The initial plan
Our route to Paris was in simple terms…simple:
- London to Newhaven
- overnight on the boat to Dieppe
- first day in France on the Avenue Verte
- get to Paris over the following two days
- one night in or nearby Paris
- get train and/or ferry back home.
A key thing for us was that we wanted to ‘make the trip as French as possible’, we had no desire to stay in faceless accommodation like Campaniles, instead we favoured country B&Bs or tranquil places, but we were keen that the budget was kept low too. This was our 2015 trip but for all trips which followed the group size had grown to a minimum of 12 and my ideals of B&Bs were dashed, what became more important was accommodation which allowed secure bike storage, and there’s very few of those places in each town. I much favour the B&Bs but
You don’t need to plan any routes
The good news for anyone thinking of doing this trip is that now with four trips under my belt I’ve got a variety of routes you can just use and adapt – see Routes section from the menu.
The rest of this page talks about the process I followed.
NOTE: It’s worth thinking about how to navigate the route properly.
Rough route planning
After researching the standard London to Paris route we decided to follow Donald Hirch’s route, especially for the final stretch into Paris with its green forest trails. This trip was about enjoying ourselves so we decided to take 4 days instead of the normal 3 and we also choose to leave London on a Sunday when hopefully the traffic would be less, thereby making day 1 more enjoyable.
Opting to stay near Paris for the end of days 3 and 4 would mean that we wouldn’t have to carry any luggage for the last leg to the Eiffel Tower whilst Sue’s epic find of a bike storage company in Paris meant we wouldn’t have to travel on the train with our bikes after arriving in Paris, just pick them up the next day.
Maybe you’d just prefer the French bits?
For the 2016 trip, three of us from the 2015 trip joined the others who did the full London to Paris at Newhaven, as we weren’t really interested in doing the London – Newhaven leg again.
We joined them at Newhaven and parked in the ferry terminal for a few days and it had many advantages: there’s no doubt I prefer the cycling in France than in England; it meant we could could save money on ferries as the return trip was only £8 more than the single; it meant no trickiness getting to/from London, instead we drove to Newhaven (from Hampshire) and drove back after the trip.
Rough overnight locations of Beauvais and Poissy/Cergy were decided and the hunt for accommodation started. Initially we looked at staying in Beauvais but the options whilst various didn’t suit our ‘make the trip as French as possible’ mentality, we had no desire to stay in faceless accommodation like Campaniles. Hirsch’s site has some good recommendations for places to stay and we picked one, Les Chambres d’hÃ´tes du Confiturier de MalÃ©thi.
For the nights before and after our arrival in Paris options weren’t so forthcoming and it seemed inevitable that we’d have to stay in a hotel chain; we weren’t pleased at this prospect. So we widened our search area of Poissy/Cergy and stopped just looking for hotels and B&Bs and came up with the awesome La Proue Peniche Calyx near Triel-sur-Seine/Villennes.
Accommodation was booked and we couldn’t have been happier with our choices.
Firming up the routes
The standard London to Newhaven route involved too many kilometres so I looked for alternatives and came across this one on the Travel Log Lewis site.
As France was our focus I set about minimising the kilometres and climbing elevation to a bare minimum, see the route we took for more detail.
Catching the overnight ferry to Dieppe meant we wouldn’t waste any time during the day on a ferry and we would save money on a hotel. On reflection I’d probably try and catch a ferry in the morning next time or maybe a later one and stay a night in Dieppe.
With our ferry leaving at 11:30pm it meant we didn’t set off from London until around 1pm which meant we didn’t need a stupidly early alarm call that morning.
Read Day 1’s trip report for more information.
Initially I hadn’t realised just how early the ferry docked in France: 5am! This would mean a few things, notably a lack of sleep on the ferry and a very early start with no chance of breakfast in Dieppe first.
Still, we’d have 12 hours to cover the 100km to our accommodation which we couldn’t get in until 5pm, meaning a really leisurely pace of 10km/h including stopping time.
We decided to kill a little time in Dieppe first, have breakfast in Neufchatel-en-Bray (after a flat 40km on the AvenueVerte) and stop somewhere for a picnic.
Read Day 2’s trip report for more information.
I created Day 3’s route from scratch after looking at the various well-travelled routes. I was quite excited about this route and it remains as my favourite one of the trip.
The route rolls through farmland and pretty hamlets before coming to Chaumont-en-Vexin with its shops and supermarket (ideal for buying picnic things for later).
After a couple of hours there’s a lovely lake to eat your picnic by, surrounded by ducks, geese, coots and moorhens. Then on through more little villages, rolling hills and the odd bar before doing a little sightseeing at the gates of Chateau Villette (from the Da Vinci Code) before reaching our destination on the banks of the Seine.
Read Day 3’s trip report for more information.
The route for getting into Paris is superb, starting with quiet roads, through acres and acres of forest, down kilometres of cycle paths. None of my colleagues could believe how green this route was, I think they all expected a lot of concrete, busy roads and buildings.
After Versailles whilst you feel like you’re in Paris you’re suddenly back in Forest which then breaks into a view of Montmatre, then the Eiffel Tower whilst you’re crossing the Seine on the Passarale de l’Avre.
Although I made a few key alterations to the end of the route after passing the Hippodrome to suit our tourist needs (Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysses, Trocadero) I can’t believe there’s a better route in to Paris.
Read Day 4’s trip report for more information.
19 thoughts on “Overview”
I just want to say a huge thank you to you. My dad and I arrived back from Paris yesterday after a brilliant few days following your advise and excellent GPX routes 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to make this incredibly helpful website, you made our trip much easier to organise and massively enjoyable.
Amy and Martyn
Hi Amy, thanks for letting me know, and sorry that I’ve only just seen your comment. It’s a lovely route into Paris isn’t it?
Did you happen to “strava” your journeys? I’m having problems importing the gpx files into strava on my windows 10 PC. Apparently it’s easier to import from an actual ride.
Fabulously impressed by your site!
Hi, yes I did Strava them but wondering what you’re having difficulty with. Are you trying to get them into Strava to edit and amend the routes, or so you can follow the routes? For following the routes I’d suggest using the kml files within maps.me
thanks for the reply, seem to have solved the problem now, getting excited! We’re all booked for August!!!
Thanks for the website and maintaining it. We followed some of the route, but mainly used most of the site to aid preparation and planning. Frankly, it’s fantastic. As newbies in our 50’s, I think that we could have trained more, but accomplished it regardless.
Great site, will have to have more of a look at it. We’re planning on doing L2P at the end of summer. We’re sort of at the route planning stage just now but we’re looking at doing it in a day – leaving London – any decent landmark – maybe London Bridge with Tower Bridge in the background for photos – at 17:00 and arriving at The Eiffel Tower by 17:00 (so 23 hours). My biggest worry is the traffic in London – will that slow us down at that time? We’re used to riding around Derbyshire where it’s generally 1,000 feet of ascent per ten miles so this should be relatively flat in comparison.
Last year we did the Coast to Coast – 155 miles and over 12,000 feet of ascent in a day. No traffic to slow us down though but there was a 20 mph+ headwind for most of the route.
In a day? Well, if you like that sort of thing that’s great but I’d never want to miss the sights. I’d suggest my route is too scenic and twisty for you, you can go much more direct. London is pretty bad when it’s busy but my route will take you on cycle superhighways, through parks and and some roads for faster cycling.
I know what you mean about the sights. Cycled from Aberdeen to Glasgow last year via Fort William and Pitlochry over three days. The views were amazing and we did get a few photos but not many. We tend to do rides more for a challenge rather than just a ride for the fun of it – although we do have many cakes on the way.
Will have a decent look at your GPX files and tweak them to try to get as safe a route as possible whilst trying to get across London quickly.
Really impressed by this! Me and a friend are looking at doing your route this summer and just wanted to ask do you think Day 3 and day 4 together doing as one day would be too much? As we want to do it in 3 days ideally.
You can do it if you train for it. The reason I prefer fort days is that you get shorter and shorter days as you go on and as you get more tired. It’s also the logistics of catching the train to London and getting home from there. Suggest you look at going to Beauvais and straight from there to Paris on day three.
Ah ok from Beauvais, yeah I’m just thinking would be great to do the original route rather than busy roads from Beauvais. If we left early enough on day 3 hopefully we would be in Paris by early afternoon. Just concerned about elevation on day 3 and 4 routes as it looks quite hilly. Did you find it was ok? Thanks Again.
Maybe then, do Gisors and then do Gisors to Paris, just leave really early
Great website – really useful info. My brother in law and I are planning on cycling from Dieppe to Paris in July 2020. Taking the night Newhaven Ferry on the 16th, cycling to Lalandelle on the 17th, and to Paris on the 18th. Watching the TDF on 19th, and cycling back to Dieppe over three days 20-23 July.
Given the different routes you have done into Paris can you recommend the best one for this? Also can you recommend a different route back to Dieppe on the Mon-Wed. We were looking at going along the Seine to Rouen and across to Dieppe but not sure this is a viable route?
Great name – are you related to the Wiltshire Namesakes?
Hi Trevor, wow a Winchcombe commenting here, that’s a first, nice to hear from you. Yes all my 1800s relatives lived in the Ogbournes. Some are currently in Swindon and Trowbridge way.
Anyway my suggestion – if you’ve not booked Lalandelle already – would be to take 2019’s route to Beauvais then amend my Day3 route to get into Paris, which is easy. On the way back go back in a reverse of 2015’s route, or similar, through Lalandelle. Have you already booked at Lalandelle, are Marie and Thierry still there?
What an amazing Website! I’m planning to do this trip this upcoming May and I would like to ask which type of bike do you thing is best to take. I have a road bike but I’m worried about the higher probability of punctures. When you mention paths through forests, is that route suitable for road bike?
Thank you in advance.
Hi Susana, thank you. A road bike is perfect, on all four trips I’ve done only one person had a hybrid, all others were road bikes. Depending on which route you do there’s only a small bit of unmade track: one section of a couple of hundred metres on Day 4 of the 2015 route; one section of 700m on Day 3 of the 2019 route. Hardly anything at all really and my road bike didn’t suffer at all. I’ve only had one puncture in four trips and that was because I tried to bunny-hop a kerb and got it wrong!
My advice is to make sure you’ve got puncture resistant tyres which aren’t too worn, they don’t have to be new but replacing them just beforehand might save you time and frustration on the trip. Also, be careful after leaving Dieppe on the Avenue Verte as there were some broken bottles on the path and we did wonder if it was deliberate, but only one of our team got a puncture and she was using tubeless tyres which made the repair harder.
I decided to go ahead and buy the same 42L Eigo panniers but I’m unsure about attaching them to my bike? What are all the plastic fittings for?
I remember what fittings it came with but mine have two clips at the top inner which just lower on to the top of the track and clip. There’s a twist one in the middle top which locks the pannier on