London to Paris
The 300 odd miles from London to Paris is a great bike touring adventure for those who want a bit of fun and exploration without having to invest too much time. This was certainly one of the reasons I embarked upon this journey with my older brother during a school half-term back in 2011. We weren't particularly fit and we didn't train specifically for the trip. I personally had only done a couple 30mile/50km rides before we left
We planned for 4 days cycling and a couple of days in Paris. In reality we encountered a series of delays on our route, likely attributed to it being our first bike tour and took an extra day cycling, reducing our tourist time in Paris to one day. We took far too much stuff for such a short tour, and overestimated how many miles we could cover a day. This was in part due to the massive headwind we experienced the entire way, but also due to the excess weight we were carrying.
We took a route as direct as possible with overnight stops in Calais, Hesdin, Beauvais and Paris. We stayed in cheap hotels on this tour, as the October weather wasn’t likely to conducive to an enjoyable camping experience.
The cycling was great though, despite the headwinds. The roads in France are smooth and fellow road users are much kinder to bikes than they are in the UK. The whole of northern France, until you hit Paris, is rolling farmland. It’s quiet, with little traffic and few people. I’m pretty sure I saw more dogs than people before we got to Paris. It, being Western Europe, has plenty of options for accommodation and food, except on a Sunday when everything is closed – don’t get caught out by that.
Paris is a great city - lots of enjoyable historical sites to peruse, and great food. It’s all the more enjoyable cycling there, as you feel as though you’ve earned a lot more patisserie items!
I enjoyed it so much that in 2015 I went back, instead cycling London to Paris in 24hrs but going via Dieppe, instead of Calais. Even quicker for those really pushed for time.
- Completing my first bike tour - experiencing the oddly relaxing nature of having nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other all day. Quite the change up from modern day-to-day life.
- Cycling along the Champs-Elysees and around the Arc De Triomphe - Riding around the cobbled streets of the finish of the Tour de France is a must for any cycling fan. The Arc De Triomphe is one of the scariest experiences I’ve had on a bike – weaving around a mess of traffic entering the giant roundabout from 12 roads is probably a dumb idea, especially at night, but we survived and it’s a lot of fun.
- Charging across Paris from our hotel to the Eurostar terminal at the Gare Du Nord. We realised the time whilst atop the Eiffel Tower, ran back across Paris to our hotel room, grabbed our stuff and hurtled across Paris. We missed the train and had to stay an extra night, but it was exhilarating! Remember to plan ahead people, the Eurostar can be expensive if you have to book a last minute ticket!