This is the second part of a post series Cycle London to Paris. You can see the first part of this post detailing the planning and logistics for this trip in here.
Below are the actual ride logs (including some minor unplanned detours and stops) for our 4 day cycle London to Paris.
Navigating the ride
We navigated (and logged) the ride, with the iPhone app Ride with GPS. Using the premium account I created the route as detailed in part one of this post. This worked pretty well for the duration of the trip, using a small power pack with the iPhone 5s, I was able to have constant on-screen navigation throughout the trip (charging overnight). The turn-by-turn navigation was particularly effective through London. If I was doing this trip again, I would consider adding more control points to the route for the more rural areas as the turn-by-turn instructions were slightly lacking in places. However, with the route plotted on-screen and a handle bar mount, it was fairly easy to follow even without audible prompts. The ride distance was slightly longer than the initial route, since it became evident that small sections of the planned route were ‘as the crow flies’.
Day One – Cycle London to Paris
The ride out of London was fairly straightforward, with the first 15 miles being an easy flat-ride slowed only by the endless traffic lights. The only issue here was to follow the navigation and not get distracted into continuing on the particular cycle routes that we hopped on and off regularly.
There were a few climbs once we passed through Mitcham. The short ride across Farthing Downs with picnic spot and public toilet block marked the start of the rural section of the route. After this, the route down to the town of Lewes was relatively quiet, interrupted only briefly by the roar of traffic as we passed over the M25 at mile 23.
Lewes was an opportunity to stock up on supplies (and a quick iPhone repair) before making the short-ride to YHA South Downs for the night.
Day Two – Cycle London to Paris
A short 15 minute ride down to Newhaven got us to the ferry port for the 9am ferry sailing to Dieppe. The Newhaven port is a lot smaller than Dover with plenty of staff around, so boarding the ferry alongside the cars was easy. We saw no more than 15 other cyclists taking the 4 hour trip across the channel.
Arriving in the busy town of Dieppe, we were glad to have the GPS navigation as it got us out of town traffic quickly following a different path to the signed cycle route. We stopped at E.Leclerc on the edge of Dieppe which was the last chance to pickup a picnic lunch for the 35 mile afternoon ride from Dieppe to Forges-les-Eaux.
Arques-la-Batielle was our entry onto the French section of the official Avenue Verte. This is flat section of cycle/footpath with several Cafes and also toilet facilities within the church grounds at Osmoy-Saint-Valery (mile 16 from Dieppe) accessible from the cycle path and a picnic spot (with toilets) on the cycle path itself at Neuville-Ferrieres, mile 25.
Our first night in France was at Hotel Le St.Denis in the relatively quiet town on Forges-les-Eaux. Tripadvisor restaurant ratings didn’t disappoint and the excellent dinner at French restaurant ‘Le 235‘ provided a welcome refueling stop just several minutes walk from the hotel.
Day 3 – Cycle London to Paris
Our third day of the trip was the longest section of our cycling in France, using quiet country roads on the 64 mile journey to Cergy. The weather was still overcast but kept us cool on the numerous climbs through the rolling French countryside. The road traffic was very light and drivers courteous – surprisingly we saw only a handful of local cyclists and no-one that appeared to be making the same journey as us.
Navigation was a little more complicated as we approached the town of Cergy, but we soon crossed the swollen L’oise River and took to the pleasant cycle/footpath route around the lake to make it just in time for our 6pm check-in (the reception desk closes at 6) at the Hotel au Week-End, just a short-walk from the lake.
Dinner in Cergy was a little disappointing compared with the previous night, but the selection of restaurants based around the Marina were our only option after the days tiring ride.
Day 4 – Cycle London to Paris
The four-hour planned ride into Paris meant we could start a little later on the morning of the fourth day. Again, leaving Cergy the navigation was a little more complicated with some routing through residential areas and a couple of very short footpaths that whilst not ideal, didn’t prove to be a significant issue.
During the 40 mile section into Paris it became obvious we were heading towards the city, with several sections on major roads. Although there were still cycle paths we rode through these sections quite quickly to avoid being on the main roads longer than necessary. Through some of the industrial areas, the cycle path moved onto the pavement.
With these small exceptions the route on day 4 was quite scenic. During the section along the River Seine (mile 6-14) we encountered the first significant sign of the flooding that was being reported from Paris, in the village of Medan.
At mile 18 of the days ride we entered the Foret Domaniale de Marly le Roi as part of the forest approach into Paris. This was an excellent section of the route with large sections of cycle/pedestrian paths. I had heard that it was easy to get lost in the myriad of pathways through what were the royal hunting forests, but we didn’t have any problems and the route was largely the ‘main’ path.
The network of forests and parks with brief connecting road sections got us to within a mile of our target, the Eiffel Tower. The first view of the city appeared at mile 32 with the first view of the Eiffel tower appearing through the mist at the aptly named Saint-Cloud (approx. mile 33).
Arrival in Paris
I had heard people complaining about cycling in Paris, but despite the busy traffic and cobbled sections, we found the ride through the busy streets quite energizing. Many streets have cycle lanes, some on the road, some on the pavement.
After the essential pictures at the Eiffel Tower itself, we continued to the Hotel du Nord Le Pari-Velo. This was a great little hotel away from the tourist area and just south of Gare du Nord from where we would be catching the Eurostar for the return journey back to London. After a great dinner at the nearby Le Cafe Popote, it was time for an early night followed by a day of sightseeing.
Checking the bikes in at Gare du Nord was easy, once we’d managed to find the office to do it (which isn’t as easy). A train journey later and our trip was finished!
I hope you’ve found this post useful and if you are considering cycling London to Paris either as a sponsored event, or on your own I can thoroughly recommend it.
Be sure to check out the Donald Hirsch site that we used whilst planning this trip.