Cycling London to Paris
The classic Dover/Calais route and the Avenue Verte
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Guidebook to the London to Paris Bike Ride, including both the 500km traditional route, which makes use of cycle tracks and quiet roads plus a ferry crossing from Dover, and the 400km Avenue Verte, a waymarked route via Newhaven/Dieppe which makes greater use of dedicated cycle paths. Each takes 5-7 days and they can be combined for a round trip.
- Both routes can be cycled at any time of year, though April-October is the best period. Off-road sections of Stages 2 (Pilgrims' Way) and 8 (Coulée Verte) of the classic route are best done after a period of dry weather.
- The classic route passes through London, Rochester, Ashford, Folkestone, Dover, Calais, Desvres, Hesdin, Abbeville, Amiens, Beauvais, Chantilly and Paris. The Avenue Verte passes through London, Crawley, East Grinstead, Newhaven, Dieppe, Gournay-en-Bray, Gisors, Cergy and Paris.
- Both routes are straightforward, with gently rolling hills and a few short ascents (the maximum altitude reached is only 204m). City street riding in London and Paris can be avoided by using trains to reach the edge of town. Much of the route follows dedicated off-road cycle tracks along old railway track-beds and canal/river towpaths. Where roads are used, these are mostly quiet country lanes or suburban streets. Mainly asphalt or compacted gravel surfaces in good condition, suitable for hybrid or touring cycles. Off-road options in Stages 2 and 8 of the classic route are suitable for mountain bikes at all times and hybrids or tourers in dry weather.
- Must See
- The two cities of London and Paris, with their many tourist sights, cultural offerings and gastronomic opportunities; the maritime centre of Greenwich; the North Downs with the Pilgrims' Way and White Cliffs of Dover; the Wealden landscape of Sussex and Kent (England) and the Bray (France); the medieval French towns of Calais, Hesdin, Montreuil, Abbeville and Gisors; the Somme and Oise valleys; the cathedral cities of Rochester, Amiens and Beauvais; the chateau of Chantilly; the limestone plateau of the Vexin
This guidebook describes two cycle routes between London and Paris: the 490km 'classic route' and the 387km Avenue Verte. Passing through rolling chalk downland and characterful market towns, the trails link these two great cities with their grand buildings, famous museums and iconic monuments. Ideal both for cycle-touring holidays and charity challenges, both routes are well within the capabilities of cyclists of moderate fitness and will generally take between five days and a week – meaning that a round trip, including a few days sightseeing in Paris, can easily be accomplished in a fortnight.
The routes are described in both directions, with the primary route description running from London to Paris. The classic route is presented in eleven stages; the Avenue Verte in nine, with clear step-by-step directions accompanied by mapping, elevation profiles and notes on local points of interest. A comprehensive introduction covers all the practicalities, such as Channel crossings, accommodation and what to take, and also offers a fascinating historical overview of southern England and northern France. A summary of facilities, useful contacts and an English-French glossary can be found in the appendices.
The classic route crosses the Channel between Dover and Calais and makes use of quiet country roads, rural tracks and dedicated cycle paths, with a number of off-road sections. Developed to celebrate the 2012 London Olympics, the Avenue Verte is fully waymarked and makes maximum use of Sustrans off-road cycle tracks in England and voies vertes (rural cycle routes) in France: it uses the slightly longer Newhaven-Dieppe crossing. Cycling from London to Paris draws on the best of both worlds: England and France; the bright lights and vibrant attractions of the city and the delightful scenery of Kent, Sussex, Hauts-de-France and Normandy. The journey offers a wonderful cycling experience, as well as a unique insight into the cultures of both nations.
Getting there and back
Food and drink
Amenities and services
What to take
Safety and emergencies
About this guide
Classic route (via Dover–Calais)
Stage 1 Tower of London to Rochester
Stage 2 Rochester to Ashford
Stage 3 Ashford to Dover
Stage 4 Calais to Desvres
Stage 5 Desvres to Hesdin
Stage 6 Hesdin to Abbeville
Stage 7 Abbeville to Amiens
Stage 8 Amiens to Beauvais
Stage 9 Beauvais to Chantilly
Stage 10 Chantilly to St Denis market
Stage 11 St Denis market to Eiffel Tower
Avenue Verte (via Newhaven–Dieppe)
Stage 1 London Eye to Redhill
Stage 2 Redhill to Eridge
Stage 3 Eridge to Newhaven
Stage 4 Dieppe to Neufchâtel-en-Bray
Stage 5 Neufchâtel-en-Bray to Gournay-en-Bray
Stage 6 Gournay-en-Bray to Gisors
Stage 7 Gisors to Neuville-sur-Oise
Stage 8 Neuville-sur-Oise to St Denis station
Stage 9 St Denis station to Notre Dame cathedral
Appendix A Facilities summary tables
Appendix B Tourist information offices
Appendix C Youth hostels
Appendix D Useful contacts
Appendix E Language glossary
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A comprehensive, blow-by-blow account of not one but two routes
London to Paris is a well-travelled charity route, but don't let that put you off doing it. Mike Wells's guide provides a comprehensive, blow-by-blow account of not one but two routes linking the two capitals: The Classic Dover-Calais route and the Avenue Verte.
Having ridden both in the past, Mike's routing brought back fond memories of my trip and will help anyone planning these rides in either direction.
Mike Wells has been a keen long-distance walker and cyclist for over 20 years. He has walked all the major British trails, the GR5 through the Alps from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean and has explored the Italian Dolomites' Alta Via routes. He has also walked in Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Norway and Chilean Patagonia.
Mike has cycled the C2C route across northern England as well as the Camino and Ruta de la Plata to Santiago de la Compostela. He has completed an end to end traverse of Cuba, a circumnavigation of Iceland and a trip across Lapland to the North Cape.
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