level of planning and preparation that had been done by Headwater and by Steven (our Rep in Lamballe) to ensure that we had a trouble free and carefree time in Brittany. We loved it and are already thinking about which Headwater cycling holiday we could do next summer.
With regards to the rating for 'level' of cycling - it was perfect for us, we are regular cyclists and 30 miles a day is a good average for us, but when we booked, we wondered if we would fine it too easy as it was classed as 'easy' and ok for people who hadn't been on a bike recently. I don't think I would have found it very enjoyable if I had been in that category. That's my only constructive criticism of the brochure - otherwise, we had a ball!! Many thanks.
By Mr Henniker-major on 17/09/2013
A good holiday with the opportunity to take in some site seeing in between biking. The biking was much as advertised although with a few hills more onerous than billed in the route planner.
By Mrs Russell on 12/09/2013
We thought the food was at times too good, we were not expecting either the standard or quantity - which was at times off putting. The cycling distances were far enough and at our age, with the quality of bikes (could be better) not sure if we will do it again. This was I think our sixth cycling holiday with you, but the first for five years: age is catching up with us, it was sometimes a slog. We have electric bikes at home and we would definitely go on another Headwater holiday if you could organise them.
We were supposedly not on the Gourmet Menu, however it felt as if we were and to be honest, while lovely, the food was just over the top at times. There was a mix up with our arrival, totally my fault, however if Marg had just called or texted me from the station when we weren't there, (she had my number), then we would have saved ourselves a very expensive taxi ride. The reps were helpful when a bike chain jammed, although it took them an hour to reach us, and at times we thought they were very 'stretched': it seemed to be a very busy time. Hotel accommodation was generally a little lower than expected for the cost and Room 28 at the Hostellrie du Chateau was the worst: very cramped and smelt due to the sewage pipe outside the bedroom window. However, that was the friendliest hotel owner by a mile: Madame was delightful. Generally, we felt the standard of accommodation offered to Headwater guests was that of getting the poorer rooms in the hotels, but I do appreciate that often rural French hotels of this type are like that. We did have a major, irreparable puncture, fortunately discovered in the early evening of an 'off' day - when we were just planning to go for a short ride to the next village. The bikes are 'okay' but I am sure there are better ones. John was contacted and came as soon as he could, but it clearly added to the pressure the couple were under. John did ask us for money for the return transfers, claiming we were not on their list, however when I checked our invoice it definitely stated that they were included in our costs.
Nothing major to complain about, I guess we're getting a bit pickier as we get older.
By Mr Wilkinson on 12/09/2013
Very good holiday.
By Mrs Duckworth on 11/09/2013
We thought this was an excellent holiday, and overall very good value. As last year, your office staff were at all times friendly, welcoming and helpful.
Accommodation: Hotel Le Quercy was disappointing. Spartan. Small rooms with irritatingly small double beds. On arrival, the bedrooms stank of stale cigarette smoke (thought smoking was illegal – but I suppose it is France). The rooms may have been clean, but the smell of cigarettes is off-putting. No air-conditioning. The restaurant down the road was OK-ish but we were seated in the secondary dining room which was noisy and crowded with a Danish Coach Tour. The staff promised that we would be in the real dining room thereafter, but we were not. The food was OK-ish too, but the ambience of the secondary dining room was too redolent of school to allow the meal to be enjoyable. We dreaded the return to Le Quercy.
The other three hotels were very good. The food at all three was of an excellent standard.
Bicycles: There were robust, safe and in excellent condition. The gears were well-indexed, and appropriate for the routes chosen.
The cycling itself was thoroughly enjoyable. The routes were well chosen. The scenery was stunning. We loved it.
The reps: Claire was incredibly helpful and friendly throughout. Keith was helpful in setting up the bikes for us, in particular in helping to fit a saddle that one of us brought. He was less helpful on return. We arrived back at Hotel Le Quercy earlier than expected, and went out for a walk. When we returned, Keith had, without asking, put our bikes away so there was no option to use them in the late afternoon had we wanted to. Also – infuriatingly – he had taken it upon himself to remove the saddlebags from the bikes, and had tipped our personal belongings into a large black rubbish bag. We didn’t like that. We wanted to chat and pass on information about the cycling (how good it was, how good the equipment was) but, as others have commented, he was not interested. He was not overtly unfriendly, but clearly did not want to engage, and soon disappeared. A shame.
The grading of the routes. This must be a nightmare for you. It is inevitable that, covering a reasonable distance, the routes cannot all be flat. There must be variation. Furthermore, a gentle slope to some is a nightmare to others. How can you give an objective assessment to meet all needs? Our group of six (age range 58 to 63) had a complete range of cycling ability from three keen regular cyclists (A,B,C) with high end road bikes at home, two occasional cyclists (D,E) and one person (F) who rarely cycles. Our most experienced cyclist, A, had done Lands End/John o’ Groats (LEJOG) a few weeks before the holiday. But, whatever our relative abilities, we all enjoyed the holiday. E and F had to push their bikes up a number of hills, and were slow. They were not bothered by this. A and B never pushed. C did once. The daily total mileage is not great and could easily have been done by lunchtime if necessary. Indeed, most of the routes could be walked in a day (albeit a long one), so there was plenty of time for cyclists of all abilities.
We have seen the comment on 2/8/2013 and, whilst we do not entirely agree with it, or the spirit of it, it is correct to say that the Dordogne holiday is not, within the ordinary sense of the word, ‘leisurely’. Whilst 120 miles in seven days is well within the reach of a ‘regular’ cyclist or even an ‘occasional’ cyclist, some of the ascents were disproportionately demanding. The ride up to Hotel Mysatt was challenging coming on the first day, but at least there was a clear warning about this both in the route notes and from Claire. Later on, the ride up to Domme was similarly challenging (Wow! Wasn’t it worth the pedalling though!) but, once again, we had been warned. In fact, there were challenges every day. The most demanding climb of all – steeper than the ride up to Hotel Mysatt - was the Day 5 ‘at Les Eyzies’ steep road up to Sireuil. Even our LEJOG cyclist nearly stalled on this one. But it was only 1K, and the three of our number who walked most of it did so in less than fifteen minutes. A pleasant walk, and worth it, because once up to the village, the scenery was beautiful. We suspect, however, that many might give up before getting to the top as there was no warning as to the length of the hill.
We conclude therefore that the ‘difficulty’ grading of your holidays needs attention. We did the Alsace wine trail holiday last year which was also classed as ‘leisurely’. Compared to the Dordogne, however, it was a free-wheel. The Dordogne should be upgraded to ‘moderate’. Furthermore, we would give a warning that all but the fittest cyclists can expect to be pushing their bikes for a few hundred yards on some days.
If we were to compare it to a French skiing holiday, which we often did, we would class this as a predominantly Red Route holiday, with some Blues and occasional Blacks. Alsace was a Blue Run holiday. But, whichever colour run you prefer, it is good to have the occasional challenge.
Overall, though, to repeat, an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable holiday, and all being well we will be back next year.
By Mr Bush on 10/09/2013
Really enjoyable holiday with excellent routes worked out and plenty of scope for variation if you wanted to do a bit more. Lots of 'hidden gems' along the way with the notes signposting them really well. Really useful to have the pointers to cafes and restaurants along the route, or to know that a particular village had no bakery or the cafe was closed on Tuesdays! The bikes were incredibly comfortable and great to ride and having chosen the less strenuous holiday option, we found that we could manage them easily despite not having cycled any great distance for some years .
By Mrs Heller on 10/09/2013
1. Be prepared for one disappointing hotel amongst the other gems
2. If cycling, some training beforehand will enhance your holiday
By Mrs Flenley on 09/09/2013
Lovely mix of gentle activity, cultural visits and picturesque landscape.
By Mr Higgins on 09/09/2013
The Dordogne is a beautiful area for cycling, but be aware this is a hilly route. The benefit is that the cycling works off all the wonderful food you will be presented with at the hotels.
The hotels, with the exception of Le Quercy are first class,but the food is excellent at all.
By Ms Warren on 08/09/2013
Headwater provide all the component parts for an excellent acivity holiday: great equipment and instructions, helpful and knowledgeable guides, and a great choice of locations and hotels.
By Mr Buckingham on 28/08/2013
Lovely hotels, probably too much food, reasonable bikes, lovely area
By Mr Alden on 28/08/2013
great fun holiday adventure
By Mr Godsall on 26/08/2013
This was our first cycling package holiday and we very much enjoyed it; just the right level of route for reasonably fit beginners. Carefully planned holiday with excellent information and service from Headwater.
By Mrs Slater on 17/08/2013
Really great holiday nicely paced. Make sure you try not to go to Strasbourg on a Sunday clock not working that day. Route plan on final day very difficult not so well written. Don't be tempted to ga a la carte in rouffach very slow rather poor meal
By Mr Taylor on 15/08/2013
hassle free and relaxing with no worries
By Dr Winter on 11/08/2013
Well organised and routes easy to navigate: some information about the availability of a rep eg to collect wine from purchaser, a little exagerated
By Mr Henderson on 11/08/2013
All in all we enjoyed the holiday. Helped that weather was good. Rep was good. Cycling was not easy at times but there was nothing that we could not manage (Even though walked up a few hills). Scenery was good but we were disappointed that two of the cycling days were not coastal routes. Sable D'0r Le Pins to Dinard particularly dull.
By Mrs Cranfield on 09/08/2013
Please note we stayed in Chablis not Ligny so comments re that hotel relate to Chablis. That was to our advantage as Chablis a much better centre and the food at the hotel was superb. Keith and Judith were excellent reps. All in all a very good holiday.
By Mr Sharp on 05/08/2013
Once again Headwater delivers. The entire holiday experiance was fantastic ( this was our third Headwater holiday - and we are already planning TWO next year) and will live long in the memory - even those Burgundian undulating hills!
By Mr Cooper on 03/08/2013
NB For Relais St. Vincent above please Read Hostellerie des Clos, Chablis. A delightful holiday; beautiful scenery, lovely food; excellent accomodation and hospitality. The only weak link (by Headwater's high standards) is the Hotel Normandie, where the accomodation is average only and the staff businesslike rather than hospitable. Otherwise Keith and Judith are first-rate reps and his bikes are the most comfortable we've ever ridden. Mark and Alison at Vermenton and the staff at Chablis we all delightful and very attentive.
By Mrs Sautter on 02/08/2013
We climbed 11,000 feet and cycled over 120 miles in 35' C !!! That was not what we expected for a relaxing holiday aimed at occasional cyclists!! Luckily we were all regular cyclists with as much mental strength as physical! In your brochure you say it is leisurely with a few steep hills. The Hotel Mysatt is at the top of a hill which is fine for a one off and great view but every journey had hills that went on and on. We found it very difficult to get extra water as villages were very few and far between.
We will not be using Headwater again despite having had a good holiday as will not trust their descriptions. Honestly the cycling was so hard it made us laugh as it was such a joke! Keith kept his head very low. Didn't even bother to ask how it went when he came to collect the bikes. Guess he knew how hard it had been!!
By Mr Davey on 26/07/2013
Holiday very good and food very good but level of accommodation was poor.
By Mr Lodwick on 18/07/2013
Very well organised from start to finish, Keith, our rep was excellent and very professional. Our cycling trip was absolutely brilliant couldn't fault it in any way.
The food which was included as half board was absolutely fabulous and we will recommend headwater to our friends.
By Mr Fenton on 18/07/2013
The cycling and support from the reps was very good. Unfortunately apart from the one hotel I would not rate the holiday as a gastronomic experience.
By Mr Asbrey on 14/07/2013
This was an well organised holiday, backed up with excellent support from the people on the ground. Very impressive bikes. All the hotels had certain core values. clean, great food.lovely staff, Great service,
The routes were interesting and challenging. We loved it. It was good fun.
By Mrs MacKenzie on 11/07/2013
Overall experience excellent, weather fabulous, scenery beautiful - all-in-all our holiday came up to our expectations as with previous Headwater Cycling holidays.
By Mr Davey on 08/07/2013
Excellent route with varied cycling and many interesting places to visit.
By Mrs Scott on 06/07/2013
This was our 8th holiday with Headwater and it was as good as ever. We liked the contrast between cycling through vineyards (with the occasional short hill) and the flat open plain of the Rhine. The vineyard hills are short and infrequent and are well rewarded with freewheeling downhill after a bit of a push. We are in our early seventies and those hills were not a challenge, as long as you accept pushing your bike for a few minutes. The hotels were all good. At Breisach-am-Rhein we had paid for an upgrade and it was well worth it, giving us a spacious room and a flower-bedecked balcony with stunning views over the Black Forest. Last year the hotel at Dieffenthal seems to have received some poor reviews. There has obviously been a marked improvement this year. The staff were friendly and welcoming, service excellent and the food very good indeed.
Altogether, this was an excellent holiday, varied and interesting. We had a very good time. Thank you, Headwater!
By Mrs Callens on 06/07/2013
This is a lovely, relaxing yet energising holiday for reasonably fit people of all ages. We are in our early sixties and only cycle a few times a month and never for more than 15 km at a time. The route in Burgundy is mostly flat, in beautiful countryside along the river Yonne and the Canal de Nivernais. We did find the second half of day 5 (to Vezelay) quite hard and had to walk a few stretches but that helped to return the blood flow to some nether parts. We liked the flexible arrangements, with the option between a shorter and a longer route on some days. Being able to have a rest day on alternative days was also good, especially where there were interesting things to do locally. We particularly enjoyed roaming through picturesque Clamecy on the Sunday morning, visiting the church (where there was a well attended mass), then having a drink in La Taverne, followed by a light lunch in the Hotellerie de La Poste. Most of the afternoon was spent in the Musee Romain Rolland, where we particularly enjoyed the brilliant Charles Loupot posters and the history of the ' Flotteurs' We discovered the delightful secret garden at the Auberge de la Chapelle a little late in the day but would highly recommend it to other travellers. We would definitely consider another cycling holiday with Headwater but would prefer to have the B&B option on all days in order to maximise flexibility.
By Mr Venn on 04/07/2013
Excellent Holiday: Food Excellent. Some of the hotels in need of some upgrading. Bikes great. See me separate email!
By Mrs Forbes on 29/06/2013
Gentle exercise with time to appreciate the rural surroundings; superior and varied accommodation; wonderful food and wine. We have never slept better!!
By Ms Jorgensen on 28/06/2013
We were two 'grand old ladies' travelling together, the other quite inexperienced with this kind of holiday, and cycling every other day she met with great approval! Steve, the Headwater representative did absolutely everything to make the vacation a perfect one, and also his wife joined in. His historical and geographical knowledge is unique! The landscape was beautiful, and so was the people we met. The route was calm and easy to follow, except from some misunderstandings, but that I am used to, and is also the charm about it : ) Headwater was a new and good experience. Coming from Norway, this was my first cycling tour with a non-Scandinavian company.
I have told a lot of friends about the walks and the cycling tours Headwater has :))
By Mrs Thomas on 28/06/2013
Cycling through Burgundy was a wonderful experience. The fields sprinkled with bright red poppies and blue cornflowers was breathtaking. We had a 'day off' cycling in Veselay and wandered around the town and basillica. We also went to vespers in the Basillica which was amazing.
The food was also excellent in the hotels/restaurants chosen by Headwaters.
Cycling in a surprising hot spell was more difficult than anticipated, but still manageable and the last few days when it had cooled down were a joy.
By Mrs Rodely on 24/06/2013
A wonderful holiday for food lovers with excellent accommodation and super cycling for 'softies' - the routes were nice and flat, passing through some lovely countryside with many interesting places to visit on the way.
By Ms Giggey on 18/06/2013
Headwaters is an excellent holiday company, provides very good information about the holidays and is extremely good value for money. The only small concerns I personally had was how unfit I really was (there were more hills than I had anticipated even at Level 1! ) and the service at the Hotel de la Poste et du Lion d'Or was a bit confusing e.g. when we arrived, there was no obvious bar service and the hotel receptionist eventually found and brought us our long - anticipated drinks outside. For dinner, we were given the exact menu 2 days in a row (with no plat du jour or alternatives) and we weren't sure if that was the arrangment or not. When we asked about it, the waiter also seemed confused. However, the Chef then provided an alternate menu that was absolutely one of the most beautiful meals I have ever eaten; the presentation was superlative and the tastes even better than that!
Regarding cycling instructions: 99% were spot on! Small confusion at Chateau Censoir - the statement that ' the marine port is to your right' when leaving the town is confusing - suggest removing that bit and just note 'from the square, with the Mairie on your left, carry on to the junction and and then turn right'. In terms of the 'industrial area' for 2 kms when leaving Clamecy: we found the path totally paved and there were some small industries across theothe side of the river/canal? but that section also had lovely vegetable gardens etc. and really wasn't unpleasant at all. And finally,if one choses to take the train back from Cravant to Auxerre, there are no instructions as to getting back to the Hotel Normandie,nor is the rail station located on the map of Auxerre. But other than that, I was in awe of the detail provided for the routes. Thank you!
By Mr Griffiths on 18/06/2013
This is not a cheap holiday as the Gastronomic label confirms. I've not eaten 5-6 course meals for 6 nights on the trot before, but you can get used to it very easily when the courses aren't huge. The cycling, chateaux and shivering in icy swimming pools were all great. We really enjoyed it.
By Mr Williams on 29/09/2012
We have travelled with Headwater many times (a dozen or more) and this holiday was one of the very best. The chateaux and region were wonderful, the accommodation and meals were superb, and the support given by the reps was outstanding.
By Mr Cocksedge on 29/09/2012
The standard of accomodation, evening meals and rep care was extremely good and helped to offset the two hours of hill climbing that were involved in the "undulating" sections of the ride getting to Vezelay and then on to Clamecy. Our rest day at Vermeton we spent back in the saddle to retrace our steps to Vincelotte where I had left my cycling gloves on a picnic bench. To my surprise they were still there and we then cycled up the hill to Irancy where we had a very nice plate du jour in the local bar. We then cycled back down the hill turned left at the bottom to take the white road along to Cravant and so back to Vermenton. Auxerre and Vezelay were the highlights for us and overall this was a very enjoyable holiday.
By Mrs Patel on 29/09/2012
Good quality reps always availble to help you and offer advice.
By Mrs Phelan on 24/09/2012
Although we have had many DIY cycling holidays, this our first holiday with Headwater - It was excellent. The route notes and directions were really good and the bikes comfortable and well maintained. The level of cycling was mostly pretty easy (especially without the luggage!) but with one or two more challenging days on the vineyard slopes. We particularly liked the contrast of routes through the vineyards, maize fields and along the Rhine path taking in some impossibly pretty villages along the way. We had two non cycling days visiting Colmar and Freiburg, the latter well worth a visit. The choice of hotels was for the most part excellent and meals delicious, the exception being the Verger des Chateaux in Dieffenthal which did not quite measure up to the others - in particular they seemed to be rather short staffed in the kitchen and the 'Headwater menu' rather uninspiring. We would have preferred to have stayed in Dambach la Ville the next village which was a bit more lively. The biggest revelation though was the wonderful wine of the Alsace. Old prejudices about sweet wines were completely demolished.
By Mr Hood on 24/09/2012
Wonderful holiday - lived up to our expectations. Great way to see France and the countryside and meet the wonderful people. After a days cycling the lovely food was a welcome treat.
By Mrs Griffiths on 03/09/2012
Very enjoyable holiday - lovely resorts, coastline, food, but undulating pedalling rather than flat, with a few very busy road crossings with no provision for cyclists.
By Mr Tuke on 29/08/2012
Very well organised, brilliant hotels, easy cycling through scented countryside
By Mrs Beck on 29/08/2012
Well organised, very efficiencent helpful local reps and some great places to stay. Route instructions were clear though sometimes hills were underestimated!
By Mr Browne on 29/08/2012
Your representatives exuded professionalism and gave you confidence that if any mishap occurred they would easily be able to put anything and everything right. Ian and HollY also made you feel welcome and were most knowledgeable.
We had a fantastic holiday and are now pondering where to travel with you next year!
By Mrs Kimber on 13/08/2012
Although the quality of the food was excellent, choice was much too limited. It was not made clear that we could upgrade to a higher priced menu. I would suggest that an "allowance" is made per person per day to be set against any menu available.
In Vezelay the ensuite was so small as to be practically useless.
In Clamecy the wall shower fitting was broken. As we do not speak French it was not possible to have this rectified.
By Mrs Osborne-town on 07/08/2012
I loved the holiday and the settings, especially rural Brittany through quiet, pictoresque villages. I enjoyed the freedom from suitcase lugging and having to find accommodation.
My only criticisms were: a)the cost and b)the grading of cycling difficulty- another woman and a man in our group- as well as me- found the routes hard going. I'd appreciate greater honesty in the route descriptions eg "this is a stiff climb" or "expect a gentle but very long uphill"- the good news was included, eg "enjoy coastal views as you freewheel into Sables d'Or" but to the virtual exclusion of the bad. I'd also like to receive details of those routes before I book and pay so I can make an informed decision.
By Ms Allen on 07/08/2012
The Headwater cycling holidays are a winning package - well designed and supported with all the practicalities taken care of.
By Mrs Cross on 07/08/2012
A very enjoyable holiday, with a lovely wide range of places to explore (4 days by the seaside, 3 inland a good combination). We loved the freedom of exploring Brittany by bike - being able to stop whenever you felt like and go at your own pace - also the luxury of having a rep to tell us about all the local attractions. We bought ourselves some delicious picnics from the local patisseries/charcuteries, but this was the only cheap part of the holiday! The travel worked out the most expensive, as we like to travel by train and, as usual, left booking until the last minute, when (according to our Headwater rep!) all the cheap TGV tickets had gone. Moral of this story - book earlier next year!
Helen and Roy Cross, Cambridge
By Mr Davey on 07/08/2012
Really enjoyed the holiday. If possible would go later in the season when not so hot.
By Mr Smith on 28/07/2012
This was our eighth Headwater cycling holiday and as usual it was first class.
Such a pity Headwater have no control over the weather!
Our thoughts about Headwater are that they are by no means cheap.
Yes you can find much cheaper cycling holidays but not with the excellent standard of service, the excellent routes and instructions, the friendly staff and the well selected high class hotels and restaurants. What Headwater provide is a holiday with higher than normal standards.AS an example the alsace cycling (Rivers and Vineyards) holiday that we have just returned from provided a michelin starred restaurant where my wife and I ate the best meal I think we have ever had in. There are not enough superlatives to do this restaurant justice! One of the other hotels had a chef who up until a short while ago had a michelin star (Ammerschwihr Les Armes de France) and here the food was of similar standard.
Well done to Headwater!
By Mrs Miles on 23/07/2012
It was a wonderful experience. The scenery was beautiful. The bags were were always at the destinations.
By Mr Herron on 23/07/2012
Helpful rep and interesting accommodation. All the hassle taken out of organising a hliday.
By Mrs Kohn on 23/07/2012
Best holiday we ever had! The Headwater experience is something everybody should do.
By Mrs Hutchison on 11/07/2012
As ever, an enjoyable and interesting holiday.
By Mrs Bishop on 11/07/2012
We thoroughly enjoyed the holiday!
By Mrs Dietz on 07/07/2012
Excellent choice of routes and hotels.
By Ms Robson on 07/07/2012
Excellent as expected based on the last 11 . The route planning was excellent including the off day excursions. The detours from the main roads were lovely and well documented.
By Mr Coster on 07/07/2012
By Mr Pritchard on 30/06/2012
Very enjoyable, with mostly very easy cycling and excellent route notes.
By Mr Poultney on 30/06/2012
very enjoyable holiday
By Mr Kirkham on 16/06/2012
Overall another great success, where do we book next! Could do better with flight bookings though.
By Ms Howard on 16/06/2012
One of the most enjoyable holidays we've ever had.
By Mr Shepherd on 16/06/2012
Excellent, may not have been as enjoyable if the weather had not been so good.
By Mrs McInnes on 11/06/2012
A w lender full cycle trip
We did cycle through rain,thunder and lighning which will make it more memorable,
We look forward to walking the camino in Spain wit you next year ,it will be our eight trip with you.
By Mrs Carroll on 25/05/2012
a truely relaxing holiday in beautiful surroundings
well organised - no hastles for us +
By Mr Hotchkiss on 00/00/0000
Cycling in Alsac was great the standard of the accommodation particularly the location was not up to the standard of previous Headwater Holidays we have been on.The Verger De Chateau was particularly disappointing with one morning having to clear a table before sitting down for breakfast and then finding they had run out of yogurt, fruit juice most cheeses, fruit and coffee mugs.The evening meals were also poor here.
Dear Mr Hotchkiss,
Thank you for taking the time to complete your post-holiday feedback, we were pleased to read you found the cycling great, although were sorry to read of your disappointment with the Verger du Chateau. We have discussed your feedback with the hotelier and implemented improvements as appropriate. Please be assured, we will continue to monitor the feedback we receive from our customers regarding this hotel, and if we do not see an immediate improvement, we will review the situation for future customers. In closing, we would like to thank you for travelling with Headwater this summer and look forward to welcoming you on another of our holidays in the future.
Kind regards, Headwater customer service team
By Mr Brown on 00/00/0000
Advise customers that municipal pools in France only allow tight fitting swimming trunks not baggy shorts. We could not use the pool on the way to St Die
By Mrs Emslie on 00/00/0000
Excellent service from headwater head office....even a phone call to tell us train was delayed. Also great service from local reps.
By Ms Moffat on 00/00/0000
Cycling was excellent, food good, people friendly and reps also very good ad helpful. A bit disappointed with the accommodation at Hotel St Hubert. Rooms were old and quite shabby.