Wednesday 6 March 2013

By bike from Paris to London. Everything is easy

From Paris to London by bike. The two capitals have recently been connected by a cycle path of just over 400 kilometers, inaugurated two months before the start of the Olympics in 2012. From the romantic city dominated by the Eiffel Tower the path of the Avenue Verte (so called this fascinating cycle route) runs along the enchanting valley of the Seine and the river Epte to the sea. After crossing the Channel from Dieppe to Newhaven, continue along the green English lawns to London. Now, even in Italy, this wonderful itinerary that unites the two most beloved European capitals is offered to cycling enthusiasts. An idea waiting for spring.
An "easy" cycle path. The route is not particularly difficult. Largely flat, it is suitable for everyone, especially the French part. In fact, the waythat goes from Paris to the sea along the banks of the rivers Senna Marne and Epte is free of climbs at all. In the countryside, and especially across the Channel, it becomes a little more tiring. The route is developed on specially designed cycle paths, cycle lanes along normal roads and some low-traffic country roads.

An Italian cooperative Girolibero has developed a tourist package for those who want to ride between the two cities, offers an eight-stage tour. It starts from Paris with a "warming" tour around the city center, between the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées. After your first overnight stay, leave the city along the St. Denis canal which will take you directly to the Seine. The valley offers a majestic landscape, dotted with regal villas and beautiful gardens. Soon the landscape becomes more wild. After Nanterre, the route winds through those green landscapes often painted by impressionist painters. A charming place, a refuge for many Parisians on weekends, between islands and green parks: the ideal place to spend happy hours en plen air on the lawns or sailing between the Seine and the Marne. The cycle path continues on the right bank of the Seine and plunges into the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Lovers of river navigation or the most curious can stop at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine where there is one of the most important museums with traditional river boats.

The third stage goes through the Vexin nature park, between castles and farms. The path leads to Théméricourt where you can admire the magnificent Maison du Parc. From here the cycle path continues towards the 18th-century castle of Villarceaux. Just beyond the agricultural landscape it leaves space to the river again. At Bray-et-Lû, the route continues along the bank of the river Epte, up to Gisors, for overnight stops. Here you can admire the medieval fortress, rich in history and mysteries, located on the ancient French-Norman border. The fourth and last stage exclusively "French", instead, takes place from Gisors to Forges-les-Eaux. Here it is obligatory to stop at a traditional inn where you can taste the traditional cousine.

The fifth day of the trip takes place at the turn of the English Channel. From Forges, the cycle path leads directly to the sea. Soon you will see it on the horizon while the landscape around it will turn blue. In fact, we approach the estuary of the Arques where you can admire the homonymous castle. The route runs through large farms that supply the Parisian markets. The "French" route ends in the seaside town of Dieppe, another place dear to impressionist painters and an important seaside resort of ancient tradition. Around 5 pm the ferry allows the crossing of the English Channel to the English city of Newhaven. From here, still a few kilometers to deserved rest in the town of Eastbourne.

Between green hills and ancient railways. The sixth stage is perhaps the most challenging because of the hills that make the ride more tiring. From Eastbourne continue towards Polgate and then continue along the Cuckoo Valley where the old railway will take you to Heathfield. From here, up to Tunbridge Wells (last resort of the sixth stage), the route is a bit tiring but on arrival you will find a pleasant surprise: Tunbridge is a spa town full of historic buildings, gardens and churches. For those wishing to save their breath, the last stretch can be taken on board a historic train that connects the town of Groombridge to the spa town.

In the woods, towards London. For the last stage it is necessary to return to Groombrige from where to take the cycle path called The Forest Way. Along the way you can stop in the picturesque rural villages, including Forest Row and East Grinstead. From here continue along the Worth Way cycle path immersed in a wonderful forest. The route ends in the town of Crawley, near London. From here it is technically possible to reach the City, but not advisable due to traffic. It is therefore preferable to arrive in London by train. It takes just 45 minutes to get to Tower Bridge.

The stages are relatively short: an average of 50-60 kilometers every day you can ride for in 4-5 hours. The longest stage - the Gisors-Forges - does not exceed 65 kilometers. The route is quite signposted but it is advisable to be equipped with a good cycling guide.

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