First of all: don’t confuse this with the Grande Traversée du Massif Central. That’s a storied mountain bike route, justly famous for panoramic views from rarely travelled mountain tracks.
This is an on-road route, following a westerly course compared to the GTMC. It’s 100% tarmac, all heather-blanketed moorland, twisting valley lanes, tiny D roads used by farmers who need to get from one field to another. It’s relentless: there’s 3500m climbing in its 300km.
It’s also worth it. This is an area particularly rich in rare species and moorland fauna – not unconnected to the fact you’ll see very few people up here; the few villages rarely top 1,000 in population, if that.
At its southern tip the route reaches into the Dordogne, an area that, for all its popularity with tourists, has yet to develop many signposted cycling routes.
For now the route is a shared secret. Undeveloped south of Liourdres, it remains a line on a map and a few signs on quiet roads. Eventually, it will continue south to Montauban and the Canal du Midi to become a truly epic tour. Don’t let that stop you exploring this route, a traverse of some of the most remote, rewarding cycling country that France has to offer.