I spent a week in July 2008 mountain biking (and a little canoeing) with Bonkers Frog, a small activity holidays based in the Creuse region of France.
I was there with my girlfriend, Carrie. We’re both reasonably fit road cyclists – I’ve also done some off-road but Carrie hadn’t done any before this holiday (other than occasional tracks with a hybrid bike).
Bonkers Frog is owned and run by a British couple, Cris and Andy, who’ve been mountain biking and canoeing in this area of France for three years and in the UK for years before that. They’re base is a pair of newly converted stone barns in a tiny hamlet called Marsat. The surrounding area has huge numbers of off-road trails and paths for mountain bikes, from easy tracks to steep rocky paths through forests.
Bonkers Frog has well-maintained Specialized Hardrock mountain bikes (front suspension, hard-tail, full disc brakes), you could take your own bike but it’s probably not worth the bother for most people. They use a Landrover with a big box-trailer to transport the bikes to different local biking areas so there’s plenty of variety.
They also have open canoes for relaxing or energetic paddling on lakes or rivers in the area. The format of the week is pretty flexible, the mix and level of activities can be tailored to suit the group and there’s plenty of choice of things to do (not just relaxing by the pool) if you fancy a day off. There’s some great walking in the area, it’s very rural with forests, hills, valleys and rivers.
The week when we were there, Bonkers Frog had six guests in total, mostly on their 30s or 40s. We went did two rides most days, with a long lunch-break between. Some days is was quite hot, but the hottest time coincided with lunch and there were plenty of shady rides through the forests so the heat wasn’t a problem. We did one day of canoeing but we were all more interested in mountain biking – best to check with BF before you book as the focus can be different some weeks. That’s the great thing about going with a small independent company, they’re flexible enough to tailor the holiday to the group.
Catering was excellent – picnic lunches (bread, cheeses, meats, salad from the garden…) and Cris and Andy cooked most evenings, with BBQs on a couple of nights. Jarnages (the local town, 30 mins walk away) has a restaurants, the one at the Auberge De Templiers is good.
If you’re looking for a holiday like this then I’d recommend taking a look at Bonkers Frog.