Find your ideal cycling holiday
France - Cognac, Semaine Federale
3rd August 2019 - 10th August 2019 (8 days)
The Semaine Fédérale is an annual event that attracts over 10,000 cyclists from all over Europe. Always held in the first week of August, it rotates all over France. 2019 is Cognac's turn to host the event. Cyclists stay in a variety of places, from designated campsites to gîtes and hotels, but for this holiday a château complex 30km from the town of Cognac, which has previously hosted three CTC family holidays, has been hired.
The château will be used as a base. Evening meals will be supplied on four nights and breakfast patisseries will be available each morning. You can then either drive or cycle to the start of the rides or, on two days, cycle towards Pons or Jonzac where the organised routes pass through.
The château is a perfect base for this holiday - with three swimming pools and private grounds it is a glorious place to relax.
- Holiday Type Guided
- Tour Manager Neil Wheadon
- Grade Moderate
- Booking Status Fully Booked
- Accommodation Guesthouse
- Board Basis Some Meals
- Travel Arrangements Land Only
- Road / Off Road Road
- Holiday Style Centre-based
- Vehicle Support Carry Own Luggage
- Holiday Ref 03197
Saturday 3rd August
Meet at the château, arriving any time after 1600. Stay 7 nights.
Sunday 4th August
The first day will allow you to get to know the varied Charentais landscapes and the rich heritage of the area. Cycling east through the rolling hills of Grande-Champagne, covered with vines, you will pass through vineyards with a scattering of large estates and villages grouped around their Romanesque Churches. Highlights include the amazing fisheries of Saint-Simeux, the gabarrier village of Saint-Simon, the Benedictine abbey of Bassac and Jarnac where François Mitterrand was born. For those wanting to go further, around Angoulème, vineyards gradually give way to fields of cereals or sunflowers as well as forests on uncultivated soils of the borders of the Dordogne. (5 circuits from 57 to 167km via Jarnac)
Monday 5th August
Discover the valleys of Grande Champagne and South Charente. Starting in the verdant Vallée du Né (tributary of the Charente), climb to the vineyard covered slopes of the Grande Champagne, home of the COGNAC appellation, grown in chalky, dry and deep soils on these limestone hills. Cycle past quiet villages with white stonewalls, dotted with wineries. (5 circuits from 60 to 190km via Lignères-Sonneville)
Tuesday 6th August
Cycle northwards into an area with slightly undulating terrain. If you carry on past Matha, the vineyards are replaced by a rural landscape before arriving at Aulnay with its beautiful Renaissance castle of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne. In the beautiful valley of the Koran, the museum space of Paleosite, in St Césaire, recalls the discovery there in 1979 of the skeleton of "Pierrette", a Neanderthal woman who lived there more than 36 000 years ago. The picturesque village of St Sauvant, with seven wash-houses, will be your last stop before returning to Cognac. (4 circuits from 67 to 155km via Matha)
Wednesday 7th August
Cycle westwards towards the Atlantic. Today the rides pass through Pons, only 6km from the château, so the group will join the riders there. Heading towards Mortagne-on-Gironde, the aquatic panorama of the Gironde and beyond opens up. Continuing along the coast to the pretty town of Talmont-sur-Gironde, it should be possible to reach the beaches that line this coastline, and you have the option to continue all the way to Royan, where the Gironde and the Atlantic meet. (5 circuits from 56 to 173km via Pons)
Thursday 8th August
Today is 'picnic day' - a tradition of the Semaine Fédérale. No group ride is planned so that participants can choose whether to do one of the full day rides (67 or 93km) or follow a shorter route to the mass picnic at the Neorenaissance castle of Lignieres or treat this as a free day.
Friday 9th August
The routes pass through Jonzac, so the group will cycle to join the riders there. Vast open landscapes can be seen of the Charente valley and Aquitaine, the Haute-Saintonge. The fields are covered in sunflowers, vines and corn, with wooded areas and tiny villages characterising the tranquil Charente area. (5 circuits from 53 to 183km via Jonzac).
Saturday 10th August
End of the holiday; leave the château by 1000.
Accommodation & Meals
The château complex is set in eight acres of private grounds and includes three accommodation buildings: the 'château’, the 'stables’ and the 'domaine’, each of which are well furnished and could be let in its own right. Most of the rooms are two-bedded, though some can take an extra bed or two, and some but not all are ensuite. There are three swimming pools, a snooker table, patio and BBQ area.
Breakfast orders will be taken in advance for collection/delivery from a local boulangerie. This will include croissants, pains au raisin, pains au chocolate, baguettes and pains. These need to be paid for seperately. Lunch can either be prepared in advance utilising the boulangerie order or can be purchased during the day. Two-course evening meals are included on four evenings, provided by the local chef.
Passports, Visa & Health
EU citizens must hold a passport that is still valid on the date of their return to their home country. Holders of non-EU passports are advised to check whether they require a visa. There are no compulsory health related requirements for UK residents, but you are strongly advised to check that your tetanus protection has not expired. You must also carry your European Health Insurance Card.
Our Booking Conditions stipulate that, for holidays outside the UK, travel Insurance is mandatory. Details of the level of cover needed and other conditions you should check are stated in the Booking Conditions. CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any costs that may be incurred due to insufficient insurance cover.
The price of £500 is based on a minimum number of 24 people taking part in the holiday and is calculated at a rate of 1.12 euros to £1 sterling (Based on exchange rates published on www.x-rates.com on 14 September 2018.; please note Booking Conditions, clause 3). If there are insufficient bookings by 25th May 2019, we will contact you and return all monies paid, although in certain circumstances the holiday may still run at below minimum numbers but at the same price.
- 7 nights château complex, sharing rooms
- 4 evening meals
- CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours costs
Price Does Not Include
- Travel to and from the château
- Transport to the start of the rides from Cognac
- Breakfasts (approx daily cost 3 euros)
- Drinks with evening meals
- Lunches or refreshments during the day
- Registration with the Semaine Fédérale (approx £30)
- Entry fees at any attractions
- Any other personal expenses
- Travel insurance
A deposit of £150 per person is payable upon booking, with the final balance of £350 per person to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 25th May 2019.
Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:
Written notice received:
Before 25th May 2019
From 25th May 2019 through to departure
The Area Covered By The Holiday
The Semaine Fédérale is an annual event, hosted in a different part of France each year, during the first week in August. In 2019 it will be based in Cognac, in the Charente department of Western France.
Rides & Rest Days
The château is based to the south west of Cognac at a distance of 30km from the Semaine Fédérale's base (the 'Permanence') and starting point for all the rides. There are six days on which you can ride whilst staying at the château, and on two of these (Wednesday and Friday) the routes come in the direction of the château, so you can cycle to Pons and Jonzac (8km and 16km from the château respectively) to join the other riders there. On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, depart at 0845 to drive to the official start to join in the rides and festivities. No rest day has been scheduled, however, to give you the freedom to choose which days you would like to cycle.
Accommodation & Meals
The property is a complex of three separate accommodation areas, the château itself forming the main part furthest from the road. For this holiday, the entire chateaux complex has been hired for our sole use.
A large kitchen will allow communal cooking, and the private grounds allow a safe environment for children to play. Behind the château is a patio area and a large swimming pool for all to enjoy. In addition there is a full sized snooker table.
In front of the château are two separate units, sleeping 12 and 10 people. The Etang and Domaine are separate holiday cottages in their own right, each having a kitchen, living area and smaller pool.
Rooms are mostly two-bedded, and some (but not all) are ensuite. Rooms will be allocated as near to your request as possible, but obviously there will be less choice as the tour gets booked up. Please make your preferences clear on the Booking Form.
You will need to arrange your own transportation to the château as well as to and from Cognac if you wish to join the rides from there.
The maximum number of participants will be 36 excluding the Tour Manager(s).
Weather & Clothing
At this time of year it should be warm and dry, even hot, but rain is always a possibility, and you should carry clothing to ensure that you can remain warm and (reasonably) dry. Suncream is also strongly recommended.
Cycles & Equipment
A touring cycle, hybrid or lightweight ATB is suitable for this tour. You should ensure your cycle is well maintained, paying particular attention to wheels, tyres and brakes. A low bottom gear (e.g. small chainring the same size or smaller than the largest cog on your rear wheel) is recommended. If you are unsure about gears, please discuss with the Tour Manager. Mudguards are optional but show courtesy to those who are following you in wet weather. Lights are recommended but might not prove essential. New tyres are recommended of at least 28mm diameter. Participants will be expected to carry each day sufficient spares and tools to deal with punctures and minor repairs.
You will not need to carry luggage, but a rack top pack or bar bag will be useful for carrying wet weather gear, spare clothing needed for the day, camera, snacks and your map. or Each participant is expected to bring, and carry, all of their own clothing, personal items and spares. You are advised to do some riding before the tour with a similar load to that which you will be carrying during the tour to get a feel for how your bike will handle. Helmets are your personal choice.
Maps & Guides
The area is covered by IGN maps 138 and 145, Michelin Local map 324 could be equally useful.
Travel Insurance & Advice
In addition to travel insurance, EU nationals should carry a European Health Insurance Card, obtainable from www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/. This enables you to take advantage of emergency medical services free or at a discount under a reciprocal provision that exists between EU member states. Your travel insurer may refuse to meet the extra costs of medical treatment if you do not carry this card.
Before booking you should check the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice or on 0845 850 2829.
This holiday is provided as a wonderful base from which you can enjoy the Semaine Fédérale
You will need to book a place on the Semaine Fédérale seperately to this holiday on https://www.cognacsf2019.com. Bookings open in January 2019, but you are advised to book your ferry transport well before then, allowing time to collect your information pack and identity bracelet, etc, from the Permanence before arriving at the château on the first day.