London to Paris Cycle Ride

By Tompky - 5:49 AM

March is challenge number 3, which was the 250 miles bike ride from London to Paris, which I tackled over 3 days, predominantly using the Avenue Verte, which keeps you on cycle lanes and quiet roads pretty much the whole way!  I was really looking forward to this challenge, and a massive help was that one of my best mates, Danny, was going to do the whole thing with me!

The first thing to mention is that I am not a great cyclist.  In fact I am pretty useless on 2 wheels and I had major concerns about any of the route involved going on any major roads, particularly in both of the major cities at either end.

We set off early morning, leaving the London Eye at just after 6am and started to make our way through London.  The route out of London, and put to bed any of my earlier worries, about busy traffic, and getting knocked off in London traffic.  The route stuck all to big wide cycle lanes, through parks or on off-road cycle paths.  The route was well signposted and most of it was easily doable on a road bike, aside from a few cycle paths that were slightly rocky but only lasted a short distance.
Once outside of the M25 and towards Crawley we made the decision to leave the route and take Cycle Route 20 going direct from Crawley to Brighton.  This decision was on the basis of it being a much shorter distance, and whilst it did have more elevation, it took 20 miles off the overall distance of the Avenue Verte.  This felt the longest and hardest part of the journey, with a lot of elevation, and some time spent on small, busy country roads.  For a non-cyclist I found this particularly tought, and ultimately felt we should have probably gone the longer way round and stuck on the Avenue Verte.  Even the short stretch between Brighton and Newhaven felt tough, with legs and bums equally sore after a long day in the saddle.

We arrived in Newhaven just after 6pm, and went to a restaurant opposite the ferry terminal, waiting for the 10pm ferry.  Boarding the ferry was seamless, and we had a 2 person room booked.  We did think that we would be able to get into the room a couple of hours before the ferry departed, however we were only allowed on 30 minutes before the departure.  We fell asleep almost immediately, and it seemed like no time had passed before music was blasting over the tannoy, announcing that the ferry was docking and we must leave the boat.  This was at 4am local time and we departed the ferry into Dieppe into pitch black and freezing temperatures.

This was unexpected, as looking at the forecast it had looked like we were going to be cycling in 15-20 degrees over the 3 days, without thinking we would be cycling that early in the morning.  This made cycling difficult but with nowhere open to warm up the only thing we could do was continue to pedal.  The 30-40 miles out of Dieppe was the best part of the Avenue Verte.  Cycling on an abandoned, tarmacked disused railroad felt great, and that part of the route seemed to pass very quickly.  By the end of this track the sun had started to rise, and we cycled on through French countryside. The views were brilliant, the drivers in France are really respectful of cyclists and the weather turned glorious from 830am onwards, which made it a really good days cycling.  We stopped around 50 miles short of Paris, and although the lack of being used to sitting on a saddle was starting to tell, overall it was a really enjoyable day.

The first part of the final day carried on from the previous day, cycling through French countryside, and on quiet country roads.  This led us almost directly into Paris itself, with the last 5-10 miles travelling along the Seine.  We got ‘lucky’ as we arrived into the centre of Paris, due to ‘Yellow Vest’ protests were on, many of the main roads were closed to cars, meaning we could ride along major roads right up to the Eiffel Tower.

A few quick photos, and we cycled through the city to our hotel, a great Travel Lodge on the banks of the Seine within a short distance of the Gare Du Nord, where we were getting the train back to London.  Again the transport was seamless, checking our bikes in before boarding the train, which were then waiting for us when we arrived in London.
Overall, I would recommend for any semi-serious cyclist, the route is ideal, keeping you off major roads, the views are excellent and the infrastructure with the ferry, trains and cycle paths are all set up brilliantly for cyclists.  A great experience.

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