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Blue Marble: bluemarble.org

We just completed the Cevennes trip and couldn't be happier. While quirky might describe the website and their obsession with trains, thoughtfulness and quality describe the trip itself. The routes were beautiful, remote but doable, even for more amateur cyclists. The tour leader was wonderful and endlessly entertaining. More importantly, he was there when you needed him and left you alone when you were doing your own thing. If you are willing to pack some clothes in a pannier, follow a route sheet, and take an occassional train, its a great value and a great experience. it also attracts like minded people and the group bonded and we enjoyed getting to know each other. Read the website. If it tickles you, take a trip with them. You wont be disappointed. - David, Washington DC

I've taken 5 trips with Blue Marble and will continue to take them as often as I can. Many of my fondest travel memories are from their trips. They have great, knowledgeable guides who can show you the country in a way you won't get any other way. The focus on food and drink is fantastic. Ultimately, they provide a great value, and BTW, bag transfer has always been available each day on the trips I've done. - David Henderson, Chicago, IL

We had a horrible experience with Blue Marble w/ fair-to- poor hotels, scary highly-trafficked road routes, sub-standard bikes and an obnoxious tour guide. The flippant response by management when I complained following the trip leads me to believe this would not be an isolated experience. I've taken Back Roads trips which were great and would never scrimp on money again. It was not worth it! We rate Blue Marble poorly because the routes focus  more on getting from point to point rather than beauty and points of local charm. Indeed, we often had to travel on dangerous highways. After a long grueling day of riding, the arrival points were frequently sub-standard. Once you've paid your deposit, the information cautions you not to hurry through the day and this is why! Worst of all, the hotel in Martigny was situated at the intersection of several highways where the hotel owner accused of vandalism. I would not recommend Blue Marble. - L. Dubas, New Hope, PA

I have ridden on just about every itinerary that Blue Marble offers, and I would do them all again. I have had lunch with the local lumberjacks and road workers, only because we were touring a beautiful mountain road whose only traffic consisted of lumberjacks and road workers. I have been invited into someone's living room for home-made wine, only because we were touring an area where tourists are true oddities. I have ordered lunch for two consisting of one kilo of prawns and one bottle of cognac, only because my Portuguese was not quite up to the task. These are the types of experiences you can't have if you are following a line of cyclists backed up by a van. I also very much like the fact that with Blue Marble, I can tour and travel in a truly GREEN way. Why would you want a van burning diesel fuel all day when you can simply jump on a train if you suddenly have the urge to sample the Chianti Classico? I also like the fact that riders can self organize along conceptual lines. - Richard B., Philadelphia, PA

My husband and I took the Swiss trip as well, and it was one of our most breath-taking favorites of the 9 Blue Marble trips we've relished. The views were spectacular, worth the arduous granny-gear use, more than enough utterly charming spots around Lake Geneva to whet the whistle, enjoy some of the world's most sumptuous hot chocolate, while marveling that we get to experience off-the beaten path-some of the most beautiful places in the world: toast-worthy, indeed. But the people we met and biked with on this trip were such memory-makers, we've taken them with us ever since! We loved the mouth-watering evening dinners and the adventure-comparing, hiking around mountain lakes, and the descending downhill from Zermat....36K, a "Bucket List" check-off, singing "Climb Every Mountain!" at top-lung. Los Alamos, NM

For the price, I was really impressed with the lodging. We actually stayed at mostly 3 star (and one 4 star) hotels.  The food was very good, too. I liked that they gave us our tour sheets in the evening, so we could start the next day at dawn or sleep in until noon. Other groups I've gone with expect you to meet together every morning. - John G, San Diego, CA

I've gone on three Blue Marble trips and really enjoyed them.  The hotels are fine, the dinners are great, and the routes are beautiful.  I also like that many days have biking options of various lengths, and that you can opt out of eating with the group. For me, it was just the right balance of support and independence. -
Cindi, San Francisco, CA

... I was not looking forward to carrying two day's worth of baggage in my paniers (baggage transfer was every other day), but it turned out not to be a problem at all. Didn't miss the SAG van either, because on most routes we could bail out and take the train to our destination. More than half of the people in my group had ridden with Blue Marble before ... great group of folks!  - GDH, Chicago, IL 

I've found the lodging with Blue Marble to be very uneven. I went on a trip to Tuscany and the lodging was great. Then, on a trip in Spain (which was fabulous cycling), we stayed in some very substandard hotels.  - RS, New York, NY  

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