There seem to be an increasing number of long-distance MTB trails in France and these three look like great routes. I haven’t ridden them yet but I have been to all three areas – they are fine mountain areas in their own right and well worth exploring, especially if you like getting away from the well known areas in the Alps.
The Vosges in eastern France is a mountain range up to 1,500 metres with wooded hills, high pastures, waterfalls. Sandstone country in the north and granite to the south. Route is 400km, 8,000m of ascent. For an overview and online shop for buying the guidebook see http://tmv.alsacecyclo.org/. Trip reports on the 3 stages of the route: https://gypsybytrade.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/tmv-wissembourg-to-saverne/
The Jura is also in eastern France, to the south of the Vosges. It has a beautiful mix of wooded hills, alpine meadows, lakes, limestone ridges and runs along the French Swiss border. In winter the Jura is a major cross country skiing area and has a ski tour that traverses its length. The MTB route is a summer version of this trail. Route is 320km, 8,000m ascent. There’s a website for the Gran Traverse du Jura which has online shop for buying guide and GPS downloads http://www.gtj.asso.fr/differentes-formules-de-la-gtj/gtj-a-vtt/la-gtj-a-vtt.html
The Massif Central encompasses the high, often sparsely populated, upland areas of central and southern France – from the volcanic hills of the Auvergne to the high plateau of the Cevennes and the Causses, the Tarn Gorge and ending at the Mediterranean. The Grand Traverse du Massif Central is 720km in length, 12,000m ascent. Guidebook for GTMC in English http://www.cicerone.co.uk/product/detail.cfm/book/571/title/the-grand-traverse-of-the-massif-central#.VpoPnVKgzsE
Additional sources of bikepacking information.
Two other useful sources of info when planning off-road routes in France are:
VTT France – http://www.vttfrance.com/index.php Contains info on mountain biking routes and trails in each of France’s regions – ranging from short technical trails to multi-day bikepacking rides.
Voire Vertes. http://www.voiesvertes.com/ Gives details of all of the traffic-free greenways in France.
Road touring information
Seven of the 15 Eurovelo trans-Europe cycle routes pass through France so provide lots of options http://www.eurovelo.com/en/eurovelos
These two websites with information on road tours in France. Both give some idea of the regions’ character and type of cycling. Cycle tourism does seem to focus more on easy terrain rather than hill country. Freewheeling France – independent website with info on routes in each region plus some trip reports and links. http://www.freewheelingfrance.com/where-to-go/ France Velo-tourisme – French tourism website gives details of longer routes, mainly easy terrain, in each region. http://en.francevelotourisme.com/contents/france-by-bike
Road tour guidebooks.
Cycle Touring in France – lists 8 x 1 or 2 week long tours http://www.cicerone.co.uk/product/detail.cfm/book/432/refer/freew#.VpK9XFKgzsE
France en Velo – description of a route across France from Channel to Med http://www.bikeridemaps.co.uk/shop/france-en-velo/
Loire from source to St Nazaire. http://www.cicerone.co.uk/product/detail.cfm/book/383/title/cycling-the-river-loire#.Vq5XfFKgzsF
Cycling in the French Alps – 9 x week-long tours http://www.cicerone.co.uk/product/detail.cfm/book/551/title/cycling-in-the-french-alps#.VpoR2VKgzsF
Cycling Southern France – details of tours and routes. http://www.bikeridemaps.co.uk/shop/cycling-southern-france-cycle-guide-book/
Cycling Northern France – details of tours and routes. http://www.bikeridemaps.co.uk/shop/cycling-northern-france-guide-book/