Cycling in France = Eating VERY Well!
Day 0 – Brighton to Newhaven Ferry – 10 miles – 1 hr
10 miles along the undercliff walk and through the dean’s on the NCN route 2.
Ferry leaves at 11pm. Take bike lights, ferry booking slip and passport!
Day 1 – Dieppe to Le Coudray – 59 miles / 90 km – Full Day
Be prepared for a long day!
Get kicked off ferry at 3 am, get ready to ride pre-dawn. An enchanting and surreal experience when the rest of Europe is asleep. Don’t forget to ride on the right hand side!
As you are staring when it is cold, dark and possibly damp, take layers! Shoe covers, gloves. We got cold, avoid this.
Cycle to Neufchatel-En-Bray for breakfast and hot drinks at 23 miles. Once you can see some daylight, you will realise you are riding on a traffic free cycle-track through some lovely farmland, open pastures and river valleys.
The next major stop is 28 miles later in Gournay-En-Bray. Lots of bars, shops and a supermarket. Have a drink in the square and soak up the sunshine and atmosphere – cafe culture at it’s best!
Then ride along quiet roads to Le Coudray, 8 miles, for end of day, and set up camp for the night. We were in bed very early as it was a long day – ie: starting at 3am.. The campsite we stayed at was a few miles along the Western section of the route.
Day 2 – Le Coudray to Maison Laffitte – 74 miles / 120 km – Full Day
Start the day cycling back to the route intersection of the route at St Germer De Fly. A very nice coffee tabac, and bakery in one square opposite the abbey (pictured). Classic France! No better way to start the day.
Some lovely cycling through rural France, before heading onto another and my favourite part of the ride – The Epte Valley Greenway which starts after Gisors. An old railway line dotted with castle remains, alongside the tranquil waters of the River Epte.
More lovely gentle hills, blue skies and warm breeze as you glide by bike through the Picardie region of France. Arriving at the Seine, with views of Paris as you cycle down into the valley. It’s all flat riding from here.
Tonight’s campsite is just a mile from the route. With it’s own bar and well stocked shop.
Day 3 – Maison Laffitte to Central Paris – 22 miles / 37 km – Half Day
Leave the campsite, cross the river and this is the view (pictured) you will have as you eat hot pain-au-chocolat in the sunshine. Bliss.
You are on the way round the bend, literally. The river is on your right for around 2-3 hours, cycle past busy St Germain. You will be sharing the paths and tracks now with more and more urban dwellers, be careful – you bikes are wider than they look if you have panniers like mine.
Head through a number of urban parks with ornamental gardens, rest areas for tired city workers and dog walkers.
It’s all eyes on the road and map simultaneously, as the Avenue Verte signs disapper in the city sprawl. This is where you will be looking at the guide, and possibly switching on the 3G connection on your phone to use Google Maps.
From St Denis Station it’s around 5 miles to St Lazare. Which is where we hotfooted it out of town to catch our evening ferry. 2 hrs back to the coast, via Rouen.
Campsite – Night 1
Le Coudray – Simple and only officially rated one star, is commended for its friendly owners, peaceful pleasant camping spots, clean facilities and good hot showers. Only 7 euros per person per night for a pitch. Handy shop nearby.
Campsite – Night 2
Camping International de Maisons-Laffitte – Eurocamp run campsite on the banks of The Seine river. On site shop, restaurant and bar! Very good facilities.