How to Select a Cycling Tour Operator

 To date, we've done 6 European bike trips, ranging from guided group tours to solo stop-when-and-where-you-want jaunts.  We like self-guided tours for the freedom from the necessary structure of a group, the luggage hauling, and a reasonable quality hotel room.

Get copies of the maps and instructions you can expect to receive from the local operator before you commit.  If they seem unclear to you, reconsider.
Confirm that instructions come with how many kilometers or meters you go until the next route change. You donít want to be lost in the Provencal countryside in 102 degree day trying to find a roundabout that doesnít exist after you turn right and go to a stop sign that isnít there onto a highway that isnít designated with no idea of how far you are supposed to go. Yes, these were the kind of instructions we received.  Thank goodness for IGN maps of France we purchased!
How much of the route is on gravel? We donít do gravel, except for short distances. We shouldíve asked.
Do they specialize in self-guided tours? References!
When did they last actually ride the route themselves and check the directions for accuracy? We were routed on a road that had been closed for over 6 months.
Do they specialize in English-speaking touring? Our local operator mostly guided German cyclists.  Our directions had not been translated from French to English by a professional Ė so there were LOTS of translation issues that contributed to our routing problems.
Do they utilize GPS? You wonít get lost!
What about emergency numbers and support Ė are they available 24/7?  Our local operator claimed they were, but when a problem came up on a Sunday afternoon, they didn't answer their phone or respond to voice messages.

Our accommodations, breakfasts and evening meals were also arranged by the local tour operator.  Our luggage was transported daily (not necessarily on a timely basis).  Most services proved convenient, clean, and the meals substantial.  When we requested additional services and changes, they were accommodating and helpful. 

If only - the directions were accurate, complete and clear.  If only - they answered the phone or returned our calls when we needed them.  If only - they had apologized for our inconveniences, instead of placing blame on everyone else.  Consequently, it is impossible for us to recommend France Bike for self-guided touring for English-speaking cyclists. When you choose a cycling tour operator, do your homework.